[Spellyans] Cornish for 'animal'

Linus Band linusband at gmail.com
Mon Dec 1 17:48:17 GMT 2014

I see the point of the plural **bestys* not existing presenting a problem,
but would it be possible that original plural *-ys* in this word was
replaced with *-as/-es*? It appears to have been quite a common plural used
for animals, e.g. *cathas *'cats', *kyrwas *'stags', *enyvalles *'animals',
so I wouldn't be surprised if the word was nativised.
I can't offer any explanation for the spellings, *trest* for *trist* and
*chrest(e)* for *christ*, and it appears that at least some kind of
lowering has taken place and perhaps, as you suggest, shortening. I myself
have always wondered whether the fluctuation between *e* and *y* in Cornish
may have had something to do with how close the sounds [e] <e> and [ɪ] <y>
The problem with including *bêst* in this shortening would be that it would
have taken place during the earlier stages of Proto-British, which is
*very* early.
So early that we would expect that something like this would also have
taken place in Welsh and Breton, but these show respectively *trist/trist*,
*Crist/Krist* and *bwyst/-* (*bwyst* does not appear to have a counterpart
in Breton, which may show that this loanword from Latin did not survive in
South-West British). I am therefore inclined to favour the interpretation
that native *-as/-es* was adopted for the English loanword *bêst*.

Oll an gwella,

2014-12-01 10:07 GMT+00:00 Nicholas Williams <njawilliams at gmail.com>:

> Linus suggests that *best* 'animal' is unlikely to derive from Latin
> *bêstia*, since the long vowel of *bêstia* would have been expected to
> give *oy* or *o* in Middle Cornish; cf. Welsh *bwyst*. Linus may well be
> right and *best* must therefore be a borrowing from English < Norman
> French. On the other hand the complete absence of a plural **bestys* may
> possibly be a counter-argument. The attested plurals are *bestas* x 14
> and *bestes* x 12. Would it be special pleading to suggest that there may
> have been occasional shortening of vowels before -st in some borrowings
> from Latin? I have always been perplexed by the spellings *trest* for
> *trist* ‘sad’ and *Chrest* for *Christ* ‘Christ’ that one finds on
> occasion and that might possibly suggest shortening:
> *ha marya leun a ras ganso trest ha morezek* PA 232d
> *na porth ovn vyth na veth trest *OM 1467
> *bos trest thywhy pendra wher* RD 1255
> *me a'th cusyl dysempys byth na by trest* RD 2229-30
> *Vn ger na campol a gryst ha mar qureth me ath wra trest* BM 903-04
> *en Blooth Creste an Arleuth whege Meele Sithcans ha hanter Deege *TBoson
> *ha en Jesu Chrêst e mab honyn* Pryce.
> Nicholas
> On 30 Nov 2014, at 16:19, Linus Band <linusband at gmail.com> wrote:
> It may be the default word, but wouldn't it make more sense from a
> phonological point of view if it came from English? If it came from Latin
> *bēstia*, then long*ē* should have become **uɪ* which then fell
> together with **oɪ* and ultimately MC /o/, LaC /u/ (cf. MC *boys* 'food'
> (MoC *boos*)). We know that Welsh borrowed it from Latin since it appears
> there as *bwyst* (and thus retains earlier **uɪ* as *wy*).
> Oll an gwella,
> Linus
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