[Spellyans] The Cornish for 'cousin'

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Tue Jul 29 12:54:44 BST 2014

On Jul 29, 2014, at 1:16 PM, Nicholas Williams wrote:

> I don't think they were right. The 'you' pronunciation goes back to Jenner and derives, I think, in part from analysing the common
> MC spelling <yv> as though for <yu>. Given that <yw> also occurs (though not as frequently) the 'you' pronunciation was always
> speculative. The word itself derives from Proto-British *êst > *ê > *ui > *iu with metathesis. The Welsh and Breton forms
> yw and eo respectively also point to falling diphthongs. There are two further points. As well as <yw>, <yv> one also finds the spelling <ew>, which
> occurs as early as Origo Mundi. The spelling <ew> to an English speaker suggests new, dew, few, etc. which all have
> a rising diphthong [ju:].

In Modern English, yes, but the development from a falling to a rising diphthong only took place as late as the 17th century, and not even in all English dialect areas. Before that the vowels in new, dew, few etc. were falling diphthongs in English.  

> The second point is that [iw] is absent from English (apart from Welsh English of course) and so ju: is just easier.

It's not "easier" as such, it's just more like Modern English. Traditional West Penwith dialect kept the falling diphthong into the 20th century and can occasionally be heard by older speakers, e.g. ‹tune› as [tiʊn]. 

> The pronunciation with a falling diphthong is probably more authentic.

I agree. 

> The 'more clipped' pronunciation for UC was never convincing. In appendix VIII in his 1938 dictionary Nance writes a macron (long mark)
> over the u in yu. This implies that he thought of it as long. To be fair Nance also gives the spelling <yw> in parentheses after yû. 
> I remember in the late 1960s Elowen (Joan Petchey) tackled me when I wrote yw for UC yu. She said I no doubt had
> good reason to spell the vowel u as w, but it was confusing for other people. I tried to convince her that I wrote yw for yu
> (as I still do) because I believed the second element in yw was a semi-vowel/consonant not a vowel. I don't think I ever
> convinced her. 
> Nicholas
>> Yet funnily enough Ray, I was taught originally by some of those older speakers and their instruction was just that...yu is like 'you' but shorter, ...'more clipped', were their actual words. Unfortunately they have all passed from this world, and no doubt turning in their graves at some of the things that have happened to our language
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