[Spellyans] The Cornish for 'cousin'

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Wed Jul 30 11:30:41 BST 2014

I think I may have mentioned this before, but I seriously doubt that ‹ûsya› had a rising diphthong, i.e. [ˈjuzjə]. Looking at the attestations only Lhuy's spellings show an attempt at representing a diphthongal sound, and in both cases Lhuyd uses his symbol ‹ụ› which represents a semi-vowel, that is IPA [w] or a short vowel, that is [ʊ], which would pretty much be the equivalent of Modern Welsh ‹w›, and indeed when Lhuyd transcribes Welsh, he does so using his ‹ụ›. 

Here are the attestations, note Lhuyd's spellings ‹ yụzia› and ‹ iụzyz›: 

{(vbn.) vsye (PA 2x), vsia (BM), vsya (BM, TH 11x, SA 3x), vsia (TH 2x), usya (CW), yụzia (Lh); (vb.adj.) vsijs (PA, BM), vssyys (TH), vsiis (TH), vsyys (TH 3x), iụzyz (Lh); (3sg.pres.-fut.) vsse (TH); (1sg.impf.) vsyan (CW); (3sg.pret.) vsias (BM, TH), vsyas (TH 2x); (2pl.imp.) vsyogh (BM)}

This and the still prevalent pronunciation in the 20th century of Modern Standard English /ju/ as [iʊ] in Cornwall, Lhuyd's attestations at least cast doubt on the assumption that the onset in ‹ûsya› was [jʊ] rather than [ɪʊ] (or [iʊ]). 


On Jul 30, 2014, at 11:22 AM, Nicholas Williams wrote:

> Crudely stated a rising diphthong starts with a semivowel and ends in a vowel. If you say eeOO with the emphasis on the second part, that is a rising diphthong and sounds rather like English you. It is described as rising because it goes from a less sonorous part to a more sonorous part.
> If you say EEoo with the emphasis on the first part, that sounds rather like South Welsh yw, or Cornish yw as it was probably pronounced. That is a falling diphthong.
> A rising diphthong is so called because it rises from the weak and less sonorous part (semivowel) to the stronger and more sonorous part. A falling diphthong is the other way round.
> In English the diphthong in house [aw] is falling, but in few [ju]  is rising. 
> The diphthongs in Cornish in may 'so that, where', gweyth 'time, occasion', saw 'but', pow 'country', lies 'many' are all falling because the sonorous part precedes the less sonorous part. The first syllable of ûsya 'to use' on the other hand seems according to Lhuyd to have been a rising diphthong [juzi@].
> Perhaps Michael could explain this in a more technical fashion for us all.
> Nicholas
> On 30 Jul 2014, at 09:54, Clive Baker <clive.baker at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Well thanks Nicholas,
>>  this would all make sense to me if I knew what the difference was between a rising and a falling dipthong. I know what a dipthong is, so its just the rising and falling bit that fails to make sense... can you give me examples of words say in English that represent these, so I can follow your and other peoples arguments here.... by the way, we teach both yu and yw spelling as alternatives..(never understanding the differences)
>> oll an gwella 
>> Clive
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