[Spellyans] Cornish for 'animal'

Linus Band linusband at gmail.com
Sun Nov 30 16:19:37 GMT 2014

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,

2014-11-30 12:26 GMT+00:00 Nicholas Williams <njawilliams at gmail.com>:

> It has always been my view that the default word in Cornish for 'animal'
> was *best*, *bestas*,
> rather than Nance's preferred *mil* (UC *myl*).  Nance probably thought
> that *mil* was more Celtic than the English borrowing *best*. In fact
> best was almost certainly borrowed from Latin *bestia*; cf. *et bestia
> quae erat et non est* Apocalypsis 17.11.
> *Best*, plural *bestas* is common in Middle Cornish, whereas *mil* is
> found
> only in OCV, Lhuyd, Borlase and John Boson. *Mil* in Lhuyd, Borlase and
> Boson all derive ultimately from OCV.
> Further support for *best* as the default word for 'animal' seems to be
> forthcoming.
> The expression *best peswartrosek* 'four-footed animal, quadruped' is
> attested
> in *Bewnans Ke* and Tregear's Homilies:
> *Peys! Syth Y hot wyld and tam, den ha **best peswartrosak**, I say
> Arthur is my nam* BK 1397-99
> *Ny won i’n bys pew a’th feth, den na **best peswartrosak **mars an
> emprowr* BK 1998-2000
> *an nore a thros in rag **bestes peswartrosek* TH 2.
> *Best peswartrosek* was apparently the ordinary way of saying
> 'four-footed animal', so it is likely
> that *best* was the ordinary word for 'animal'.
> Nicholas
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