[Spellyans] Ian Jackson: introduction

Nicholas Williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Tue Dec 22 16:13:02 GMT 2015

I am not sure that s did become j. It seems rather that Old Cornish -d- assibilated first to -dz- and then either simplified to -z- or was palatalised to
-dzh- written <g, j>. As a result we find both gallosek and gallogek in the texts. Had all examples of s become j ,one would not have intervocalic -s- or -z- in Late Cornish at all, but such forms are not uncommon.
In Late Cornish we find preezyo eaue A Rage and preezyo gormall ha beniggo e hannawe da stella by Thomas Boson.
In those cases -z- is a reflex of English -z- borrowed into Cornish not of assibilated -d-.

It is true that the instances of -z- > -r- occur with z from assibilated -d-, e.g. gero ny < gesowgh ny < root *ged- and th’era ny < eson < *edon, but the shift z > r occurs only in those cases where -d- has not already given -dzh- (written <g, j> in the early MC period.

Anthony writes:
Incidentally, the shift from 'z' to 'r' indicates to my satisfaction that the 'r' was a flap - and fairly close to the teeth - and not an approximant.

I wonder whether we can really be so sure.
The rhotacisation of -s/z- to -r- is well attested in IE languages .
Think of *swesor > Latin soror, or genus but generis, flos but florem.
Then we have many examples of the alternation -s/z- and -r- in the Germanic languages by Verner’s Law,
e.g. rise but rear; was but were; Dutch verliezen, verloor, verloren ‘lose’.
Can we say, therefore, that r in Latin and Germanic was always a flap?


> On 22 Dec 2015, at 15:46, Janice Lobb <janicelobb at gmail.com> wrote
> Is there anything that resisted rhotacisation? Do we know why <s> in some words became <r> (e.g. yth esa to thera) while in others it became <j> (e.g. losowek to lojowek)? Was there some difference in the pronunciation of s? 

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