[Spellyans] bythwer 'evergreen'

Nicholas Williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Sat Aug 6 15:26:19 BST 2016

In his 1951 dictionary under ‘evergreen’ Nance suggests the neologism *bythwer.

More recently it has been claimed that *bythwer should really be *bythlas, since gwer
refers to "inanimate" green. 

I wonder whether this criticism is valid.

In Cornish gwer certainly seems to refer to growing things and is not therefore simply an adjective for “inanimate green".

Lhuyd gives: 

Kẏ guêr vel an guelz [maga gwer avell an gwels] ‘as green as grass’ AB: 248c.

He also cites:

delkio guêr s.v. Frons ‘a green bough with leaves’ AB: 61c.

Under Pascuum ‘Feeding ground, pasturage’ he gives Gueruelz AB: 113c, where gueruelz [gwerwels]
is clearly a compound of gwer ‘green’ and gwels ‘grass’.

Gwer in Lhuyd’s day was clearly the ordinary word for ‘green’ when referring to leaves and grass.

For Lhuyd on the other hand glas meant ‘grey’:

Blêu glâz ‘gray [sic] hairs’ AB: 3a; W Glâs, Gray, C[ornish[ Glâz AB: 30b; Cinereus ‘Ash-coloured’ C[ornish] Glâs AB: 47c-48a.

It seems therefore that Nance’s bythwer ’evergreen’ is perfectly permissible and indeed preferable to *bythlas.

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