[Spellyans] The Cornish Consonantal System - some comments

Harry Hawkey bendyfrog at live.com
Sun Apr 16 10:30:16 BST 2017

I recently received a copy of 'The Cornish Consonantal System'. Here's a few random comments and questions.

You might want to check the back cover, considering the amount of mileage a certain editor got out of 'An event of great signicance' [sic] :-)

I was delighted to see that 'argans' (p.47) is now being translated as 'silver, money'. Up until now, I had wondered  why Cornish was the only language in which innovation was prohibited.

I found it strange, considering the subject matter and title, that Chaudhri's 2007 PhD thesis does not appear in the references. I  seem to remember him saying quite a lot about preocclusion, the 'prosodic shift', and assibilation and palatization. Any particular reason  why he was left out?

I would have preferred data tables and percentages, with perhaps a few examples, rather than just long lists of examples (e.g. the stressed g/b,
unstressed k/p lists).

In chapter 2, several of the references are incorrect. In Sections 2.2 and 2.3, for example:

OM312 'wrek' - you mean OM322 I think.
BM1409 'tek' is not correct. The manuscript has 'wek'. People need to stop using Stokes' transcription of this manuscript, he is not totally reliable.
BM1072 'carrek' is not correct. Stokes has 'carek' (also incorrect). The manuscript has 'kaɼɘk'. Again, stop using Stokes!

There are others...

I was wondering, why do you think there are so many examples of stressed <k,g> (presumably you would say, for [g]) rhyming with unstressed <k,g>
(presumably you would say, for [k]), and vice versa?

Here is a quick list from the examples in 2.2: (references are the same as in the book)

'gwrek' etc.

PA66c - rhymes with 'moreȝek'
BM302 - rhymes with 'galosek'
BM2508 - rhymes with 'meryasek'
BM2786 - rhymes with 'meryasek'

'tek' etc.

PA244b rhymes with 'marrek','lowenek'
OM552 rhymes with 'lowenek'
OM2155 - rhymes with 'ovnek'
OM2462 - rhymes with 'vuthek'
PC36 - rhymes with 'whansek'
BM1424 - rhymes with 'connek'
BM 2134 - rhymes with 'meryasek'
BM2624 - rhymes with 'meryasek'
BM2806 - rhymes with 'meryasek'
BM3069 - rhymes with 'anhethek'
BM4336 - rhymes with ' meryasek'
BM4421 - rhymes with ' galosek'

'whek' etc.

PA47b - rhymes with 'dowȝek', 'moloȝek', 'cronek'
PA66b rhymes with 'moreȝek'
PA77d rhymes with 'voreȝek', 'ownek', 'sethek'
PA232a rhymes with 'moreȝek'
PA244c rhymes with  'marrek','lowenek'
OM451 rhymes with 'lowenek', 'govenek'
OM2258 rhymes with 'ankenek'
PC35 rhymes with 'whansek'
PC2331 rhymes with 'anwhek'
BM298 rhymes with 'galosek'
BM329 rhymes with 'meryasek'
BM347 rhymes with 'galosek', 'lowenek'
BM527 rhymes with 'meryasek'
BM1329 rhymes with 'galosek'
BM2758 rhymes with 'meryasek'
BM2763 rhymes with 'meryasek'
BM3119 rhymes with 'vohosek'
BM4195 rhymes with 'meryasek'
BM4249 rhymes with 'bohosek'
BM4558 rhymes with 'meryasek'

Anyway, you get the idea...I can think of a few possibilities:

(i) The Middle Cornish poets were the worst poets in history, even worse than me:

There once was a man named Hawkey,

Who went on a walk to Bosworgey.

He carried a bag,

And a heavy rucksack

But turned around when it got foggy.


(ii) It was perfectly acceptable to rhyme [k] with [g] in middle Cornish.

(iii) Stressed and unstressed words alike had either [k] or [g] or some other similar sound.

(iv) The sound at the end of these words varied (according to position, the following word, etc.)

What do you think?

Pask lowen dhewgh whei oll!
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