Studies in the Consonantal System of Cornish

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Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

Original languageEnglish
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Award date31 May 2007
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Abstract

The need for continued research into Cornish phonology is considerable, especially considering the paucity of substantial academic works on the subject since Dr. Kenneth George’s seminal PhD thesis in 1984 (unfortunately unpublished). That work was intended to be a comprehensive survey of Cornish historical phonology, but subsequent disagreements have arisen over a number of issues fundamental to the proper understanding of the development of the language. There remain a number of areas of uncertainty that warrant further detailed study.
This thesis seeks to address only a limited range of the most important of these issues and is therefore focussed upon four principal studies. The reason that these deal only with areas of the consonantal system is one of space: in the opinion of the present author, it would not have been desirable within the confines of this doctoral thesis, in addition to the work that has been undertaken, to address in sufficient depth all of the major unresolved issues concerning the vocalic system as well.
Instead, the focus has been to provide a comprehensive study of the problems under discussion, including two that have so far been afforded little attention. The author believes that initial b/m confusion, although strictly unconnected with the sound changes involved in pre-occlusion, is a loosely associated matter that equally deserves to be the focus of study here; the study of s/th confusions has an important bearing on the study of assibilation and palatalisation in a few instances, but is also a neglected problem in its own right. Moreover, these two narrower studies complement those of the greater sound changes, whose application was more considerable. It is hoped that this provides a level of unity to the work as a whole and that these four studies will represent a major step forward in understanding the historical phonology of Cornish.

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