[tied] Re: Initial 's' in Brittonic

From: richardwordingham
Message: 14432
Date: 2002-08-21

--- In cybalist@..., guto rhys <gutorhys@...> wrote:
> Does the above throw any light on the nature of initial 's' in
early Brythonic seeing that it is preserved when immediately
preceeding 't'? Brittonic 't' is supposed to have been very dental,
thus explaining Cornish '-t' > '-s' (cf. Penzance < 'penn sant' (holy
head (cf.Holyhead!!)).

I don't think the preservation before /t/ in itself tells us much.
In Avestan and Greek, which also have initial s > h before a vowel,
st- was preserved. The Brythonic change st- > s- might tell someone
something, though.

Pokorny, as edited for Leiden University, may have another exception
to st- > s-:

PIE stag- 'drop', 'drizzle'
abret. staer, nbret. ster `Flus|, Bach' (*stagra:), cymr. taen
`conspersio, adspersio' (*stagna:).

On the other hand, the Breton form might be totally unrelated! Piotr
has cautioned us against believing everything we see in Pokorny.
Welsh (Celtic? - I wasn't looking carefully enough) omits 's' mobile
more often than not, but I don't remember any examples of Welsh s- or
yst- corresponding to Breton t-.