Southwestern Brythonic languages

Southwestern Brythonic Languages

Southwestern Brythonic languages

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Description:
Southwestern Brythonic languages were the Brythonic Celtic tongues spoken in Southwestern Britain and Brittany from the Early Middle Ages. During the period the languages appear to be indistinguishable, but eventually they evolved into the Cornish and Breton languages. They evolved from the common British language formerly spoken all across Britain, and were thus related to the Welsh and Cumbric dialects spoken in Wales and the Hen Ogledd (northern Britain), respectively.

The earliest stage of the languages, Primitive Cornish/Primitive Breton, is unattested. Written sources are extant from the Old Cornish/Breton period, roughly 800-1100, though even in this phase the languages appear to be identical. As such, some linguists such as Schrijver suggest that the terms "Old Cornish" and "Old Breton" are geographical rather than linguistic, only describing whether a text was written in Cornwall or Brittany.

Description

Some of the sound changes that distinguish Southwestern Brythonic from Welsh include:
  • the raising of to in a pretonic syllable (in Welsh there was no raising)
  • the fronting of to (in Welsh it diphthongized to )
  • the fronting of to before or in an old final syllable (in Welsh it diphthongized to )


Other significant differences are found in Welsh innovations that Southwestern Brythonic did not participate in, such as the development of the voiceless alveolar lateral fricative .

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