[Spellyans] KK ha'n SWF - pronunciation

nicholas williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Fri Aug 8 18:20:41 IST 2008

No "scholar" apart from Ken George himself, believes that the  
hypothetical phonology he posits is correct.
On the other hand all the trained linguists and Celticists who have  
examined his work believe he is very mistaken.
In fact Ken George is in a minority of one. All the other scholars and  
revivalists accept that
Middle Cornish had no long consonants, no half-length and that  
unstressed syllables had been reduced to schwa.
George insists that Middle Cornish had a geminate m in kemyn for  
example, a half-long vowel in Kernewek
and that unstressed e, a, o were all kept separate. His own speech  
belies his assertians however.
His spoken Cornish is close to the standard form of the revived  
language which itself is essentially Unified.


On 8 Aug 2008, at 17:46, Penny Squire wrote:

> I don't know that I have heard many Cornish speakers with RP English  
> accents, although one hears some strange sounds at the Gorsedd - but  
> these are only people reading their lines, not Cornish speakers,  
> surely.  Certainly most Cornish speakers that I have heard are  
> coming from a Cornish dialect of English, more or less - the more  
> one goes through the English education system, the more the tendency  
> for the native dialect to become diluted.
> Even if one were to start from the assumption that 20th century  
> Cornish dialect sounds were appropriate for Revived Cornish (which I  
> certainly would not) decisions would still have to be made. I don't  
> know if anyone has attempted to catalogue the different dialects (or  
> possibly sub-dialects) within Cornwall, but there is considerable  
> variation to my ear. In North and East Cornwall, for instance,  
> 'quarry' isn't too far from RP, but around Camborne the 'au' sounds  
> like Eng. 'awe'. There are a lot of differences in the vowel sounds  
> throughout Cornwall.
> In any case, I don't think the fact that all Cornish speakers have  
> to overcome their habits of speech in (usually) English is  
> sufficient reason for abandoning what our scholars have discovered  
> about Cornish pronunciation. (Of course, firstly one has to reach  
> conclusions about which scholar or scholars one finds the most  
> credible!)
> By the way, I find Dick Gendall's pronunciation very pleasant to  
> listen to - he has a dignified, resonant delivery and on the  
> recordings I have heard he speaks very naturally and easily (I have  
> never heard him 'live', so I don't know if he is like that in  
> spontaneous conversation).
> However, I hear little in his Cornish which isn't found in the  
> speach of English speaking Cornish people of his generation.   
> Cornish of the 1700s, 1600s and 1500s would not have sounded like  
> that - after all, the English spoken then didn't, either!
> Penny
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Christian Semmens <christian.semmens at gmail.com>
> To: Standard Cornish discussion list <spellyans at kernowek.net>
> Sent: Friday, 8 August, 2008 4:31:01 PM
> Subject: Re: [Spellyans] KK ha'n SWF - pronunciation
> This is an interesting point about the revival. Although we have many
> guides to pronunciation, a great deal of the Cornish speakers fail to
> follow these guides, at least in part. Their spoken Cornish is more
> coloured by their English accent (ususally RP - which makes my hair
> stand on end when it is used to speak English let alone foist it on to
> any other language) than by their chosen orthography's pronunciation
> guides.. If someone were to utilise modern cornish vowel sounds (and  
> by
> that I mean early to mid 20th century rather than the pallid, RP
> affected, facsimilie becoming current in the 21st Century population)
> then I would think that would be an infinite improvement over the
> efforts of the RP affected revival community. And that 'accent' is the
> only living fragment of the Cornish that was once spoken, you should
> cultivate it.
> What constitutes 'Good Spoken Cornish'?
> Does a French man with a thick French accent speak good English?  
> Perhaps.
> Is this a good role model to teach others how to pronounce English?
> .... I'm not so sure.
> Matthew speaks fluently, but somehow it sounds....awkward, like French
> spoken with English RP sounds would sound. By the way I do not wish to
> denigrate his efforts or cast aspersions upon his capabilities in any
> way, merely question using him as a pronunciation exemplar.
> It is, of course, *necessary* to hear others speak, especially for
> those of us far away most of the time, so that we can understand
> current usage. However the value of using these examples as a
> reference to guide our own efforts at pronunciation I think is
> questionable.
> What we are missing is good *Reference* recordings. I have heard some
> of Dick Gendall's recordings and they 'felt right', but I haven't been
> able to locate any recently. We do need something along the lines that
> Penny is suggesting. I would suggest that a repository of reference
> recordings and associated transcriptions is a vital part of the
> revival.
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