[Spellyans] del 'leaves' and dèl/dell 'so, as'

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Sun Dec 14 18:35:45 GMT 2008

-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Everson
Sent: Saturday, December 13, 2008 8:49 PM

On 13 Dec 2008, at 16:09, Daniel Prohaska wrote:

> It’s <del> and <war> in the SWF because they are unstressed. Just  

> like <gwedhen> is spelt <gwedhen> and not **gwedhenn. The SWF rule  

> is that consonants are not doubled in unstressed syllables. E.g.  

> <rag> is /rag/ when unstressed, but /ra:g/ when in stressed in the  

> sentence, i.e. usually when it’s used as an adverb rather than a  

> preposition.


“I think the SWF "rule" is incoherent.” 


Not more so in this case than any other orthography that doesn’t mark stress unambiguously.


“On the one hand, consonant quality of obstruents determines that vowels are long or short. Thin in 4.0.1 they say that "Double consonant graphs are used to indicate that the preceding vowel is short." But "this applies to stressed syllables only because in Cornish all unstressed vowels are short".

(The SWF then goes on to say in 4.0.3 that "some people" pronounce double consonants as geminates which everybody knows to be massively untrue, and anyway irrelevant as the doubling of consonant graphs is evidently intended to indicate vowel shortness (except in unstressed words). Rusty Swiss Army knife, anyone?)”


The latter statement is appeasement towards Ken George and KKers who believe they make this distinction, even if they don’t. Other speakers, if few, actually pronounce long consonants, among them even some Revived Late Cornish speakers who would pronounce <scaffa> “faster, fastest” as [ˈskæfːə], for example. 


“Anyway, the rule makes no sense at all. The orthographic form <del> doesn't tell you whether it is stressed or unstressed. Sentence stress is not marked in any language I know by orthographic means like this.”


Precisely, which means you have to know how to stress words in a phrase. It is also impossible to know that words like <y>, <a>, <dhe> etc. are unstressed and their vowel is short, but I don’t see you arguing to spelling <ì>, <à>, <dhè>. In my opinion <del> and <war> fall into the same category.


“(Punctuation is used, of course.) But sentence stress is a different level of abstraction that of orthographic forms. If one wanted to *mark* unstressed forms in an orthography one could do so. But That's not what the SWF is doing. It is setting out a mechanism for indicating vowel length, and then undercutting that mechanism by making it unreliable for the user.”


Yes, but not more so than is done in other workable orthographies. It’s impractical to mark all these high frequency unstressed words as unstressed. They form a relatively short list of words that can be learnt or even absorbed by having good sound examples. 


“How is the learner to know when <del> is [deːl] and when it is [dɛl]? The learner will know that <pell> is [pɛl] with a short vowel. So if [pɛl] and [dɛl] rhyme, what's the rationale for insisting that they  

be spelt differently, particularly where <del> is ambiguous as to [dɛl] or [deːl]? Where's the advantage to either the learner or to the experienced reader who has to learn a new orthography?”


How is the learner to know when <y> is the unstressed particle, or the stressed personal pronoun? How is the learner to know that the preposition <dhe> is not to be pronounced **[ðeː]? 


“In KS, we might have <del> [deːl], <dèl> [dɛl], <pell> [pɛl].” 


But <del> is not just [dɛl], but also [dəl], [dər] and [dr], alternatively spelt <dr’> in SWF/Late.


“But if the only reason for this is to avoid inconsistency with marking words like <wàr> (which we do anyway), I don't see any reason to insist on <dèl> here.  I note that KK uses <dell> for this word, distinguishing it from <del>. Tregear uses it throughout his text. It's in the Passion, Bêwnans Ke, and the Creation of the World.

Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com <http://www.evertype.com/> ”


Writing <dell> would go against the SWF rules because the double consonant would indicate stress. Writing <del> in the SWF is more consistent within that system, than writing <dell>. 



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