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

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Mon Dec 15 00:35:00 GMT 2008

On 14 Dec 2008, at 23:15, Daniel Prohaska wrote:

> "You're wrong, Dan. The rule in this case is not about word stress.  
> (Spanish marks word stress unambiguously.) The example of "del" is  
> not one of word stress, but one of sentence stress. Yes, the word is  
> typically unstressed in sentences. If you were to use the word in  
> stressed position, however, it would rhyme perfectly with "pell".”
> “Pink elephants fly on a bright night.” A grammatically correct  
> sentence, but will it occur realistically? No. Neither will stressed  
> <del>.

You haven't understood. A normal orthography indicates the  
pronunciation of words, of the consonants and vowels in a word. It  
will indicate whether vowels are long or short, for instance. Czech  
does this very regularly. It may indicate which syllable word-stress  
falls on. Spanish does this very regularly.

The SWF apparently attempts also to indicate the typical unstressed  
nature of a handful of words, not in themselves, but in terms of  
*sentence stress* which is an entirely different level of abstraction  
than orthography is. There are many words which have weak sentence  
stress in Cornish. Singling out those which are in closed syllables  
ending in nasals or sonorants (because doubling of other letters is  
proscribed in the SWF) is without precedent in orthography design. It  
"solves" a problem which has never been a problem for Cornish learners.

> “What's the word for 'so' in Cornish? "Dell".
> What's the word for 'long' in Cornish? "Pell".

That's an example of stressed <dell>: the word cited as a word will  
rhyme with <pell> because the words are phonemically /del/ and /pel/  
(it seems that no phonemic /dəl/ applies here).

> > 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.
> Not applicable to the monosyllables we are discussing. We know that  
> secondary gemination in superlatives is a feature in later Cornish.  
> (One might consider writing <scafha> alongside <gwelha>.)”
> How do we know this? How can we be sure that Brythonic s- 
> superlatives didn’t always cause gemination throughout the Old  
> Cornish and Middle Cornish periods?

We've no evidence for it. It seems to me that the evidence suggests  
that suffixes in -h caused aspiration which later led to gemination.  
Tregear's orthography suggests this as well.

In any case this is orthogonal to the discussion about monosyllables.

That's enough for tonight.

Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com

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