[Spellyans] SWF vowel inconsistencies

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Wed Jul 2 10:43:26 IST 2008

.... and since Terry has quit the list, I'd like to ask if anyone 
thinks what I'd said is out of line:

At 23:11 +0100 2008-07-01, Michael Everson wrote:
>At 13:44 -0600 2008-07-01, Terry Corbett wrote:
>>Could you tell me what you believe were the vowels of pre-prosodic 
>>shift Cornish?
>Why? Do you think anyone says "I want to learn Cornish but only that 
>Cornish spoken before the Prosodic Shift"?

I asked that because it really vexes me. I can understand people 
saying "I don't prefer to pre-occlude". I can understand people 
saying "I prefer saying [di:D] rather than [de:D]. I do not, however, 
believe that people are really saying "I want to speak Cornish that 
distinguishes [I:] and [i:] and [e:] phonemically."

In the first place, that system is linguistically unstable. In 
Cornish as we have seen words which might have had [I:] in terms of a 
reconstruction of an original and different vowel have ended up as 
[e:] in RLC (and in LC as recorded by Lhuyd) and as [i:] in RMC (as 
recommended by Jenner and Nance). Where KK writes <dydh> and <bys> 
and recommends [dI:D] and [bI:z], its learners almost invariably end 
up saying [dID] and [bIz] -- with the wrong vowel length.

KS cannot recommend the wrong vowel length: either [di:D]~[de:D] or 
[bi:z]~[be:z] is preferable (and more authentic) than *[dID] and 
*[bIz]. Note that Ken George himself has no [I:] in these words when 
he speaks Cornish.

(It worries me greatly that drafts of Dan's dictionaries perpetuate 
the fiction of [I:]. But I've said it to him and it's his dictionary.)

>>Obviously most KK speakers fail to acquire recommended KK 
>>pronunciation, but not including this "aspirational" pronunciation 
>>in the SWF is probably politically impractical if you want to get 
>>the SWF to accept diacritics.
>What I want is a coherent and accurate orthography that we can use 
>to publish with. Whether it gets adopted at some time by the CLP is 
>not my primary goal. My primary goal is to get books published so 
>people can read them.

My point here is that I have no influence over the CLP. Nicholas and 
I were kept out of it; I doubt that the discussion documents we wrote 
were discussed at enough length for the AHG to have understood them. 
(Really: there is nothing wrong with <ai> and <au> for the dozen 
words affected, yet this was not considered, and now we have, 
evidently, either Awstrya or Ostrya.) I think that the Arbitrator had 
made some decisions and wanted to stick with them -- Nicholas and I 
called for a meeting of linguists, and Jenefer said that Trond could 
call one if he wanted to, but no meeting was called. Nicholas and I 
were prevented from making a case before the AHG, and also, really, 
before the Arbitrator and his two assistants.

So am I worried whether KS will be "politically acceptable" in five 
years' time? No. I'd like to see many excellent publications in KS 
out there. I'd like to see what the book-buying public has to say. I 
suspect our books will be popular and influential.

>KS will not support "aspirational" phonology. I can't see how it could.

And I mean that. How can it? It is challenging enough to ensure that 
the *real* dialects of Revived Cornish are represented accurately 
without adding in fiction.
Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com

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