[Spellyans] SWF vowel inconsistencies

Christian Semmens christian.semmens at gmail.com
Wed Jul 2 11:15:36 IST 2008

>From Terry's introduction:

"I am still  searching for answers about what the phonology of Cornish
was and what the best way is to represent it to make it as inclusive
of all periods as well as easy to learn."

His question:
"Could you tell me what you believe were the vowels of pre-prosodic
shift Cornish?"

I think he was simply asking if anyone had any thoughts other than KG
as to these sounds. I suspect he got the hump because he felt his
question was being dismissed in quite an abrupt way, when all he was
asking was if anyone knew the answer to his question.

Nicholas' reply could be interpreted as dissmissive:
"Why should we consider pre-shift Cornish? We're not trying to revive
Old Cornish, are we?"

and your reply could be interpreted as sarcastic:

'Why? Do you think anyone says "I want to learn Cornish but only that
Cornish spoken before the Prosodic Shift"?'

Not to suggest that the quotes above were intended to be dismissive or
sarcastic, merely that they could be interpreted as such.

My interpretation is that his reasons for departing this list are as
simple as that.

It is *very* easy for the wrong tone to be implied in emails. Their
immediacy and conversational nature can lead to this kind of position.
It can be all too easy to come across as sarcastic, patronising or
impatient. Without facial expressions or tone of voice to colour the
meaning of the written words, it is often the more severe
interpretation that is taken when reading others comments.


2008/7/2 Michael Everson <everson at evertype.com>:
> .... 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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