[Spellyans] SWF vowel inconsistencies

nicholas williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Wed Jul 2 13:44:20 IST 2008

Not so, Jon. There is evidence for the collapse of unstressed vowels  
as schwa in Late West Saxon.

On 2 Jul 2008, at 13:03, Jon Mills wrote:

> It is not until the Middle English period that vowels start to  
> become schwa in unstressed syllables. This first occurred in word  
> final vowels: 'soote', 'roote', 'yonge', 'sonne'. Follow this link  
> to hear some Chaucer: http://www.vmi.edu/english/audio/GP- 
> Opening.ram . Middle English did not have the preponderance of weak  
> forms that appear in today's English. Weakening of vowels in  
> unstressed syllables would appear to be an areal feature that  
> affected both English and Cornish. It is possible that it even  
> started to occur in Cornish before English.
> Jon
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "nicholas williams"
> To: "Standard Cornish discussion list"
> Subject: Re: [Spellyans] SWF vowel inconsistencies
> Date: Wed, 2 Jul 2008 12:22:54 +0100
> Welsh pronunciation is very un-English and native speakers of Welsh  
> pronounce English like
> Welsh not vice versa. They say, for example, kri:w for crew and  
> ni:ws for news [nju:z]. They have trouble
> with [z] and will say [hausIs] for houses and 'I saw a Sebra in the  
> soo'. Indeed zoo is written sw in Welsh.
> The intonation of Welsh is very different from English and even in  
> English Welsh speakers will
> pronounce toponyms in their Welsh form. We say bang-g@ for Bangor,  
> but  native Welsh speakers say
> Bangor with the stress on the first syllable but a rise in tone on  
> the second syllable and a clear o vowel.
> The whole point about the Prosodic Shift in my view is that it made  
> Cornish closer to English than it
> had been and thus less like Welsh. The Welsh name is Caradog with  
> three clear syllables whereas
> the Cornish equivalent Caragek after the shift would have been  
> k at raedZ@k with schwa in the unstressed syllables.
> The weakening of unstressed syllables to schwa is already noticeable  
> in PA and the Ordinalia. By the time of
> BM it is complete. The scribe of BM writes dotha 'to him' because  
> his final unstressed syllables were all schwa.
> The next stage is seen in TH who in order to keep gansa 'with him'  
> apart from gansa 'with them' recharacterises
> the latter as gansans.
> The first stage in the anglicisation of Cornish phonology was the  
> assibilation of tad > tadz > tas/taz. This came about
> because the Brythonic distinction between fortis and lenis was  
> replaced by the English opposition of stop and affricate.
> A later stage in the anglicisation of Cornish was the phenomenon  
> known as pre-occlusion. The distinction between n and n:
> survived long enough in some forms of Cornish to undergo sound  
> substitution: n: > dn. A similar phenomenon is
> to be seen in Manx, which is Gaelic (which has long consonants) in  
> the mouths of Norse speakers.
> Pre-occlusion in Manx goes back to the beginnings of Manx in the  
> ninth century, but does not appear in writing till
> much later.
> If we Cymricise Cornish we will, I believe, do violence to the  
> phonology of the language, which has been closer to English
> than to Welsh since the beginning of the Middle Cornish period.
> Nicholas
> On 2 Jul 2008, at 11:37, John Sheridan wrote:
>> --- On Wed, 7/2/08, nicholas williams <njawilliams at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> There is really no way round the difficulty. Revived
>>> Cornish even when
>>> fluent
>>> sounds like English in both phonemic inventory and
>>> intonation.
>>> The problem is exacerbated by the inevitable tendency to
>>> sound-
>>> substitution.
>>> Matthew Clarke ...
>> Matthew Clarke is perhaps the best case in point.  With his Radyo  
>> an Gernewegva, he is building up a substantial inventory of news  
>> reports with (sometimes) accompanying text transcriptions.  It is  
>> admirable work and a true boon to the Cornish speaking community.  
>> In some ways, he is becoming the Cornish voice of Cornwall.  So  
>> perhaps that's really what 21st-century Cornish sounds like.
>>> The best Cornish I have ever heard was Neil Kennedy's
>>> before he left
>>> for Brittany and
>>> Dan's JCH. Dan has the great advantages
>>> of being 1. a trained linguist; 2. a professional actor.
>>> Perhaps Dan should be employed to produce learners'
>>> materials.
>> Hear, hear!  As an aside, I've also thought that someone should  
>> produce a filmed version of the Tregear homilies with Dan playing  
>> the preacher.
>> But Dan also has the advantage of being bilingual from birth and  
>> living abroad, thus having a facility with language and not  
>> influenced by UK dialects.
>> It interests me, Nicholas, that you chose to learn Irish, because I  
>> have often thought: perhaps I should learn Welsh and model my  
>> Cornish pronunciation after Welsh.  At least then it would be  
>> modeled after some Brythonic language.  But Welsh itself for all I  
>> know may be heavily influenced by English; and besides, as it has  
>> been said umpteen times by many on this list, Cornish is not Welsh  
>> (or Breton)!
>> Yn lel,
>> -John
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> _____________________________________
> Dr. Jon Mills,
> School of European Culture and Languages,
> University of Kent
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