[Spellyans] SWF vowel inconsistencies

Jon Mills j.mills at email.com
Wed Jul 2 14:25:04 IST 2008


I'd be grateful for any references in the literature to this.Jon

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: "nicholas williams"
  To: "Standard Cornish discussion list"
  Subject: Re: [Spellyans] SWF vowel inconsistencies
  Date: Wed, 2 Jul 2008 13:44:20 +0100

  Not so, Jon. There is evidence for the collapse of unstressed vowels
  as schwa in Late West Saxon.
  Nicholas
  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 likeWelsh not vice versa. They say,
      for example, kri:w for crew and ni:ws for news [nju:z]. They
      have troublewith [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 willpronounce toponyms in
      their Welsh form. We say bang-g@ for Bangor, but  native
      Welsh speakers sayBangor 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 ithad been and thus
      less like Welsh. The Welsh name is Caradog with three clear
      syllables whereasthe 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 ofBM 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' recharacterisesthe latter
      as gansans. 
      The first stage in the anglicisation of Cornish phonology was
      the assibilation of tad > tadz > tas/taz. This came aboutbecause
      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 isto
      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 tillmuch 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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