[Spellyans] SWF vowel inconsistencies

Jon Mills j.mills at email.com
Wed Jul 2 15:22:38 IST 2008


Many thanks.Jon

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: "nicholas williams"
  To: "Standard Cornish discussion list"
  Subject: Re: [Spellyans] SWF vowel inconsistencies
  Date: Wed, 2 Jul 2008 15:20:04 +0100

  The classic article on this question is Kemp Malone, "When did Middle
  English begin?" (1930)see http://www.jstor.org/pss/521990There are
  many later accounts. I googled "Late West Saxon" and "unstressed" and
  got many references.
  Nicholas


  On 2 Jul 2008, at 14:25, Jon Mills wrote:

    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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        School of European Culture and Languages,
        University of Kent


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    School of European Culture and Languages,
    University of Kent


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