[Spellyans] Phonemic inventory

Craig Weatherhill weatherhill at freenet.co.uk
Fri Jul 4 11:50:45 IST 2008

I don't think that any orthography can be fully phonemic, especially in 
the case of schwa.  Not if you want a satisfactory aesthetic production 
as well.  If dictionaries are to include pronunciation guides (in IPA 
probably), then I would urge that schwa be dealt with as UC, UCR and KS 
do.  It has not been difficult, in any of those orthographies, to learn 
which vowel is schwa, and I don't see this as a problem.  I certainly do 
not see why the SWF has followed KK and respelt <tavas> as <taves>, 
while also respelling <onen> as <onan>.  It makes absolutely no sense at 
all and, because this was decided at a table without any real thought 
being given to it, this means that officialdom will be needlessly 
spending money altering the Cornish motto (Onen hag oll), currently used 
by the "County" Council and presumably by the new Unitary authority as well.

I do think that aesthetics are important, although I acknowledge the 
fact that this is not a technical issue.  KS was described 
"breathtakingly beautiful" - and I wholeheartedly agree with that.  On 
the other hand (and I stress that this is my personal opinion), KK was, 
in appearance, harsh, ugly and without soul.


A. J. Trim wrote:
> The fact that you need to represent the schwa using a special symbol [@] and 
> the fact that you can demonstrate minimal pairs make schwa a phoneme by 
> definition.
> Of course it does not have a phonemic spelling in the SWF or is KS, being 
> represented by any of <a, e, o, u>.
> These orthographies are therefore not as phonemic as possible.
> Schwa could usefully be written <æ>but this would not be authentic, and 
> there would be lots of them.
> Is there any way that we could make the spelling of schwa more predictable?
> For example, you could spell schwa <e> everywhere, and then mark all <e> 
> that have a full sound with a diacritical mark such as an acute accent.
> For example, spellyans would then be spéllyens.
> This would work but it would not look very nice.
> Regards,
> Andrew J. Trim
> --------------------------------------------------
> From: "Michael Everson" <everson at evertype.com>
> Sent: Friday, July 04, 2008 7:45 AM
> To: "Spellyans" <spellyans at kernowek.net>
> Subject: [Spellyans] Phonemic inventory
>> Is schwa a phoneme? When in §1.2 I introduce the
>> phonemes, do I write /@/ or [@]? I guess we have
>> a minimal pair in <dâ> [dæ:] 'good', <da> [d@]
>> 'to'.
>> We've written our phoneme corresponding to <a> as
>> /æ/ because the pronunciation is long [æ:] short
>> [æ]. We have written [ha] for <ha> 'and' however.
>> Ought we?
>> -- 
>> Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com
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