[Spellyans] All these I's and Y's etc

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Sat Jul 5 14:23:36 IST 2008


At 12:46 +0000 2008-07-05, Mary Williams wrote:
>Sorry, but could you help someone who may be going to teach Cornish.

Sure!

>In UC there were the two letters "y" and "e" and 
>if they had a line over them they were long 
>sounds. The problem was that you keep having to 
>look words up to see whether they had long 
>sounds.

Exactly.

>KK was better because you always knew which were 
>the long sounds, but there was a new letter "i" 
>which wasn't the same as "y". I called "i" the 
>sharp sound and "y" the blunt sound and that's 
>how I remembered it.

And that's not really what KK wanted you to do, 
either. KK wanted "i" and "y" to be two different 
phonemes, each with a long and short sound. Most 
people treated them as one phoneme, with "i" 
being long (like the "i" in "machine"), and "y" 
being short (like the "i" in "pin").

>Now you've got an "i" and a "y" and an "e"

Well, there was always an "e" in UC. :-)

>and they all seem to sometimes have dots or some 
>other decoration on them, so that's six 
>different letters.

Actually the KS system allows for "e" and "é" and 
"è" and "ë" and "i" and "î" and "y" and "ÿ". 
That's eight letters.

>Do you want us to say six different sounds? What 
>are these sounds? If there are less sounds (it 
>does seem rather a lot!) what are all these 
>letters for? I could understand if the dots were 
>for long sounds (or was it short sounds?) but I 
>don't think that's right.

The system *does* work, and it's not all that 
complicated, though it might seem so at first.

>I'm sorry if I sound a bit silly, but please try 
>to bear the ordinary user, and especially the 
>teachers in mind.

You are quite right to ask!

<e> has two sounds, long [e:] and short [E], as in <den> and <penn>~<pedn>.

<ê> has the sound of [e:] and is used when the 
rules would lead you to expect [E], as in <strêt> 
[stre:t] 'street' which otherwise would be 
[strEt].

<è> has the sound of [E] and is used when the 
rules would lead you to expect [e:], as in <mès> 
[mEz] 'but'.

<ë> has the sound of [i:] or of [e:] depending 
whether you prefer earlier pronunciation or later 
pronunciation. You read this letter according to 
your preference. If you prefer to say [e:], you 
should write <bës>.

<ÿ> has the sound of [i:] or of [e:] depending 
whether you prefer earlier pronunciation or later 
pronunciation. You read this letter according to 
your preference. If you prefer to say [i:], you 
should write <bÿs>.

<y> has the sound of [I] as in English "pin" in 
stressed words of one syllable, as in <bys> 'but'.

<i> has the sound of [i:] as in English "machine" 
in stressed words of one syllable, as in <mis> 
'month'. In words of more than one syllable it is 
[I].

<î> has the sound of [i:] when stressed in a word 
of more than one syllable, a and is used when the 
rules would lead you to expect [i:].

Writing out these rules might make them look more 
complicated than they are. But when one learn 
them one won't have to look things up as one did 
with UC and UCR, and one won't make length 
mistakes as one did with KK. (I say "one" there 
because it sounded funny when i directed it at 
you personally.)
-- 
Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com




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