[Spellyans] More on bys/bes words and diacritical marks

nicholas williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Thu Jul 10 10:21:03 IST 2008


But in the Bodewryd glossary we find the following:

beez — finger
beez meas — thumbe
beez beean — litell finger
beez creese — middle finger
beez nessa beean — next to littel.

I am not as sure as Jon that <bis> in the OCV is indeed Welsh. We find  
in the OCV bis truit 'toe' [Allax]. Truit is definitely
Cornish not Welsh; cf. truit 'foot' [Pes] and godentruit 'sole of  
foot' [Planta] in the same text.

Can we be completely sure that a pronunciation [bi:z] did not occur in  
Cornish?

Nicholas


On 10 Jul 2008, at 09:31, Jon Mills wrote:

> Vocabularium Cornicum (76) gives "bis" glossing 'digitus'; this is  
> Welsh not Cornish. The Cornish word for finger is found at VC78:  
> "bess" glossing 'digitum'. In Beunans Meriasek this word is written  
> "besse". Lhuyd (AB18c) notes that several Welsh words containing <y>  
> have an <e> in Cornish and notes "W. Bŷs, A Finger or Toe; Corn.  
> Bêz." The Cornish word for finger should be written 'bes'.
> Jon
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Jon Mills"
> To: "Standard Cornish discussion list"
> Subject: Re: [Spellyans] More on bys/bes words and diacritical marks
> Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2008 08:08:47 +0000
>
> I agree that we do not need diacritics to disambiguate homonyms. The  
> meaning of bys/bes words is normally deduced from the context. Words  
> have no meaning until they are used in a context. Consider the  
> English word 'ring'. On its own it has no meaning, but place it in  
> context: 'I heard the phone ring', 'wedding ring' 'drugs ring',  
> 'boxing ring', etc. I would prefer to see 'beys' (world) which is  
> attestested (Ordinalia, Beunans Meriasek, Jordan).
> Jon
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "A. J. Trim"
> To: "Standard Cornish discussion list"
> Subject: [Spellyans] More on bys/bes words and diacritical marks
> Date: Wed, 9 Jul 2008 21:49:33 +0100
>
> I know that we have covered this topic previously but some further  
> discussion is required.
>
> I assume that we want to write bÿs/bës & bys in KS because the SWF  
> has bys/bes & bys, and we consider that to be “broken”, i.e. a  
> poor feature of the SWF.
>
> Firstly, this is because bys [bi:z]~[be:z] “world” or  
> “finger” could also mean [biz] “until”, so we should like to  
> spell them differently from each other.
>
> However, Mary said, “I don't think I've ever muddled up these  
> words, I don't know the clever way to say it, but they're just not  
> words you confuse, they don't come in the same places if you follow  
> me.”
>
> I think that Mary is correct. It’s “world” and “finger”  
> that is the more likely pair of meanings to get confused. We have  
> many words in English that could be confused but somehow people  
> don’t confuse them very often. For example, “dear” can mean  
> cherished or it can mean expensive. Then we have “deer” which  
> means kind of beast, often with antlers. I do not believe that the  
> stated reason holds. How many other bÿs/bës type words have another  
> meaning with a different pronunciation?
>
>
>
> Secondly, if you were to use ether one of these two spellings (i.e.  
> bys or bes), you couldn’t see that the alternative form also  
> exists, whereas if the choice is bÿs or bës, you can.
>
> The graphs <ÿ> & <ë> help the reader to understand and to pronounce  
> text that has been written in the alternative dialect.
>
> Unfortunately, this benefit is at the expense of making Cornish of  
> either dialect (Middle or Late) more difficult to spell correctly,  
> and more difficult to type.
>
> The measure of a good “spell-as-you-say-it” orthography is that  
> you don’t need the dictionary to spell words that you know how to  
> say.
>
> In this case, however, some of the expected <i> become <ÿ>, and some  
> of the expected <e> become <ë>. We shall all be left to wonder which  
> do, and which don’t.
>
> The forms bïs/bës & bys would be more logical as <ï> is long but  
> the problem of knowing which <i> or <e> have diereses and which  
> don’t would be the same.
>
>
>
> I’m not saying that diacritical marks should not be used in  
> Cornish, only that their use should be minimised. The dieresis, as  
> proposed for bÿs/bës words, could be avoided through the use of  
> <ei>. This would give us the choice beis & bys. That would be  
> simpler but the spelling problem would remain.
>
> The SWF designers objected to diacritical marks of any kind, and  
> they rejected beis but they failed to give good reasons.
>
> In view of this, perhaps it would be best for KS to adopt beis,  
> regardless of the current SWF.
>
> The spelling <ei> should become more acceptable within the next five  
> years because, by then, the reason for its rejection will have  
> faded, and it would already be in use, at least to some extent.
>
> Opposition to diacritical marks could increase within the next five  
> years. This is because (hopefully) more people will be using  
> Cornish, and they will have got used to writing Cornish without  
> writing any diacritical marks. This is because they will be using  
> the current SWF or continuing to use KK, UC or UCR, none of which  
> uses diacritical marks. (Perhaps some people will be using KS & LRC  
> too but they would be a small proportion only.)
>
> Also, the use of electronic mobile devices as an important means of  
> communication is likely to increase over the next five years. These  
> devices tend to cater poorly for accented characters. Perhaps this  
> is because you type with one finger or a stylus. Perhaps the  
> producers assume a USA market (where diacritical marks aren’t used  
> much.)  Either way, those who might otherwise write diacritical  
> marks will tend to leave them off when using these devices. I  
> believe that those habits will soon invade the language as a whole.
>
> We already see a parallel effect with text messaging abbreviations  
> being used in company e-mails. A full keyboard is available for the  
> e-mails, so it is a habit that has migrated from the mobile phone.
>
> I think that we shall see this effect with the partial loss of  
> diacritical marks.
>
> By the way, and I don't know whether this is related but I heard  
> that France has considered reducing use of the circumflex, Germany  
> is losing its double-s <ss> (ß), and Scottish Gaelic appears to be  
> losing its acute accents.
>
>
> Regards,
>
> Andrew J. Trim
>
>
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>
> _____________________________________
> Dr. Jon Mills,
> School of European Culture and Languages,
> University of Kent
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> University of Kent
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