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

Craig Weatherhill weatherhill at freenet.co.uk
Thu Jul 10 11:03:06 IST 2008


I quite like Jon's suggestion of <beys>, "world".  <ei> might have been 
rejected by the AHG but (and correct me if I'm wrong), I don't think 
they even considered <ey> in this context and, therefore, we would not 
be going against their wishes.  Would we? 8-)

Craig



nicholas williams wrote:
> 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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>>
>> _____________________________________
>> Dr. Jon Mills,
>> School of European Culture and Languages,
>> University of Kent
>>     
>>
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