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

Jon Mills j.mills at email.com
Thu Jul 10 12:43:19 IST 2008


Bodewryd' spelling "beez" is consistent with Lhuyd's "bêz" [be:z]. But
as Nicholas points out, [bi:z] is also a plausible pronunciation of
"beez". If  OCV "bis truit", is Cornish, then how do we account for the
alternation of  <-i-> and <-e-> in Old Cornish?Jon

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: "nicholas williams"
  To: "Standard Cornish discussion list"
  Subject: Re: [Spellyans] More on bys/bes words and diacritical marks
  Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2008 10:21:03 +0100

But in the Bodewryd glossary we find the following:
beez — fingerbeez meas — thumbebeez beean — litell fingerbeez
creese — middle fingerbeez 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 definitelyCornish 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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  School of European Culture and Languages,
  University of Kent


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University of Kent

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