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

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Thu Jul 10 16:09:15 IST 2008

At 12:30 +0000 2008-07-10, Tom Trethewey wrote:
>So when the word for 'finger' is spelled both <bis> and <bes> in Old Cornish,
>it means that the vowel was between [i:] and [E:].

You sound very sure.

>The same observation may be made for the 
>spelling of many words in Middle Cornish, such 
>as <dyth~deyth~deth> 'day'.

Well, the fact is that Revived Middle Cornish 
speakers say [bi:z] (almost all of them even if a 
"tiny minority" of them manage [bI:z] and Revived 
Late Cornish speakers say [be:z] (and the same 
for <dÿdh>~<dëdh>). And everybody says [re:z] 
which never goes *[ri:z] or *[rI:z].

There is a class of words which has this 
alternation in Revived Cornish, and that's not up 
for negotiation. The SWF too recognizes this 
distinction, and allows people to write <bys> or 
<bes>. The problem is that there are words like 
<bys> [bIz] 'but' and <res> [re:z] 'necessary 
which are not part of that class.

We have a solution to this problem of the SWF. It 
is to mark members of this class with the 
diaeresis. There aren't any other solutions that 
will work without completely changing the 
wordforms themselves, which would be a revision 
so great that I don't believe we can get away 
with it.

Tom, if you're a UC or KK speaker, you'll 
probably be writing <bys> in your KK or UC 
anyway. So <bÿs> is the form you will be most 
comfortable with if you want to write KS. If you 
don't want to write KS, you can write SWF or KK 
or UC. It's entirely your choice.
Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com

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