[Spellyans] bys/bes words

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Wed Jul 16 12:03:02 IST 2008

From: Mary Williams
Sent: Thursday, July 10, 2008 6:33 PM
“If you think that there are only two sounds, "i" and "e" then why not
write "y" for all your dotted things and "i" for i and un-dotted y? Isn't
that a common sense solution.”

Yes, and basically that is what the SWF was supposed to have. The
supporters of Late Cornish, however, didn’t like that solution because of
the many instances of <y> and they strongly associate that with the “look”
of Middle Cornish. That’s why the SWF allows for both forms, words with
<y> and with <e>, so you can write <bys> or <bes> for “world” which is not
an ideal solution, but a workable one nonetheless, as long as you have a
dictionary that gives both forms. I could have lived with the <y> only
solution (in monosyllabic words that is, with <e> in polysyllables), but I
was told that Late Cornish speakers couldn’t be taught to say [e:] where
the spelling was <y>.

“I really can't see you selling all these accents that nobody knows how to
type. Why are you all so keen on making things complicated? I'm sorry to
say it, but the expression "too clever by half" does often come to mind.
How many of you have been to a normal Cornish class here in Cornwall? Have
any of you ever taught Cornish to 'ordinary people', not university
students etc?
Sorry, not trying to be rude, but you do all seem to be going around in

I fully agree that this discussion has been going around in circles and
the allowed variation in the <bys>/<bes>-class words is the least of the
problems of the SWF. I should say that it might be useful to mark these
words in a dictionary, but I don’t think it’s necessary in “normal”
writing, that is if the author doesn’t want to write them.

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