[Spellyans] redistribution of <i> and <y>

nicholas williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Wed Jul 23 19:00:11 IST 2008

I have discussed the question of schwa to some degree in Cornish Today.
It seems that in MC there were three unstressed vowels: schwa, i- 
coloured schwa
and u-coloured schwa (in gallus and arluth, for example).
In LC all three had a tendency to fall together. One finds Cornowok in  
and Frenkock in NBoson.

Flehes  x 14, flehys x 42, and flehas x 11 are all attested in Middle  
Cornish, which
seems to me to indicate that schwa and i-schwa are allophones, perhaps  
by the following consonant or by vocalic harmony.

The word for 'one' is onen x 12, onan x 52, onon x 9 and onyn x 90 in  
Middle Cornish.

In Late Cornish the verbal adjective in -ys is not infrequently spelt  
with <as>, <az>:
e.g. En Termen ez passiez thera Trigaz en St. Levan JCH § 1.

Moreover in Middle Cornish itself benegas 'blessed' and malegas  
'accursed' are common (x 60 and 10 respectively).

In Late Cornish forms like crenjah and venjah seem to suggest that  
schwa in auslaut had
a low allophone close to [a].

We write arlùth with <ù> in KS but in Late Cornish it appears as  
<arleth> 54 times! And as <arlith> 10 times.
Nicholas Boson writes <arlyth> once.

The word profus 'prophet' is exclusively Middle Cornish, since it is  
replaced by profet in Tregear and LC.
The attested spellings are: <profus> 13, <profes> 1, <profys> 1,  
<profos> 3.

<eglos> occurs 22 times in MC and LC, <egglos> 197 times (mostly in  
Tregear who had a special interest in the church).
<egles> occurs twice in Late Cornish and <eglez> three times. <egglys>  
occurs once in Sacrament an Alter.

The word cafus, cafos is written <cafes> twice in Origo Mundi.

The collapse of unstressed vowels into schwa is by the way an  
indication that the prosodic shift has occurred by the time
of the earliest MC texts i(late fourteenth and early fifteenth  
centuries). The specification of the SWF allows for
a pre-shift phonology with half-length and pure unstressed vowels.  
This again is an attempt to salvage the underlying phonology of KK.
It is inauthentic as well as being irrelevant, since nobody uses it.

Any attempt, however, to distinguish unstressed -en, -es from -yn, -ys  
is, I think, doomed to failure.
We have schwa, i-schwa and u-schwa (if I may be allowed to use the  
terms) and that is all.
And all three are by the Late Cornish period (if not before)  
allophones of the same phoneme.


On 23 Jul 2008, at 14:18, Craig Weatherhill wrote:

> I would support Nicholas's view here.  The place name Langostentyn is
> Langustentyn, Langustenstyn and Legostentyn in the C14.  A final -in
> creeps in in 1447, followed by -en (1501) and -on (1574 twice) and -n
> again in 1574.  The saint's name is S. Constantinus (pure Latin) in
> 1086, 1284, 1287, 1291; then Costentyne 1468, Costentyn 1441.  Only in
> the C16 does -in appear (note the lack of "saint" in these examples).
> For Constantine Bay, we have only two Cornish examples:  
> Egloscontantyne
> c1525, and Constenton 1568.
> Please note, too, that there is a place-name element <kegyn>, "ridge"
> (Pengegon), cognate with W. cegin.  To avoid confusion, I would
> recommend that "kitchen" is represented by <kegen>.
> On the subject of <au> I find that I have to revise my advice to Jon.
> Nance gives chons, chonsya where I would expect to find chauns,  
> chaunsya
> (chaunssya?).  It looks as though most of the <au> words are loan  
> words,
> although they extend to Celtic personal (saint's) names such as  
> Maunan,
> Maugan and Maudet.
> Craig
> nicholas williams wrote:
>> In unstressed syllables there is no difference in pronunciation
>> between, say, -in in kegyn and -yn in brentyn. Even KK (which spells
>> "etymologically") admits that unstressed i and y are not to be
>> distinguished. Moreover the texts always spell MC <brentyn>,
>> <bryntyn>. There are no exx of *<brentin>. The name for "Constantine"
>> is common in BM, where it is spelt <Costentyn> at least 20 times. It
>> never has final <-in>. The only time the name has <in> is in the  
>> Latin
>> form <Constantinus> in stage directions.  To attempt to distinguish
>> kegyn from *brentin, *Costentin in spelling is not wise. It will make
>> learning the orthography much harder and with no phonetic gain. It
>> will merely look like an attempt to salvage a feature of KK, which  
>> was
>> misguided in the first place. The SWF should write kegyn, Costentyn,
>> brentyn, melyn, gyllyn, etc.
>> Notice incidentally, that following KK the SWF at the moment writes
>> gyllyn, gyllys, gyllyns but gylli!
>> Nicholas
>> -----------
>> On 23 Jul 2008, at 08:40, Daniel Prohaska wrote:
>>> *I would like to hear everyone’s opinions on the following idea for
>>> redistributing <y> and <i> in the SWF. I would write <i> where  
>>> bother
>>> Late and Middle Cornish have /i/ and /i:/, and write <y> ~ <e> (in
>>> dictionaries <ÿ> ~ <ë>) where Middle Cornish has /I/ and /I:/, but
>>> Late Cornish has /e/ and /e:/.*
>>> * *
>>> *Examples:*
>>> *SWF <brentin>; RMC /”brentin/, RLC /”brentin/;*
>>> *SWF <kegyn>; RMC /”kegin/, RLC /”keg at n/;*
>>> *SWF <tir>; RMC /ti:r/, RLC /ti:r/;*
>>> *SWF <bys> ~ <bes>; RMC */bI:z/ = [bi:z] ~ [bIz] ~ [beIz] etc., RLC
>>> /be:z/;*
>>> * *
>>> *Dan*
>>> * *
>>> * *
>>> *-----Original Message-----
>>> From: Michael Everson
>>> Sent: Sunday, July 20, 2008 11:31 PM*
>>> At 21:46 +0100 2008-07-20, Craig Weatherhill wrote:
>>>> Good question - if <y> is a short i and <i> a long one, then this  
>>>> makes
>>>> no sense at all.
>>> “That is the SWF (and KS) rule for monosyllables. In KS we are  
>>> making
>>> an attempt to rationalize (and make teachable) the distribution of
>>> <i> and <y>.
>>> Nicholas and I tried many times to have this distribution dealt with
>>> during the AHG meetings when we were asked our advice. Our concerns
>>> were not addressed. Not even acknowledged.
>>> --
>>> Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com”
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