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

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Wed Jul 23 21:59:15 IST 2008

-----Original Message-----

From: Michael Everson

Sent: Wednesday, July 23, 2008 2:56 PM


At 09:40 +0200 2008-07-23, 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:/.


“I can't see how this would work. In the first place, in stressed syllables,
we have [i:] words 

(like <mis> and we have [e:] words (like <res> and we have [I] words like
<bys>. No problem 

here: we write <i> and <e> and <y> for these. We also have in stressed
syllables words [i:] and 

[e:] alternate; no problem here: we write <ÿ> and <ë> regularly.


Not in dictionaries. Regularly. Nance's "write the marks in the dictionary
but leave them off in plain text" is *not* something to be emulated. We know
that Revivalists learning from Unified made mistakes in vowel length when
there was no system to mark it; we know they made mistakes distinguishing
between /y/ and /u/ when there was no system to mark it.”


Yes, I’m aware of your proposed solution. It was not accepted in the SWF
discussions, so I’m looking for alternative solutions. 


“Both KS and the SWF correct the first problem because they have a system
where regular vowel length is marked by consonant quality. The SWF fails to
be able to mark irregular vowel length, but KS corrects this failing by
using the grave <`> for anomalous short vowels and the circumflex <^> for
anomalous long vowels.”


Yes, I know, I was there. You are repeating yourself. As I said, I’m looking
for alternatives, because your solution was rejected in the SWF discussions.


“The SWF fails to correct the second problem because it cannot distinguish
between /y/ and /u/ since the graph used is <u>. I do not believe that <ou>
can be used throughout for [u:] and [U] alike; it is absurd to contemplate
writing <Louk> for 'Luke' [lu:k] and <louck> for 'luck' [lUk]. KS corrects
this failing by using u-circumflex <û> for [u:] <Lûk> and u-grave <ù> for

<lùck>. (Both KS and the SWF take advantage of using <k> and <ck> to mark
final vowel length redundantly.)”


Yes, I know, I was there.


“I do *not* believe that we can recommend that diacritical marks be
optional. That "philosophy" is childish, and does nothing to help learners
or fluent readers either. Let's accept that a mature orthography for Revived
Cornish must accept diacritics due to the nature of the language, and
neither apologize for it nor try to weasel out of it by offering them as
"optional". To write correct Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, Breton, or
Cornish, diacritical marks are *required* and *obligatory*.”


Whatever – compulsory use of diacritics has been rejected and I don’t see
that decision being reversed any time soon, no matter whether we consider it
childish or not. I’m looking for alternatives. 



>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/;


“I think Dan is really mixing up things here, because on the one hand he is
talking about 

stressed monosyllables and on the other unstressed final syllables. These
are not the 

same things.”


In the SWF both <i> and <y> is written in stressed and unstressed syllables
alike. Thus it is legitimate to discuss <i> and <y> in both stressed and
unstressed syllables. That does not mean that I’m mixing anything up, thank
you very much.


“KS writes <tir> and <bÿs>~<bës> in monosyllables. We all know that [bI:z]
is a failed 

"aspirational" pronunciation of KK, which is either realized as [bi:z] with
correct vowel 

length or as [bIz] in erroneous hypercorrection. [beIz] would, I think, be
an English-influenced [be:z] and so need not be listed.”


Note the different brackets, phonemic and phonetic transcriptions, or are
you mixing things up now?


“But KS is happy with <tir> and <bÿs>~<bës>.”


KS is an entity that can be happy – interesting personification…


“Where Dan has seemed to me to mix things up is in his other examples. What
does /'brentin/ mean?”


Well, what do you think it means? I think you would recognise a phonemic
transcription when confronted with one! 


“Surely ['brEnt at n] though likelier ['brEnt1n] with i-coloured schwa. How
does this differ from /'kegin/? Surely this is ['kEg at n] though likelier
['kEg1n] with i-coloured schwa. That is to say, the two words are pronounced
identically in both RMC and RLC -- both with [1], i-coloured schwa as in
English <wicket> ['wIk1t].”


OK, to spell it out /i/ = [I] and /i:/ = [i:]. 


“We may have need for <ÿ>~<ë> distinction in some short vowels, but not, I
think, in short 

unstressed vowels. I don't believe that a <kegÿn>~<kegën> distinction is
found in Revived 

Cornish -- and if we were to mark this, we would certainly be multiplying
the use of the diaeresis many many many times.”


That is if the use of diaeresis has in any way been accepted – which
officially, as far as the SWF goes, it hasn’t. So, I wouldn’t stop looking
for alternative solutions just yet.


“I don't believe that the distinction KK makes between <i> and <y> in
unstressed final syllables is defensible. <-yn> and <-in> in unstressed
position are pronounced identically. KS writes <-yn> for these words and
uses final <-in> in words where that final syllable is stressed and the
vowel is long, as in <desin> [dE'zi:n] 'design', constrin [kOn'stri:n]


I know, I was there. Still looking for alternatives.


“The <-yn>/<-in> distinction in the SWF is indefensible. Here's why:


In GKK 1993, George explains (p. 20) that KK <i> /i/ is [i:] when stressed,
and "when half-long 

and short, the same but reduced in duration". He also explains that when
unstressed it is [I]. He then explains that KK <y> /I/ is [I] when short,
and "when half-long and long, the same sound extended appropriately". So in
1993 he says nothing about unstressed <y>.”


OK, you obviously didn’t listen to my proposal, so here it is again. SWF
spells <i> for this /i/ where it is [I] in both Middle and Late Cornish, but
allows for <y> or <e> where Late Cornish based Revived Cornish has [@] and
Middle Cornish based Revived Cornish has [I].


“In the Gerlyvrik 2005, however, he gives the following table:


<i> when stressed is [i:] [i:\] [i], when unstressed [I]

<y> when stressed is [I:] [I:\] [I], when unstressed [I]


Then he writes <bryntin> ['brIntin] and <kegin> ['ke:\gIn].”


Yes, that is unfortunate, but George wasn’t considering LC which I am.


“What does this mean? That the suffix in the first word is *stressed* but in
the second 

*unstressed*? Yet George writes both <-in>. How is the learner to make any
sense of this? And the SWF doesn't even write both <-in>: it distinguishes
them. How? On the basis of the 

Gerlyvrik's phonetic respellings? Why is it <brentin> not <bryntin> then?”


When a new proposal comes along, it would be nice if you could abstract and
leave the confines of your own proposal, just for the sake of discussion…


“On this matter I have no confidence in the SWF. And if I can't work out how
these choices were made, what choice has any learner in working out when to
write one letter and when to write the other? I don't believe the AHG
decided explicitly on this alternation <-yn>/<-in>. I have a feeling it has
to do with the word "etymology" -- and since that concept is left undefined
in the context of these choices, it is no wonder that there are problems.”


Yes, and that’s why I’m trying to look for alternatives with an open mind…


“We have heard that the Partnership has recognized a series of edge-cases.
For once I am copying the authors of the SWF and the CLP officer in charge
of the process. The problem of the edge cases most likely has to do with the
word "etymology" which was probably introduced into the AHG discussions by
Andrew Climo, on the basis of work we had done on KS.


In that context, we had said we would retain "etymological" spellings in
words like <colon> 

because in the derived form the unstressed vowel was restored as <colonow>.
(We needed to describe this because the earlier drafts of KS would use <-an>
throughout for final [@n]. The context here is important.) This use of the
word "etymological" was mine, and it was imprecise. Somehow, however, it
seems to have been taken to mean "as in Ken George's KK reconstructions". As
such it is a recipe for conflict. Why should <tavas> be respelt <taves>? On
the basis of "etymology", in that the form "should" be <taves>? In Revived
Cornish, the word has two plurals: UC has <tavasow> and we have <tavosow>
from Tregear which was unknown to Nance.  The Welsh is <tafod> pl <tafodau>;
the Breton is <teod> pl <teodoù>. Old Cornish <tauot>. In the texts <tavas>
is something like 5 times more common than <taves>. On the same
"etymological" basis as <colon>/<colonow> we might write the wholly
unattested *<tavos> but of course, neither *<tavos> nor *<tavesow> are


Yes, we’ve had this discussion before and as Nicholas pointed out */e/ is
the correct etymological vowel, AND it is attested, which means that the
only reason for being against the spelling <taves> is because it is <taves>
in KK. Though I may be mistaken.


“And from here the whole enterprise brings us to the question "Do we trust

reconstructions and etymologies?" And the answer is No. We do not. Not
everything is wrong. Of course not. How could it be? But KK has been under
sustained academic criticism since it was introduced. It is not "safe"
enough to serve as the base for the distribution of vowels in unstressed
position. The "edge cases" are not really "edge": this is a fairly
fundamental problem.”


Yes, but there are many instances where George is correct and we may not
dismiss them because they’re George’s etymologies. That would be very silly


“In any case, to get back to Dan's original question... I do not believe
that a distinction 

<kegyn>~<kegen> is defensible. KS can write <-yn> for final unstressed
i-coloured schwa and <-in> for final stressed [i:].


Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com <http://www.evertype.com/> ”


The variants <kegyn ~ kegen> are completely acceptable because that is
exactly what occurs in traditional Cornish.



PS: … still very pissed off at the tone of your dismissal…



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