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

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Thu Jul 24 18:20:24 IST 2008

At 19:20 +0300 2008-07-24, Owen Cook wrote:

>  > Except that then you aren't even attempting to engage with the SWF.
>Neither are you when you substitute <au> for short <o>

That corrects an oversight and affects a dozen words.

>  ... and <th, f> for final <dh, v> in unstressed syllables ...

That corrects pronunciation errors in the SWf.

>and <y> for unstressed <i>.

There's no rationale for the unstressed <i> but 
that "George had it that way". His own 
etymologies are questionable

>Sheesh. Are we trying to fix a mistaken and incoherent system here, or not?

Yes, but what's this about

>Dan's proposal makes sense, at least vis-à-vis 
>stressed syllables, and is a bit more 
>streamlined than what we've been working with. I 
>don't think it can be dismissed without a 

Eh? Dan did not propose to change <tir> and 
<bÿs>~<bës> in stressed syllables. He proposed to 
extend the <bÿs>~<bës> analogy to unstressed 
vowels and I don't think that can be done without 
hugely multiplying the number of diaereses 

On top of that he wants to use <y> now as an 
umbrella graph for RMC /i/ and RLC /e/ -- which I 
won't accept any more than I did when the authors 
of the SWF suggested that the <bÿs>~<bës> words 
could all be spelt <bys>. That is why we HAVE the 
<bÿs>~<bës> alternation now. In KS 15 we proposed 
that all these words be written <bes>. We learned 
that the KKers wouldn't accept that. We proposed 
<beis>, a darn good solution. The KKers in the 
AHG would accept that and got the first draft of 
the SWF to use <bys> only. We pushed back and we 
WON <bys>~<bes>. Now because there are crashes 
there with <bys> [biz] and <res> [re:z] we have a 
problem. We use the diaeresis, and behold! The 
problem is gone.

I really don't want to go back to the drawing 
board AGAIN to try to second-guess what might 
satisfy the KKers by trying over and over to make 
a system with the constraint "don't use 
diacritics". I think that's preposterous. I think 
it insults all of Europe, never mind the Irish 
and Scots and IN POINT OF FACT all of the ***RLC 
users*** who have been happily using diacritical 
marks IN CORNISH for years.

>Actually, I think it might tread even more 
>lightly on the SWF than does the diaeresis 
>solution. The words that have consistent /I/ in 
>both Late and Middle Cornish are admittedly 
>numerous, but they mostly tend to be 
>lower-frequency items than those in the 
>alternating /i: ~ e:/ set (gryll, myrr, pyt). 
>And trimming the number of diacritics without 
>adding ambiguity to the system is a further 

I'll say it again: we fought for and won the 
<bys>~<bes> distiction. If we use diaereses on 
these, we are within the system. EVEN IF THE SWF 
doesn't say we can use diacritics, Ben and Albert 
and Trond knew perfectly well that this was a 
solution for us to what they were putting 
together -- and they said so explicitly to me and 
Dan and Nicholas in an online conference.

Right now we are chasing our tails and failing to 
come to consensus. Owen, we cannot throw out the 
whole thing and go to spell gwinn/gwidn when the 
SWF offers us gwynn/gwydn for this. This is a 
complete overturning of EVERYTHING. You're 
putting me back to Square One, and the 
orthography won't be even remotely compatible 
with what kids might be learning if they learn 
SWF. Those kids will learn <kyst> 'box' and 
<Crist> 'Christ". If I understand what Owen has 
written, he'll propose to change the first to 
<kìst>. That just shifts the "diacritic problem" 
to another place.

****ALL WE NEED TO DO**** is to use diacritical 
marks judiciously to mark anomalous vowel 
quantity and anomalous vowel quality as presented 
in the SWF. If we do that then the word-shapes 
for a great many words kids might learn in the 
SWF will be JUST THE SAME except with some 
decoration that makes pronunciation easier and 

Yes, we have other deltas from the SWF, like 
final unstressed -f and -th. Those are word-shape 
deltas. So are the dozen <au> and dozen <ai> 
words. The remaining deltas have to do with <i> 
and <y> in polysyllabic loanwords, and then with 
a certain number of other "etymological" 
spellings "inherited" from KK. These should be 
reviewed in a systematic fashion. I discussed 
with Nicholas whether or instance the nouns could 
be examined in terms of declension classes.
Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com

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