[Spellyans] <y>, <i>, etc

Eddie Climo eddie_climo at yahoo.co.uk
Sat Jul 26 09:43:46 IST 2008

On 25 Jul 2008, at 23:01, Koumanonff wrote:

> . . .There's no need to distinguish them in spelling : they haven't  
> the same functions, one causes mutation and the other doesn't, they  
> don't happen in the same contexts.

Just so, Stefan. Consider this set of sentences, and observe whether  
or not you get confused by any of them:

	1. Yma Jowann ow kerdhes yn nans.
	2. Yma Jowann ow kerdhes yn tefry.
	3. Yma Jowann ow kerdhes yn nans yn.
	4. Yma Jowann ow kerdhes yn nans y'n menedhyow.
	5. Yma Jowann ow kerdhes yn tefry yn nans yn y'n menedhyow.

Confused? I doubt it, although stylistically the last one is a bit  
over the top, admittedly!

Notice that the four homophones are not all exact homographs: one  
causes a distinctive 5th state mutation, and another has an  
apostrophe. The only 2 exact homographs are the preposition and the  
adjective, but they're so distinct in function and context that  
they're hardly likely to cause serious confusion in learners. I  
cannot imagine anyone but the most rudimentary learner trying to  
translate some of these as:
	1. *John is walking nancily		(Drok yu genef, A Vordon!)
	2. *John is walking in a 'tefry' . . . (Drat, that last word ain't  
in the dictionary!)
	3. *John is walking nancily in a . . . ( In a what??)

> In Welsh we have three "yn" distinguished by their functions and by  
> the mutations that they may cause :
> yn + SM (W) used before nouns and adjectives ; with adjectives it  
> can be used as yn + MM (C) to make adverbs.
> yn + NM (optionally) (W): preposition
> yn (W) used before verbal nouns, whose function is quite the same  
> as ow + HM (C) and o + MM (B)

When I learned Welsh, this set never gave me any problems; and, when  
I taught Welsh (to adult monoglots, mostly!), I don't recall it  
posing any special problems to them, neither in writing nor in speech.

> I don't think it's more difficult ever to learn Welsh.
> In many languages there no need to distinguish homonyms as they  
> occur in different contexts and don't have the same functions.
> Stefan

The fact is that many languages have homonyms and homphones, and as  
long as the number isn't excessive. there's little confusion, if any.

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