[Spellyans] Front unrounded vowels, was: The quantity system

Owen Cook owen.e.cook at gmail.com
Tue Jun 24 12:48:42 BST 2008

2008/6/24 nicholas williams <njawilliams at gmail.com>:
> The next question is whether to accommodate three long hight front vowel i:
> I: and e: as is the case at present in
> the SWF specification. The SWF allows bI:z for 'world', for example, which
> nobody actually says.
> This matter involves the distribution of <i> and <y> (both for long and
> short vowels) and will need a lot of attention.
> Nicholas.

It does need a lot of attention. I suspect this will be the main topic
of contention in our coming discussions.

The variable (I:) was, if nothing else, a useful fiction at an earlier
stage of KS, when we wrote <ei> to indicate alternations between /i:/
and /e:/ in words like 'deidh' and 'preis'. This compromise was
abandoned in the SWF, however, which allows users to choose between
'dydh' or 'dedh', 'prys' or 'pres'.

So now there is a problem in the SWF for Middle Cornish, where <y>
normally indicates the short vowel /I/, but, because of the rejection
of <ei>, is also pressed into service for the long vowel in 'dydh' and
'prys' (which is theoretically /I:/ for Kemmyn users, and in practice
/i:/ for revived Middle Cornish users generally).

The latest incarnation of KS uses <ÿ> to indicate this long y,
alternating with /e:/. Again (I:) here appears as a distinct variable.
But there's something really incoherent about requiring the special
character <ë> in 'dedh' and 'pres', as the latest version of KS does.
Either we should allow alternation, by which <ÿ> and <e> can coexist
(and remember, here we need the accent on <ÿ> to show length) ... or
else we should use an umbrella graph to cover both alternants, for
example <ei> or <ë>. If <ë> were used as an umbrella graph by
everybody, well and good. But I fail to see any point in having <ë>
alternate with <ÿ>.

My own opinion is that for a SINGLE written form, umbrella graphs
should be preferred to alternation wherever practical. In that sense,
(I:) has its uses and could still be accommodated. I argued for <ei>
last summer, and my feelings have not changed. True, <ei> has been
shanghaied into use for the diphthong in 'kei', 'chei', 'crei', but
this is found in a different environment (open syllables only) and we
shall no doubt have reason to discuss whether it is necessary or
useful for such words in the first place.


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