[Spellyans] The quantity system

Craig Weatherhill weatherhill at freenet.co.uk
Tue Jun 24 14:23:30 BST 2008

And, as I've said many times, Lhuyd is our ONLY guide to Cornish 
phonology that was recorded when the language was still a community 
vernacular.  What the phonology was prior to that period remais an 
unknown.  We can guess, based upon rhymes etc., but even English poetry 
has approximate rhyming values.  My view would be to use Jordan as the 
basis for orthography (retaining the scribal tradition which disappears 
under Gwavas, Boson, etc, who never apparently saw any traditional 
Cornish writings but wrote the language as they heard it), but Lhuyd as 
the basis for phonology.  Dick Gendall's "The Pronunciation of Cornish", 
which is a examination of Lhuyd's phonetic code, is a vital document.  
Further to Late Cornish orthogrphy, more emphasis needs to be placed 
upon Keigwin's writings.  Although a contemporary of the Bosons, he was 
a linguistic scholar and was familiar with textual material.  His own 
variation on the last 16 lines of Jordan scarcely varies from the 
orthography that Jordan himself used (and that only around 70 years 
previously).  For me, Jordan/Keigwin IS the true orthography of Late 
Cornish, rather than the reconstructed spellings used by those several 
Late scribes who never saw traditional Cornish writing.


Owen Cook wrote:
> 2008/6/24 Jon Mills <j.mills at email.com>:
>> With regard to Cornish then, if one wants to argue for either 2 or 3 vowel lengths, minimal contrast
>> sets (extracted from the historical corpus) need to be presented. But even this method is
>> questionable because the corpus is written and the actual pronunciation of any forms contained
>> therein is conjectural.
> Yes, and Lhuyd's transcriptions certainly only indicate two vowel
> lengths -- long, indicated with a circumflex, and short, sometimes
> indicated with a pleonastic grave accent. By Lhuyd's time, the
> distribution of length was unpredictable even in penultimae.
> ~~Owen
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