[Spellyans] RLC <h> for <gh>

Jon Mills j.mills at email.com
Thu Jun 26 16:42:30 BST 2008

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Michael Everson" <everson at evertype.com>
> To: "Standard Cornish discussion list" <spellyans at kernowek.net>
> Subject: Re: [Spellyans] RLC <h> for <gh>
> Date: Thu, 26 Jun 2008 14:07:58 +0100
> .... 
> Jon, you're being mighty persnickety. Or we aren't understanding each other.

I think that we need to be "mighty persnickety". KS needs a sound theoretical foundation; "... den fol neb a dhrehevys y jy war an treth" (Mathew 7:26). Ultimately, it needs to be decided what the relationship is between KS orthography and the pronunciation of Cornish. If KS is intended to closely represent the pronunciation system of Cornish, it must be phonemic in principle. There is simply no alternative. The phonemic system is the principal element of the phonological system where orthography is concerned.  An orthography that is not theoretically sound is just waiting to be shot down. The reason that we do not like KK is that it is theoretically unsound.

> We've got some umbrella graphs. But I said "some
> graphemes" instead of "each grapheme" because I
> am thinking that we do have umbrella graphs for
> different phonemes, like <eu> for /ø/~/e/.

Umbrella graphs are being used to bridge dialectal variation not allophonic variation. Nothing wrong with that per se.

> At what level of abstraction are you talking? 

Phonemes are abstractions. Allophones are realisations.

> We
> have Revived Cornish and some pretty good
> recommended pronunciations that are actually
> feasible. What are you getting at? Starting from
> scratch and trying to reconstruct? Or?

Well, I hope that we do not have to start from scratch. We have some recommended pronunciations, didactolects. Just how good, however .... We do not seem to think much of KK's accompanying orthoepy. Theories concerning the pronunciation of Cornish are in a state of flux and are likely to remain so for the forseeable future. An orthography is not going to be robust if it is founded on shifting didactolects. A more stable foundation is needed.

> Please be plain about it, then, because I don't
> know what you're on about. Our brief when we
> devised KS was to devise an orthography that
> could handle the dialects of Revived Cornish in a
> practical way while remaining true to traditional
> graphs (modulo <dh> of course; we're talking
> about not supporting George's adventitious
> graphs). Our brief now is to take what they've
> done with KS in turning it into the SWF and to
> put right what has been put wrong.
> How does this relate to what you are talking
> about in terms of "underlying theory"? Is it
> related, or is it tangental and related to
> something else?

Well, I hope I've made myself clearer. Sorry if I'm muddying the water somewhat.


Dr. Jon Mills,
School of European Culture and Languages,
University of Kent

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