[Spellyans] y & i

A. J. Trim ajtrim at msn.com
Sat Jun 28 15:14:21 BST 2008

As you will know, there is a problem with the SWF:



The SWF attempts to be phonemic yet we have three graphs for [I] and the same three graphs for [i:].

These are <y>, <i>, and <u>.

We can tell whether these vowels are long or short from their following consonant (with a few listable exceptions.)

We may need <u> because some people pronounce it through rounded lips-so, for them, it is different.

Unified Cornish otherwise used only <y>.

Why then do we need to use <i> as well as <y>?

It has been suggested that <y> should be used for [I] and <i> should be for [i:].

That seemed like a good idea, that is until you realise that <i> has to be changed to <y> when an ending is added, e.g. gwir, gwyryoneth; tir, tyryow.

The alternative would be to retain <i> anomalously as [I], e.g. gwiryoneth and tiryow.

We have unstressed final [I] which is anomalously<-i> instead of <-y>, e.g. gweli "bed", though the SWF does also allow gwely.

Middle Cornish folk have stressed final [i:] which is correctly <-i>, e.g. chi "house" but which was traditionally <-y>, and Late Cornish folk have stressed final [@i:] which is anomalously allowed to be <-ei>.

We also have many bys/bes words, where the <y> is anomalously [i:] (because it should be <i>) and may be [e:], and where <e> may anomalously be [i:] if it's not being an [e:].

All this is unnecessary complicated, and I would find it difficult to support the SWF if it stayed like this.


Possible Solution:

Middle Cornish folk should use <y> (long or short), as did UC, but now with the new vowel length rules, e.g. gwyr, gwyryoneth; tyr, tyryow.

Late Cornish folk should use <i>(long or short), e.g. gwir, gwiryoneth; tir, tiryow.

Everybody should spell all words having stressed <-i>/<-y> in the current SWF by using <-y>. This would be an umbrella graph for [i:]/[@i:].

Middle Cornish folk could use the unused letter <i> in the bys/bes words, e.g. bis, didh, pris, where the <i> is an umbrella for <ÿ>/<ë>. ("Until" would still be bys. This has a short vowel because it is unstressed.)

Late Cornish folk could use their unused letter <y>, e.g. bys, dydh, prys. ("Until" would for them be bis. This has a short vowel because it is unstressed.)



1)      <y>/<i> will sometimes be [e:]. These are counter intuitive graphs for this sound. However, once learnt, they would be regular. Only one of these two counter intuitive graphs would occur in each of the two registers, so the user would need to use only one of them.

2)      Both Middle Cornish folk and Late Cornish folk would want to use <ia> for [i:@]. For Middle Cornish folk, this would be an anomaly.but, in my view, this would be justified.



1)      Middle Cornish folk get the decreased number of <i> that they have requested.

2)      Late Cornish folk get the increased number of <i> that they have requested.

3)      The register (Late or Middle) can be identified from whether the text is <y>-heavy or <i>-heavy.

4)      If you know which register is being used, you know how to pronounce each vowel.

5)      The vowel does not change, and no anomalies are created, when endings are added.

6)      Words traditionally ending <-y> would be more traditionally spelt, and they would not need to be re-spelt for the Late register.

7)      There are no diacritical marks required for the bys/bes words.

8)      There are no new or strange graphs that have to be added to the SWF.



Andrew J. Trim
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