[Spellyans] The quantity system

Craig Weatherhill weatherhill at freenet.co.uk
Tue Jun 24 14:13:23 IST 2008


The SWF is inconsistent in the values of <y> and <i>.  Yes, we have 
<gwynn/gwydn> where the vowel is short in both but the geminate is there 
to show that preocclusion occurs, BUT we have words like <ryal> "regal, 
royal" where the vowel is most definitely long.  So, why isn't it <rial>?

Surely it would be far simpler, and easier for learners, to have <y> 
representing the short vowel (except for final position, as in <gwary>) 
and <i> representing the long.

Craig




A. J. Trim wrote:
> OK, so far - Simple, practical, not at odds with the evidence.
>
> Why does gwyll need to have two ls if y is always short?
>
>
> Regards,
>
> Andrew J. Trim
>
>
>
> --------------------------------------------------
> From: "Michael Everson" <everson at evertype.com>
> Sent: Tuesday, June 24, 2008 10:59 AM
> To: "Standard Cornish discussion list" <spellyans at kernowek.net>
> Subject: Re: [Spellyans] The quantity system
>
>   
>> At 09:18 +0000 2008-06-24, Jon Mills wrote:
>>     
>>> Adherents of KK maintain that KK is easier to learn because it is
>>> supposedly phonemic. However KK entails a phonology that, for most
>>> learners is, in fact, difficult to achieve: 3 vowels lengths and
>>> geminate consonants. As a result, KK is more difficult to learn than
>>> the other forms of Cornish.
>>>       
>> It would be easier if learners were Estonians. ;-)
>>
>>     
>>> Actual realisations of vowel length do not neatly fit in to 2 or 3
>>> lengths. For example, with regard to English, Trager and Smith
>>> (1957) observed 5 different vowel lengths in the set, bit bid bin
>>> hiss his. They write, "The vowel quality is in each case lower high
>>> front unrounded: [I]. In bit there is the shortest vowel,in his the
>>> longest for most speakers; bid and bin have fairly long vowels too
>>> -- some speakers have the longest varieties here, sometimes even
>>> with a drawling off-glide effect; in hiss the vowel is longer than
>>> in bit, but considerably shorter than in his or bid; in bin there is
>>> a marked nasalization of the vowel ...."
>>>       
>> For me this is an overstatement. I'd have bit/hiss as short, and
>> bid/bin/his as longer. I don't detect more subtlety than that without
>> a whole lot of persnicketiness. The bit/bid distinction is easy to
>> teach to English speaking learners however, and that's one of the
>> reasons it is the core of the vowel system in KS and by adoption the
>> SWF.
>>
>> English bit/bid is an allophonic distinction, of course, not a
>> phonemic distinction.
>>
>>     
>>> However, within the phonological system of English, only 2 vowel
>>> lengths operate. These are determined by minimal contrast pairs:
>>> bit - beat
>>> bid - bead
>>> his - he's
>>> etc.
>>>       
>> I am not sure if I agree with this analysis. Bit and beat differ in
>> quality, not in quantity. Bid and bead differ in quality, not in
>> quantity. Same with his and he's, and piss and peace.
>>
>>     
>>> 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.
>>>       
>> Quite so.
>>
>>     
>>> The only sensible and practical pedagogy is surely for learners to
>>> be taught 2 vowel lengths and 1 consonant length. But should the SWF
>>> make provision for those who aspire to 3 vowels lengths and long
>>> consonants? I cannot imagine that these aspirants are very numerous.
>>> My guess is that, given the choice, the vast majority of KK learners
>>> would opt for a phonology that is easier to learn.
>>>       
>> I agree. And the fact that they are English speakers makes the above 
>> relevant.
>>
>> In English we have qualitative phonemes:
>>
>> /I/ "bit [bIt], bid [bI.d], piss [pIs], his [hI.z] with allphonic 
>> lengthening
>>
>> /i/ "beat [bit], bead [bi.d], peace [pis], he's [hi.z] with allphonic
>> lengthening
>>
>> In Cornish we have quantitative phonemes:
>>
>> /i/  myn [mIn], gwyll [gwIl], loss [lOs] with allphonic lowering
>>
>> /i:/ min [mi:n], gwil [gwi:l] los [lo:z] with allphonic raising
>>
>> With the quantity rules in KS/SWF, teachers should be able to use
>> English phonology to teach and to improve the pronunciation of
>> Cornish phonemic quantity.
>>
>> Is this scheme agreeable to everyone? (This is key; as editor I will
>> use IPA symbols to show both quality and quantity in phonetic
>> transcription.)
>> -- 
>> Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com
>>
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>>     
>
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