[Spellyans] i ~ y

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Wed Feb 4 16:23:31 GMT 2009

On 4 Feb 2009, at 15:53, Hewitt, Stephen wrote:

> I am bound to agree with Jon Mills. I find Michael's statement:
>> Revived Cornish is the Cornish of language learners and comes with
>> the errors that L2 learners make.

MICHAEL DID NOT SAY THAT. Jon Mills said that.

I said:
> Synchronically, at least, /θ/ and /ð/ are separate phonemes in  
> Revived Cornish. And have been for a century.

Jon said:
> Revived Cornish is the Cornish of language learners and comes with  
> the errors that L2 learners make.

I then asked him what he was intending to do about Revived Cornish.  
Currently it distinguishes the two phonemes, and ALL Revivalists are  
happy with this distinction. The distinction also occurs also in  
English, the first language of most Revivalists.

So what is being proposed? Respell <dhodho> as <thotho>? Nobody in the  
Revival wants to do that. And then what? It's /ðoðo/ now. Shall it be  
changed to /θoθo/? Or /θoðo/? Or /ðoθo/?

Steve said:
>> an astonishing admission that the real aim of this list is not  
>> primarily to ascertain the phonological system of Cornish at given  
>> stages of its history and attempt to codify that orthographically  
>> using only authentic graphemes attested in the historical corpus.

The "real aim" of this list? Well, its primary aim has been to examine  
the official SWF used by Cornish authorities for its errors and  
inconsistencies, and to correct them in a more robust and accurate  
orthography (KS) which remains faithful to traditional orthographic  

> From what I have seen, I am not certain that this is entirely  
> feasible, but I certainly find it an interesting linguistic  
> exercise, and one which ought to shed much light on the history of  
> the language.
> To get back to the /th/ ~ /dh/ problem, in Llawlyfr Cernyweg Canol,  
> the only small anthology of historic texts I have to hand, there are  
> very numerous instances of <th> being used for etymological /dh/, as  
> we all know, and fewer, but still regular instances of <ȝ> (~<z>)  
> being used for etymological /th/. When <th> corresponds th /th/ and  
> <ȝ> (~<z>) to /dh/, one might imgagine that that was the result of a  
> certain orthographical tradition from an earlier period, when the / 
> th/ ~ /dh/ distinction undoubtedly existed; the frequent use of the  
> "wrong" graphemes, however, suggests to me that confusion may have  
> set in, most likely following a merger of the two phonemes. I do not  
> know the answer, but I am certain that this is a serious linguistic  
> question about the phoneme inventory of Cornish from at least BM on.

Well the distinction is no worse than the use of <th> in Modern  
English, now, is it?

> If ascertaining the historical facts about the language is not what  
> this list is really about, please forgive me for having raised what  
> appears to be an awkward question.

We are of course interested in historical facts about the language,  
but one of them is that Revived Cornish has both /θ/ and /ð/, and is  
never likely to abandon them.

Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com

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