[Spellyans] i ~ y

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Wed Feb 4 16:35:23 GMT 2009

On 4 Feb 2009, at 15:45, Jon Mills wrote:

> "Michael Everson" <everson at evertype.com> wrote,
>> Yes, like "yn whir".
> Exactly.

...which is an example of a phrase in use, not a structural feature  
like the phonology.

>> So... you don't care whether Revived Cornish has two phonemes /θ/
>> or / ð/ or not? You're happy to accept them both as they are, or
>> abolish  one or the other of them based on.... what?
> The evidence from Lhuyd suggests that in 1700 /θ/ and /ð/ were  
> separate phonemes. It is far less certain what phonemes Middle  
> Cornish might have had.

Well Old English and early Middle English /f/ had allophones [f v]  
and /θ/ had allophones [θ ð] and even if Middle Cornish was similar  
at the outset, it certainly developed the phonemic distinctions by  
1700, and I doubt Lhuyd was the first one to write it down.

> If a phonemic orthography is the goal, then Late Cornish as recorded  
> by Lhuyd might be the best basis.

The brief which the AHG had was an orthography which addressed both  
RMC and RLC at the same time. When :-) you see Alys in Pow an Anethow,  
you will see that Nicholas tends to prefer the later forms (bës, pedn)  
in his translation. But KS orthography supports both.

> It is possible to conjecture many alternative plausible phonemic  
> inventories for Middle Cornish.

True, but we our orthography, to be used by speakers creating new  
texts, is for Revived Cornish, in its RMC and RLC dialects.

> It would be possible to regularise Middle Cornish orthography and  
> allow Cornish speakers to pronounce it according to their preferred  
> phonemics. However, whilst we might suggest a pronunciation, we  
> should not prescribe a given pronunciation for a word when its  
> historic pronunciation is at best conjectural.

In material for learners, one may certainly not say "here is 'th' and  
'dh' and you might pronounce one voiced and the other voiceless, or  
you might do something else". Speakers of Revived Cornish do in fact  
need rules.

I see Nicholas as produced a minimal pair. :-)

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

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