[Spellyans] A little essay for "Penny"

Jon Mills j.mills at email.com
Wed Feb 11 13:17:44 GMT 2009


Michael,
You write, "The phonemic distinction is voiceless and voiced."

Phonemes are determined by minimal contrast. Thus /p/ and /d/ are determined to be separate phonemes of English in the minimal contrast pair 'pie' and 'die'. However a phoneme is not necessarily determined by contrast of only one distinctive feature. /p/ has the features: bilabial, plosive, fortis and voiceless. /d/ has the features: alveolar, plosive, lenis and voiced.

I still do not understand why you maintain that "It is unlikely that Dolly Pentreath or her contemporaries were speaking English or Cornish with fortis and lenis consonants ...." Since Proto-brythonic and Proto-germanic were not spoken in the time of Dolly Pentreath, they have little bearing on whether Dolly Pentreath distinguished fortis and lenis consonants. If the language contact to which you are referring is between Cornish and English, and you are supposing that the phonology of English somehow influenced Cornish phonology, then one must assume that Dolly Pentreath would have distinguished fortis and lenis, because English did. Or are you seriously suggesting that Dolly Pentreath pronounced /p/, /t/ and /k/ as voiceless but not fortis, and /b/, /d/ and /g/ as voiced but not lenis?
Ol an gwella
Jon


> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Michael Everson" <everson at evertype.com>
> To: "Standard Cornish discussion list" <spellyans at kernowek.net>
> Subject: Re: [Spellyans] A little essay for "Penny"
> Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2009 11:35:54 +0000
> 
> 
> On 11 Feb 2009, at 10:40, Jon Mills wrote:
> 
> > I'm not sure what it is that you are trying to say with regard to 
> >  fortis and lenis consonants. It is, I believe, generally 
> > recognised  that Present Day English has fortis and lenis 
> > consonants.
> 
> Not phonemically. The phonemic distinction is voiceless and voiced.
> 
> > So why do you say, "It is unlikely that Dolly Pentreath or her  
> > contemporaries  were speaking English or Cornish with fortis and  
> > lenis consonants ..."?
> 
> I say that because I think the Brythonic system was replaced by the 
>   Germanic system due to intense language contact (including the  
> learning of Cornish by Germanic speakers, which -- as in Mann -- is 
>   likely to have caused the process which led to pre-occlusion.
> 
> Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com
> 
> 
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> Spellyans at kernowek.net
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>



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


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