[Spellyans] a denewen "aside"

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Wed Feb 10 20:16:50 GMT 2010

On 10 Feb 2010, at 17:06, Daniel Prohaska wrote:

> “Change” is interpretable. I wasn’t aware of KS taking UC/R as a  
> default spelling and adapting from there, I thought it was  
> “informed” by the SWF and changed accordingly if necessary.

One of the things about the SWF to which we have a general objection  
is its wholesale adoption of Ken George's "etymological" vowels in  
unstressed syllables.

> As you know, the SWF takes the KK-form as default with Vocalic  
> Alternation from UC, back-checked against the attestations, which  
> means that the KK-form <tenewen> has to be proven wrong to warrant  
> “change”.

Yes, and we know that you agree with George that "gavar" 'goat' should  
be spelt "gaver" despite the fact that of course it rhymes with words  
like "lavar".

> I find no fault with this spelling, however. Not only is this form  
> well attested (VC, RD, PA, OM, BM), but it appears to make sense  
> from an etymological point of view.

It may, but I for one do not accept George's etymologies on spec.

> The word is related to <tanow> “thin” and the i-mutation must have  
> come from somewhere. Also, compare the Welsh cognate <tenewyn,  
> tynewyn>. The spelling <tenewyn> is also attested in PA. Note that  
> the adverbial phrase <a denewen> is never attested with –an in the  
> unstressed syllable. I’m not proposing a “change” in respect to the  
> agreed guidelines of the SWF and since KS is “informed” by the SWF  
> rather than UC/R, it is you who “changed” the form back to what  
> Nance had and Nicholas took over in UCR.

As I said, one of the objections we have to the SWF is its treatment  
of vowels in unstressed syllables.

> My retention of the form <tenewen> has rationale, does your change  
> to <tenewan> have a reason?

As I said, there is some reason to change tenewan to tenewen, and that  
is that when a new syllable is added, the stressed vowel is /e/.  
(Related words in Welsh is not a strongly convincing factor.)

That's a genuine rationale. Apart from a rationale such as that, I  
consider George's etymologies to be a cosmetic nuisance. "Myttin" has  
an "i" because of Latin "matina". That is a poor justification at best.

It is George who made the changes from UC in the first place. Where  
those changes were unwarranted (i.e. unnecessary) we have tended to  
remain conservative.

As I say, I think that the stressed vowel in tenwennow is grounds for  
re-spelling tenewan to tenewen.

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

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