[Spellyans] a denewen "aside"

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Thu Feb 11 14:35:06 GMT 2010

-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Everson
Sent: Wednesday, February 10, 2010 9:17 PM

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


I wasn't speaking of "wholesale adoption of Ken George's "etymological"
vowels in unstressed syllables", but rather of following his etymologies
where he is actually right. Change them, of course, where he isn't.  

Your critical stance concerning Ken George's work should not stand in the
way of adopting an unobjectionable form that is consensual. Being
anti-George for the sake of being ant-George is not rational.  


> 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


This is hardly an argument, especially coming from you, since you have on
many occasions tried to convince people that both written -er and -ar are
pronounced /@r/. They still rhyme, even if written lavar and gaver.

Would you point out where gaver and lavar rhyme in the texts? I can's seem
to find an example.


> 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."


Nor should you. It's good to be critical and to question etymologies, all
etymologies, not just George's. It is every linguist's right to come up with
his or her own interpretation, if founded and argued accordingly. 


> 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."


Yes, I have my reservations, too, though I feel obliged to work within the
SWF rules. I know you don't, but it's just one feature more where KS will
differ from the agreed consensual SWF form. Legitimate in itself, but
unnecessary in this case, I feel.


> 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.)"


Why not? If indeed the Welsh cognate shows <tenewyn> or <tynewyn>, then why
do you dismiss this out of hand. If the connection to tanow is real, then a
front vowel is more likely than a low central or back vowel because of
progressive i-umlaut. Do you not accept that Welsh <tenewyn/tynewyn> is the
cognate form? Do you not accept an etymological connection to tanow?


"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."


The y~i issue is a completely different matter and unrelated to a sensible
standardisation in the distribution of unstressed e~a. The matter of the
distribution of i~y is, and here I agree with you, a difficult point and one
where I'm not convinced that the SWF has the best solution. On the other
hand, I'm not entirely convinced where KS's solution is concerned.     


"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


Yes, but that was a while ago and three orthographies back. To speak of
"change" is misleading as for many people who have learnt Cornish through KK
it is not "change" at all. That is the whole point about compromise and
consensus. I understand anyone, who would disagree with the principal SWF
rule to use the KK form as default unless other rules come into play, but
this is the way the SWF works. I object to KKisms that aren't warranted by
textual attestations, but words like taves, gaver and tenewen are. They are
thus attested. There is no reason to reject these forms, simply because they
also occur in KK. 


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






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