[Spellyans] a denewen "aside"

Craig Weatherhill craig at agantavas.org
Thu Feb 11 14:52:55 GMT 2010

When KK was supposed to be (but wasn';t) 'phonemic', there wasn't  
really any reason to change 'tavas' to 'taves', as the final vowel is  
schwa.   That was change for the sake for it, I believe.  Similarly  
with the KK change of 'onen' for 'onan'.  That was bound to create  
problems, as the Cornish motto is 'Onen hag oll'.  Although the SWF is  
partly intended for official use, it is interesting to note that  
Cornwall Council has not seen fit to change.  They have retained  
'onen' because to do otherwise would mean an utterly unnecessary  
expenditure to alter all the letter heads, signboards, van logos, etc.

If Cornwall Council can derogate on this word, why can't the rest of  
us?  Don't forget, Dan - it has been agreed that the variants taves/ 
tavas are both allowed in the SWF, so why not onan/onen?  Allowing the  
one set but not the other makes no sense at all.


On 11 Whe 2010, at 14:35, Daniel Prohaska wrote:

> -----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 syllables.”
> 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 "lavar".”
> 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 conservative.”
> 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.”
> Yes.
> Dan
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Craig Weatherhill

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