[Spellyans] chi v chy

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Tue May 4 20:34:52 BST 2010

On 4 May 2010, at 20:14, A. J. Trim wrote:

> I prefer <chy> "house", <ky> "dog", <why> "you", etc. because they are the more traditional.
> I think that there is a case for allowing <hi> "she" if <hy> is "her", and <ni> "we" if <ny> is the negative verbal particle (simply to reduce confusion).
> What did you mean by "the SWF leaks here"?

SWF pretends that there are two kinds of monosyllables:

1) those in -y

2) those in -i ~ -ei

But this is not the case. There are also

3) those in -e ~ -y

So immediately the attempt to copperfasten an alternation fails, because there are three classes, not two.

There's no reason to try to distinguish "hy" and "hi" as you suggest. The texts don't. It's a matter of stress when the words are pronounced. "You" is pronounced [juː] and [jə] and [jɪ], and while we may write "ya" or "y'", we only do so to mark dialect etc.

In KS we allow -ei in monosyllables, but recommend that it be used *only* in poetry or in literature where the writer wishes to stress the RLC dialect forms -- as when we write 'im or 'er or 'oo (who) in "dialect prose" in English. There's no reason "chy" can't be learnt as [tʃiː]~[tʃəɪ].

Personally I think this "optional" -ei does the RLC camp no favours. It's just cosmetic, not essential. And the cosmetic it imitates is Lhuyd, which is perverse since the rest of the orthography imitates the scribal tradition.  

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

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