[Spellyans] chi v chy

Craig Weatherhill craig at agantavas.org
Tue May 4 21:56:46 BST 2010

I don't think it's as simple as that.  The <-ei> of Late Cornish (like  
saying "er-ee" quickly) was both spoken (as illustrated by Lhuyd) and  
written during the living history of the language and must, therefore,  
be considered just as valid as the evidence from the MC and Tudor  
texts.  Certainly <chy> is rather more traditional, but there is at  
least some historical evidence for the <-i> spellings.  We can't  
forget that the SWF was meant to be a compromise, even if it didn't  
work out quite that way.  Chi > Chei) works more happily than Chy >  
Chei, and can be seen as a compromise between MC and LC.  If it were  
not for that, I'd be more than happy with the <-y> spellings.

Conversely, people like Andrew and myself have been using the LC  
pronunciation of <chy>, <ky> for ages, but unlike beginners, we're  
familiar with which words take on this LC pronunciation and which do  
not.  Perhaps we should look more closely at this question.

The question extends to personal pronouns.  The SWF(T) has: <my, ty,  
ev, hi, ni, whi, i> (whereas KS retains <my, ty, ev, hy, ny, why, y>,  
much as UC and UCR with the exception of the <-v> in the 3rd sg.).   
Here the SWF differentiates between those finals which went to Late  
Cornish <-ei>, and those that did not.  Again the <-i > -ei> is a  
happier arrangement than <-y > -ei>.  Some argue that the value of the  
MC vowel differed slightly, that in <my, ty> being slightly shorter in  
length than <hy, ny, why, y>.  Perhaps KS could consider doing  
likewise.  <me, te> might be one answer.

I believe that this is one for full discussion.


On 4 Me 2010, at 20:34, Michael Everson wrote:

> 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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Craig Weatherhill

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