[Spellyans] chi v chy

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Tue May 4 23:11:50 BST 2010

On 4 May 2010, at 21:56, Craig Weatherhill wrote:

> 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.

The pronunciation [əɪ] is, of course, perfectly valid. There is nothing wrong with it: we support. It's just that there is no reason to write these common words DIFFERENTLY just to permit that pronunciation. One can see "chy" and say [tʃiː] or one can say [tʃəɪ] perfectly easily. One just learns how to pronounce these few words.

> 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.

No, Craig, the point is that in trying to distinguish between

1) words in -y


2) words in -i ~ -ei

the SWF ignores

3) words in -e ~ -y

which upsets the whole scheme it tries to establish.

>  If it were not for that, I'd be more than happy with the <-y> spellings.

We use the -y spellings, and there's no reason not to. The distribution of i and y in general in the SWF is only half thought-out, and remains problematic. 

> 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.

Spell "chy", "ky". Say [tʃəɪ], [kəɪ]. No problem. The beginners *learn* after all, and the number of monosyllables in -y is not very great.

> 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.).

You've got this wrong; we typically write my/me, ty/te and indeed tend to prefer the me/te forms.

>  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>.

No, the point is that there is no reason to ghettoize RLC orthographically with Lhuydian -ei (except in dialect transcription)

>  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.

These matters were settled a good while back. Have a look at the section on pronunciation in Skeul an Tavas (KS) please.

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

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