[Spellyans] chi v chy

nicholas williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Thu May 6 12:16:42 BST 2010

And SWF has ki and chi because KK has. KK has them because Breton has.  
So much of what is mistaken in the phonology of KK comes from the  
assumption that Breton and Cornish were much closer than they were.  
This view is nowhere discussed, let alone proved, it is merely  
accepted.  This is also the reason for the absence of vocalic  
alternation in KK. VA is absent from Breton.
The Bretonising of KK is not just in the matter of phonology, but also  
of course, in spelling. K and Hw are calques on Breton K and C'hw.
The same unjustified rush to Bretonise Cornish is visible in the  
vocabulary of the SWF recently circulated.
If one looks under "purse" one finds the word yalgh f., a borrowing  
from Breton.
The Cornish for "purse" is actually pors, porsys:

aspyen gvas gans pors poys 'let us look for a fellow with a heavy  
purse' BM 1877
ha the borse mes ath ascra 'and your purse out of your bosom' BM 1888
me a vyn changya porses 'I will change purses'  BM 1906
gedyogh dym quik y pors 'hand me over his purse quick' BM 2089.

Pors is not in the Partnership's vocabulary.

Nance himself often preferred poorly attested words or borrowed words  
to items in the traditional language (enep rather than fâss, auan  
rather than ryver, stevel rather than rom, kenedhel rather than  
nacyon, etc.)
KK goes further still by assuming that Middle Cornish phonology was  
virtually identical with Breton
and spelling the language accordingly. And then by adopting lexical  
items holus bolus from Breton, e.g. cudyn 'problem', oberen 'job', etc.
The SWF maintains these non-traditional aspects of KK.
The Bretonisation of the lexicon is in my view wholly unacceptable.

KK uses (and indeed encourages) huni (trad. huny) to mean 'one', as  
though it were similar in use to Breton hini.
It is not. Huny in Cornish is used after lies and pùb but one cannot  
say *an huny brâs 'the big one', for example. This solecism is very  
noticeable in parts of the Kesva's New Testament.

KK users also insist, apparently, on *traow "things" as well as  
taclow. It is true that traou is attested twice in Lhuyd, but Lhuyd  
was not a native speaker of the language. There can be no doubt that  
*traow persists because traou is the usual plural of tra in Breton.
Similarly the plural of chy is treven. *Chiow is again a  
Bretonisation. It cannot be Welsh, since the Welsh plural of ty  
"house" is tai (< *tigesa).

The point is this. Cornish is not Breton, neither is it Welsh. It is a  
distinct language with its own history, scribal tradition and  
literature. Our chief source for the revived language must be the  
remains of Cornish literature. We should also try to spell as far as  
is consonant with a phonetic orthography as the language was spelt by  
its native speakers.
Our idiom and vocabulary should derive from the texts, not from some  
Geriadur Bras ar Yezh Brezhoneg. It is one thing to borrow from Welsh  
and Breton when no word exists. It is another to prefer the unattested  
borrowing to the attested item.

We now have six long texts: PA, Ordinalia, BM, Tregear, BK and CW and  
some shorter ones, notably JCH, Nebbaz Gerriau and Kerew's portions of  
the bible. To say nothing of the many words listed by Lhuyd and in  
other places. We have quite enough to reconstruct the language of say  
1550-1680, which is what KS seeks to do.

Spellings like chi, ki, hwi seem to me to smack of a conlang. I won't  
use them.


On 5 Me 2010, at 18:56, Michael Everson wrote:

> This is not "good" evidence; it is *poor* evidence. This does not  
> lead one to say "oh, hey, -i is perfectly traditional and should be  
> considered suitable". This is a flaw in the SWF/T. The SWF/T was  
> given to us to allow us to write according to our preferences -- but  
> forces us to use non-Traditional forms. I am sure it was designed by  
> our cynical KK colleagues precisely to keep us from using it. This  
> feature of the SWF/T is not acceptable to us.

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