[Spellyans] Rules for the apostrophe

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Wed May 19 19:45:04 BST 2010

On 19 May 2010, at 19:11, Craig Weatherhill wrote:

> This remains my concern, too, if I can only get people to listen, and to see the big picture, instead of charging in to slap others down and score points.  I'm beginning to wonder whether we have any meaningful say in KS decision making, or whether the views of some of us are considered at all.

What more do you want me to do, Craig? You expressed a concern about the treatment of initial i. I explained in detail the situation. You have not responded to my explanation -- you just groused at me for "talking down" to you.

Here is the explanation of the treatment of initial i again. Please do not complain about the laughableness of point 2. It has nothing to do with me; I was merely describing it.

On 18 May 2010, at 19:00, Craig Weatherhill wrote:

> I won't do any service by not voicing concerns, but the introduction of initial I for Y in some words makes me uncomfortable.

You need to understand why.

1. Jenner used i and î and y and ŷ phonetically, and distributed them on that basis.

2. Nance ditched i entirely, whether to avoid having to deal with working out a means to distribute i and y, or because he preferred the more medieval look of y.

3. George considered i and y to represent different phonemes in stressed syllables, and distributed i and y elsewhere according to his etymological theories (so we have kegin and molin because of Latin cucina and molina, burdening the user with remembering his Latin to get the spelling right. 

4. Williams re-introduced i in UCR in some Latin loanwords but there was no real systematicness to it otherwise.

5. KS1 and KD made some proposals.

6. The SWF specifies the use of i and y in stressed monosyllables and their derivatives (though it fails to distinguish short y and long ÿ in stressed monosyllables). It specifies that -i or -ei be used in monosyllables, and permits either -i or -y in polysyllables. It gives no other guidance to the user as to how to choose i or y in any other environment.

7. KS is the only orthography that offers clear rules for the distribution of i and y. These are:

7a. Use i- in initial position in all but 6 words.
7b. Use i for [iː] and y for [ɪ] in monosyllables and their derivatives.
7c. Use î for [iː] and y for [ɪ] in non-initial and non-final position in other polysyllables.
7d. Use -y in final position.

Those rules are pretty simple. No other orthography but Jenner's have rules at all for distributing i and y (Nance's omitting i entirely doesn't count, an in any case is incompatible with the use of i and y in the SWF.)

One of the reasons we chose 7a is the dislike many RLC users have for the perceived "medievalness" of the letter y. Since RLC users get very little graphic familiarity in the SWF it seemed an appropriate concession to make. 

> KS1 had to be adjusted to cope with the limitations placed on it by the SWF, but I feel that we've gone too far.

"Too far"? What is not too far? If you do not like i- your choice is y-. Is that "better"? Initial i- is very well attested in the corpus. There's nothing inauthentic about it. If you're not used to it, it's only because Nance didn't use the letter i at all.

You ought to be a bit used to it by now; after all these rules are implemented in Jowal Lethesow. They are good, simple, robust rules, easily taught, and easily learnt. Once you learn them, you know how to spell.


Now, with these facts in mind, please elucidate your views about the distribution of i and y.

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

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