[Spellyans] Rules for the apostrophe

nicholas williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Wed May 19 21:31:37 BST 2010

Hear, hear.

Jenner's spelling system was abandoned by Nance who preferred a more  
medieval, and indeed quaint, orthography.
Moreover, because he was such a poor linguist, Nance ignored crucial  
distinctions in the phonology of Cornish.
This was one of the reasons that people became so dissatisfied with  
UC. Unfortunately, the cure (KK) was much worse
than the disease.
The deification of Nance was part of the problem. If Nance had been a  
good a linguist as Jenner,
UC would have been more satisfactory and and KK would not have done so  
much damage.
And Nance's idees fixes weren't confined to orthography but gave a  
false impression of the syntax, idiom
and lexicon of Cornish as well. I remember when I was writing Cornish  
Today how astonished I was on reading the texts
(minus BK of course) several times and realising that Ywerdhon  
'Ireland', kenethel 'nation', enep 'face', avon 'river', myl 'animal',  
tron 'nose',
etc. etc. were all Nancean wishful thinking and that the words used by  
Cornish speaking Cornishmen had been Wordhen, nacyon, fas,
ryver, best and frigow. I also realised that Nance deliberately  
suppressed such forms as gansans, dhedhans, and refused to countenance
items like me a veu 'I had'. Nance also wanted to believe that forms  
like dewdros 'feet' and dewlagas 'eyes' were common, whereas
the ordinary words are treys and lagasow. In fact dywscovarn is  
unknown and the only attested form is scovornow [sic!].

KS is an attempt (as was Jenner's orthography) to bridge the gap  
between Middle and Late Cornish.
As such, KS is very close to Jenner. So in 2010 a spelling system is  
being used that is very similar to
Jenner (1904).
Interestingly KS is not particularly far from SWF/T though it shuns  
<iw> and unstressed -ev and -edh (e.g. *genev and *menedh),
and avoids "etymological" spellings like <melin> and <niver>. It is  
also tighter and less leaky in other ways.
Michael deserves great credit for the way he has applied his expertise  
in writing systems to the spelling of Cornish.
Still, in the Cornish revival one never gets praise, just criticism,  
carping and disparagement.
Craig knows that, so does Michael and so do I.

I have no doubt that in the long term the generally accepted  
orthography for Cornish will be something resembling
Jenner and KS. It probably will be fairly similar to SWF/T as well,  
minus the errors carried over from KK.
Of the three SWF is the only orthography designed by non-linguists,  
and it shows.

An introductory grammar will soon appear in KS. Translations in it  
have already been published
and more are on the way. I write in KS because I cannot use the SWF,  
which is so incoherent.
Anyone who can read SWF will have no difficulty with KS and vice versa.
The phonology is the same.

I am sure that SWF/M and SWF/T will have pretty short shelf-lives.  
Even if I don't live to see it,
I am confident that they will ultimately be replaced by something  
I certainly support the use of the SWF but I can't use it. Quite  
simply, it isn't good enough.


On 19 Me 2010, at 20:38, Craig Weatherhill wrote:

> In the meantime, can we please cut out the: "Bollocks"; "Nonsense";  
> "Have you got a crystal ball", etc.

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