[Spellyans] Cornish Orthography

janicelobb at tiscali.co.uk janicelobb at tiscali.co.uk
Fri May 28 11:54:37 BST 2010

Ha EwanWelcome to Babel. You have high-lighted another problem! Not only do we have differences in spelling but we also have differences in pronunciation (and grammar). So, as a Late Cornish speaker I frequently struggle to understand Unified and Kemmyn speakers. Nicholas Williams is very patient - he speaks ve-ry slow-ly to me! So, one orthography cannot suit both at the same time. The SWF has "umbrella graphs" - which I do not like. I have yet to be convinced that KS can address the problem.Oll an gwellaJan Lobb

----Original Message----

From: butlerdunnit at ntlworld.com

Date: 27/05/2010 22:31 

To: <Spellyans at kernowek.net>

Subj: [Spellyans] Cornish Orthography

I've always been interested in the 
Celtic languages and indeed part of my degree is in Scottish Gaelic and 
includes some Irish, Welsh and Manx. Sadly no Breton or Cornish but being a 
lover of Cornwall ( and Penzance & Penwith in particular!) I began 
teaching myself Cornish years ago with the aid of both Cornish for Beginners 
and Caradar's Cornish Simplified Vols1&2. which I acquired 
from the old Edinburgh University bookshop, James Thin in 1978!
I have been intermittently 'learning' the 
language ever since- in tandem with or at the expense of keeping up my 
Welsh!  And though I find it fascinating comparing the two 
sister languages I must confess to having a great affection for the 
Cornish. It is such an expressive tongue, I feel. One of my favourite memories 
is of visiting a woolen mills in Cornwall where we were all welcomed on 
the coach by a lady speaking what sounded like fluent Welsh but of 
course was fluent Cornish!! 
After the late 80s I must confess 
the orthographic divergence of the language proved a bit of an 
obstacle, simply because it was difficult to decide which was the 'best' 
form to adopt and at a purely practical level it could be very confusing 
trying to work out which material was in which orthography! Even an 
enthusiast like myself was a bit daunted! 
And though I have tried to follow the very 
technical and high powered arguments from the main contenders I cannot pretend 
to any wonderful proficiency in understanding phonemics and phonetics or how 
these impact on spelling. What initially seems a straight forward enough 
issue soon becomes tremendously complicated!
If I'm honest my sympathies would lie 
more with the Unified and Late schools as they seek to conserve what 
was actually written in the authentic texts but I can see the attraction of KK 
My own feeling on it all boils down to this- 
can any orthography ever be 'perfect' or even close thereto? O.k., I 
know the English 'system' can be a bit chaotic having evolved 
like Topsy but Cornish surely has never been as 'irregular' as 
that so conserving traditional spellings at least has the virtue of 
conneting us to the 'real' thing....though as the arguments over Unified have 
proven even modest 'unifying' or regularising can be a monumental 
Finally, a question for the technical linguistic 
experts- how does one establish which sounds are phonemes and which are 
Ewan W. 

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