[Spellyans] iw

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Thu Nov 25 15:55:03 GMT 2010

On 25 Nov 2010, at 14:48, Daniel Prohaska wrote:

> Just like you. I've offered plenty or arguments, attestations and interpretations. You just don't choose to accept them.

I don't accept them because they aren't convincing. You can insult me (again) by claiming that I am close-minded and refuse to listen, though that's not the case. Albert made a good case about the alternation in dallath/dalathfos. Nicholas and I "chose to accept them": we evaluated the data and the argument and made a change in the orthography: a change which will be seen in the book we are launching on Saturday, in fact. 

You just haven't made a good case with your arguments, attestations, and interpretations. Your argument that "iw" is a traditional graph doesn't fly, and your argument that it is necessary in the spelling of six lexical items, well, you haven't made your case. 

We distinguish the bÿs~bës words from the mes words because both are very large classes of words. Having pronunciation ambiguity between large classes of words is problematic. Yet you say that this doesn't bother you. 

What does bother you is a half-dozen words which Ken George writes -iw. He does so because this accords with Welsh and Breton, near as I can tell. (He is on record saying that the SWF should have -i only and not -y *because Breton and Welsh have -i*.) In the Revived language, these six words rhyme with words in -yw. 

So these *six* words are problematic enough to write them with a non-traditional graph, while you "don’t find not distinguishing bys ~ bes ‘world’ from mes ‘open field’ problematic as old /ɪː/ and /eː/ coalesced in /eː/ anyway." Well it may not be problematic for clever fellows like you who know things about old /ɪː/ and /eː/, but it sure is problematic for learners who can't work out whether words in -es belong to one class or the other. Or at least that's how I see it, given the context of the problems we have been trying to solve since we first began working on KS1. 

I fear you've fallen for the trap of believing that indicating etymological vowels is somehow valuable to the modern learner. That case has yet to be made. 

Nicholas and I did some statistics a good while back. 

dyw ‘two (f.)’* dyw 3, diw 0, dyv 3, diu 0, div 0

gwyw ‘worthy’ gvyw 4 gviw 0, guyv 5 guiv 0, gwyw 1 gwiw 0, guew 7 guiu 0

lyw ‘colour’ lyv 3 liv 0 lew 1, lyw 9 liw 0, liu 0

nywl ‘mist, fog’ niul (Lhuyd) 1

pyw ‘own’** pev 1, pew 4

pyw ‘who’ pyv 33 piv 0 peua (Lhuyd) 1, pyw 11 piw 0 pew 24. piu (Lhuyd) 3 peu 1. pu 4

66% of examples have -yw, 30% have -ew/-u, and 4% (both of which are Lhuydian) have -iu which isn't -iw anyway.

(stryw 'sneeze' is extrapolated from Lhuyd's strihue which is problematic in a number of ways anyway.) 

> What more is there to say? I'm not surprised.

By me not being convinced by your argument that it is important to distinguish a tiny class of words with a non-traditional graph while not minding that a large class of words is not distinguished?

On 25 Nov 2010, at 15:02, Daniel Prohaska wrote:

> Just so we’re clear here. I was not being dismissive. You were. From the very beginning we started this argument.

You started out by claiming that "iw" is suitable for a traditionally-based orthography, when it is not a traditional graph. We didn't agree with you, since it isn't one. Turning up once only in Tregear does not put in a class of regularly employed graphs. It's just as likely as Nicholas said that it's just an error (since he regularly wrote "deweth"). 

> Calling me “disingenuous” is an insult I my books.

Trying to play the "numbers game" card out of context on me seemed to me to be a disingenuous thing to do, since my views are well enough known that it is hard for me to think that you were being serious. So I said so: you know me to be straightforward in expressing my views. You've taken offence, which is regrettable, but you might notice that you've been just as testy as you say that I have been. I don't suppose either of us is enjoying that. 

And yes, I think your attempt to claim that one Tregearian "diweth" out of 25 "deweth"s counts as a traditional graph (never mind all the "dyweth"s and "deweth"s in the rest of the corpus) is unconvincing. The numbers are way against you there. 

I think that if Ken George's -iw had never been shoved into the SWF that you wouldn't have started out trying to justify it. You've come up with some sort of justification, all right. But it hasn't been sufficient for us at least to change our view that "iw" is unnecessary. Same thing with -edh: you've found a very shaky justification for it, but it fails Occam's razor as far as I can see. 

I'm sorry if you're disappointed that we don't accept your analysis. But it would be disingenuous of us to pretend that we did, wouldn't it? 

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

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