[Spellyans] ragtho, rygthy

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Mon Nov 15 15:56:29 GMT 2010

-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Everson
Sent: Monday, November 15, 2010 1:22 PM

On 15 Nov 2010, at 10:45, Daniel Prohaska wrote:

> Go ahead Michael, bully me instead – insult me,


“I did not insult you. I have observed that in many respects you have worked to ensure that KK forms are in the SWF. I don't find that admirable. I don't think those things should be taught to learners.”


Yes, you did. I told you the last time you called me an “apologist for the SWF” (or similar wording) that I considered this insulting. Insults are not only insults when you intend them to be, but also if your conversation partner is insulted by them even if no insult was intended. No clever footnote on the original meaning of “apologist” can change that. 

I resent the fact that you portray my work and involvement in the process as “ensuring that KK forms are in the SWF”. That is not my doing, but on the other hand I will not protest a certain word form that can equally be possible going by the evidence and has been arrived at by consensus just because it doesn’t fit your pet theory. Yes, there are many things wrong with KK and forms that have entered the SWF through KK, but others that aren’t that you continually oppose or “derogate”, as you put it, because they were used in KK, not because they are linguistically questionable (taves, gaver etc.). The things that are wrong need to be corrected, which is exactly what we’re working on.

I find a lot of things in KS which are not admirable and which I wouldn’t teach learners, such as the <i ~ y> distribution and some solutions for unstressed vowels (-ek ~ -ak). Also KS has derogated from the SWF and is thus not an orthography by consensus any more. But the consensus in the SWF entirely the point of the whole exercise. I’d rather work from within to make the SWF linguistically more sound.     

Don’t get me wrong, I love your books and especially Nicholas’ Cornish which is most enjoyable to read… but I will stick to the SWF because there has been too much in-fighting and many KK-flaws have been expunged from the SWF and I’m sure there are quite a few that will follow. But the first step was to get the people to sit down at the same table and talk … and that is what the SWF has achieved – not KS and not KK. Rant over.


“> dismiss my points and theories as you have others’, because you happen to disagree with them.


I agreed with you that ragtho, rygthy, ragtha(ns) are the correct forms. Where I disagree with you is the blytheness with which you say "George appears to believe that the <g> indicates the <th> may have been voiced" as though it didn't matter. The evidence suggests that he was wrong. Why should learners be taught "ragdho", then?”


No, we cannot say this with absolute certainty, because none of us, you included, has ever interviewed a traditional native speaker of Cornish. The voiceless forms are undisputable in CW, but apart from that one text the cluster is spelt <gth> and <g> usually stands for a voiced sound and <th> can stand for [ð] or [θ]. The point is – we don’t know. What I would like have as a brief for correcting and emending SWF forms is something like “if in doubt follow the MSS”. 


“> You’ve done it before. Who cares… I have a thick skin… Or, on the other hand I dare you to be a little more open minded.


About what?” 


About a great deal of things. Usually phonological theories and orthographical designs which differ somewhat from your interpretations and ideas and are justifiable using the very same evidence. 


“About your argument that we should be happy with -dh and -v in unstressed syllables because German Hand/Hande is [hant]/[handǝ]?” 


It’s <Hand> [hant] ~ <Hände> [ˈhɛndə] – no, not because of, but as far as orthographical design is concerned, by analogy with this solution (and many other languages that show word-final devoicing). With the evidence we have from – well mainly Lhuyd – there is some doubt as to whether [ð] was at all devoiced in such positions – in which case – behold! – KK could actually have been correct!!! [v] is usually dropped in this position anyway, so no need to worry about that, though I would definitely prefer to spell <f> finally whether I drop the sound or not. This would lead to <ff> = [f]; <f> = [f] ~ [v]; <v> = [v] which would be something I could live with…

Just a little demonstration of what open minded and able to compromise can mean…



“I think that argument is poor, since the SWF otherwise permits -p  and -k in unstressed syllables while having -b and -g in stressed ones.” 


What’s right for stops may not be so for fricatives. Lhuyd suggests [ð] in this position was retained. Some MMS spellings add magic-e, which can be interpreted as making sequence such as -athe mean [əð]. 


“I think, in fact, that that argument is apologism for a blot in the orthography.” 


… or historically and linguistically correct, given the evidence…


“It's making an excuse for inconsistency in order to "make it all right", and it's just not "all right". Is pointing this out "bullying" you?” 


No, closing your eyes to the evidence or dismissing it out of hand, or not reacting to it at all and then talking down to me is. 


“Sorry, Dan, but your analogy deserves criticism.” 


The analogy is an orthographical solution – one of many. I can take criticism, don’t you worry about that. What I cannot take is a dogmatic approach to phonological problems that have not yet been solved or cannot be at any time re-opened given the presentation of the proper evidence.   


“Maybe I'm not "nice enough" when I criticize, but I don't, at the end of the day, think that what you are doing is going the right direction.”


And yours is? It’s easy to find consensus in a group that agrees, but so much harder where there is considerable disagreement. The way you have proceeded has alienated so many people who beg to differ with your point of view – or some of them at least. In fact you have alienated so many people don’t even want to talk to you anymore. Thus all the very good and bright things you say are also lost because they fall on deaf ears – “Der Ton macht die Musik!”


 “May I not hold such a view?” 


You’re free to hold any views you want to and I in turn am just as free to disagree and point that out, also when you, even if unwittingly or unintentionally, insult me. 


“Or do I have to admire you for working to ensure that all the Kemmynisms are implemented completely?” 


An unnecessary, and unworthy stab…


“You're a tireless worker. You're smart. But it is hard for me to see that you are doing anybody any favours.”


Condescension aside, I am at least working from within the process, I believe in this process, I believe it will do the SWF and the Cornish language movement as a whole a favour to agree to a Single Written Form and achieve something that we can all live with, so that Cornish language speakers in and outside of Cornwall can spend their energy on producing good Cornish in speech and writing without the dark shadow of the spelling wars looming over them. People, I find, are listening to my reasoned arguments as I am to theirs and that makes compromise possible, you should have seen how much more Kemmyn the first drafts of the Glossary were before Neil and I sent in our proofs. But, people listened to what we had to say because we generally respected the agreement, the consensus. You derogated from it from day one and argue from the outside and all the people on the inside go “lalalalalalalaaa”. That’s not doing much good is it? 

Now, if you’d published those books in SWF/Mt or SWF/Lt you might have a completely different standing in fora such as the corpus group.




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