[Spellyans] ragtho, rygthy

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Tue Nov 16 16:25:16 GMT 2010

-----Original Message-----
From: Nicholas Williams
Sent: Tuesday, November 16, 2010 11:13 AM

"Michael has a point. There is no profit in writing things we know to be wrong, e.g. ragdho, rygdhi, simply to appease Kemmyn users. They will not thank us for it, and they are not prepared to compromise."


Do we know for a fact that they are wrong? The texts usually didn’t distinguish between [ð] and [θ]. The only text that shows the cluster <cth> (ractha) is CW and O.Pender has <gt> (ragt’ang), the other texts show <gth> which can just as well mean [gð] as well. I’m not saying it’s what I believe – my interpretation is as yours, I would spell <gth> [kθ], but just for the sake of playing the devil’s advocate, is [gð] really inconceivable given the ‘voiced’ graph <g> used in texts which would otherwise spell the simplex form <rak>, e.g. Ordinalia (PC, RD rak, but ragtho)?


“It is not true to say that it is necessary to use such erroneous forms in order to get people talking to each other. The old division KK versus the rest has not become SWF/M versus SWF/T and the arguments are the same, i.e. no rational argument from the SWF/M side, just what they prefer through habit. So hw trumps wh, k, kw trump c,k, qw,, iw and yw are different, and we must write lyver but niver, irrespective of the practice of the scribes.”


Accepting the KK graphs was apparently a trade off to get VA, but I don’t know if this is actually true. Suffice it to say, it was a compromise that helped bring about an agreement that lead to the SWF. I don’t like it, but I can accept it for now. Ultimately I would want to see the so-called traditional graphs be the only ones used.

The distribution of <i> and <y> is not ideal in the SWF, and neither is it in KS in my opinion. I would attempt a different approach, but that will be for a later date. I’m currently doing my own little write-up of things I would like to discuss for adjustments in 2013. The question we will have to tackle regarding <lyver> and <niver> is whether they belong to different classes of words. Since we have the dichotomy of MC based RC and LC based RC we can see that in MC <lyver> is, at least as a general tendency, spelt <lyver> and <levar> and in LC <levar>. Now if we have <nyver> or <niuer> or the like in LC then we can say that the stressed vowels in these respective etyma are contrastive and the orthographic distinction is valid. This will be a difficult task as Cornish <i ~ y ~ e> are notoriously difficult to interpret. I know there are no cases of <niver> attested in LC (save Pryce, but he cites the MC forms <never, nyver>), but LC has many attestations of <keniver> and here we see a definite tendency towards <i> and <y>, though <e> occurs also. What my suggestion for a redistribution of <i> and <y> boils down to is to write <i> where LC and MC share the phonemes /iː/ and /ɪ/ and write <y> where MC generally has <y> and LC generally has <e>; i.e. the eMC phoneme /ɪ/ (with its allophonic [ɪː] ~ [ɪ]) > MC, LC /eː/, /ɛ/. Then RMC speakers can write <y> and RLC speakers can write <e> by rule. 


“The quondam KK users do not understand the linguistic arguments. If they had ever understood them, they would never have adopted KK in the first place. Accepting ragdho, rygdhi merely perpetuates errors into the next generation.”


I definitely agree that <ragdho> is less desirable than <ragtho> and this is definitely something I would like to see changed in adjustments so that we can move from a KK default in the SWF to a kind of “if in doubt, follow the MSS spellings”. 


“The time to rid the revival of George's errors is now—and that includes -edh in words like gwiryoneth. Even the SWF accepts nowyth. To write lewydh, for example, is therefore inconsistent.”


The agenda, in my opinion, is misplaced, Nicholas. We should rid RC of errors as far as possible, not just George’s. I don’t believe that -edh is necessarily an error. It is attested, after all, by Lhuyd and interestingly enough CW has gwreanathe occurring before a vowel which leads me to suspect that there may have been final devoicing in absolute auslaut and before other voiceless consonants, but [ð] before vowels. This would make a spelling in RC with final <dh> more practical. Yes, I know Lhuyd also gives examples of this word with final <th> (I did not want to neglect to mention that – BTW you didn’t mention the <dh> attestation in the provisional word list of UCR in CT).  

I believe <nowyth> is inconsistent. I’d rather write <dh> to ensure consistency; also an attested form BTW. 


“KK did huge damage, not only by allowing an erroneous analysis of the traditional language to infect the revival, but also by driving objectors to it to appear spoilers.”


Yes, I agree, but there were also things learnt from this and any dogma that says all traces of KK should be eradicated will do equal damage. It’s part of the development of RC and it is up to us all now to bring the different strands of RC together again and the SWF is a first step. It will allow us to take a step backwards from the previous in-fighting and we can now correct it for what it is, not from which ideological background respective features of it came from. 


“I had an email from somebody recently asking me where he could find copies of Bewnans Ke. Our editio princeps is now out of print. My correspondent wrote:


"We have dipped into the Life of Ke, using an edition by some individual called K George ... which, as you will know better than me, has a very wooden and pompous manner. But Blackwells say that your editio princeps is not now available."”


And a fine book your BK is. It should go into a second edition ASAP. Hint: actually I would love to see all the traditional texts similarly presented in modern scholarly editions ;-)


“The late Peter Pool called KG a "false prophet". Peter was right and perpetuating any of George's countless mistakes—even in the interests of peace and compromise—is foolish.



Yes, let’s weed out all the mistakes, not just the ones in KK and move from there.





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