[Spellyans] SWF

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Tue Nov 16 16:46:07 GMT 2010

-----Original Message-----
From: Nicholas Williams
Sent: Tuesday, November 16, 2010 11:48 AM

”All power to your elbow, Dan. But please spare a thought for those people who cannot in conscience use the SWF either M or T. I cannot write <iw> in dyw, because I have read all the Cornish texts and know it doesn't occur anywhere. I cannot write chi, ki, bri because I know such forms are virtually unknown. I cannot write genev, orthiv, warnav because I know such forms are Lhuydian inventions based on Welsh and are unknown in traditional Cornish.”


That’s fine, if that is your opinion. I don’t think it’s all that difficult. Since <i> and <y> have been redistributed both in KS and SWF I see little problem with writing <iw>, even if it does not occur in MC. Note that <iu> occurs in Lhuyd though who distinguishes it from <eu> found in etyma that frequently have <yw> in MC. If you can stand the general redistribution of <i> and <y> I don’t see what the problem is bearing with <iw> if it’s useful.

I, too, don’t like <chi, ki, bri> etc. and would much rather be allowed to write <chy, ky, bry> - this is definitely something the people who prefer SWF/t will need in 2013, if the SWF : SWF/t dichotomy is to continue. 

I think we could propose to write <f> in <genef, orthif, warnaf> by spelling [f] as <ff>, [v] as <v> and using <f> as an umbrella graph for [v] and [f]. This would work for secondary lenition, initial voicing in LC as well as word final traditional <f> which can be either [v] or dropped. 


“So what am I supposed to do? Do you think I should write SWF/T — an orthography for Cornish devised by people who know Cornish less well than I and who for the most part don't understand the linguistic arguments and have never read the texts?”


I would like to see RC as close to traditional Cornish, too, but it has to a certain extent become its own thing. The texts always have to be our main corrective, I agree, but there are some practical considerations we have accepted for RC such as writing <dh> and <j>. And while KK went over the top with these “practical” characteristics, we have learnt from it that many people don’t so much care for the traditional texts as much as having (or at least believing so) a solid guide to pronunciation for RC. These sentiments need to be considered. 


“I have no choice but to avoid the SWF. The SWF has two merits. 1. it is not as erroneous as KK (with its specious phonology—unused by anybody). 2. Since it is not KK, it has removed George's ability to dictate to the revival.”


Sorry Nicholas, this is too much anti-George for my taste. We’ve got what we’ve got for now. There is the upcoming 2013 adjustment and I’m sure if errors can be pointed out, they can at any time be addressed discussed and in the spirit of consensus and reasoned argument, implemented. 


“It is far from perfect however, and where it is mistaken it does not resemble the texts. In this respect it differs notably from UC and UCR.


Until the SWF is emended I won't use it.


Finally I don't think the Cornish people should be compelled to "live with" an orthography that is neither traditional nor correct.



Correct is a matter of interpretation of the data. None of us possess the absolute truth about what traditional Cornish phonology was at a given time. We must not make the mistake of dogmatically clutching to our pet theories if problems with them are pointed out. Also, in an orthography of RC there can be room for considerable variation in pronunciation while sticking to a standard spelling, thus even mutually exclusive theories underlying the phonology can be orthographically represented to allow adherents of the various schools of thought to read their Cornish in their pronunciation, e.g. a follower of George’s phonological theories will read <scrifa> as [ˈskriˑfa] while somebody who espouses your theories can say [ˈskrɪfə] or [ˈskrɛfə]. The spelling is the same. 




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