[Spellyans] ragtho, rygthy

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Wed Nov 17 20:06:15 GMT 2010

On 15 Nov 2010, at 15:56, Daniel Prohaska wrote:

> I resent the fact that you portray my work and involvement in the process as “ensuring that KK forms are in the SWF”.

You might. But that's what you've been doing. You've been telling me that I have to use -es for animal plurals because Ken George has that in KK. In fact, you've suggested doing that for words which aren't even in George's dictionaries. KK recognizes one plural of 'goat', namely "gever". I pointed out that Tregear has a different plural, which he writes "gyffras" and suggested that this plural be used, spelt "gyfras". But you said I was obliged to Kemmynize the suffix, and write "gyfres". 

I consider this to be an instance of “ensuring that KK forms are in the SWF”.

> 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 understood that KK was taken as "the base" because there was little time to deal with the question of vowels. KK was not taken as "the base" because of the excellence or utility or reliability of its etymologies -- it is just that KK has those changes to traditional orthographic forms as part of its make-up. You work away, diligently, checking whether "taves" and "kegin" and "gaver" are defensible on the grounds of etymological reconstruction, but you have not answered the Big Question: What **use** are etymological vowels in unstressed syllables? Do they make it easier to remember a singular/plural pair? Do they make it easier for a teacher or learner to classify nouns in various ways? How exactly will the reflex of a theoretical Brythonic form dating to the 6th century BC be understood by the student? Is it expected that students will appreciate thet the -in in "kegin" is Latin, while the -yn in some other word is Celtic? And why is 'puppy' spelt "colen" rather than "colyn"? I can't think of a reason. It must be some of that clever hidden Celtic reconstruction Ken George liked. 

> 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

Yet we are the only ones who *have* principled, teachable rules for distributing i and y. 

> and some solutions for unstressed vowels (-ek ~ -ak).

Do you mean the distribution of -ek with suffixes in -y- and -e- but -ak in suffixes with -a- and -o-? I wonder what you don't admire about that. It helps the learner predict the suffix class. Compared with the evident randomness of the KK "etymological" vowels in unstressed syllables (vis à vis pronunciation) I find this, and our distribution of -er and -or and their suffixes, to be very admirable indeed. 

> Also KS has derogated from the SWF and is thus not an orthography by consensus any more. 

Hm? Its *brief* was to derogate from the SWF where the SWF was mistaken or where it was inconsistent. 

> But the consensus in the SWF entirely the point of the whole exercise.

At the expense of linguistic excellence and at the expense of people who know a lot about Cornish linguistics. You don't have me, or Nicholas, or Jon on board with your views about how the SWF should be revised. 

> I’d rather work from within to make the SWF linguistically more sound. 

But you're not. You're working to clean up some of KK's mistakes, maybe, but you've not asked the question posed above: "What use are etymological vowels?" We have asked it. We have also worked with them. We have engaged quite seriously with the SWF, in writing three versions of Skeul an Tavas. Agan Tavas teachers have worked with the SWF/T and have been frustrated by it. One RLC leader I know says he can't even write sensible Cornish in the SWF/Late that is supposed to be for is use. KS is a response to the SWF which **is** linguistically more sound, in a practical way. The SWF is, as Nicholas said, "neither traditional nor correct". 

Ben seems to be out of the picture. Albert communicates when he wants to, and prevaricates and doesn't rule on things even when rulings are asked for. Oh, I'm sure, it's my fault. I bully Albert, so he ignores me. Uh huh. That's how come I'm so encouraged to work "within the process" as you put it. You fellows over in Austria are beavering away on your glossary, sometimes listening to us but feeling perfectly willing to dismiss things like a principled distribution of i and y, without offering an alternative. So you end up with an SWF that has corrected some bad mistakes in KK, but which still fails to meet fairly simple requirements. 

As Nicholas said, "We need an orthography that is phonetic, unambiguous and as
traditional as possible."

> 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.

"The people"? The people who actually knew something about Cornish linguistics weren't even allowed to come to the table. The SWF was a nice political move. It allows the CLP to publish in a form which isn't going to be attract attack from the language groups. But the SWF wasn't designed on the basis of establishing sound principles and sticking to them. 

> 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 may not have noticed, but that is what we do already. 

> 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…

Don't criticize me for dismissing an idea of yours which you've never shared with us before, please. 

>> “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.

It works for "jùj" and "imach".

Lhuyd (and by the way we have been saying this for years now) was well able to distinguish /θ/ and /ð/. What the evidence shows is that he often writes -th in final unstressed syllables, and it is not unreasonable to suggest that where he wavers between that and -dh it is because he is being influenced by his Welsh. Taking that into account makes final /ð/ in unstressed syllables a lot less attractive a possibility. So at some point one has to take a stand, and we did. 

> 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].

Nicholas showed that not to be the case. Another strike against [əð]. 

> “I think, in fact, that that argument is apologism for a blot in the orthography.”
> … or historically and linguistically correct, given the evidence…

Take Lhuyd's Welsh into account and the picture is quite clear. But you want to change from "nowyth" to "nowydh". 

You'll get opposition from us on that. 

> 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.

I have not closed my eyes to the evidence, nor have I dismissed it out of hand. We investigated this long since.

> 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.

Sure. Story of my life, Dan. You might remember I was banned from my appointment to the AHG (in advance) and even banned from coming to the 

> Condescension aside, I am at least working from within the process,

Bosh. Who produced Skeul an Tavas SWF/T and SWF/K? Did we have help? Not really. Did we get enthusiastic support from the CLP after we published it? Not really. Only very recently did we get comments. The second edition of the SWF versions will be launched at the MAGA Conference. 

But producing Skeul an Tavas is engagement with the SWF, as part of the process.

> I believe in this process,

I don't. Not really. When Agan Tavas can't appoint its own representative to the AHG, when four people who know about place-names and Traditional Cornish resign from the Signage Panel due to obstinacy from the KK contingent, when the one person who knows Cornish better than anyone alive is not regularly consulted, when I see people more or less mechanically following "rules" laid down in a set of hostile negotiations -- I think I can't really be blamed for having my doubts about this process.

Yet I am finalizing the second edition of Skeul an Tavas for publication. Yet I participate on the Corpus Group forum. 

> 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.

To quote Nicholas again:

"We need an orthography that is phonetic, unambiguous and as traditional as possible. KK certainly wasn't that, nor is either form of the SWF at present. Until revived Cornish gets a satisfactory orthography it cannot prosper."

> 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.

We have a list of the faults in the SWF. 

> You derogated from it from day one

Because most of the faults in the SWF were evident from day one.

> and argue from the outside and all the people on the inside go “lalalalalalalaaa”.

Oh, bosh again, Dan. They all went "Lalalalalalalaaa" before when we published KS1. It's personal, their animosity against Nicholas and me. Didn't you know that?

> That’s not doing much good is it?

I'm not really all that worried about it. We'll see what happens when Nicholas and I and Jon and Neil and Ray and Andrew are all six of us invited to the table. 

In my opinion, I don't care who else comes to the table. But those six had better ought to be there. 

> 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.

It... isn't... good... enough.

Get it? The SWF is a dog's breakfast, to use the phrase of one of my favourite detractors. Nicholas said:

>> 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?"

And you answered:

> I would like to see RC as close to traditional Cornish, too, but it has to a certain extent become its own thing.

Why? What does that mean?

> 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.

But we *can* have an orthography which is is phonetic, unambiguous, and traditional. In fact, we already have one. And I guess it's one that you're going to have to reckon with. Unless the SWF is emended, it's going to have a competitor. Because in conscience, some of us at least can't use an orthography that is unworthy of Cornish. 

> These sentiments need to be considered.

Do our sentiments not need not be considered?

Finally, to something else you said:

> I’m not pretending, I just respect the SWF’s principle of inclusivity. If people want to use half-length then they should be able to.

They don't use it, even when they want to. And they shouldn't want to. they were sold a pup.

> Yes, you are right, I don’t think KG’s solution of the Cornish quantity system is right, but that’s an opinion.

What, so we're to be saddled with a spurious phonology forever just to be even-handed as far as opinions go? Even if nobody learnt it? Even if the competing quantity system is more closely related to features in learners' L1?

The claim that the SWF "is not a system of pronunciation" is one of the biggest loads of hogwash that came out of the AHG. Without an underlying phonology there is no rational basis for an orthography, which is one of the problems with the SWF.

Pol Hodge said this to us in his comments. "The SWF is *not* a system of pronunciation, so I advice using just what you propose" in our section on pronunciation. So I've done that. I've assumed a phonology -- which is the one most people use, the one Jenner taught Nance -- and written the section accordingly, with IPA, and with notes about where the SWF is ambiguous as to the application of the orthography to the phonology. I've done a serious and careful job at it. It is another example of my serious engagement with the  SWF. Please tell your friends and my detractors, OK?

Of course, they won't like it. :-S

> Albert has recently mention an interesting point looking at the quantity system of northern Welsh dialects, where vocalic length in polysyllabic words was lost in the low and mid vowels, but retained in the high vowels.  

The texts teach us all that we need. Jenner did the work. Albert's suggestion just sounds like a move toward trying to justify or rescue George's phonology. A waste of time, as that phonology has failed to be taken up. (That's more of what I consider "apologism". I don't see any of you working hard to justify Nicholas' views on Cornish phonology. I see a lot of work attempting to justify Ken's.)

You can be inclusive, but you must NOT include error. Not even to "appease" some people. (I wonder if you ever argue to them that they should appease us.)

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

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