[Spellyans] iw

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Sat Nov 20 16:46:09 GMT 2010


-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Everson
Sent: Saturday, November 20, 2010 11:57 AM



“On 20 Nov 2010, at 07:53, A. J. Trim wrote:

> I thought that you were recommending <dew> "two" for both masculine and feminine. Has that changed?

> 

> I don't regard the difference as significant but some people believe that there is a real difference between <iw> and <yw>. Perhaps we should recommend that they write their supposed difference as <yu> and <yw> instead.

 

The difference is marked between <dew> m. and <dyw> f.”

 

So this has <yw> for lyw-words and <ew> for tew-words. So, in KS bew-words are spelt with <ÿw> or <ëw>, is that correct?

 

“There is no evidence in the texts that <iw> and <yw> differ, because there is no <iw> in the texts.”

 

Precisely. There is evidence, however, that lyw-words and bew-words remained separate throughout the history of traditional Cornish.  

 

“Pol Hodge gave us notes when he read the proof of the SWF/K version of the second edition of Skeul an Tavas. Here is how the exchange went:

 

>> iw [iʊ] a sequence of ee in English see and oo in took in rapid succession: liw [liʊ] ‘colour’, piw [piʊ] ‘who’. There is no difference in pro nunciation between iw and uw and yw; you have to learn which words use which spelling. 

> 

> Not true but you are right in reality.

> 

>> yw [iʊ] a sequence of ee in English see and oo in took in rapid succession: byw [biʊ] ‘alive’, pyw [piʊ] ‘to own’. There is no difference in pronunciation between iw and uw and yw; you have to learn which words use which spelling. 

> 

> There is! But in reality most speakers don't bother.

 

When I see Pol in a week, I will certainly speak to him about this. "Not true but you are right in reality"? "There is a difference but in reality”

 

You left the sentence dangling when it was about to get interesting … :-(

 

The diphthong spellt u, ew, yw, iw, uw, aw, ow are notoriously muddled up in RC and show marked interference from L1 English. Pol’s statement from the view of recommended pronunciations for the SWF as well as KK are incorrect, though. Both KK recommends the four-way distinction of <iw, yw, ew, uw> as [iʊ ɪʊ ɛʊ yʊ] and SWF follows this recommendation for earlier Middle Cornish. For Tudor and Late Cornish it recommends [ɪʊ ɛʊ ɛʊ ɪʊ], i.e. a two-way distinction. 

 

“That means that there isn't a difference between <iw> and <yw> except in the mind (and not on the tongue) of Ken George, and Pol and the rest of them have been sold a pup.”

 

If speakers of Revived Cornish don’t follow the recommendations, the one making the recommendations can hardly be blamed. 

 

There are many languages that orthographically show distinctions no longer made in speech, look at English <meet> ~ <meat>. This doesn’t mean they’re wrong… 

 

“Plus since there is no evidence in the texts for the distinction, it *is* true to say that "There is no difference in pronunciation between iw and uw and yw; you have to learn which words use which spelling."

 

Lyw-words were always distinct from bew-words.

 

“At least Pol is rational enough to see what the reality is. The problem is that he *wants* to follow a theory which doesn't fit the facts of the language. 

 

Ken George was wrong here, since there is no evidence in the texts AT ALL for this distinction. The AHG was wrong to build in this "aspiration" into the SWF, because even if it were realizable (which it has not been for more than two decades) it still isn't Cornish.”

 

Ken George was wrong to propose this four-way diphthong distinction for ca. 1500, he wasn’t wrong about an OC distinction of three front w-diphthongs (which he spells iw, yw, ew in KK), but again it wasn’t /iw/ (liw) and /ɪw/ (byw ~ bew) that merged, it was /ɪw/ (byw ~ bew) and /ew/ (tew).

Dan 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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