[Spellyans] th/dh

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Sat Nov 20 17:16:59 GMT 2010

-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Everson
Sent: Saturday, November 20, 2010 1:27 PM

“On 20 Nov 2010, at 11:38, Daniel Prohaska wrote:

>> “In fact it did not. Then, it ignores that further study of the texts led to a shift before the second edition (1995 recall) and that further study has made the position much clearer. Moreover Nicholas has actually published many examples of this, as did he and I on one of our AHG submissions.


>> It is odd that you berate Nicholas for having changed his mind.”



> I didn’t berate him for changing his mind! Not at all! I pointed  it out! I said he once held a similar position to the one I hold now, so this position can hardly be considered radical or otherwise unreasonable. That’s all I wanted to express. I never, and I mean never berate people for changing their mind. Being able to change one’s mind shows an open mind, willing to listen to and act on reasoned argument.


Try it, then.”


Try it yourself, you obviously have a very hard time doing it! I have proven on numerous occasions that I am quite capable of changing my mind. 


“You want to treat the dh/th differently from the way that v/f and b/p and d/t and g/k are treated; this is illogical and unsystematic.” 


No, it is not. It is careful, historicising and inclusive. 


“And, to my mind, given the lists of attestations Nicholas has provided, counter to the evidence of the texts, pace Lhuyd, whose inconsistency is explained without difficulty.”


Yet Lhuyd is thonly available evidence for <dh> there is, and by your line of reasoning you should abandon writing <dh> at all and spell <th> only. The evidence of the MC texts (outside PA) actually shows us that there was no /ð/. 

All we have is grounds to assume that /ð/ existed from a few occurrences of <ȝ> in PA – and Lhuyd of course, whose evidence you dismiss if it doesn’t fit your theory.


“I have listened to your argument, and I understand your Hand/Hände analogy. That orthographic feature isn't a part of the regular orthographic conventions used in the Revived language, however: For the other stops and fricatives, Cornish uses a Hant/Hende model. Making it a special case because Lhuyd's Welsh interfered with his Cornish and because Ken George Cymricized Cornish in 1987 is not a sufficient reason to spell -dh in final unstressed syllables.” 


Michael, you have no evidence for /ð/ at all. How can you tell whether there was or was no contrast between [ð] and [θ] in final position (any position for that matter)? There is no sufficient reason to spell <dh> at all going by the MC MSS. You cannot know for a fact that Lhuyd’s Welsh interfered with his Cornish – you can assume, you can postulate, you can theorise, but you cannot know. That is my point. That’s why doubt remains as to whether final devoicing occurred for /ð/ and if it’s not the safer, more careful, more inclusive way of dealing with this problem in an orthography for RC.




“The evidence suggests that such segments were [əθ] not [əð] and accordingly I oppose the Hand/Hände model. Not least because regardless of the rule you propose, people will end up voicing it even in final unstressed position. And since we believe that the evidence suggests that this was wrong, we oppose writing -dh in in final unstressed position. 


And we did before, during, and after the AHG. Writing -dh will lead to undesirable pronunciation error, and we do not support that.” 



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