[Spellyans] th/dh

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Sun Nov 21 11:14:07 GMT 2010

All good and fine, Michael. I realise you listened and argued and that’s all we can ever do. So I respect your opinion. I have not yet done the thorough research to back up by working hypothesis, but please understand also, that I cannot, given the doubts I have about the devoicing of word final /ð/ in every unstressed syllable, regardless of its environment and position in the phrase, with confidence support enshrining this view in an orthography of Revived Cornish. 

I don’t do this in order to support blindly the choices made for the SWF, I have in my work on the Glossary and before offered many, many emendations and corrections to KK-derived SWF word forms, some of which have been accepted and found their way into the Glossary. I do, however, accept the SWF process and the need for a political compromise and this compromising nature of the project brings with it its linguistic problems. For me this is work in progress. We have 2013 to work with in order to identify and offer solutions for adjustments. I don’t expect anything radical, but at least some guidelines that will give us more direction and fewer ideological constraints. 

I was initially dismayed over the SWF choice of writing <dh> word-finally in unstressed syllables, because like you, I had accepted Nicholas’ theory and the general logic of the voiced/stressed v. unvoiced/unstressed opposition. But working on my dictionary, literally checking every word against the textual attestations, I stumbled across more and more of Lhuyd’s spellings that showed <dh>. This led me to the assumption that it may have been possible for /ð/ to be voiced under certain circumstances. My dictionary (also work in progress) actually shows final devoicing in the phonetic transcriptions. 

Unfortunately, I haven’t got the time to work through AB right now, because I have too much work to do and want to get on with the dictionary, but it will be filed under future projects. Until then, that is if I come up with anything, we will have to agree to disagree, you say with absolute certainty that <dh> was always unvoiced in that position and I assume that it may have remained voiced in some contexts and devoiced in others. Fine.

The fact I’m working with at the moment is the decision made by the Ad-Hoc-Group to write <dh> for historical /ð/ in this position, the fact that there are, whether they achieve it or not, people in the Revival that want to distinguish between /θ/ and /ð/ in this position, and that in the spirit of compromise it is easier to devise a rule that allows for an unvoiced pronunciation of /ð/ in this position, that expect a Cornish learner to memorise when final <th> could mean /θ/ and when /ð/. It’s the simpler solution and it’s not unhistorical because the etymologies with /ð/ are generally accepted and it is only as unauthentic as writing <dh> in the first place, i.e. in stressed syllables, as the bulk of Cornish literature never distinguishes between /θ/ and /ð/ and writes <th> for both. Many instances of <dh> in stressed syllables were derived from etymological forms reconstructed from Breton and Welsh. 

Anyway, I hope in future I will have the time to look into this problem in more detail and we’ll see how this will affect certain orthographical choices.




-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Everson
Sent: Sunday, November 21, 2010 1:37 AM

"On 20 Nov 2010, at 22:46, nicholas williams wrote:

>> Why can it not write <bolonjedh> [bɔˈlʊnʤəθ] and <bolonjedhek> [ˌbɔlənˈʤɛðək]


> Because, Dan, the form *bolonjedh is not found. The forms in Lhuyd are:

> volyndzheth AB: 224; volenegeth AB: 222.

> Gwavas who uses <dh> in other words writes bonogath BF: 45.

> *bolonjedh is not attested.


I called KK a house of cards once. The only reason we are even talking about this is Ken George's cringing before Breton and Welsh. Because of temporal constraints, and a team of fluent non-linguists during hostile negotiations, that got built into the SWF. Of course, this doesn't make it right. 


Dan, your motivations are good, I am sure. You want to work "within the process". But the process has introduced linguistic features not found in Cornish into the orthography..


Inclusiveness is all very well. But the integrity of the Cornish language is more important than whether people may have learnt from books propounding a mistaken theory. 


The example above shows, I'm afraid, that the tack you are taking is going the wrong direction -- away from Cornish. 


I do not say this rashly, or without consideration. I have been working with Cornish since we started to put the UCR dictionary together. I have listened to the view you've put across, and in looking at the evidence together with Nicholas I just don't believe that Lhuyd's material supports the view that you have been espousing over the past few days." 



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