[Spellyans] th/dh

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Sun Nov 21 15:25:54 GMT 2010

-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Everson
Sent: Sunday, November 21, 2010 1:12 PM

"On 21 Nov 2010, at 11:22, Daniel Prohaska wrote:

>> “You claim that Edward Lhuyd’s transcription of JCH shows external sandhi only for ð/θ.”


> I claim, “may show”, “may suggest”


You claimed more than that."


Fine, have it your way. ‘I claimed more than that.’


“> – you will note that I was always very careful in stating this, as I am quite aware that this hasn’t been worked out yet, that the evidence is scanty and interpretable. All I said was that final voicing cannot, with this evidence we have, not be dismissed out of hand and may need to be re-examined.


We have not dismissed it "out of hand". We have dismissed it on the basis of phonological likelihood and the evidence of the texts including Lhuyd.”


Most of the texts don’t distinguish /ð/ and /θ/ and write <th> alone. Lhuyd is pretty much or only evidence for /ð/ and you dismiss many of his spellings as Welsh influence too easily in my opinion.   


“>> “1) Show please all the examples, and a decent if not exhaustive selection of the counter-examples of the consonants which do not exhibit this behaviour.


You did not respond to this.”


I wasn’t planning on doing the write-up just yet. 


“>> 2) Show please that Lhuyd voices θ to ð in sandhi across word boundaries in other passages of connected text in AB.”


> Our strongest evidence is not, e.g. the introduction of AB as Lhuyd must have translated this himself. The Cornish isn’t idiomatic, sometimes mistaken. The strongest text of evidence would be JCH because this would have been read or recounted to him. So, this text he actually heard from a Cornish speaker.


If Lhuyd was careful and systematic and himself believed that consonants in final position were either voiced or voiceless (or that it mattered), this will turn up throughout the text. Limiting the data to one part of it is special pleading.”


As is going by textual evidence where no distinction is made. Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence. 


“>> “3) Explain please what exactly the phonetic mechanism that makes θ different from p t k f, which alternate in unstressed final syllables with b d g v and which do not voice in sandhi across word boundaries.


You did not respond to this.”


I wasn’t planning on doing the write-up just yet. 


“>> 4. Show please whether Lhuyd's distribution of θ and ð shows instances of either voicelessness or voicing which is unrelated to internal or external sandhi, and give your explanation which counters our explanation (that he was influenced by his native Welsh).”


> Well, we haven’t yet established whether voicing is unrelated to sandhi; don’t load the question… ;-)


You did. You said:


While the former would be able to read their [ˈdɪʊəθ] as <dyweth> (or <diweth>), they would wonder why the word is thus spelt when saying [pæn ˈɛɾə ˈdɪʊəð ən ˈvlɛðən].”


Michael – I said “…haven’t established whether…” I suggested it, thought it likely, propsed a working hypothesis… - which in this case is born out by Lhuyd’s JCH several times. 


“This is an example of external sandhi and it is the usage scenario you said argued for -əð.”


Yes, because it is attested in this very phrase… 


“In point of fact, I think this sentence would be [pæn ˈɛɾə ˈdɪʊəθ ən ˈvlɛðən].”


What you think is secondary. The primary concern here is that it is not attested, [pæ ˈθɛɾə ˈdɪʊəð ən ˈvlɛðən] is, as <pa τera diuaδ an vleδan>.  


“>> “Lhuyd published AB in 1707. We are lucky that his transcription is as good as it is, but it cannot be judged according to modern phoneme theory. 1707 was a long way from William Jones' proposal that Sanskrit and Persian had resemblances to Celtic, Greek, Latin, and Gothic. Lhuyd did not know as von Humbold and Brugman did that sounds change regularly. We do, however, and your claim, if it is to be credible, has to be backed up rigorously. What Nicholas and I have seen does not bear out your theory. He has been offering examples. It's time you do likewise, if you think your analysis is accurate.”


> I have also offered many examples.


Yes. Bailey-style, here and there in an e-mail argument. That lacks rigour.”


You’re not offering much else. Nicholas has. You haven’t. When I have the time, I’ll see if I can give a more rigorous argument. On the other hand I didn’t present my “case” as the absolute truth or proven theory. I said, I had my doubt and presented a working hypothesis, which is also legitimate, wouldn’t you say? So quit the “Bailey-style” retort – it’s boring.


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