[Spellyans] th/dh and Lhuyd

Owen Cook owen.e.cook at gmail.com
Tue Nov 23 07:55:08 GMT 2010


On 22 November 2010 03:43, Michael Everson <everson at evertype.com> wrote:
> Owen, the only reason -dh is in the SWF is that George admired Welsh and he put it in KK in the mid-1980s.

Not really. George was not the first person to tinker with the
orthography of Cornish on the basis of historical and comparative
phonology (however ham-handedly). Tim Saunders had already done so. We
can be sure others would have looked back at the texts and come to the
same, not unreasonable conclusion as Nicholas did in the early 90s,
viz that final /ð/ existed in unstressed syllables. Ray Edwards and
Richard Gendall have also been known to read the texts -- and Gendall
has been much given to orthographical innovation.

We might say with equal justification (i.e. not much) that the only
reason -mm is in the SWF is that George admired Breton and he put it
in KK in the mid-1980s. And as it happens, KS also has mm in words
like mamm because it's been deemed useful and necessary to use <mm> to
indicate the possibility of preocclusion. You yourself wrote, not too
long ago, the following explanation for umbrella graphs (and a good
succinct one it is too):

> The SWF isn't very consistent, but in KS we also have mm/bm and nn/dn as umbrella
> graphs. If you see "nn" you know you can pre-occlude it; if RMC speakers see "dn" they
> know that they don't have to pre-occlude it. And we have ÿ/ë, which RMC speakers can
> pronounce /iː/ and RLC speakers can pronounce /eː/. And we have "â" in closed syllables
> where the vowel is long, which RMC speakers can pronounce /æː/ and RLC speakers can
> pronounce /ɒː/ (brâs).
>
> These things are pretty decent compromises given the two dialects of Revived Cornish.

For the words we've been chiefly talking about, the headwords in
Gendall's dictionary are both "diuah" and "diuadh" (but not diuath)
and "nouydh" and "neuydh" (but not nouyth). He also lists "gwironadh",
"grouedh", "guhidh", "kyledh", "mena"/"menedh", "senedh" and numerous
other items that make clear that, as far as he's concerned, final [ð]
in unstressed syllables is not only kosher in RLC, but that he wants
final <dh> to indicate the fact.

The utility of umbrella graphs like <nn> and <mm> does not appear to
be undermined by the fact that Ken George has propagated them. You may
object that preocclusion is so well documented as to be an
incontrovertible fact of traditional Cornish, whereas the existence of
unstressed final [ð] is debatable. Still, whatever the philological
trail that's led them there, there are revivalists who want to
pronounce [ð] in words like these. I can hardly think it would be a
greater burden for some speakers to pronounce <menedh> as [menəθ] than
for others to pronounce <mamm> as [mæbm].

Oll an gwelha,
~~Owen




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