[Spellyans] iw

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Wed Nov 24 16:08:04 GMT 2010


From: nicholas williams

Sent: Wednesday, November 24, 2010 10:42 AM


“This is the crux. We have to distort the orthography of revived Cornish because George assumed a threefold distinction, for which there is not a shred of evidence.”


May I quote a short passage from Cornish Today (p.35): 

‘6.2 There seems to be little doubt that Cornish like Welsh and Breton had originally three separate diphthongs /iw/, /ɪw/ and /ew/. In Primitive Breton the second and third fell together when the distinction between /ɪ/ and /e/ was lost.’


This is the basis I meant and I was starting from. 


“George's indefensible phonology is intended to represent the period ca 1500. So why in heaven's name has the spelling of revived Cornish  got to archaise?”


It doesn’t have to, of course, but even traditional Middle Cornish had some archaic features that were orthographically represented, but had probably been given up by ca. 1500. 


“This just won't do, Dan. 

There are no examples anywhere of <iw> in monosyllables, so why do we have to write <diw>, <liw>, etc.?”


I view Lhuyd’s <iụ> as examples that can be written <iw> today. 


“There were two major mistakes in KK. 1) that there was no vocalic alternation (because George wasn't aware of it). 2) there was half-length with all its concomitant features

(e.g. clear unstressed vowels, y in final position rather than <Iw>, etc.).”


Yes. Though I find the dating of change of the quantity rules debatable. I agree with you in so far as the process of vowel shortening inpolysyllabic words was complete by 1500 at the latest (i.e. BM).   


“As for <diweth>, Tregear's usual spelling is <deweth> x 25. How can we be sure that <diweth> is not a slip?”


How can we be sure this slip doesn’t exactly portray what was said then? So-called ‘mistakes’ have often been very telling. The form is also corroborated by Lhuyd and earlier texts widely use dyweth, which in my view is essentially the same as diweth, since y was often written for i. 

Furthermore in Early Modern English <ew> was often used to represent the diphthong /ɪʊ/.


“While the SWF maintains these errors it is unfit for function.”

1.) The SWF shows Vocalic Alternation and has therefore corrected this mistake in KK;

2.) The SWF does not have half-length by rule. Vowels in polysyllabic words may be pronounced short in a Tudor and Late Cornish based phonology; they may be pronounced long in conservative early Middle Cornish based phonology; 


“I intend to write against them until they are expunged, i.e. until revived Cornish returns to an authentic orthography and a realistic phonology.

I say, a realist phonology. Nobody actually uses George's fantasy phonology, so it has no raison d'être. Everybody (including George) uses UC phonology.

The SWF as it stands is little better than KK. It was put together by an untrained group of enthusiasts, who didn't understand what they were doing. In the long term the current SWF has no future.



I hope, we can get some adjustments incorporated into the SWF to make it linguistically more sound and more appealing from a traditional point of view. 



On 2010 Du 23, at 20:19, Daniel Prohaska wrote:

“No, because that was agreed upon in the Ad-Hoc group. George’s threefold distinction may be wrong for 1500, but it is not wrong to assume this series was part of earlier pre-MC phonology. In that sense both KK and the SWF/M are archaising.



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