[Spellyans] diacritics

Ceri Young rcr_young at yahoo.co.uk
Wed Feb 2 11:59:22 GMT 2011

I agree with Craig & Herbie's point here - that diacritics are ultimately 

Beyond that, Michael's 'everything in an orthography is mandatory' line troubles 
me - it indicates that KS is really being designed as a highly 
formal orthography for officialdom and the editing world of the publishing 
house, but clearly not one with the real world of a living language in mind, 
since it has virtually been designed to be unceremoniously dumped or at least 
scraped clean for the intimate and less formal world of SMS 
messages, e-mails, Facebook posts, cursive handwriting or any written exchanges 
between fluent Cornish speakers to whom an orthography which slavishly labours 
how it's pronounced with diacritsis actually superfluous. 
I agree that the complete system has clear virtues for a the formal publications 
& communications of a language in the process of revival (I don't see anyone 
arguing against that) but then, does it not appear to lack ambition for Cornish 
attaining even greater vitality as a language of extensive interpersonal 
communications of all levels of formality? Of becoming a daily language of 
regular SMS, e-mails, internet postings, cursive handwriting & private, informal 
exchanges between fluent speakers? I'd even question if it was a little too 
slavish for letters sent into magazines, where a magazine editor would publish 
them, as received.

Cornwall will decide how its language is to be rendered - and if KS has been 
designed to be too cumbersome outside of the most formal applications then at 
least be prepared to see Cornwall dump it for a more multi-purpose orthography, 
or to use it but to routinely plane off its diacritics in casual use. I disagree 
that an aversion to diacritics is an 'English' phenomenon - it could also be 
described as a British one, because the Welsh avoid them too in the informal 
spheres of their written, living language - the usage of diacritics in 1900 was 
far more extensive than in 2000, and on Facebook, you'll barely see them at all, 
bar perhaps their most beloved 'to-bach' (despite the indifference it's met with 
in the world of font design).

Is there truly no scope for a 'KS-lite', as it were,- an compromised or 
minimal system understood & conceded for deployment in informal applications 
which could assert a casual claim the orthography is being used, but in a more 
liberal, lackadaisical way. - Perhaps by stripping the diacritics off most words 
bar the homographs which can be distinguished from each other by them? (Casually 
retaining them vestigially on homographs (or perhaps a few other distinctive 
elements) at least doffs a cap to the formal, full-blown orthographic system.)

Ol an gwella,
Ceri Young

From: Herbie Blackburn <kevin.blackburn1 at ntlworld.com>
To: Standard Cornish discussion list <spellyans at kernowek.net>
Sent: Wed, 2 February, 2011 10:32:13
Subject: Re: [Spellyans] diacritics

As far as the official spelling German uses daereses most of the time, and it is 
mandated – but when working in Germany for 2 years I came across many uses of 
the digraph by Germans who just saw it as a practical stop gap in certain 
situations – e.g. in eMails using standard keyboards, on multinational projects 
hwre other users couldn’t be expected to use the daeresis, in SMS txts where it 
was just quicker (this might prove an area in Cornish that needs considering), 
and people even had their names in email addresses written with a digraph rather 
than a daeresis (so that it was truelly typable easily worldwide) e.g. Stür 
became Stuer etc. The same is true of the German β for ‘ss’. All Germans know 
the correct spellings, and in formal documents it is used, but there’s no way to 
stop practical use of the digraph or simply dropping the diacritics if people 
choose to. I think that whatever the official line is, this will always be true. 
So have a correct spelling system with daereses and other diacritics, but 
recognise the above.
Craig wrote
How can diacritics be declared mandatory, and hope to control that, 
when users will go their own way no matter what we say?  Diacritics 
always used to be written in loan-words into English that had them, 
but are now rarely seen.  Even apostrophes are disappearing from 
English (crazy, but true).  We would have no power of control.  Strong 
recommendation of their use is all we can realistically achieve.


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