[Spellyans] diacritics

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Wed Feb 2 13:19:51 GMT 2011

On 2 Feb 2011, at 11:59, Ceri Young wrote:

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

No aspect of spelling is "enforceable". 

> 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 diacrits is actually superfluous.

KS has been designed to be an accurate and unambiguous orthography which supports the dialect spectrum of the revived language while using traditional orthographic forms. 

If people do not spell English or Welsh according to the rules of English or Welsh on Facebook, in cursive handwriting, or whatever, then they are not conforming to the orthographies of English or Welsh. Cornish is no different. If you want to use UC, or UCR, or KK, or the SWF, please do. None of them describes the phonology of Revived Cornish accurately and unambiguously. None of them offers comprehensive support to learners (and everyone is a learner) to reinforce vowel length and quality. 

> 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.

When I write SMS, e-mail, internet postings, and in cursive handwriting, I spell English (and other languages) correctly. Some people don't. Some people don't even know HOW to spell English correctly. That has nothing to do with the rules of English orthography: those rules are what they are. 

If someone doesn't want to use the diacritical marks described in KS, then evidently that person doesn't want to write accurately and unambiguously. That is the choice of that person, but it does not mean that the orthography of KS should change to become less accurate and more ambiguous. 

Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com/

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