[Spellyans] dictionnaire de l'Académie française

Ceri Young rcr_young at yahoo.co.uk
Sun Jan 30 14:43:07 GMT 2011

As a casual and unqualified observer, I think Eddie Climo's take on this seems 
the most reasonable presented so far. Given the importance of KS getting as much 
sway as it can in the 2013 SWF review, I find it a little alarming that such 
dogmatic assertions are being made regarding the use of diacritics when this is 
likely to be such a 'hot potato' when the brokering ensues in 2013.

The only rational I can imagine certain KS advocates having for appointing 
themselves as the Cornish diacritic police in the run up to the review might be 
to appear to be making greater concessions to the rival side as possible when 
the bargaining ensues. - At which point I can only hope taking a hard line in 
advance might permit Mr. Climo's general (and most reasonable) stance to be the 
one arrived at overall for the final SWF when the dust settles in 2013.

Only in that context - of preëmpting the bargaining process ahead in 2013, can I 
see the logic in taking such a hard line in advance, whereas entering 
negotiations with a weak line could mean diacritics get bargained away entirely 
in 2013. For this to work however, might the KS team envisage two working 
systems for the use of diacritics; an 'ideal/extensive' system (to take into the 
negotiations) and a 'bottom-line/minimized' system which might be anticipated as 
that bargained back to in the approaching 2013 review (i.e. the working 
compromise hoped for as the final outcome of the negotiations)?

If those advocating this extensive and plainly cumbersome system of diacritics 
aim to be as dogmatic & inflexible in the 2013 negotiations as they are here - 
very sadly, I don't hold up much hope for the KS team being taken terribly 
seriously at the SWF review. I say this because I wonder if from this hard line, 
Cornish is being considered as a language for prospective every-day use at all, 
given the constraints diacritics place on such things as choice of fonts in 
graphic design, or even on the speed of informal cursive handwriting (I say this 
as a Welshman who has already experienced difficulties in using Welsh in graphic 
design with the far fewer diacritical marks Welsh has than those proposed for 

May I just end my point on a question, does the KS orthography, as it has been 
designed rely extensively upon the use of diacrits in this way? (Would the 
orthography still work/be an acceptable one if the use of diacrits were reduced 
to any extent or dropped entirely?)

Yours respectfully,
Ceri Young

From: Eddie Climo <eddie_climo at yahoo.co.uk>
To: Standard Cornish discussion list <spellyans at kernowek.net>
Sent: Sun, 30 January, 2011 13:15:25
Subject: Re: [Spellyans] dictionnaire de l'Académie française

On 2011 Gen 30, at 11:20, Michael Everson wrote:
Eddie proposed:
>>"In KS, diacritics are highly recommended for use in lexicographical, reference 
>>and didactic material, where the highest possible degree of phonological 
>>precision is desirable. In less formal writings, or in those aimed at more 
>>fluent readers, some or all of the diacritics may be omitted at the discretion 
>>of the writer or publisher."
And this is the same as Nance's approach.

You misrepresent my statement and Nances's approach as well, Michael; it is NOT 
the same as Nance's, as I shall explain below.

Nance said:
>>"Certain vowels are given diacritical signs in the dictionary, but like the 
>>accents and the diacritical numerals referring to mutation, these markings are 
>>not suggested for limitation in ordinary use."

This is not an accurate transcription of Nance's words on the  first page of his 
Introduction to the 1938 'Gerlyver Noweth K-S', where he actually said:
"Certain vowels are given diacritical signs in the dictionary, but like the 
accents and the diacritical numerals referring to mutation, these markings are 
not suggested forimitation  [sic] in ordinary use."

I agree with Nance (and the KS proposal) that in lexicographic, reference and 
didactic material the use of diacritics is a good idea.
However, unlike Nance, I propose that KS suggests diacritics MAY be for 
'imitation in ordinary use', entirely at the discretion of the witer or 
publisher. Which means, of course, that they sometimes will not employed  'for 
imitation in ordinary use.' 

But for 'ordinary use', I agree with Jenner's very balanced view 
(Handbook, 1904, pp.ix-x, para.2):
…and to modern learners, whose ovject in linguistic rather than philological, a 
fairly regular system of orthography is almost a necessity. The present system 
is not the phonetic  ideal of "one sound to each symbol, and one symbol for each 
sound," but it aims at being fairly consistent with itself, not too difficult to 
understand, not too much encumbered with diacritical signs, and not too 
startlingly different from the spellings of earlier times…"

Notice how his statements are qualified rather than absolute: "…fairly regular … 
fairly consistent … not too difficult … not too much encumbered with diacritical 
marks … not too startlingly different …". He shows no sign of the dogmatic 
orthodoxy expressed in the present-day Revival by both extreme diacritophiles 
and diacritophobes alike.

In the view of some of us on this forum, KS as currently proposed is (to quote 
Jenner) 'too much encumbered with diacritical marks'. I, for one, shall not 
support it being so excessively encumbered.

If you've not yet contributed your views to this thread, fellow Spellyans 
members, please speak up so that we can arrive at a consensus on this issue.

gans gorhemmynadow a'n gwella,

Eddie Foirbeis Climo
Gwask an Orlewen

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