[Spellyans] dictionnaire de l'Académie française
everson at evertype.com
Sun Jan 30 11:20:02 GMT 2011
This is what we say:
Six Cornish letters can take diacritical marks to make pronunciation clear.
â, à, ê, è, ë, î, ô, ò, û, ù, ÿ
These diacritical marks are important and should be learned as a proper part of the words which have them. If you write them regularly, they will help you to pronounce words more correctly, and they will help others to read what you write more easily.
Now, this seems to me to be friendly and unthreatening.
If you are texting and can't add a diacritic, fine. Don't. (On the iPhone and probably other modern phones you can add them easily though.) But that's not going to lead to a recommendation that says "Well, here they are, take 'em or leave 'em, it doesn't matter." Because it does matter. If people want to achieve authentic Cornish pronunciation, then the orthography should support them.
"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. 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."
If only Nance had taken the same sensible linguistic view that Jenner did, we would not be rehearsing this argument over and over again now. But for my part I cannot agree that Nance's approach was a good one. It certainly had unfortunate consequences. We should learn from that mistake.
We argued for the following text in the SWF specification:
“Diacritical marks are not a part of the mandated SWF orthography. However, publishers are permitted to be use them, optionally, to mark words with anomalous vowel length or quality.”
This is also unthreatening. (It was agreed to be put in as a footnote, too, and we have never had a response to queries about why it was taken out.)
But at the end of the day, Eddie's suggestion is not something I can support. "In ... writings ... aimed at more fluent readers"? Sorry, but I've heard this before, when people have talked about "fluent and effective speakers", as though they were a better class of person. I know Eddie does not hold this chauvinist view, but nevertheless the implications of his suggestion lead to the same place: books for good speakers which are unavailable for less good speakers.
Why on earth would I wish to publish a 27,000 word novel without diacritics, aimed at "more fluent readers"? Why on earth would I wish to exclude *any* reader of Cornish? Why would I wish to make available texts that were *hard* for learners to read?
This is our recommendation in Skeul an Tavas 2009:
"These diacritical marks are important and should be learned as a proper part of the words which have them. If you write them regularly, they will help you to pronounce words more correctly, and they will help others to read what you write more easily."
And what follows on from this recommendation is that we're using diacritics, whether we publish a grammar or a novel. I cannot imagine doing otherwise, any more than I can imaging publishing a book in French or Irish with its diacritics stripped off.
I note that in November 2007 draft of KS1, the following text appeared:
The use of diacritical marks in Kernowak is obligatory, in order for the reader reliably to make the length distinction between pairs such as gòn [gɔn] ‘I know’ and gon [goːn] ‘scabbard’, and between còst [kɔst] ‘cost’ and cost [koːst] ‘coast, region’ and so on. “Leaving off the accent” is to be considered a spelling error.
I do not believe I am mistaken in thinking that KS1 was a consensus proposal. Consensus does not mean unanimity, of course. But I do not believe that Revivalists present and future would be served by us (1) saying that KS is admirable because it is unambiguous and accurate and (2) hamstringing KS by saying that it can just as well used in "ambiguous mode".
I say this in good faith. "Ambiguous mode" is of course possible for KS as for French if one's cell phone can't write diacritics or whatever. But when one learns KS, one should learn the diacritical marks as proper parts of the spelling, and one should do one's best to use them. Just as one does in French and Hungarian and Irish and Spanish and German.
Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com/
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