[Spellyans] tavas in early Middle Cornish

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Wed Jul 13 22:42:28 IST 2011

On 13 Jul 2011, at 21:42, Jed Matthews wrote:

> That's very interesting.
> Is there a wider lack of distinction between ɨ and ə across the texts? As an LC speaker one of my main concerns about KS is unstressed y representing schwa where it possibly shouldn't.

I think you've been sold a pup. I think you've put a lot of store into something that isn't significant in Cornish.

By and large in unstressed final closed syllables you get /ə/. Now there seems to be evidence that there are three colours of this, namely [ᵻ] and [ə] (perhaps [ɐ]) and [ᵿ]. Dick Gendall's orthography masks the colouring distinction as much as anything else. He writes (as I said previously) <kegen> with <ān> right alongside <kettermen> <ẏn> and termen <en>. According to his own key he intends these to correspond to [ɒ] and [ə] and [e]. I'm afraid that here, at least, his recommendations are not coherent. 

Certainly his recommendation that "kegen" has a low back vowel (effectively "kegon") is at odds with your view that it should have a high front vowel. 

The reason kegin has an i in the SWF is that Ken George thought it was better because in British Latin it was cocîna. His recommended pronunciation is [ˈkɛɡɪn]. Ken George writes <melyn> because Welsh does, and he says the pronunciation is [ˈmɛlɪn]. He writes <melin> because in Latin it was molîna, and he says the pronunciation is [ˈmɛlɪn]. No difference in pronunciation.

In Gendall's 2007 dictionary he writes <melin> 'yellow' [ˈmelin], <belin> 'mill' [ˈbelin], and he writes <kegen> 'kitchen' [ˈkegǝn]. But in CW <gegen> rhymes with <onyn>, which is in SWF written <onen> and <onan>. If there were really such a distinction even in RLC, you'd want to write <onin>, wouldn't you?

Kegyn/kegen/kegin are all pronounced as in "The frog he went a-beggin'." Whether that's realized as [ˈbɛgᵻn] or [ˈbɛgɪn] or [ˈbɛgən], all allophonic. English "melon" is the same. Makes no difference whether it's realized as [ˈmɛlᵿn] or [ˈmɛlən] or [ˈmɛlən]. 

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

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