[Spellyans] gwyw

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Wed Jul 27 16:29:51 IST 2011


-----Original Message-----
From: spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net [mailto:spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net] 
On Behalf Of Michael Everson
Sent: Tuesday, July 26, 2011 10:09 PM
To: Standard Cornish discussion list
Subject: Re: gwyw
 
“On 26 Jul 2011, at 13:54, Daniel Prohaska wrote:
 
>> I cannot see what reason there is for spelling this word with <iw> in the SWF, apart from gwiw in Common Cornish. This is based upon Welsh gwiw and Breton gwiv.
>  
> While I believe you are right in saying the SWF spelling is based upon KK, it is the whole distribution of <i> and <y> that was largely taken over from KK. 
 
It was not taken over because of any extended discussion and principled consensus that George's distribution of the two letters had any merit. It was taken over because there were twice as many KK users in the AHG than UC/R and RLC users, and because there was no time to examine the question thoroughly.”
 
Examining a question thoroughly also includes reaching a different conclusion from your own. I cannot say how the consensus of the AHG was reached exactly – I wasn’t there, but the system does have its merits. I can, for example, see the advantages of differentiating between long [iː] and short [ɪ] in monosyllabic words, something that UC and UCR didn’t show; the different origin of the w-diphthongs in monosyllabic words (/iw/ : /ɪw/ : /ɛw/ : /aw/ : /ow/ : (/yw/?)),. Since a correct pronunciation can be derived from this etymologising spelling (minus KK’s actual mistakes), this is a valid solution. I can’t see the ex-KK users who have actually switched to the SWF/M allow a change to the solution offered in KS, let alone the KK users who have not turned, as well as those who, no doubt, harbour hope that 2013 will bring a return to KK-proper. 
 
“Having examined it, we find no merit in George's etymological distribution. Quite the contrary: we find teachers criticizing it because the sound is no guide to the spelling and vice-versa.”
 
Is this not a case of “unattributed criticisms without examples”?
 
“> As far as I can gather, Nicholas, you say that <y> and <i> are allographs in MC.
 
In many contexts. There are, however, *no* instances of <iw>.”
 
But we’ve already established that this is not true. We have <diweth> in TH, we have several occurrences of <iụ> in Lhuyd where <ụ> can be considered a direct equivalent of <w>; Lhuyd’s <diụadh> and <diụedh> in the very same etymon as the attestation in TH. The digraph <iu> is also frequent in the OC VC. 
 
> So I would conclude that any systematic or regular distribution decided upon for RC is arbitrary and per se a feature of modern RC orthography and not ‘spelling as the texts’.
 
The contribution of Ben and Albert was to distinguish <i> and <y> as [iː] and [ɪ] in stressed monosyllables and in their derivatives. (Their system obliged us to distinguish <ÿ> and <ë> for [iː] and [eː] in a class of stressed monosyllables, but at least we have no ambiguity.) Both Crist and Cryst may be found in the texts indifferently, but having settled on a distribution does not mean that one would just settle on anything.”
 
Not anything, an etymological approach, such as was decided for Icelandic or Faeroese. The latter language is dialectally quite divers and despite considerable development away from the Old Western Norse phonological base, an Old Norse based orthography appears to work just fine as a written ‘roof’ over the Faeroese dialects. A similar approach is possible for Cornish, too, if we want to be inclusive of the spoken varieties of RC. 
 
“>> Everybody pronounces gwyw to rhyme with 'alive', which the SWF spells byw and bew.
>  
> I don’t know if this is true. The SWF/M form <gwiw> has /gwiw/ which is pronounced [gwiˑʊ], while SWF/M <byw> is /bɪw/ pronounced [beˑʊ]. 
 
Excuse me? First: there is *no evidence* for half-length in the phonology of Revived Cornish. Second: The SWF does not mandate that /ɪw/ is pronounced [eʊ].”
 
Sorry, this way my analysis; if you don’t like the notion of half-length because it reminds you too much of George or Breton or both, it certainly appears to be a bit of a ed rag here, let me rephrase and express it with length (or lack thereof) only:
SWF liw ‘colour’ can be analysed as /liw/, i.e. as the sequence CVC, and pronounced [liːw], the same way SWF mir ‘look’ is CVC /mir/ = [miːr]. I cannot find any example of Lhuyd writing *îụ or *îu, but he does have <blêụ> (8x) ‘hair’, <vêụ> (2x), <vêu> (2x), <bêụ> (3x), <bêu> ‘alive’; <knêu> ‘fleece’, <lêụ> (2x) ‘lion’ (which may be only from a written source (VC)), likewise <lêụ>, <lêu> ‘rudder’, <plêụ> ‘parish’ (cf. N.Boson/Gwavas <pleaw>, O.Pender <pleau>, J.Tonkin <plewe>), <têu>, <têụ> ‘fat’; <frâu> ‘rook’, <glâu>, <glâụ> ‘rain’ (cf. Pryce <glawe>), <kâụh> ‘shit’, <klâv> as well as <klâu> ‘sick’, <mâu> (2x), <mâụ> (3x) ‘boy’, <nâụ> ‘nine’ (cf. Pryce <nawe>), <sâu> (2x), <sâụ> ‘safe, save’, <tâụ>, <tâu> ‘hush’. These spellings suggest that the nucleus of the diphthong was (relatively) long. Pryce has <deew>, <dêw>, <dêu> ‘God’ also showing a long nucleus in open syllables in monosyllabic words. Spellings with <eaw> (apart from French loan words) in BK and CW <deaw> ‘two’, as well as <bleaw(e)> ‘hair’ and <reaw> ‘ice’ in CW confirm this.
 
“The SWF says that <iw> is RMC [iʊ], TC [ɪʊ] (here it is wrong), and RLC [ɪʊ] (which also appears to be wrong; Gendall gives liu [liu] for 'colour' and [iu] is not [ɪʊ].”
 
It shows that Gendall interprets the retention of the contrast /iw/ (< older /iw/) v. /ew/ (< older /ɪw/ + /ɛw/). I would like to say, however, that the contrast /iw/ : /ew/ is phonologically marginal on account of the few instances of /iw/ and the existence of only near-minimal pairs, though there is <liụ> ‘colour’ and <lêụ> ‘rudder’. 
 
“The SWF says that <yw> is RMC and TC [ɪw] which might be right (in theory) for KK but is incorrect for UC/R, since people say [iʊ]. UC/R and TC speakers do not distinguish "du" 'black' and "duw" 'god' and "dyw" 'two', and all three of these rhyme with "lyw"/*"liw" 'colour'. UC/R and TC speakers do not distinguish words which in SWF are written <iw> from words which in SWF are written <yw>. And nobody in the AHG could do it either. Trond asked everyone in turn to distinguish a range of such words and no one could do it.”
 
You are incorrect as far as UC goes, which does distinguish m. dew and f. dyw. Gendall also distinguishes the m. and f. forms of the numeral. 
You are speaking of native speakers of English, non-linguists, not being able to contrast these sounds, I’m talking about the evidence of a long nucleus in this environment in traditional Cornish. And what you say is also only partially true, because I know Ben and Albert, both were present in advisory function to the AHG, are quite capable of making these sounds. Again, this is a teaching issue rather than an observation of what was likely in traditional Cornish. I accept Nicholas’ analysis that the numeral was only partially, if at all, distinguished by gender of its following noun. 
 
“(I am of course aware that some speakers especially older ones say [juː] rather than [iʊ], but as you know this is no longer recommended.)
 
The SWF says that <ew> is [ɛʊ] for everyone and so it is.”
 
Many speakers of RC have trouble distinguishing /iw/:/ew/:/aw/:/ow/:/ɔː/ consistently, mixing sounds found in Standard English and Anglo-Cornish. 
 
“The SWF's table is such a mess because it does not recognize the bÿs/bës class of words, and so tries to use <y> as an umbrella graph (which is objectionable enough to begin with).” 
 
The SWF does recognise the bys ~ bes class of words, hence the optional spelling variants. The idea of an umbrella graph <y> for words pronounced as [iː], [ɪː] or [eː] in RMC and [eː] in RLC is not fully fleshed out, though I would like to see this in the coming adjustments in 2013. Since RLC users generally don’t like the <y> graph for ideological reasons (mainly to distance themselves from MC, as well as Nance’s overuse of the letter) and a possibility of consistently converting every RMC <y> to RLC <e> (or <ë>) would be desirable from my point of view. 
 
“But it cannot do this consistently because of its rule with <y> and <i> in stressed monosyllables. This incoherence is a structural flaw in the SWF, and no amount of making excuses for it can fix it.”
 
No, because <i> would be written where RMC and RLC both have [iː], while <y> ~ <e> (or <ë>) would be written for RMC [iː] ~ [ɪː] ~ [eː], RLC [eː] and <e> where both RMC and RLC have /eː/. 
 
“The SWF says that RMC has "lyw" for 'rudder' and RLC has "lew" for rudder, but this is also false.”
 
No, the SWF has <lew> for ‘rudder’. So it is your claim above that is false. See the latest version of the Glossary.
 
“UC, UCR, and RLC all have "lew" for 'rudder'. The SWF's attempt to blot out UC and UCR with KK forms by assuming that KK is RMC and UC/R do not exist is just another fault of the SWF.”
 
See above.
 
“>> Would it not be sensible therefore to spell 'worthy' gwyw and gwew?
>  
> I would like to see SWF/L <gwew> either dropped or replaced by <gwev>.
 
I have pointed out the pronunciation of "kniv" Norwegian and Danish as an indication that such s shift is fairly normal.”
 
Yes, it also occurs in Breton where <kreñv> is [kʀɛ̃ːw] or [kʀɛːw] (cf. W cryf, C crev). The vocalisation of /v/ > /w/ in Danish is, however, the reverse order as compared to the supposed change of Cornish /w/ > /v/. See also the interesting change of /w/ > /f/ in the Breton Goelo dialect with a theoretical intermediate stage /v/, again closer to the Cornish shift than the Danish/Norwegian example (both from ON knífr as you know well, I’m sure). 
 
“> I could accept SWF/M <gwyw> if we were to spell <tyr> ‘land’ and <hyr> ‘long’, but if we have <tir> and <hir>, <gwiw> makes sense on a systematic level.
 
No, it doesn't, because there is no alternation [ɪʊ] vs [iʊ], so there is no need to distinguish <yw> from <iw>.” 
 
Diachronically, yes, there is, see liw ‘colour’, byw ~ bew ‘alive’ and tew ‘fat’. The diphthongs of the latter two examples fall in with each other, while the first remains in LC. Nobody pronounces liw with the diphthong in tew, while there are people who pronounce byw with either the diphthong in liw or with the diphthong in tew. It makes perfect sense. KS has the same set of differences, even if realised in a different way graphically: KS gwyw : bÿw : tew, or gwyw : bëw : tew, the only difference is that the SWF uses <i> instead of KS <y>, <y> instead of <ÿ> ~ <ë>, and <e> in both - same systematic difference, just different graphs. It is completely analogical to the set mis ‘month’, bys ~ bes ‘world’, bedh ‘grave’. What is unsystematic is that KS writes mis, bÿs~bës, bedh instead of *mys, bÿs~bës, bedh, because <y> is reserved for the short vowel [ɪ] only.
 
“This is part of Ken George's "aspirational" /i/ vs /ɪ/ vs /e/ and such a triad simply is not a part of the Revived language.” 
 
There are many features in the varieties of Revived Cornish that are aspirational. Many speakers rhyme pow and adro – do you suggest in turn that they be written po and adro or pow and adrow? No, I don’t think you would, if I may be so bold as to venture to answer for you (‘quote’ me if I’m wrong ;-)).  
 
“Even if it were a part of the dialect continua in traditional Cornish, it is nowhere in the orthography distinguishable.” 
 
This is not entirely true. You have the mis-set (or whatever you call it), the bys~bes-set, and the bedh-set. This set of contrasts was part of the language at some time, according to Nicholas, before the prosodic shift, in the interpretation of other people was maintained longer, and eventually the vowel of the bys~bes-set was redistributed and fell in with either the mis-vowel (usually before coronal fricatives) and the bedh-set, usual development.
 
“And twenty-five years of KK have proved that it is not possible to teach such a three-way distinction.”
 
… which may have something to do with the ability of the teachers, who are all native speakers of English, to become functionally aware of the contrasts and pronounce them. 
 
“For this reason we in Spellyans took the decision long ago to discard such fictions as we began to examine the shortcomings in the SWF.”
 
‘We’ based the first incarnation of KS on a later date than the one KK is based on, taking ‘us’ and the phonological base of Cornish around 1600 safely out of the disputed period of when the prosodic shift happened into a period where old /ɪ/ had fallen in with either /i/ or /ɛ/. Thus the distinction became irrelevant. But today there are speakers of Revived Cornish who want to (whether they achieve it is another matter entirely) retain the earlier distinction, or at least have the option of doing so. 
 
“> If, however, we are discussing the redistribution of <y> and <i> in general, I’m open to discussing other options and suggestions.
 
We have made it easy. 
 
i- at the beginning of words.”
 
This doesn’t allow RLC speakers to predict the pronunciation of a number of key words, such as in (SWF yn ~ en).
 
“-y at the end of words.”
 
This I would agree with and very much like to see changed in the adjustments of the SWF in 2013. 
 
“y [ɪ] in stressed monosyllables and [ɪ] in their derivatives”
 
Yes.
 
“i [iː] in stressed monosyllables and [ɪ] in their derivatives”
 
As mentioned above, inconsistent with the spelling of the iw-diphthongs where liw can just as well be analysed as having the syllable structure CVC as mis.
 
“y [ɪ] elsewhere in polysyllables
î [iː] elsewhere in polysyllables”
 
I find this set of rules quite complicated, and incompatible with allowing predictable pronunciations for both RMC and RLC speakers. The SWF isn’t perfect either in this regard, but can be tweaked. 
 
“This is extremely easy to learn. And if you can pronounce a word, you can most likely spell it.
 
Of course we also have ÿ~ë [iː]~[eː] in that class of words (this is essentially separate from the distribution of i and y). This complication could have been avoided with <ei>, but that umbrella graph was not accepted by the AHG.”
 
Yes, unfortunate, but simply the way it went. The compromise looks similar to KK, but since I view the SWF as a separate beast it is possible to arrive at the correct pronunciations by formulating a set of rules that suits users of all previous orthographic camps. 
 
> I do not find the KS solution workable in an ‘interdialectal’ orthography such as the SWF as it doesn’t take into account the differences between MC and LC based forms.
 
Where's your list? This criticism doesn't mean anything to me. Certainly Jowan Hir Silver speaks LC. Of course the more different one wishes to make the two dialects, the more differences one will wish to build into the orthography. In our view there were some differences which were “
 
This sentence is fading out, so I can’t tell which point you’re trying to make here…
 
As far as the ‘list of criticisms’ goes, I’ve already mentioned words like KS <in> which does not represent RLC’s <en>. The problem of the <y> ~ <i> ~ <î> distribution ‘enshrines’ Nicholas’s phonological theory, that Cornish distinguished only two high and mid-high front long vowels, when there are people who want to make a three-way distinction, whether this is warranted or not. The graphs used in the texts are interpretable either way especially in the bys~bes-set. In essence, KS makes such a distinction where the long vowels are concerned, but doesn’t allow it where in the case of the w-diphthongs. 
 
“> RLC users, other than myself, have said as much. 
 
Hurrah, unattributed criticisms without examples."
 
I have asked permission to quote an RLC user, but haven’t heard back from here yet. I will, if she responds positively.
Dan
 
 
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