[Spellyans] gawas 'to get'

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Thu Sep 8 18:36:54 BST 2011

-----Original Message-----
From: spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net [mailto:spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net] On Behalf Of Michael Everson
Sent: Thursday, September 08, 2011 5:50 PM
To: Standard Cornish discussion list
Subject: Re: [Spellyans] gawas 'to get'
“On 8 Sep 2011, at 15:00, Daniel Prohaska wrote:
> Now it has frequently been stated by many, including Nicholas and Michael, that Lhuyd’s spellings are owing to Welsh influence.
He often shows Welsh influence, whether in vocabulary, syntax, or phonology. There is nothing wrong with observing that he does this. Nor is it surprising if he does. Every linguist of that period did the same. (As do some today.)”
Yes. Welsh influence is observable in Lhuyd’s descriptions, but there also many genuinely Cornish features he describes. So, whatever you say, his spellings with final <dh> in word-final position in unstressed syllables cannot be dismissed as such without unambiguous proof to the contrary from other writers, and that is impossible to provide as the native writers didn’t distinguish between /θ/ and /ð/. Am I repeating myself? Sorry.
“> But I have my reservations about this assumption. It is just as possible that Lhuyd actually heard [ð] in the words and transcribed them with <dh>.
Even if he didn't hear it, he might think he did because that's the corresponding segment in Welsh.”
Just here, or wherever it doesn’t suit your particular opinion of Cornish phonological developments? 
“> He also writes them with <th> which he read in the texts that were available to him and may also have heard [θ].
I don't think it's likely that he heard both.” 
Why isn’t it likely? It’s what he writes. He heard more native traditional Cornish than we unfortunately ever will. It’s not that I want to believe him, or justify someone else’s theory, as you so often hint at, - it’s just there in the sources we have, whether we explain it away by implying Welsh influence or not. I’m certainly not taking it at face value, but <dh> occurs too often in Lhuyd to ignore it.
“As a Welsh speaker, he know what [b] and [p] were, and he knew what [ð] and [θ] were. If these sounds had been in free variation, one would have expected him to have made a note of it, because that would stand out as unusual to him. ("We'd never do that in Welsh...")”
I don’t know. I’m not him. But <b> occurs next to <p> and there are also cases of <g> for expected <k> in Lhuyd as well as in native sources.
“> This may mean that words final /ð/ may have been voiced in some environments (e.g. at the end of stressed syllables always, at the end of unstressed syllables in voiced environement), and unvoiced in others (e.g. absolute final position in unstressed syllables and in unvoiced environemts).
Keith Bailey plays the Breton game in his version of KK, writing voiced consonants in final position in unstressed syllables and evidently devoicing them in absolute auslaut and voicing them in sandhi. Your suggestion is more or less the same thing, isn't it?” 
No, it isn’t, so you don’t score any points with this remark and attempt to through me off. In Keith’s books Cornish sandhi works exactly as in Breton. I never said this was the case.
“I'm not suggesting that you're a conlanger like Keith, but the argument is the same.” 
No, it is not. I looked at the sources and there are indications that /ð/, /v/ and /z/ existed in this environment.
“And in this matter, he's consistent, writing mab and methewneb, neb and heveleb, hweg and karreg, mog and galloseg, dov and warnav, nev and enev, ov and esov, gradh and nowydh, badh and gelwydh.”
Yes, in a problematic way…
“On the other hand we write mab and methewnep, neb and hevelep, wheg and carrek, mog and gallosek, dov and warnaf, nev and enef, ov and esof, gradh and nowyth, badh and gelwyth, according to the standard analysis: that final consonants in unstressed syllables are devoiced.”
Whose standard? Yours? Nicholas’? Well, without the hard facts it is impossible to say for sure and all remains theory.
“Your suggestion, Dan, that ð/θ operates differently from the other consonants isn't, in my opinion, convincing, or tempting.” 
I said ‘fricatives may have maintained the opposition’ – that’s not just one consonant. This is a whole set of consonants. We know from native sources at least that /z/ was possible in LC. 
“The standard analysis is easier for learners, and with the pronunciation of Revived Cornish. Everyone I heard at Gorseth Kernow says [ˈɡɔrsəθ] -- everyone, including those who learned KK.”
Because the original spelling in Revived Cornish was <Gorseth> in UC. The pronunciation was passed on. Whether it is correct, in the sense  that native traditional Cornish speakers would have pronounced it, we cannot say.
“Why should there be a special rule for -dh that people can devoice it? Why shouldn't they just write -th as they say it?”
Didn’t say that. Said ‘fricatives’.
“I think that the only reason we're discussing this is that Ken George thought to impose his interest in etymology on Cornish.” 
Uh, no. That’s what we had our tiff over before, remember? 
“That's the only reason -dh is in the SWF in unstressed syllables, and the only reason you bothered to look for a rationale for it.” 
Maybe, but it go me thinking. It doesn’t mean I need to rationalise it. The evidence is there, in Lhuyd, whether I try to rationalise something or not. Closing your eyes saying no, no, no, won’t make it go away.
“You say you think you've found one in Lhuyd; I say that the evidence really doesn't support that view.”
What view. He writes <dh> and <v> and <z> in that position – as well as <th> and <f> and <s>. Maybe it’s an opposition, maybe it’s free variation. It’s still there. 
“> Since it is secure that Cornish at some point in history had voiced /ð/ in these words and those with similar etymology (derived from British /d/ or /j/ in hiatus), it may be prudent to spell them with <dh> and, if desired, devoice them in pronunciation by rule in unstressed syllables.
It is more prudent to spell them with <th>,” 
“and, if desired, voice them in pronunciation by some rule, if you want to do that.” 
Sorry, that’s not only illogical, that’s also impossible for a non-linguist learner. Such a person would need to know where /ð/ is possible in words spelt with <th>. It’s much easier the other way round, by spelling <dh> and saying it’s pronounced /θ/ in word-final position of unstressed syllables.   
“We do not want to do that, and we do not teach that pronunciation in our books.”
So?! If you are confronted with something that isn’t provable, in what way is your theory more valid than someone else’s, except your own opinion on likelihood. It’s difficult to understand…
“There is no reason -th should differ from -k and -p and -t and -f in unstressed position.” 
I gave you a reason. I said fricatives retained a voiced/voiceless opposition while stops didn’t. 
“Having looked at Lhuyd myself and listened to your arguments, I am still convinced that etymological [ð] is devoiced to [θ] in final position in unstressed syllables.” 
It’s an opinion. Belief, if you will. No more, no less. The possibility that there was an opposition exists. You want to see your theory codified in writing, while I want to keep options open and let the teacher/learner/speaker make his or her own choice, because I, too, cannot say for certain that my opinion/belief is correct. 
“Since orthographically we write -k and -p and -t and -f in this position, it would make no sense to do otherwise for -th.”
The SWF writes –k and –p, (t occurs only in loans) but –dh and –v. It writes <s> for /s/ and /z/. 
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