[Spellyans] gawas 'to get'

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Fri Sep 9 14:40:18 IST 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 10:02 PM
To: Standard Cornish discussion list
Subject: Re: [Spellyans] gawas 'to get'
 
“On 8 Sep 2011, at 18:36, Daniel Prohaska wrote:
 
> 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.
 
I think that it is because of his Welsh that the fact that he wavers between -th and -dh in final unstressed syllables is suspect. As a Welshman with -dd and -th he will certainly never have written -th in meneth unless he heard it. But he might easily have written menedh by analogy with his Welsh. If he'd heard both in free variation, I would think that he would have mentioned it.”
 
As I said, I’m not even arguing in favour of /ð/ here, only that it is impossible for us to know, and Lhuyd, the only one who does distinguish /ð/ from /θ/ orthographically spells <dh> more often than not. That’s all I’m saying – we don’t know, we can only theorize. I even think you’re going to far in saying it was ‘likely’ unvoiced in the discussed position.
 
“>> “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?
 
(That seems unnecessarily snide.)”
 
Sorry, but it’s the impression you give. But if this is not so, I’ll retract. 
 
“I think that on balance, the evidence suggests that it is in the question of devoicing in final unstressed segments that Lhuyd is unreliable and where he assumes that Cornish is like his Welsh. Nicholas has shown this with -f which is [f]~Ø and not [v]. He and I think that with -th it is [θ]~Ø and not [ð].”
 
Let’s recapitulate:
- Lhuyd is unreliable;
- native writers don’t distinguish /ð/ from /θ/;
 
That means we don’t know whether there was a distinction between /ð/ : /θ/ in Cornish at all. 
 
Correct me if I’m wrong, the theory you favour is, that every etymological /ð/ is pronounced [ð] word-initially, internally and in stressed position, written <dh>. Every etymological /ð/ that occurs word-finally in unstressed position is pronounced [θ] and written <th>. 
 
This is an orthographical solution of a phonological theory. You are codifying a theory, but in truth we don’t know if this is the case because native writers didn’t distinguish /ð/ : /θ/ graphically and Lhuyd, who did, is unreliable. 
 
I say that we spell all etymological /ð/ as <dh>. I’m not talking about Ken’s etymologies, as you have implied in other posts, but retrievable and scholarly sound etymologies. Sure, just like Ken we will occasionally be at fault and things will be corrected, but if we want to distinguish /ð/ from /θ/ at all, I see no other way to proceed. 
 
Because we don’t know where, when or if /ð/ : /θ/ was distinguished one theory is as good as the other. Writing <dh> for all etymological cases of */ð/ gives us the advantage of being flexible. Of course */ð/ can be written as <th> where the unvoiced context is clear, e.g. in the preposition pronoun that the SWF, mistakenly in my opinion, spells ragdho. Several native spellings indicate /ˈrakθɔ/ or /ˈraktə/. I’m speaking of the cases, such as nowyth and menydh.
 
If you spell coweth, nowyth and menyth the learner will say /ˈkɔwəθ/, /ˈnɔwɪθ/ and /ˈmɛnɪθ/. A learner who is not a linguist would be unable to determine which of these words s/he could theoretically pronounce with /ð/. 
 
Writing coweth, nowydh and menydh allows a learner/teacher/speaker to determine where s/he can pronounce /ð/. If said person believes in the theory that devoicing in unstressed position was regular in Cornish, s/he can follow a predictable rule. Writing <dh> covers both theories predictably. 
 
“> 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.
 
I don't ignore it, but I think that like -f it can be explained by influence from his Welsh. If as you say in final unstressed position it was -ð, there's no reason for him ever to have written -θ. But if it was -θ or Ø, the simple explanation for his -ð is the same as his -v: he expected the same sound as in Welsh, and so wrote -dh.”
 
I accept that this is your reasoning. But we don’t know if this was the case, and unfortunately we cannot ask him. 
 
“>>> “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.
 
If you say that /ð/ is voiced at the end of unstressed syllables in voiced environment then you are saying "in sandhi with the following word" which is the same thing Bailey is saying.”
 
I said it’s a possible explanation among many. I don’t ‘believe’ in one or the other theory. I am forced to accept that this question is, and may well remain, without resolve, because the sources do not tell us unambiguously whether, where and when the contrast /ð/ : /θ/ was maintained in Cornish. I’m not saying I subscribe to Bailey’s theory, nor to yours, nor to Nicholas’ nor Ken’s. I’m saying: (hold your ears, if you’re sensitive) WE DO NOT KNOW. 
 
>> “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.
 
Are you writing this up for Cornish Studies?”
 
I should, but there won’t be much to say. We have indications that these distinctions existed, but the native sources are so ambiguous in this question that we cannot know. A write up would show native sources, lack of distinction and leave us with the conclusion that:
 
- Cornish gave up the distinction /ð/ : /θ/
 or:
- It is impossible to retrieve with certainty, if and if yes, where Cornish makes this distinction; 
 
Furthermore I would present a list of the different interpretations and theories and the pros and cons I can think of. 
 
The answer would remain. 
 
So, how do we deal with this in RC? It has been chosen to distinguish <dh> and <th>. The systems over time differ, Jenner had a different approach from Nance, who differs from George and Gendall and these differ from Nicholas. A compromise is in order, and that’s what the SWF represents. 
 
“>> “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…
 
In a Breton way. What's problematic about it?”
 
That Breton isn’t Cornish.
 
“> “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’? 
 
I consider Nicholas' analysis to be the standard analysis. He has written more than anyone on the phonology of Traditional as well as Revived Cornish. George wrote a big book once which informed his "orthographic profiles", but I do not believe that his description of Cornish phonology is "the standard analysis" regardless of the use of the KK orthography by some Revivalists.”
 
I consider all material published to be the standard view in Cornish studies in the sections where they broadly agree. In other areas there is simply disagreement and there is no ‘standard view’ – only sets of theories, interpretations and arguments. Nicholas is not the only one who has published about it. There are others, too. 
George’s work, though I have my issues in a number of places, is still considered standard among several Celticists. He is quoted and referenced in many publications such as Schrijver, Chaudhri, Bruch, Bock, Mills, McKinnon and also in Nicholas’ work. I find it very problematic to declare that Nicholas’ views are THE standard. 
 
“> Well, without the hard facts it is impossible to say for sure and all remains theory.
 
Nevertheless Revived Cornish exists and has a phonology which is consistent with the standard analysis.”
 
I disagree with your declaration of what is the standard analysis in this particular matter as there is no ‘standard analysis’ – there is disagreement, because the sources are ambiguous. 
 
“> “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.
 
Yes, but that one is problematic as there are two sources for final unstressed [s] and [z] in Cornish: inherited words and English plurals.”
 
In what way is that problematic. All we can see is a fricative in final position that is voiced in native sources and Lhuyd. If there is one voiced fricative, why not another? It clearly shows that final unvoicing in unstressed syllables is not universal in Cornish. 
 
“>> “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.
 
Do you wish to change the pronunciation of Revived Cornish in this matter? I think it is unlikely”
 
No, of course not. Either you want to describe historical Cornish as accurately as possible in order to inform the Revival or you accept Revived Cornish as it is today. The latter is something quite different from the former. 
 
I cannot see you spelling **deyn for den although it’s the prevailing pronunciation in RC, just one example, there are many more… 
 
“> “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'm still happy to write -v and -dh in monosyllables and -f and -th in polysyllables. And I'm happy to leave -s alone. And I don't think that an orthography for Cornish that writes -v and -dh generally is better, or more accurate, or more useful, than the one which we are using.”
 
That is your opinion. Others have other opinions. Distinction leaves the issue open and for the speaker to decide. The speaker cannot decide whether to use a voiced or unvoiced pronunciation because you have codified the theory of final unvoicing.  
 
“> “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?
 
Uh, yes. Because if the standard analysis had been adopted in the SWF nobody'd be worrying about voicing in sandhi.”
 
See above. Silly, polemic argument really. 
 
“> “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 got me thinking.
 
Exactly why I said the only reason we're talking about it is Ken's interest in etymology.”
 
Working on my dictionary I’m going through the attestations word by word, and I’ve come across Lhuydian spellings I hadn’t seen before. If I were to argue, for example, that Cornish didn’t have a distinction between /ð/ : /θ/ the sources would agree with this assessment. Distinguishing <dh> from <th> in stressed position is just as much an exercise in etymology as is doing so in unstressed position. 
 
“> 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.
 
“I am not closing my eyes to anything, thanks very much. I disagree with your analysis of the data.” 
 
What is my analysis of the data? What was I saying? Were you listening or continuing your argument with Bailey about George, because that is the box you put me in. I’m saying something else and you’re not hearing it.   
 
“However, I ask again, are you writing this up comprehensively for Cornish Studies, so it can be evaluated?”
 
Yes, I shall. 
 
“> “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.
 
But dh/th and v/f are easy to explain given Lhuyd's Welsh. z/s are not, but then Welsh wouldn't interfere there in any case. This is why Nicholas and I treat z/s differently from the other two.”
 
You’re not listening. 
 
“>>> “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>,”
>  
> Why?
 
Because it is congruent with the Revived language for one thing. And because it is paradigmatic and requires no special rule for voicing or devoicing.”
 
There are people in the Revival that want to make th distinction in this position. They are no more right or wrong than you wanting to make the distinction in stressed position. 
 
“> “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.
 
It's much easier for the learner, linguist or not, to write -dh and -v in stressed monosyllables and -th and -f in final position in unstressed syllables.”
 
Mantra. Not for those who want to make the distinction in unstressed position.
 
“See, I don't think we want to teach people to start voicing across word-boundaries (as they do in Breton). First we start by saying "Write meneð, but say meneθ except voice it to meneð when the next word begins with a vowel" and the next thing the learner will do is generalize this for all the other consonants....”
 
Who are you arguing with? I said it’s a possibility that is as likely as your theory. I have no particular preference. I’m saying that the sources are so ambiguous that we cannot know for certain. Listen. 
 
“So not only am I not convinced by your reading of Lhuyd, but I think that this scheme will end up causing confusion where none really exists in the Revived language.”
 
It’s being used in the Revived language, by several people. They’re not confused, they may not always be able to follow all the pronunciation rules, but that’s the way it goes with revived languages. 
 
“>> “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…
 
>From a practical point of view, we want to give good advice to learners.” 
 
I.e. you have made a decision for learners codifying and presenting them with a solution that may or may not reflect the historical distinctions. Fine. But it’s only your opinion you’ve codified in this cases. There is no proof. Any other opinion is just as legitimate. 
 
You are continuing to argue under the impression that I’m saying you should pronounce <dh> as recommended for KK. But I’m not. I’m not Bailey and I’m not George. I’m me, saying we don’t know what the pronunciation of */ð/ in this position was and that one informed thory is as good as the other and that we need a workable solution for Revived Cornish. 
 
For those who:
-          voice */ð/  in stressed and unvoice in unstressed position;
-          voice */ð/ all the time;
-          voice */ð/ in all positions except absolute final, and voiceless environments;
-          unvoice to /θ/ all the time;
 
Again, and listen, I’m not arguing in favour of any one of these possibilities… 
 
“We are satisfied that -f and -θ in unstressed syllables is a feature of the Revived language now, and we don't think that this needs to be changed.” 
 
What do you mean ‘changed’ – changed from what to what? UCR to KS? What about all those people who used UC, KK and RLC? They have their own practices different from the view you have declared to be ‘standard’. 
 
“Moreover, we don't agree that your analysis offers enough grounds to want to make such a change. This is why we consider that the distribution of f/v and th/dh in the SWF needs to be changed.”
 
Again, what change? Whose change? Why is it OK to invoke change in others? How is it OK to codify an opinion rather than leaving an unsolved issue open for interpretation?
 
“The Grand Bard says Gorseθ. He learned to write Gorsedh. No reason to write -dh when the pronunciation is -th. Same thing with modrep and the rest.”
 
I agree with Craig in that this word was borrowed from Welsh and transcribed according to UC rules. Unvoicing in final position, always, also stressed position as UC writes deth ~ dyth for what you write dëdh ~ dÿdh. As I said before, listen, modrep is a different case and by the way modrep occasionally is written with final <b> - not an interpretation, just a fact.
 
“>> “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.
 
Well, put all the evidence together and publish it in Cornish Studies if you have the courage of your convictions. Because my reading of the evidence does not lead me to the same conclusion.”
 
I have no firm conviction except the one that we don’t know the positional pronunciation of */ð/ or */θ/. 
 
“>> “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.
 
It doesn't exist in the Revived language though.”
 
That’s not true, there are people who say <diwedh> and <gwiryonedh> with final /ð/.
 
“> 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.
 
We are, as you know, writing Cornish with f/v and th/dh distributed as discussed. We've just published 815,000 words using that orthography. I hope you enjoy them. ;-)”
 
Yes, and we still don’t know the traditional distribution. All we have is a set of informed opinions.
Dan
 
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