[Spellyans] Is there a future for the SWF?

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Tue May 15 14:29:55 BST 2012

On May 15, 2012, at 2:56 PM, Michael Everson wrote:

> On 14 May 2012, at 22:29, Daniel Prohaska wrote:
>> The distribution of ‹i› and ‹y› in KK and SWF never had anything to do with long v. short. Ken George assigned these graphs to the phonemes he reconstructed: /i/ and /ɪ/ respectively.
> Phonemes which are really not part of the revived language that people speak.

Well even if KK speakers often incorrectly say [bɪz] for intended [bɪːz] they still don't use the same vowel as in [miːz], so there is a difference, even if not the 'correct' one.

>> Each phoneme according to its environment could be realized in KK as long, half-long or short, and in the SWF as long and non-long (i.e. short). 
> Half-length never having been taken up in the revived language. 

Half-length has also never been part of the SWF as a recommendation, so no point discussing it here. Unless you want to talk about KK, of course….

>> Only in closed final unstressed syllables was there no phonemic distinction, but they are still distinguished orthographically on account of their origin. /i/ goes back to British and British Latin /iː/ while /ɪ/ goes back to Br. & BrL /i/. Ken George believes that these sounds remained distinct throughout most of the life of the Cornish language and says that in the Late (i.e. moribund) period /ɪ/ fell in with /ɛ/.
> But in the revived language we have only /i/ [iː] [ɪ], /e/ [eː] [ɛ]. 

There are people who aspire to this distinction, though, whether they achieve it or not. The three-way distinction was part of Cornish phonology at a given time in history, the different out come of /mi:z/ and /be:z/ in LC prove this, if they had both become /mi:z/ and /bi:z/ at one point, what would have triggered /be:z/ to be lowered in LC? That's why I also spoke of lexical sets or categories.

/i(:)/ in RC > SWF13 ‹i› 
/i(:)/ in RMC ~ /e(:)/ in RLC > SWF13 ‹y› ~ ‹e› (or ‹ë›) 
/e(:)/ in RC > SWF13 ‹e›

By rule, word final /i/ could be ‹y› etc. 

I don't think this is such a bad idea at all. 

> =====
> On 15 May 2012, at 00:14, Daniel Prohaska wrote:
>> On May 14, 2012, at 8:31 PM, Craig Weatherhill wrote:
>>> If <i> was long and <y> was short, then there'd be no problem.  Pronunciation would be obvious.  But SWF doesn't do this.  The distribution of <y> and <i> is all over the place.
>> Well, it's not exactly all over the place, but it is a little difficult to get from pronunciation to spelling. It's much easier, however, to get from spelling to pronunciation according to which variety of RC you prefer. 
> A *little* difficult? It was a nightmare trying to use our knowledge of Cornish to put Skeul an Tavas together, because one can't rely on one's knowledge of Cornish. One has to have learnt KK! 

Yes. I would have preferred an independent solution from the start. I had actually proposed this at a very early date, when it became clear that the SWF would be relying heavily on KK as a starting point. 

>>> If we take <dinas> as an example, derivatives would be  <din>, <dinek>, <dinan>, but <dynasow>.  Or should be.
>> Why? The only word I would consider to have a long vowel in the above mentioned group would be ‹din›, the others have a short vowel. But I consider SWF ‹i› to be pronounced identically ‹y› unless in long position, i.e. most usually in monosyllables. 
> Same in KS. ‹i› is [iː] in monosyllables and [ɪ] in words derived from them. This was taken from the SWF.

I'm aware of this.

>>> Replacing <melyn>, "mill" with <melin> makes no sense to me.
>> On etymological grounds. It's derived from Latin ‹molīnā›. Even in KK ‹i› and ‹y› in unstressed closed syllables is to be pronounced identically, a bit like English ‹bear› and ‹bare›, identical pronunciation, but different etymology. 
> Very handy for all those learners who have learnt their Latin, don't you think?


>>> Then they apply (as per KK) <melyn> "yellow" for <melen".    It was all so unnecessary.  They could, and should, have been left as they were. 
>> Also etymology. Br *melinos with short-i. 
> It's a good thing that Cornish children are given a good grounding in Brythonic linguistics before they start to learn Cornish, isn't it? :-/

Precisely. I never said I liked this decision, but it was chosen nonetheless in order to achieve the SWF and to get everyone working from the same book. Now I believe it's time to tweak it into something more practical. 

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