[Spellyans] Is there a future for the SWF?

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Tue May 15 13:56:09 IST 2012

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.

> 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. 

> 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]. 

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! 

>> 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.

>> 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? :-/

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

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