[Spellyans] Is there a future for the SWF?

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Sun May 20 14:03:48 IST 2012

On May 16, 2012, at 11:05 PM, Craig Weatherhill wrote:

> Head on the block time.

Ha ha!!!

> "Reduced to the status of a code.  Every principle of sound and spelling....must be followed to its logical end and strictly observed".
> Anyone remember those words?  Written by P.A.S. Pool in "The Second Death of Cornish" about the excesses of KK.
> I worry that many of the debates and arguments on this group may be in danger of going too far down the same path.  Must we codify every last thing, giving the language no room to breathe?

Great minds think alike! I often feel I'm the only one who thinks variants are a good thing! Sure there needs to be some measure of standardisation, and we cannot overburden learners in the initial stages of language acquisition with too many variants, but that doesn't mean that the fully codified language can't have plenty of room for variants, be it in terms of vocabulary, phonology or spelling. Just look at any comprehensive Breton or Welsh dictionary. You will find variance comparable to Cornish.  

> With the SWF, and the oncoming Review, we should be looking for such improvements as reintroducing vowels and vowel groups that have been unwisely omitted.

Yes, as well as tackling the phonological issues of the graphic representation of short /u/ : /o/ : /y/.  

> We should be looking for areas where there is further room for compromise.


> Like it or not (and I don't) SWF will retain certain features of KK.

I think you are right in your assessment. 

> It will retain features of traditional Cornish and we have to ensure that these do not continue to be as unbalanced as they currently are.

A definite "yes" to this!

> This is the nature of compromise if it's applied evenly.
> If the result contains a few inconsistencies, does it really matter?

Some inconsistencies way heavier than others. I'm not really stuffed about whether one believes word-final fricatives in unstressed were really voiced or unvoiced in traditional Cornish. I think either interpretation is possible. I do believe, however, that maintaining an inconsistency such as writing SWF ‹nowyth› but ‹menydh› is untenable. 

> I mentioned the many ways of pronouncing <-ough> in English. Is it <customise> or <customize>,

-ise, of course!!! ;-)

> or is it legitimately both? Is <vase>, "vaiz", "vahz" or "vawz"?  

The second. The first and last is for those who cannot speak English properly ;-) 

> For <grass>, south-easterners say "grahss", the rest of us say "grass". Is one wrong or are both right? Who really cares as long as the language thrives, is used, and passed on to future generations?
> Craig

In short, and playing the devil's advocate aside, wherever it's accepted within its socio-linguistic environment, either of these forms is "correct" - or simply "describable". 

> On 16 Me 2012, at 21:54, ewan wilson wrote:
>> I can see where Ray is coming from on this.
>> I do wonder if 'apathy' or possible waning enthusiasm for the language is not down to the fact most learners are not high powered linguistics experts and so much of the hotly argued minutiae of things like degrees of stress, etc go right over their heads and the consequent conflicts in orthography and revival 'brands' dissuade folk from investing in a system that might well ultimately be ditched!
>> What is the feeling on the ground, I wonder?
>> Ewan.
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Ray Chubb" <ray at spyrys.org>
>> To: "Standard Cornish discussion list" <spellyans at kernowek.net>
>> Sent: Wednesday, May 09, 2012 4:06 PM
>> Subject: Re: [Spellyans] Is there a future for the SWF?
>>> My own view is that unless we can get the SWF into schools big time it does not have much of a future.  Agan Tavas is beginning to think that they only way to get schools to teach Cornish is through the  compulsion that would be provided by a Cornish Language Act.
>>> I am not happy at all about the treatment of the traditional graph  option but I am deliberately trying to avoid public arguments over it  in order to give the SWF the best possible crack of the whip.
>>> Some are of the opinion that it was only the public rows over spelling that were holding the language back.  It seems to me that the absence  of those arguments in the public forum has only served to increase a  general apathy towards the language.  Or maybe it's just the recession!
>>> On 9 Me 2012, at 13:24, Christian Semmens wrote:
>>>> Dear all,
>>>> As it is a rather slow and dull afternoon, I thought I'd play devil's
>>>> advocate and ask this question, as I am having some grave reservations
>>>> over the direction the "compromise" process seems to be taking. It
>>>> would seem that the rumble of distant thunder can be heard regarding
>>>> the future direction of the SWF from some areas. The traditional form
>>>> of the SWF has lived in an enforced twilight for the last four years
>>>> and it would seem that some would like to bury it completely. From my
>>>> point of view, anything less than total and absolute parity for the
>>>> SWF/T including (especially!) for "Official" purposes and in schools,
>>>> would be utterly unacceptable. Complaints about possible confusion be
>>>> damned. Let the people choose.
>>>> The SWF, so far, has been a vehicle for ditching the dodgy phonology
>>>> of KK, but maintaining its (now meaningless) spelling system.
>>>> In the Cornish language movement today, without KK phonology, there is
>>>> now absolutely no reason for maintaining this spelling system other
>>>> than that it looks familiar to one fraction of learners, and in a
>>>> revival we are all learners. It is precisely this spelling form that
>>>> needs to justify its existence, not the traditional variant.
>>>> I wonder where others stand on this?
>>>> Christian
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>>> Ray Chubb
>>> Portreth
>>> Kernow
>>> Agan Tavas web site:  www.agantavas.com
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