[Spellyans] Spellyans, KS, and reconstruction
deliabrotherton at aol.com
deliabrotherton at aol.com
Tue May 29 18:43:30 IST 2012
The difficulty is that officers of the language organisations are ineligible which takes out many of those who may have been willing to take on such a task. There was a hope, I believe, that Neil Kennedy and/or Andrew Climo might allow their names to be put forward?
From: Ken MacKinnon <ken at ferintosh.org>
To: 'Standard Cornish discussion list' <spellyans at kernowek.net>
Sent: Tue, 29 May 2012 18:35
Subject: Re: [Spellyans] Spellyans, KS, and reconstruction
Re points made concerning the SWF review further below, do we know who from this
roup is likely to be going forward in response to Jenefer's reminder? See
mmedately below, and attachment..
- an ken Ken
wreugh perthi kov, mar pleg, bos linen-varow rag ombrofya avel esel an Gesva
zaswel an FSS yw diwedh an seythen ma. Mar mynnowgh ombrofya, an kedhlow yw
his is a reminder that applications for membership of the SWF Review Board need
o be received by the end of this week. If you wish to apply, the details are
rom: spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net [mailto:spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net] On
ehalf Of Michael Everson
ent: 28 May 2012 19:27
o: Standard Cornish discussion list
ubject: Re: [Spellyans] Spellyans, KS, and reconstruction
stOn 20 May 2012, at 12:40, Daniel Prohaska wrote:
>> One of the most aggravating things about "reconstruction" in our context is
t practically asks for every bloody KK spelling that turns up in the SWF to be
I agree that it was not the best decision to use KK as a starting point rather
han examining every word a new and starting fresh. May I remind you that you
id the same with KS? You simply used UCR as a starting point.
That isn't true. We used the SWF specification as our starting point. KS is not
CR with a set of derogations. KS1 wasn't even UCR with a set of derogations.
KS took the SWF specification for rules about spelling, and derogated from that.
e also did not start out by examining every word according to its etymology.
> I see no problem, however, with allowing the study of historical phonology to
nform the study and reconstruction of Cornish for the purpose of its Revival.
I see a problem when it is used to shape the orthography, rather than to check
n item here and there.
>> Was there a *Meurth? The texts don't show evidence for it.
Well there's Welsh ‹Mawrth› which makes */œ/ all the more likely. I don't
hink this is really in dispute, only the formalism of saying the attested form
verrules the construction, even if it is very likely.
How do you know it was likely? There are plenty of things in Cornish which are
ot in Welsh and Breton. And there are things in Breton which are not in Cornish
nd Welsh. And there are things in Welsh and Cornish which are not in Breton.
> It is not so much the question of whether one is more 'correct' than the
ther, but rather how to deal with this issue in the case of Revived Cornish.
aking your view to the extreme and used only attested spellings,
That has NEVER been my view.
> it would be very difficult to achieve a standardised orthography in the first
And yet as I have said, it is not 1904 (or even 30 years prior). We are not
tarting from scratch.
> How far to take this issue of allowing non-attested spellings for the benefit
f standardisation is a matter of discussion, consensus and agreement.
If you base a Cornish orthography on exactly what you would expect if every
egular sound change implied by modern Welsh and modern Breton were implemented,
hen what you are going to get is a nice tidy conlang, which is not the same
hing as a normalization, regularization, and standardization of the corpus. I
uess we don't have a *Murth attested, though. Must we have *Meurth? Isn't Merth
>> They do not publish etymologies justifying their tinkering; they expect
verybody to take it on faith.
No, anything can be doubted and discussed. there's no faith involved. Just
ome capacity of informed judgement.
Where is your list of corrections you have applied to the SWF on the basis of
our examination of the KK material? If there isn't a list, no one will know
hat corrections you have applied, or why?
>> "Ah, yes, those fellows over there, they know their Brythonic, they're doing
ll the checking of the reconstructions just fine." But there aren't any
ublications showing the work.
That's not entirely true. Albert, Nicholas, Ben and Talat are publishing,
ackling questions such as vocalic alternation, consonants, prosodic shifts
tc., etc. .
In the general broad view, yes, Dan. But not in examining individual etyma in
he SWF. You're going through the KK wordlist, it seems, and judging George's
econstructions as against the SWF specification. All behind closed doors, with
ll of that getting in to the editor's books. But you're not documenting it for
>> Eric Hamp used to publish paragraphs about individual etymologies.
ascinating stuff. Made his case. Do we have this in Cornish linguistics? No.
re changes being made already to the SWF in light of such unpublished work? It
ppears so, at least in the background.
Fine, perhaps this is something Cornish Studies departments at e.g. Exeter can
You're missing the point.
>> In Spellyans we have worked since 2008 in an endeavour to meet the brief
uoted above. We didn't wait five years for... whomever to use the SWF and find
ut what is wrong with it. It was obvious from the publication of the SWF spec
hat was wrong with it.
Michael, you had a very clear agenda then, some of your views on Cornish
pelling and phonology are ideologically charged (as are mine!) have to do with
preference for phonological theories that can be interpreted to fit the
vidence, but so can other theories.
I'm fairly sure that the phonological model we use for the revived language is
obust and practical. We do not indulge in "aspirational" phonology that has no
onnection the revived language. And we manage not to have to deviate much from
he look of traditional Cornish.
> There are certain features you wanted to see in the SWF and were so adamant
bout that you derogated from the SWF right after the AHG meetings.
We did not. We began discussing the need for derogation and the shape that
erogation might take after the SWF specification was published. Until then we
id not know what would or would not be in it. There were things promised to be
n it which were not, for example.
>> It had a Traditional Form that used non-Traditional graphs (the ban on final
y in stressed monosyllables).
I agree this is very unfortunate.
So we derogated.
>> It shifted ambiguity from ‹u› to ‹o›.
And ended up with both ambiguity in ‹u› as well as ambiguity of ‹o›. This
eeds to be tackled in the 2013Review.
We decided to tackle it in 2008.
You see, the Cornish Language Partnership and MAGA do not own the Revival, or
he language, any more than the Kesva did.
They were bound to use the SWF unchanged for five years. We were not. We were
ree to use UCR or even KK if we wanted to. Instead we wanted to contribute
meaningfully*. That meant accepting the political SWF for what it was and
mproving it on the basis of linguistic scrutiny.
>> It introduced ambiguity between the bÿs/bës words and the bys and res words.
Yes. I hope this, too can be tackled in the Review. But your own view on the
ÿs/bës words, even the phonetic transcriptions you use, are to some extent
deologically charged. Whether archived, achievable or not, there are those who
spire to make a three-way-front-vowel distinction in RC, something that
icholas says was abandoned early after the prosodic shift and was no longer
alid for Middle Cornish.
Unachievable phonemes are of no interest. They are not practical. And they are
ot necessary, as those who are aspiring to them but not achieving them are able
o communicate with other Cornish speakers just fine.
> But there are people who do not espouse Nicholas' views on the PS, rightly or
If it is wrongly, what is the point? Do you believe that his dates on the
rosodic Shift are right, or don't you? Don't sit on the fence, Dan. Tell us.
et us know where you stand. I have looked at the arguments and I agree with
icholas that the late date Ken gives for the shift is ludicrously late, and
That means an early date for PS and that leads us to a phonology which is pretty
uch just what Jenner recommended in 1904, and what we recommend now -- and what
evivalists actually do. All the theory and even the implementation of KK in the
980s and after hasn't changed that phonology.
> This is my problem with many KS spellings. They're not neutral in the context
f their spelling system, they are very much choices made on the base of
icholas' views on historical Cornish phonology.
And the views of me, and of others, vis à vis the reality of the revived
anguage. In order to write we could not sit on a fence. It is impossible to try
o have an orthography that supports both Ken George's unachieved phonology and
he real phonology which I hear at the Lostwithiel conferences, where everybody
rom all sorts of backgrounds is speaking. That's one of the reasons I go to the
ostwithiel conferences -- to listen to the Cornish spoken by people.
> And some of the KS spellings "enshrine" this theory in spelling, whether it's
he i/y/e distribution, final voiceless/voiced fricatives etc. etc. etc.
Would you rather that the SWF "enshrines" your theories, then? You proposed in
hree lines an i/y/e distribution on this forum in July 2008. It wasn't accepted
y the Spellyans group in part because it would have meant a major shift from
he basis i/y distribution used in monosyllabeles in the SWF, and it was part of
ur brief to tread lightly on the SWF.
You've never since tested your distribution by showing people texts written in
t. If you produce some, perhaps on the basis of some KS text or other, we might
ut them on the website for scrutiny. But I don't believe still that your
istribution is practical or simple enough to taught easily to learners.
With regard to the distribution of fricatives, if you want, we can start a
hread on that and discuss it publicly. As far as I can tell you have made
laims about Lhuyd but have not backed those up with data, or with a discussion
f the phonotactics of your theory in the whole context of the language. I would
elcome such a discussion.
>> It omitted the useful graphs ‹ai› and ‹au› for a set of loanwords.
Yes, I would like to seem them, or equivalent graphs introduced in the SWF,
hough I may have some minor issues with their distribution across lexemes...
Make your list and share it, if you want people to evaluate it.
>> It imposed KK's etymological vowels, particularly difficult in unstressed
inal syllables (kegin v. kegin).
‹kegin› v. ‹kegin›, not sure what you mean here.
‹kegin› v. ‹colyn› etc. Sorry for the typo.
> I think this is definitely something we can sort out in the Review, but my
pproach would be to take the two dialects of RC into account and find a way to
epresent the differences and commonalities where they are useful to speakers of
hese respective dialects.
I'm afraid that your approach would increase the distance between RMC and RLC
>> It lacked a phonotactic rationale for its use of -dh/-v in unstressed
onosyllables. Its distribution of ‹i› and ‹y› was entirely arbitrary (unless
ne had learnt KK).
No, this is an opinion, a point of view. I have already stated, which you can
ake on faith ;-) or not, that this has to do with the phonological and
ositional contrasts that Cornish was capable of.
I don't know what your "it" refers to here.
> Sure, native Cornish phonology was augmented by loans from English which
idn't conform to the native system, but the native phonology contrasted the
losives only in initial position whereas in internal and final position there
as no phonological contrast.
List a dozen examples, please.
> The fricatives however retained this contrast, at least in internally and so
t is disputable whether it was or wasn't given up in final position.
How can you tell? List your examples, please.
> Yes, your phonotactic rational for an initial and internal stressed voiced v.
nstressed voiceless contrast is neat, but it is not unambiguously borne out by
he evidence in the texts.
First, I have asked you to explain your phonotactic model. Second, there is
mbiguity in nearly EVERY feature of EVERY vowel and consonant in the texts, so
hy should this be particularly damning of our model?
> An orthographic solution in RC for a distinction may be called for, and leave
he ideological approach to a set of rules that can be applied. This is what a
tandard (maybe not for everybody but for the greatest number possible) should
spire to, and leave "being right all along" out of the discussion where the
vidence is not absolute and unambiguous.
The safest thing to do in this case is to spell -th as the texts do, and if you
ant to have a rule that people who have learnt KK can voice these if they wish,
ou may. But I tell you, at Lostwithiel I have listed with particular care to
peakers who used KK orthography, and they do NOT voice -dh in final unstressed
>> From the end of the first month after announcing Spellyans we had 27 members;
e now maintain 51 observers. People like Albert Bock and Ben Bruch and Tony
ak, who are concerned with (i.e. in positions of authority concerning) the SWF,
o not participate, and do not observe as members. They don't see the
iscussion: they don't engage with the Traditionalist community. Have they read
ny of the publications in KS? I wouldn't know.
And maybe they have their reasons for not participating or even leaving this
iscussion. Maybe they feel it's too one sided. maybe they feel you are coming
n too strong on certain issues and fining you difficult to talk to at times.
ot speaking for them, but saying what I feel occasionally.
We have never had meaningful dialogue and discussion with them. What we say
eems to fall on deaf ears.
> I can get over it, but maybe others don't find this so easy. This, is probably
lso the reason why several people didn't want you on the AHG meetings. I know
othing concrete, but it's the feeling I get from people who said they had no
esire to sit at a conference table with you. I'm certainly not one of these
eople, but I am wondering, if an exercise is diplomacy wouldn't have got some
f your points across more easily...
One can hardly address the might-have-beens of 2007.
>> What is an orthography for? A Cornish orthography that has all this etymology
uilt into it... is... to help people do what? To learn Cornish? Or to use the
ornish they've learnt to bolster their investigations into Brythonic?
Again the pro- and contras-etymology-thing is now becoming idealogical.
No. It is a matter of practicality. There is no reason to write ‹kegin› because
f a medieval Latin ‹cucîna›. It serves no function but to confuse the writer as
o when to write -in and when to write -yn, which is common in many other words.
nd here's something that speaks to your analyses of Ken George's etymological
pellings. He has ‹kolen› 'puppy'. SWF now has ‹colyn›. Why the change from
‹en› to -‹yn› in that word? Ken George also has ‹kegin› 'kitchen', Why doesn't
he SWF change this -‹in› to -‹yn›?
We have ‹colyn› pl ‹kelyn› and ‹kegyn› pl ‹kegydnow›, by the way.
> The texts don't distinguish between ‹y› and ‹i› although certain differences
ust have been there to warrant LC forms that occur, deciding the vowel in the
nstressed syllables has to do with this issue as well. You distinguish ‹mis›
rom ‹bÿs›, but the texts have ‹mys› and ‹bys›.
Yes, but the texts do not have ‹mes› alternating with ‹mis› as you know. We
istinguish ‹mis› [miːz] from ‹bÿs› [biːz]~[beːz]. The texts also have ‹bes›,
beys›, and ‹bis›.
> You also claim that the two vowels had fallen in with each other in some
arieties of Cornish (or certain texts thereof), but the same can be said for
he ‹melin› : ‹melyn› contrast.
I don't follow you. We have ‹melyn› 'mill' pl ‹melydnyow› (variant ‹belyn›!),
nd we have ‹melen› 'yellow' with a derivative ‹melender› 'yellowness', and a
ird name ‹melenek›, pl ‹melenegas› 'Carduelis chloris, green linnet". The
hoice of written for the [ən] in the final unstressed syllable of the singular
inges upon the colour of the vowel when stressed. It's true that the derived
ords for 'yellow' are neologisms of Nance (or earlier), but nevertheless they
re there. In this matter we followed the "colon"/"colodnow" rule we came up
ith in KS1, if you recall, when we were tending to default to -an in final
There is no contrast in the singular. The words rhyme in the singular. Our claim
bout [ɛ] and [ɪ] being often in free variation is more relevant to stressed
yllables. Was this not clear? It's in ‹lyver›/‹lever› where that seems to
perate (from a very early period indeed).
The point is that for this very large class of words it is difficult to see any
ense in giving both forms or in writing them ‹lÿver›/‹lëver› because the class
s so large. Much larger than the ‹bÿs›/‹bës› class, which is important to mark
ecause without doing so the ‹bÿs› words regularly get mispronounced with a
hort vowel, which is a serious mistake. [lɪvəɹ]~[lɛvəɹ]: free variation
A standard orthography should mark what *must* be distinguished.
(Regarding the linnets, as far as I can tell Ken George re-analysed Nance's
lynek› pl ‹lynegas› to give his ‹linoges› pl ‹linogesow›, and he saw fit to
hange ‹melenek›, pl ‹melenegas› 'green linnet' to ‹melynek›, pl ‹melynoges›
goldfinch'. I don't see what's wrong with ‹melenek›, pl ‹melenegas›.)
> If ‹i› and ‹y› are distributed according to given rules in RC, but were not in
raditional Cornish, you are doing something different from what the Cornish
In making *any* 20th/21st-century normalization we are all doing something
ifferent from what the Cornish scribes did.
> So, the arbitrary ‹i› : ‹y› distribution in TC (traditional Cornish) is
tandardised according to certain rules in RC, big deal, so discuss how to
We've done that. We've discussed them. Years ago, Dan! We had a "tread lightly
n the SWF" policy in 2008, and that is one of the reasons we did not accept
our proposed redistribution. We chose a different one. And we implemented it.
ow long do you think this ought to be in flux?
> I don't see much pick up for the KS solution, so let's discuss how we can
ring our respective views together.
As far as "pick-up" is concerned, Desky Kernowek has only now been published.
ut, seriously, what is it that you want to do? Do you want us to trade the
e-distribution of i/y/e which we have implemented and published in, for your
e-distribution, for which we have not actually seen any sample texts since
008? If you produce sample texts, do you think they will convince us? (By "us"
mean "Spallyans".) Or are you open to altering your view on this and coming on
See there are four options with regard to the SWF anyway.
1) Do nothing with i/y/e in the SWF and leave it as the KK mess it is. I suspect
hat Maga and former KK users would prefer that.
2) Implement the Spellyans re-distribution which has already been seen and read
y many people and which is quite easy to explain, to teach, and to use.
3) Implement your re-distribution (perhaps after seeing examples) which would
ot only change KS but change the SWF and probably confuse everybody.
4) Enter into SWF discussions offering both 2) and 3) as incompatible options,
hich is likely to guarantee that 1) will be chosen.
> That's what I meant when I asked you whether you were open to compromises. You
on't seem to be, you seem to want to push the KS solution onto the SWF because
ou see them as the only possible (or at least very best way) of dealing with
he issues. This again, is a matter of opinion, and as you know, opinions can
And I asked you, what changes or compromises do you think we ought to be open
o? I mentioned being open to ‹ei› replacing ‹ÿ›~‹ë› (not thinking it very
ikely), and you said that it would be impossible because ‹ei› in hiatus is [əɪ]
n RLC. (In terms of orthographic design there would be complementary
istribution of the sounds, so it would in fact work.)
I do hope that we have a discussion on dh/th and v/f, because I believe that you
ill eventually see that the weight of the evidence is against you.
>> Have we done a good enough job? Is there a list of etyma that we still need
o argue about? Are there serious shortcomings that render KS unworthy of
You've done a great job in your publications and the amount of Cornish being
Which I judge to be better for the Revival than doing nothing for five years.
> You have not done a great job in supporting a consensual form of Cornish,
ecause you don't agree with some issues that in your view render the
If it is unusable, its use cannot be justified. It has mistakes in it, and
hings which are not Cornish. Why should we consent to use something like that?
e were kept out of genuine participation in the discussions which formed the
WF. We owe that process little.
The SWF compromise was remarkable and admirable from a political point of view.
number of KK underpinnings of the SWF are as wrong in the SWF as they were in
K. Having edited two editions of SWF/K and SWF/T grammar books, we are quite
ell aware of those problems. There are things in the SWF you can't learn,
nless you know the rationale for them in KK. Those things tripped us up again
Get it? We (Ray, Nicholas, and I) failed to be able to write accurately in the
WF, not because we didn't know Cornish. But because we didn't know about the
rbitrary choices Ken George has made.
We *have* supported the compromise, Dan. We (Nicholas and I, and perhaps others
n Spellyans who may wish to name themselves) have moved on from UC and UCR and
o not see a road back to them, because the corrected form of the SWF is at once
ore accurate and more inclusive than either, if one sees at its core the period
550-1650 as a *standard*, a magnet attracting both ends of 1500 and 1700 toward
centre. From an ideological perspective, that is what the Revival needs. Not
> There's no list of etyma that we need to deal with in KS,
I am not sure what you mean by "deal with". KS1 was a proposal for discussion.
S has been a solution to problems in the compromise orthography. The spellings
n KS are facts, and I would recommend that you not ignore things like spellings
n the Beybel Sans. By which I mean, you should not "deal with" UC and UCR but
gnore KS. We have published well over a million words in Cornish. They should
e taken into consideration.
> but as I potter along with my dictionary and check and come across KS forms
hat I may find problematic, I'll bring them to your attention for further
iscussion, if you want.
You are welcome to do so. You have always been welcome here though you seem to
ave recused yourself for a long time a few years ago.
> I do the same with the SWF and Albert's dictionary. We are in frequent
ommunication about such issues.
> As far as shortcomings,
Where? In the SWF?
> I don't think there are many, but there are some issues that cannot be
nswered as there are no traditional speakers of Cornish and only those would be
ble to answer these issues.
In which case, where a choice must be made, a sound phonotactic theory should
olster the choice. I really would like to see the th/dh f/v issue put to rest.
> So in the context of RC they become matters of opinion and later are somewhat
Perhaps. Nevertheless some form of standardization is required. In the matter of
h/dh for instance, our Standard Cornish is founded on what we hear amongst
peakers of RC from all camps, and we have a phonotactic theory which fits well
ith the evidence of the texts and with the realities of RC. In Common Cornish
n the other hand we have a distribution here which is based on cognates in
reton and Welsh, and I have yet to see the theory that explains how those fit
n with the behaviour of the other consonants in similar contexts.
> This is something where I think we can find some room for common ground to
llow the SWF to somewhat open for interpretation, while giving users guidelines
y rule to make them pronounce the language as correctly as we can determine at
I believe what we believed when we developed KS1: That the orthography should be
s accurate as possible while remaining true to the texts. And we have to take
he phonology of the revived language into account. It's not 1904. People are
lready pronouncing the language. (Yes, you will remind me of their English [əɯ]
iphthongs and so on. We know about those and of course we advise the use of
I hope that when you receive your copy of Desky Kernowek you will study the
ection on phonology and orthography very carefully. I believe that we
Spellyans) have devised a system which does exactly what you describe above: It
as rules sufficient to enable a learner to accurately pronounce words which he
r she sees, and which enable him or her to write Cornish accurately.
Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com/
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