[Spellyans] UC/UCR

ewan wilson butlerdunnit at ntlworld.com
Sat Nov 17 23:07:45 GMT 2012

Dear Michael,

Your final paragraph starting ' I think most people couldn't even tell the 
difference unless they saw a diacritical mak...' is what continues to give 
us hope that a good, LINGUISTICALLY sensible consensus can eventually be 
reached. I doubt people would want or expect an orthography that was 
phonetically perfect - it would surely be too detailed to take in with 
facility- but we would look for one that strikes a common sense balance for 
ease of learning, authenticity and academic acceptablility.
As for my remarks on UC/UCr I was not insisting that either of those two 
orthographies were the 'last word'. Having seen the new Bible, my instincts 
tell me it represents a decided advance for both catching the flavour of 
traditional Cornish and learning facility. It would be a great shame if all 
this was lost.
My main reason for presently sticking with either UC or UCR as the 'main 
base' for just now is simply that the other forms coming through, some 
admirable though they be, are essentially provisional until MAGA starts to 
finalise its choice, and frankly having to master yet another orthographic 
permutation only for it to be perhaps significantly altered or even ditched 
is just too futile seeming. Thus UC/UCr keep me going till the great 
'Reformation' when the old forms, presumably, will more or less face 

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Michael Everson" <everson at evertype.com>
To: "Standard Cornish discussion list" <spellyans at kernowek.net>
Sent: Friday, November 16, 2012 11:13 AM
Subject: Re: [Spellyans] UC/UCR

> On 14 Nov 2012, at 16:10, Nicky Rowe <nickyrowe at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> On 14 November 2012 15:50, Michael Everson <everson at evertype.com> wrote:
>>> Really? It's been five years and there's no sign of the SWF in the 
>>> schools.
>> There's no sign of Cornish in the schools. Which is a problem of manpower 
>> and resources. But what little there is, is in the SWF.
> The schools will not save or restore Cornish any more in Cornwall than 
> they did in Ireland.
>>>> You can push for what you want within the SWF, but you need to be 
>>>> realistic. Think of the old orthographies as dead, think about what 
>>>> might be achievable within the SWF, and think of KS as a nice academic 
>>>> exercise in orthography design
>>> Which has given the Cornish Revival 1.4 million words of good, 
>>> grammatical, idiomatic Cornish, and the most comprehensive grammar book 
>>> which has ever been written.
>> You can keep clinging on to the number of words you've published as 
>> self-justification, but it doesn't change the fact that KS as a candidate 
>> for the SWF is ignored by much of the revival.
> You dismiss what I say by suggesting that I "cling" to the word-count. I 
> note the word-count because it's significant. What you didn't comment on 
> was the fact that the corpus represents "good, grammatical, idiomatic 
> Cornish" which is exactly wheat the Revival needs, since people don't seem 
> to want to read medieval religious plays and sermons. Unless modern 
> literature is written in good Cornish, what people will learn will be a 
> sort of pidgin Cornish. ("me a wra + verbal noun" is not a present tense 
> formation, but it is commonly used as such.)
> "Candidate for the SWF"? KS ought to inform the "process" that deals with 
> the SWF, because KS reforms the SWF in order to remove its shortcomings. 
> The SWF, you may or may not know, was devised after 5 days of hostile 
> negotiations that hammered out some sort of structure. It leaks. It leaks 
> in ways that make it hard to learn or to explain to learners. Those leaks 
> make it unsuitable for use. THey have to be plugged. And they ought to be 
> plugged in a coherent, authentic way.
> Or? Or not? Do you think that it doesn't matter if the "official" 
> orthography for Cornish is devised by non-linguists who don't really 
> understand coherent orthographic structures? Why should such an 
> orthography be "better" for the language, or "easier" for learners or 
> teachers?
>>>> but one that many in the revival have resistance to and others 
>>>> completely ignore, for which reason is unlikely ever to get adopted as 
>>>> a SWF. Stop getting bogged down in pointless debates and get real.
>>> As long as the SWF fails to be linguistically accurate, it cannot 
>>> attract consensus.
>> I mean this respectfully, but please wake up.
> Really.
>> The SWF is attracting consensus, just not from here.
> The *idea* of a single written form attracts consensus. The actual details 
> of the SWF specification are probably not.
> "Oh, I love not being able to use my knowledge of how to pronounce Cornish 
> when trying to remember whether a word has -in or -yn in the last 
> unstressed syllable."
> "I think it's great that what we write as -nn- and -mm- can usually be 
> pre-occluded, but not always."
> "It's great that we can't distinguish [eː] from [aɪ] and [əɪ] in words 
> like ‹paynt› and ‹treylya›."
> These are indications of FAULTS in the SWF. We identified these faults in 
> 2008, and we provided fixes for these faults, and we've published
>> You (pl.) are so focused on linguistic and academic considerations that 
>> you can't see the support the SWF has as a political compromise.
> Agreeing that RMC and RTC and RLC form a single community is a political 
> compromise. Being able to distinguish [eː] from [aɪ] from [ǝɪ] in a 
> practical orthography is NOT a matter of politics: it is a matter of 
> linguistics. Do you really want a dumbed-down Cornish orthography that 
> makes it hard for learners to pronounce words properly? Really?
> Don't you think that the Cornish language deserves excellence?
>> Reviving Cornish is an inherently political act, and the majority of 
>> people come to it for political/emotional reasons rather than linguistic.
> Sorry, no. You can't say that reviving Cornish is political and then say 
> people come to it for political reasons and/or emotional reasons. What you 
> mean is:
> For some people reviving Cornish is a matter of politics.
> For some people reviving Cornish is a matter of emotions.
> There wouldn't be a Cornish revival had it not been for the linguist 
> Jenner who applied contemporary linguistic theory to the reconstruction of 
> a standardized language out of the apparent chaos of the corpus known to 
> him at the time. There isn't a point, from then till now, at which 
> linguistics becomes irrelevant.
>> In what situation do you see the majority of the revival choosing KS over 
>> the SWF?
> I think that most people couldn't even tell the difference unless they saw 
> a diacritical mark. KS looks a lot like the SWF -- because it was based on 
> the SWF. We began the SWF Review in 2008. We didn't wait for Jenefer Lowe 
> or Albert Bock or the folk in the Management Group to "give us 
> permission". We saw much that was good in the SWF, but much that was 
> problematic, confusing, or just plain wrong.
> Should we have published the Bible in an orthography we knew to be 
> defective? Maybe you think so. We do not.
> Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com/
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