[Spellyans] cledh etc

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Tue Jan 15 16:05:40 GMT 2013

On 15 Jan 2013, at 11:22, Chris Parkinson <brynbow at btinternet.com> wrote:

> I am indeed confused. What is the rationale for such editorial changes which alter the original text?

For one thing **nothing** compels anyone to pronounce ‹why› as [ʍiː]. The pronunciation [ʍəi] is perfectly compatible with that pronunciation. (And the same goes for the other, what, eight or nine words that belong to this class?) 

Insisting that LC users must write ‹whei› helps to ghettoize their dialect. I don't mean that in a bad way. We certainly aren't prejudiced against it, or even against the use of ‹whey›… but we (Nicholas and I, in our publications) have chosen to try to centre on 1600 rather than on either pole of the continuum. In An Beybel Sans we used the older spelling ‹gul› but in all of our other publications we prefer ‹gwil›. We can choose to write ‹nn› or ‹dn› but we prefer the latter because we think it looks better (it's quintessentially Cornish), because we observe that pre-occlusion can be found even in users who learnt KK, and we think that it's a good idea to encourage this feature of Cornish. We've chosen this stylistically because polarization has not been good for the language. It may even be the case that no one who learned UC or KK or one of Dick's RLCs will ever be totally comfortable with what we have done. It may be 30 years from now when a whole crop of learners who didn't live through the spelling wars will be able to look at it impassively. 

And when we needed to emphasize dialect, as in Long John Silver's conversations with Captain Smollet, we used Late Cornish options rigorously. 

On 15 Jan 2013, at 15:20, Chris Parkinson <brynbow at btinternet.com> wrote:

> Nicholas, thankyou for your detailed reply. I agree entirely that trying to base LC orthography on English was a mistake which has disheartened many LC learners. I have seen for some time that  MC/LC are on a continuum and it is a false dichotomy to consider them separately. But I definitely think that there are valid differences between spoken and written language which should be taken into account at the early learning stages, especially for young learners. For that reason I'm not sure about some of changes you make in JCH. E.g. 'dhe' + pronoun is simpler than using the conjugated preposition as one word, because a child could easily generalise the pattern.

Maybe. Children learn Irish and Welsh without that such "simplified" paradigms. As Nicholas said, nothing prevents a person from writing "dhywgh why" and saying it [ðə ʍəi]. 

> However, your book is for adults and that is not the main issue that is worrying.  LC users need an orthography that allows them to write as they speak.

We may ask [dʒiːtʃɛt] in English; in KS one could write this as ‹jîchet?›. In context, everyone can parse this as "Did you eat yet?". In some texts one might "Didja eat yet?" Would one write it in most texts? Likely not. 

> Such an orthography would of course allow anyone else to write spoken Cornish as necessary eg in dialogues in novels, or in other informal writing. LC speakers could use a more formal style where appropriate. The choice for us is obviously between SWFL and KS. But if we chose eg to write 'Thera ve mos', or 'Thera ve a mos' would a KS editor demand that it be written 'ow mos'.

In Irish particles like that are written all the time even when they are never or very rarely pronounced. One just learns how to write. 

In KS we recommend "Th'era vy ow mos" or "Th'era vy mos". We would not, definitely not, recommend "Th'era vy a mos" because "ow" is pronounced [ə] nearly always anyway. Having two spellings for "ow" would be a mistake. Write it (however you pronounce it) or drop it. Three options would be foolish, because "a" is overloaded with other uses anyway.

> If we wanted to reflect LC pronunciation by writing eg 'Metten da' would that be disallowed? And so on.

The alternation of short [ɪ] and [ɛ] in a range of polysyllables is problematic throughout the entire history of written Cornish. If it were really vital that "myttyn dâ" also be written "mettyn dâ" because that alternation were so truly important then it can be done. (I am not sure that it is. There are many dialects of English in which [ɪ] and [ɛ] are used quite differently compared to standard English  (in New Zealand and Australian English for instance). There is no reason to have more than one spelling for the final unstressed syllable, however, because it is just [ə]. There are reasons for choosing various vowels in that position… in this case "y" is probably best. (The SWF has "i" here because of Latin marina, I guess, in KK.)

The question here is the trade-off in terms of how many lexical items get two separate spellings. I personally think that concentration on the poles of the dialect continuum has led people astray. 

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

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