[Spellyans] cleudh etc

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Tue Jan 15 16:14:34 GMT 2013

On Jan 14, 2013, at 11:51 AM, Hewitt, Stephen wrote:

> Cornish texts are of course the primary basis. The point is that there are not enough of them. The fact that the word cleudh does not happen to occur in Middle Cornish texts does not mean that it would not have had an /œ/ vowel in that period.

It certainly is not evidence that it *did* have that vowel. 

> If you rely on “tota cornicitas” and that only, you are bound to end up with an unholy mix of forms from different periods mascarading as if they belonged to one and the same period.

The damage done by Ken George, who threw away genuinely and frequently attested spellings because of his admiration for Breton and Welsh was based on this kind of thing. Of course in a verbal or prepositional paradigm, or in other paradigmatic and systematic contexts, gaps **have** to be filled in. Even Dick Gendall did it, and he was a stickler for attestation in matters like this.

But when a word is not attested with a particular root vowel, it is not *safe* to assume that it must have had such a form. It is *safer* to err on the side of the attested forms -- and "cleth(e)" is attested numerous times, so there's no reason to claim that it's an error. 

If a new attestation were discovered and showed that a certain form were wrong, then, yes, it is fair enough to consider changing it. Some usages are like that, too. Cornish had two words for 'silver' and 'money' and there's really no good reason to use the former for both. 

The texts have ‹cleth(e)› mostly in the MC period (and lots of examples, too), and ‹anclethys› if memory serves… LC has /e/ as well. There's no reason to deviate from this on the basis of speculation -- because that speculation may be wrong. It is for this reason that we reject many of KK's innovations: because they are too much on the side of the conlang, rather than on the traditional language. 

I like conlangs. I have published in Esperanto, Lingua Franca Nova, Volapük, and soon Neo. Cornish doesn't need to be one, though. 

> If, in addition, you want your orthography to serve two or three different periods of the language (e.g. Middle, Tudor, Late Cornish)

But we don't. Revived Cornish is a synchronic manifestation: people talk to each other in real time. Those differences are more or less questions of dialect or register now. The Tudor centre is what brings them together. 

> so as to cater to all sensibilities with a minimum of differences in writing, the only solution is to adopt an etymologizing orthography, which in turn, in the case of sparsely documented Cornish, means making an educated etymological guess from time to time in order to fill in the gaps. The alternative is a mixed salad with synchronic authenticity in no period at all.

It seems to me that we know that there is evidence for [kleːð] from all periods. Some may theorize that at an earlier period it might have been [kløːð], but there's no evidence that it was. 

On 14 Jan 2013, at 17:20, "Hewitt, Stephen" <s.hewitt at unesco.org> wrote:

> These things often get pretty heated. I, for one, can see the point of Nicholas and Michael, but I don’t agree with it.

I wonder what you think our point is, and then what you think the point should be. 

> In fact, I don’t the small community is really clear about what it wants, or the logical implications of particular choices…

All the linguist can do is lead. 

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

More information about the Spellyans mailing list