[Spellyans] tavas

Chris Parkinson brynbow at btinternet.com
Tue May 14 18:29:37 IST 2013


Michael, you write that all the vowels (in Cornish) are found in unstressed position where they all mean schwa or...  Did you intend to add something? If not, how can you be sure that this always happens to unstressed vowels in Cornish? This doesn't happen in all languages. It doesn't happen all the time in Welsh where supposed words 'tavas' and 'taves' would be pronounced differently.  Chris

-----Original Message-----
From: Spellyans [mailto:spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net] On Behalf Of Michael Everson
Sent: 14 May 2013 17:33
To: Standard Cornish discussion list
Subject: Re: [Spellyans] tavas

On 14 May 2013, at 14:57, Daniel Prohaska <daniel at ryan-prohaska.com> wrote:

> I sympathise with those who wish to keep the spelling ‹tavas› from Unified Cornish. But I would rather redirect the energy and impetus of SWF-reviewing to more pressing issues.

KK's "etymological" vowels are part of the problem of the SWF. They make things hard for people to lear or to teach. 

> There is nothing "wrong" with the spelling ‹taves› "except" that it is the form used in KK. It is attested as such in the texts as well as being the etymologically expected form. 

It is POORLY attested in the texts, and its attestation has nothing WHATSOEVER to do with any underlying sound in languages which pre-date those text by hundred and hundreds of years. All the vowels (a, e, i, o, u/v, y) are found in unstressed position where they all mean /ə/ or 

> Of course one may question whether it is necessary to have a standard orthography that is based on etymological principles, but this is something that was decided for the SWF and probably not the worst one considering the variety of unstressed vowel graphs found in the texts. 

We do use etymological principles -- WHERE IT MATTERS. We could write colon, colan, colen, colyn for 'heart', but we write the former because under stress that vowel returns, colodnow. (There is nothing new here.) If *tavesow were attested, that might be one thing. But it's not. So using ‹e› in that word does not buy anyone ANY advantage. Except conlangers and reconstructionists. 

Nicholas argument about the value of /v/~/β/~/w/ altering an expected tavasow to tavosow is a good against *taves in the singular. 

In my view, you use the trivially-attested "taves" as an excuse that George's etymological choices were right after all. But while reconstructions of people like Schrijver or Jackson or anybody else might be interesting, they aren't PRACTICAL in terms of an easily teachable orthography for Revived Cornish. 

> Number of attestations can surely not be an argument in this case, as it is ignored elsewhere as well. 

True. But the rationale for *taves is poor. 

> Also the singular-plural alternation is not unexplained, but entirely expected and quite regular from a diachronic point of view. 

Not in a way that makes sense to any genuine learner of the language. WE HAVE NO ATTESTATIONS for the "expected" things like */tawœd/ or */tavœd/. Every one of these reconstructions are possibilities. 

> The relationship between the singular form ‹taves› and the plural form ‹tavosow› works exactly like the relationship between ‹marhek› and ‹marhogyon›.

We write marhak and marhogyon, because we preserve the a/o alternation, and so wrtiting tavas and tavosow is exactly the same. We would only wrote marhek if the plural were marhegyon. We do the same sort of thing with the -er/-eryow vs the -or/-oryon words. It makes things easier for learners. It is practical and useful. 

> All in all this is not one of the pressing matters where the SWF review is concerned as the forms used in the SWF are attested and thus achieve all the criteria demanded of the SWF.

Yes, it is. The "decision" to use KK vowels, and to use the "principle" of "etymological spelling" was not a decision taken by a large group of people after careful consideration. There was not time to do anything like discuss vowel distribution, of i/y or of any other set, at Treyarnon, and Trond/Albert/Ben just took KK as a "default" because it was "popular". 

> According to the pronunciation rules suggested for Revived Tudor Cornish and Revived Late Cornish ‹taves› and ‹tavas› ought to be pronounced identically as /ˈtavəz/.

/ˈtævəs/ or /ˈtævəz/. In our view /s/ participated in the voicing/devoicing pairing in unstressed final syllables during the earlier period (like v/f, ð/θ, ɡ/k) though the influence of the English plural -es /əz/ led to re-voicing in unstressed final syllables in the later period. 

> I can only assume personal dislike for KK and a familiarity with UC ‹tavas› and RLC ‹tavaz› are responsible for rejectig the spelling ‹taves›. 

Your assumption is incorrect. However, when one examines George's unilateral changes of vowels in unstressed syllables in the 1980s, one finds that in general the UC system was more logical and more useful. 

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