[Spellyans] tavas

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Sat May 18 12:13:18 IST 2013


On 18 May 2013, at 11:00, Chris Parkinson <brynbow at btinternet.com> wrote:

> Thanks for your detailed reply. However, I think you are mistaken in saying that the changes you make are merely a question of orthography.

I disagree. There is nothing wrong with writing "me a wrug" even though you say "me wrug". As I pointed out, this sort of thing occurs in Irish all the time. "Tá mé ag iarraidh" 'I want' is univerally pronounced "tá mé 'g iarraidh" yet no one, ever, thinks its necessary to delete that a-.

> In changing the orthography, I would want to say that you are also often making small but significant grammatical changes on the morphological level.

I don't believe that there is a "grammatical" change in writing "me a wrug" or "ow tesky" rather than "me wrug" or "tesky". 

> Also, as I've said before, the normal sequence of learning a modern foreign language is to start with the spoken form.

This is simply not true. Different learners learn in different ways. Indeed many learners of Cornish in particular do so at a distance from books. Tens of thousands of people learn Esperanto successfully and few of them start by speaking it. 

> Therefore you need an orthography to reflect that in the early stages of learning at least. You wouldn't dream of telling young learners that  'that is the way we spell it but you pronounce it like this!'  

I'm sorry, but this is a philosophical perspective, not supported by the facts. Many people all over the world have learnt English and French and Irish, and it is well known that these three languages have spelling idiosyncrasies which are far, far more complicated than the deletion of "a" or "ow" in speech. 

> RLC users - (I'll stick with that for now!) very much want to share an orthography with all Cornish speakers and writers, past and present. We don't want a separate system. But we need a system with more flexibility than KS offers at the moment.

In what way? Please be specific. If you can't bring yourself to write "ow", leave it out (but if you do write it, don't write it "o"). We don't recommend leaving it out. We don't recommend writing "geno why" because it is identical to "genowgh why" in pronunciation: only people speaking very very slowly or hyper-formally would likely pronounce that -gh. But it is part of the spelling of the word, and the Revival is not served by having "geno" alongside "genowgh". To be honest when Dan writes Cornish it's like reading Tom Sawyer, all apostrophized and maximally different from what I'm used to reading. I never object to "th'erof vy" or "th'erowgh why". I do object to "thero vy" and "thero why" though -- just as I object to "tho" for "though" in English or writin' all the participles in English omittin' the final -g just 'cause it's said like 'at.

I do encourage you to provide as exhaustive a list as you can of things in KS which you find "inflexible". Perhaps we have overlooked some things that could reasonably be accommodated. It is certainly the case that we have never been presented with such a list of objections. 

> Publishers in Welsh are quite happy to spell according to the demands of the text, with colloquial contractions, and other features of spoken language where necessary, and standard forms at other times.

"thero" vs "th'erof" or "th'erowgh" is not a contraction, however. It is a different spelling for a standard form which is pronounced just the same. It's better for the Revival in the long run not to write things like "thero" or "thera". The only reason the -f and -gh was lost in the LC texts is that the writers were unaware of the scribal tradition. They were surely and certainly omitting those segments in their own pronunciation long before 1700. Nicholas may be able to collect examples. 

> Regional variations might be included.

Of course we do support bÿs/bës (and note that Nicholas tends to favour the later bës), and we support nn/dn and mm/bm (and we definitely favour the pre-occluding forms). 

> We wish you would give consideration to this.

Please be explicit and comprehensive about what you consider to be omissions. 

> But in any case, I hope I have shown that that there is indeed an informal spoken form to Cornish which you chose not to reflect in your orthography for the sake of standardisation. Mistakenly, which I for one regret. 


Once again, we centred on 1600, not 1500 and not 1700. People used to UC have to get used to seeing pre-occlusion written. People used to Gendall's various orthographies have to get used to ‹u› meaning /y~/i/. We recommend against the deletion of particles in general because omission of such particles in speech is fairly common in other languages and not really problematic in Cornish (unless people are not used to it because they were taught a form which always omitted them). We recommend against "eye-spelling" omissions of final consonants because it splits the language unnecessarily. We definitely support "th'" as an alternative to "yth". We have published books making use of a strongly colloquial form; indeed we always use "gwil" (the colloquial form) except in the Beybel Sans where we use "gul". 

I invite you to take your time drawing up your list. Some items may be explainable; some may be actionable. 

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





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