[Spellyans] KK ha'n SWF - pronunciation

Harry Fraiser harryfraiser at googlemail.com
Fri Aug 8 19:22:38 BST 2008

You sound just the chap to give us recordings of Cornish as it should be spoken.


On 8/8/08, nicholas williams <njawilliams at gmail.com> wrote:
> No "scholar" apart from Ken George himself, believes that the
> hypothetical phonology he posits is correct.
> On the other hand all the trained linguists and Celticists who have
> examined his work believe he is very mistaken.
> In fact Ken George is in a minority of one. All the other scholars and
> revivalists accept that
> Middle Cornish had no long consonants, no half-length and that
> unstressed syllables had been reduced to schwa.
> George insists that Middle Cornish had a geminate m in kemyn for
> example, a half-long vowel in Kernewek
> and that unstressed e, a, o were all kept separate. His own speech
> belies his assertians however.
> His spoken Cornish is close to the standard form of the revived
> language which itself is essentially Unified.
> Nicholas
> On 8 Aug 2008, at 17:46, Penny Squire wrote:
>> I don't know that I have heard many Cornish speakers with RP English
>> accents, although one hears some strange sounds at the Gorsedd - but
>> these are only people reading their lines, not Cornish speakers,
>> surely.  Certainly most Cornish speakers that I have heard are
>> coming from a Cornish dialect of English, more or less - the more
>> one goes through the English education system, the more the tendency
>> for the native dialect to become diluted.
>> Even if one were to start from the assumption that 20th century
>> Cornish dialect sounds were appropriate for Revived Cornish (which I
>> certainly would not) decisions would still have to be made. I don't
>> know if anyone has attempted to catalogue the different dialects (or
>> possibly sub-dialects) within Cornwall, but there is considerable
>> variation to my ear. In North and East Cornwall, for instance,
>> 'quarry' isn't too far from RP, but around Camborne the 'au' sounds
>> like Eng. 'awe'. There are a lot of differences in the vowel sounds
>> throughout Cornwall.
>> In any case, I don't think the fact that all Cornish speakers have
>> to overcome their habits of speech in (usually) English is
>> sufficient reason for abandoning what our scholars have discovered
>> about Cornish pronunciation. (Of course, firstly one has to reach
>> conclusions about which scholar or scholars one finds the most
>> credible!)
>> By the way, I find Dick Gendall's pronunciation very pleasant to
>> listen to - he has a dignified, resonant delivery and on the
>> recordings I have heard he speaks very naturally and easily (I have
>> never heard him 'live', so I don't know if he is like that in
>> spontaneous conversation).
>> However, I hear little in his Cornish which isn't found in the
>> speach of English speaking Cornish people of his generation.
>> Cornish of the 1700s, 1600s and 1500s would not have sounded like
>> that - after all, the English spoken then didn't, either!
>> Penny
>> ----- Original Message ----
>> From: Christian Semmens <christian.semmens at gmail.com>
>> To: Standard Cornish discussion list <spellyans at kernowek.net>
>> Sent: Friday, 8 August, 2008 4:31:01 PM
>> Subject: Re: [Spellyans] KK ha'n SWF - pronunciation
>> This is an interesting point about the revival. Although we have many
>> guides to pronunciation, a great deal of the Cornish speakers fail to
>> follow these guides, at least in part. Their spoken Cornish is more
>> coloured by their English accent (ususally RP - which makes my hair
>> stand on end when it is used to speak English let alone foist it on to
>> any other language) than by their chosen orthography's pronunciation
>> guides.. If someone were to utilise modern cornish vowel sounds (and
>> by
>> that I mean early to mid 20th century rather than the pallid, RP
>> affected, facsimilie becoming current in the 21st Century population)
>> then I would think that would be an infinite improvement over the
>> efforts of the RP affected revival community. And that 'accent' is the
>> only living fragment of the Cornish that was once spoken, you should
>> cultivate it.
>> What constitutes 'Good Spoken Cornish'?
>> Does a French man with a thick French accent speak good English?
>> Perhaps.
>> Is this a good role model to teach others how to pronounce English?
>> .... I'm not so sure.
>> Matthew speaks fluently, but somehow it sounds....awkward, like French
>> spoken with English RP sounds would sound. By the way I do not wish to
>> denigrate his efforts or cast aspersions upon his capabilities in any
>> way, merely question using him as a pronunciation exemplar.
>> It is, of course, *necessary* to hear others speak, especially for
>> those of us far away most of the time, so that we can understand
>> current usage. However the value of using these examples as a
>> reference to guide our own efforts at pronunciation I think is
>> questionable.
>> What we are missing is good *Reference* recordings. I have heard some
>> of Dick Gendall's recordings and they 'felt right', but I haven't been
>> able to locate any recently. We do need something along the lines that
>> Penny is suggesting. I would suggest that a repository of reference
>> recordings and associated transcriptions is a vital part of the
>> revival.
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