[Spellyans] del 'leaves' and dèl/dell 'so, as'
everson at evertype.com
Sat Dec 13 19:48:47 GMT 2008
On 13 Dec 2008, at 16:09, Daniel Prohaska wrote:
> It’s <del> and <war> in the SWF because they are unstressed. Just
> like <gwedhen> is spelt <gwedhen> and not **gwedhenn. The SWF rule
> is that consonants are not doubled in unstressed syllables. E.g.
> <rag> is /rag/ when unstressed, but /ra:g/ when in stressed in the
> sentence, i.e. usually when it’s used as an adverb rather than a
I think the SWF "rule" is incoherent. On the one hand, consonant
quality of obstruents determines that vowels are long or short. Thin
in 4.0.1 they say that "Double consonant graphs are used to indicate
that the preceding vowel is short." But "this applies to stressed
syllables only because in Cornish all unstressed vowels are short".
(The SWF then goes on to say in 4.0.3 that "some people" pronounce
double consonants as geminates which everybody knows to be massively
untrue, and anyway irrelevant as the doubling of consonant graphs is
evidently intended to indicate vowel shortness (except in unstressed
words). Rusty Swiss Army knife, anyone?)
Anyway, the rule makes no sense at all. The orthographic form <del>
doesn't tell you whether it is stressed or unstressed. Sentence stress
is not marked in any language I know by orthographic means like this.
(Punctuation is used, of course.) But sentence stress is a different
level of abstraction that of orthographic forms. If one wanted to
*mark* unstressed forms in an orthography one could do so. But That's
not what the SWF is doing. It is setting out a mechanism for
indicating vowel length, and then undercutting that mechanism by
making it unreliable for the user.
How is the learner to know when <del> is [deːl] and when it is [dɛl]?
The learner will know that <pell> is [pɛl] with a short vowel. So if
[pɛl] and [dɛl] rhyme, what's the rationale for insisting that they
be spelt differently, particularly where <del> is ambiguous as to
[dɛl] or [deːl]? Where's the advantage to either the learner or to
the experienced reader who has to learn a new orthography?
In KS, we might have <del> [deːl], <dèl> [dɛl], <pell> [pɛl]. But
if the only reason for this is to avoid inconsistency with marking
words like <wàr> (which we do anyway), I don't see any reason to
insist on <dèl> here. I note that KK uses <dell> for this word,
distinguishing it from <del>. Tregear uses it throughout his text.
It's in the Passion, Bêwnans Ke, and the Creation of the World.
Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com
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