[Spellyans] The sounds of Cornish

A. J. Trim ajtrim at msn.com
Tue Jun 24 11:34:56 BST 2008

I would rather not include the graphs ggh and tth, even if the long sounds could be shown to exist. Do they exist in the Traditional Texts? I have not noticed any.
I am not sure that you can have long stops, only double ones. 


Andrew J. Trim 

From: nicholas williams 
Sent: Tuesday, June 24, 2008 9:48 AM
To: Standard Cornish discussion list 
Subject: Re: [Spellyans] The sounds of Cornish

There probably were long ~ short n m l in Cornish. These survive as dn bm and lh or ll. 
I was careful to mention these in my first statement. Lhuyd also suggests that initial r was
voiceless [hr]. In which case there was probably an oppositin rh/R ~ r in Cornish as well.
My objection is to the positing of long stops for the SWF and s: T: (the voiceless continuant)
and x:, which nobody uses.
Can we agree that these last items are not part of the language and do not need to be accommodated?


On 23 Jun 2008, at 20:08, Owen Cook wrote:

  For Middle Cornish, I would not be at all surprised if there had been
  a set of lenis sonorants /m n l r/ alongside a set of fortis
  sonorants, which at the risk of queering our SAMPA conventions I think
  we may need to write as /M N L R/. The reason I think the fortis
  sonorants may have existed in Middle Cornish is that there are
  different realizations of them in late Cornish -- most importantly
  preoccluded /bm dn/, but also sporadically some aspirated /lh/. I
  don't think that this scenario can totally be dismissed out of hand
  for Middle Cornish in terms of inherent implausibility, although I'm
  sure Jon and Nicholas will demand to see evidence which I regrettably
  can't provide. For one thing, my facsimile of Archaeologia Britannica
  is in storage nine thousand kilometres away.

  Now nobody has /M N L R/ in their phonetic repertoire in revived
  Cornish today (with the possible exception of Ben Bruch?), so these
  items are relevant only as far as their Late Cornish reflexes go. That
  means preocclusion, and in certain cases optional aspiration (I'm
  thinking for example of tolh, which Lhuyd wrote with an inverted
  lowercase L).

  /k: p: t: x: s: T:/ certainly do not exist as segments, the way they
  were assumed to in KK (ott, stopp, klokk, etc) but arise from
  sequences of /k+h p+h t+h h+h s+h T+h/ which commonly occur in
  comparatives and subjunctives. But does anyone really pronounce them
  at all differently from their non-geminate counterparts today? Perhaps

  Just my thoughts.

  2008/6/23 nicholas williams <njawilliams at gmail.com>:

    Before any discussion of how the SWF may need to be emended, could we first

    establish which pronunciation or varieties of pronunciation

    we are going to use as our basis. The SWF specification does not adhere to

    the pronunciation of current speakers of revived Cornish, but

    posits three differing forms, Middle Cornish, Tudor Cornish and Late


    I have in the past been severely criticised for even suggesting the term

    Tudor Cornish, since such an entity never existed as a separate

    form of the language. I meant it simply as a convenient way of referring to

    the foundation texts of UCR: Beunans Meriasek, Tregear and the Creation (we

    can now add BK).

    I have never suggested that Tudor Cornish was an entity in itself.

    Now, however, Bruch and Bock do just that, in order it seems to allow the

    pronunciation suggested for KK, which has both

    half-length and long consonants. Since *no speaker* of revived Cornish has

    half-length or long consonants (I do not include either

    bm, dn or lh here), can we please make it clear from the outset that any

    orthography for Cornish should attempt to represent

    the language as it is spoken by *all* speakers, i.e. with only long and

    short vowels, and only one unmarked length for consonants?

    Thus the a in tas is long and the a in tasow is short. There is moreover no

    difference between the n in jyn 'engine' and penn 'head' (if not


    If we insist on these two points at the outset, we are doing nothing new. We

    are merely accepting the sounds of Cornish as first

    suggested by Jenner, and agreed by Nance, Caradar and Gendall.

    The odd man out in this whole question is George, who posits a long m in

    kemmyn for example and half-length in tasow.

    He does not, however, use his hypothetical pronunciation in his own speech

    and has indeed admitted that he does not.

    Revived Cornish (whatever orthography it uses) when spoken has no

    half-length and no long consonants.

    In which case the following "phonemes" mentioned in the Specification are

    merely "aspirational" and should be removed:

    /l: m: n: r: k: p: t: x: s: T:/ (see the Spec. page 18 § 4.0.

    We cannot devise an accurate orthography if we need to distinguish in

    writing sounds which 1) did not exist in the traditional language and

    2) certainly do not exist in contemporary speech and 3) do not even exist in

    the speech of those who claim that they do.

    Would it not be a good idea before we start to be honest about the sounds of

    the revived language?



    Spellyans mailing list

    Spellyans at kernowek.net


  Spellyans mailing list
  Spellyans at kernowek.net


Spellyans mailing list
Spellyans at kernowek.net
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://kernowek.net/pipermail/spellyans_kernowek.net/attachments/20080624/1fec0088/attachment-0001.html>

More information about the Spellyans mailing list