[Spellyans] Front unrounded vowels, was: The quantity system

A. J. Trim ajtrim at msn.com
Tue Jun 24 18:16:34 BST 2008

For what it is worth, my preference would be for <ei> rather than <ë> or 
Traditional Tudor Cornish did not use the dieresis, so it would not be 

However, we are in the modern world.
I could live with <ë> with <ei> as an optional replacement graph for people 
who cannot or don't want to write diacritical marks.
This would be similar to <ü> / <ue> in German.


Andrew J. Trim

From: "Michael Everson" <everson at evertype.com>
Sent: Tuesday, June 24, 2008 4:58 PM
To: "Standard Cornish discussion list" <spellyans at kernowek.net>
Subject: Re: [Spellyans] Front unrounded vowels, was: The quantity system

> At 14:48 +0300 2008-06-24, Owen Cook wrote:
>>The variable (I:) was, if nothing else, a useful fiction at an earlier
>>stage of KS, when we wrote <ei> to indicate alternations between /i:/
>>and /e:/ in words like 'deidh' and 'preis'. This compromise was
>>abandoned in the SWF, however, which allows users to choose between
>>'dydh' or 'dedh', 'prys' or 'pres'.
> I'd put it this way: original /I:/ from Old
> Cornish (and possibly the earliest Middle
> Cornish) ends up as either [i:] or [e:]; original
> /i:/ stays [i:] and original /e:/ stays [e:].
>>So now there is a problem in the SWF for Middle Cornish, where <y>
>>normally indicates the short vowel /I/, but, because of the rejection
>>of <ei>, is also pressed into service for the long vowel in 'dydh' and
>>'prys' (which is theoretically /I:/ for Kemmyn users, and in practice
>>/i:/ for revived Middle Cornish users generally).
> That's correct. Since an umbrella graph <ei> was
> rejected, we end up with a situation analogous to
> pre-occlusion/non-pre-occlusion: we have optional
> graphs.
>>The latest incarnation of KS uses <ÿ> to indicate this long y,
>>alternating with /e:/. Again (I:) here appears as a distinct variable.
> I don't think I follow you here. Revision 16 had
> only <ei>. When during negotiations it became
> clear that the KK camp could not accept <ei>, it
> was proposed that only <y> be used as an umbrella
> graph for the bys/bes words. That did not last,
> however, and now <y> is used for... well, it's a
> mess.
> §3.5 of the SWF gives a table showing <y> used
> for RMC [I(:)] and RTC/RLC [i:], [I], [e:], [E].
> It says "The graph <y> is used for a vowel that
> is realised as [I(:) i(:)] by speakers of RMC and
> as [E e:] by speakers of Revived Late and Tudor
> Cornish."
> This seems to say two things at the same time. In
> the chart RMC is [I(:)] and in the text it is
> [I(:) i(:)]. In the chart it gives the KK
> fiction, and in the text it gives that fiction
> plus standard UC and UCR practice.
>>But there's something really incoherent about
>>requiring the special character <ë> in 'dedh'
>>and 'pres', as the latest version of KS does.
> I don't believe so. :-)
>>Either we should allow alternation, by which <ÿ> and <e> can coexist
> No. Here's why not.
> There are words with original /I:/ from Old
> Cornish (and possibly the earliest Middle
> Cornish) which end up as either [i:] or [e:].
> These can be written <ÿ>~<ë>, with the same kind
> of alternation we have in <mm>~<bm> and <nn>~<dn>
> (the user
> There are words with original /i:/ which stay [i:]; write these with <i>.
> There are words with original /e:/ which stay
> [e:]; write these with <e>. Remember... <res> is
> always [re:z], never *[ri:z]
>>(and remember, here we need the accent on <ÿ> to show length)
> That's not correct. The consonant quality tells
> you that for the bÿs/bës words. This is where the
> SWF is really very problematic. It writes <gwin>
> for [gwi:n] where the single <n> as well as the
> <i> shows the vowel to be long; it writes
> <gwynn>~<gwydn> for [gwIn] where the double
> <nn>~<dn> as well as the <y> shows the vowel to
> be short. (So far so good.) Then it shows us
> <gwydh>~<gwedh> which by the SWF's rules would be
> [gwI:D]~{gwe:D].
> (That is, if I can figure out the SWF's rules
> here. A vowel should be long before <dh> (§3.17
> Rule 2.d). There is, however, no explicit mention
> of <i> = [i:] and <y> = [I] in monosyllables (and
> their derivatives), though the SWF's authors
> definitely made it clear to us that this was what
> they intended.)
> The accent on the <ÿ> tells you that this is a
> different letter from <y>. The accent on the <ë>
> tells you that this is a different letter from
> <e>.
> We're not just writing sounds here. We're also
> giving the reader information which will help him
> or her know what the intent of a writer is, since
> that writer may speak a different dialect of
> Revived Cornish. <e> is [e:] when long. But some
> words with long [e:] may be have the alternate
> pronunciation [i:]; marking this <ë> indicates
> this unambiguously.
>>... or else we should use an umbrella graph to cover both alternants, for
>>example <ei> or <ë>. If <ë> were used as an
>>umbrella graph by everybody, well and good. But
>>I fail to see any point in having <ë> alternate
>>with <ÿ>.
> But here we have RMC and RLC preferences to
> account for. RMC users didn't want to write
> pre-occlusion; RLC users did. RMC users (we have
> asked) don't want to write <e> where they say
> [e:]; RLC users don't want to write .
> Also we have the SWF, which says that people can
> write <bys> or <bes> for 'world'. The ambiguity
> is intolerable, since we also have <bys> [bIz]
> 'until' (never *[be:z] and <res> [re:z]
> 'necessary' (never *[ri:z]). If there is no
> <beis> (and there is not) then the only advice I
> can give is to accept the SWF's <bys>~<bes> with
> the disambiguating diacritic as <bÿs>~<bës>.
>>My own opinion is that for a SINGLE written
>>form, umbrella graphs should be preferred to
>>alternation wherever practical.
> Sure, but we lost on <ei>.
>>In that sense, (I:) has its uses and could still
>>be accommodated. I argued for <ei> last summer,
>>and my feelings have not changed. True, <ei> has
>>shanghaied into use for the diphthong in 'kei',
>>'chei', 'crei', but this is found in a different
>>environment (open syllables only) and we shall
>>no doubt have reason to discuss whether it is
>>necessary or useful for such words in the first
> We could adopt <beis>, but that would introduce a
> pretty massive systemic difference between KS and
> the SWF. I don't think that is wise. The
> diaeresis is not really very obtrusive, however,
> and diacritiphobes can omit them if they must.
> -- 
> Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com
> _______________________________________________
> Spellyans mailing list
> Spellyans at kernowek.net
> http://kernowek.net/mailman/listinfo/spellyans_kernowek.net

More information about the Spellyans mailing list