[Spellyans] <y Y> + diacritical

Owen Cook owen.e.cook at gmail.com
Wed Jun 25 20:56:31 BST 2008

All right, all right, please see my other message about burying the
hatchet. I'll just make one or two points below to set the record

2008/6/25 Michael Everson <everson at evertype.com>:
>  At 21:12 +0300 2008-06-25, Owen Cook wrote:
>>  (Probably because vocalic <y> is equivalent to <ì> for now, but we haven't
>>  really decided how we're going to deal with <y> and <i>.)
>  <y> is [I] and <i> is [i:] in monosyllables and their derivatives. Except
>  that the SWF is incoherent here where bÿs/bës are concerned.

Isn't fixing incoherencies part of the point of this whole undertaking?

>  And to you, what does the letter <c> mean? Because in some langauges it
>  means [k] and in some [s] and in some [tS] and in some [dZ] and in some [ts]
>  and in some [?].

Yes, and let me put this forward as an official proposition as well:
For every instance where Cornish uses a dental click as a consonant
phoneme, it should be written as <c> as well. As it is done in Zulu,
so let it be done everywhere. (Just joking of course.)

>  The diaresis has NO INHERENT MEANING. Originally (in German, where it was
>  originally a superscript "e") it indicated a vowel shift. Indeed, that is
>  what we have here: not just a shift, but an alternation. <dëdh> is [di:D] or
>  [de:D]. <dÿdh> is [di:D] or [de:D]. It's not exactly like the German usage.
>  But then the German usage isn't the same as the Albanian, or the Spanish, or
>  the French, or even the Elvish.

Of course it hasn't. No letter or diacritic has any inherent meaning.
It's all conventional. So what conventions are relevant to us? Well, I
would suggest, those of English, those of other Celtic languages (for
example Welsh), both relevant for their proximity, and those of the
main languages to which Cornish people are most likely to have had
some exposure (for example French, German and Spanish). It so happens
that I've been learning a bit of Luxembourgish in my spare time, so
this is part of my frame of reference too. Hence my checklist (just
for the sake of proving that I'm not pulling all of this out of a

* Hiatus: Welsh, Breton, French, Spanish (because I don't think it can
be demonstrated that /w/ contrasts with /u/ in Spanish), old-fashioned
American English (coöperate)
* Umlaut: German
* [Centralization: Luxembourgish -- relevant only to Owen]
* Not used: Irish, Gaelic, Manx, English (except in borrowings like naïve)

I'm tired of going round in circles like this -- let's just agree that
y-acute must take a back seat to both <ÿ> and <í>, whatever we end up
deciding to do about <y> and <i>.

>  Because we can't succeed by "fixing" the SWF by changing the spelling of bys
>  and dydh to bis and didh. They elected to preserve the bogus [I:] here. If
>  we put diaeresis on <dÿdh> and <dëdh> we are treading lightly. If we change
>  these to <dídh> and <dédh> we have gone too far.

When did we decide this? It may be that our final decision about <y>
and <i> requires us to change words like these anyway, no?


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