[Spellyans] RLC <h> for <gh>

Owen Cook owen.e.cook at gmail.com
Thu Jun 26 12:38:29 BST 2008

Personally I would have no problem taking Lhuyd's transcriptions as
phonetic. They must be the main raw materials for forming our ideas of
the phonology of Cornish. The scribal tradition can also give strong
hints about how that phonology might have stood at earlier stages than
circa 1700.

For example, Lhuyd's <i> and <y> (the undotted one) might be taken as
representing [i] and [I]. We might then find, let us say, that [i] and
[I] do not contrast with each other in any minimal pair, and therefore
take them as allophones of /i/. Comparison with the scribal tradition
will reveal that many words at an earlier stage were written with <u>
which later fell in with our /i/. Provided that no conditioning
factors can be found which would otherwise account for <u>, we posit
/y/. (For example, <u> might represent a conditioned variant of /i/
after labials, let's say. But this isn't the case, and the
distribution of /y/ can't be predicted based on other factors, so the
previous existence of /y/ remains an extremely robust hypothesis.
Strengthened, one might add, if it accords with our reconstruction of
proto-Brythonic, our knowledge of Middle French phonology, and so

It's true, Middle Cornish phonology can't be established by minimal
pairs of words collected by a linguist in the field. But by an
incredible stroke of good luck, Late Cornish phonology can. And it's
possible to triangulate back to Middle Cornish with varying degrees of

Oll an gwelha,

2008/6/26 Jon Mills <j.mills at email.com> rug scrifa:
> How else do you intend to determine the phonemes of Cornish?
> My post was not intended to be an attack. I am merely trying to point out what I consider to be
> an important weakness in the underlying theory. Since my article in Cornish Studies 7, various
> people have shied away from the term 'phonemic'. However labelling KS or the SWF 'phonetic'
> does not solve the issue.
> Jon
> _____________________________________
> Dr. Jon Mills,
> School of European Culture and Languages,
> University of Kent

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