[Spellyans] Goat

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Mon Apr 6 22:29:42 BST 2009

From: Michael Everson
Sent: Monday, April 06, 2009 7:44 PM


“On 6 Apr 2009, at 14:56, Daniel Prohaska wrote:


> There are two attestations of gaver in the Middle Cornish texts. No  

> others. That’s overwhelming.


No, it's not. It's **paucity**.


And gavar is attested in OC and LC, so it is improbable that that form could be considered *proscribed* by MC orthography.”


All orthographies of Revived Cornish except RLC are based on Middle Cornish.


“> What motivation is there to change this from UC, UCR, and RLC? Just  

> to be like KK? KK is the odd one out here, and there is little  

> justification for this change.”


> To be like the texts. The texts have gaver.


Is that the way that the SWF decides things?” 


Now this is not in the spec but Trond’s ruling was that the KK form is to be taken as the basis and if it is found linguistically faulty or inauthentic, or in violation of the SWF specification, changed. Since we find gaver in KK and in the texts the criteria for retaining -er are met. So, the SWF will have gaver, but if you want to write gavar in KS that’s fine by me. 


“You said it decides things on etymology.” 


As we have discussed already, the etymology is irrelevant here since the reconstructed Late-British form would have *gaβr-, cf. W gafr.


“Now you're saying it sticks to the texts.” 


No, I try to stick to the texts where possible and where in accordance with the SWF spec. 


“Do you really think George was thinking of the texts when he changed from gavar to gaver? He didn't give a hoot for the texts most of the time. I bet he was thinking of Latin. Not the texts.”


I don’t think any of us can say how he came to his decision without asking him.  


“> No, not blindly. I believe we can correct where George is wrong, but  

> it’s silly to differ from him when he’s right, just to be different.  

> In my SWF dictionary I use the forms of the Gerlyver Kres as a base  

> and back-check against UCR, RLC, UC, LHEB, HPB (both Jackson), and  

> SBCHP (Schrijver).


And what do you find in Jackson and Schrijver for this etymon?”


Schrijver reconstructs Proto-Celtic *gabros > Late-Proto-British *Gaβr > W gafr, MCo. gaver, B gavr, gaor (cf. Gaul. Gabro-magus (Noricum), OIr. gabor). Same as Jackson.


“> You are trying to be different from KK for the sake of being  

> different.


No I'm not! I've been asking for *plausible* reasons for making this change.”


Yet you fail to accept the given reasons. You simply dislike gaver for some reason or another. For some this is not a “change”. >From the perspective of OM and BM this is not a change.


“KK is the odd man out here. I have been trying to find an actual rationale for the change. It is change which is expected of us, to align with KK and/or your interpretation of the SWF rules -- and this is certainly YOUR interpretation, because the SWF document does not specify this word.”


You always speak of “change”, and I disagree, there is no change, but choice between gaver and gavar, both which have been used for 20 years, as well as in the 15th century. As far as the SWF goes and Trond’s ruling, gaver is the form in the SWF. So KK and SWF have gaver while UC/R, KS, RLC have gavar. Can we all be happy people now?


“> “So WHY is George's change FROM Unified Cornish to be followed here?”


> I don’t know. You will have to ask him. My justification is that it  

> is found as gaver in OM and BM.


Have you looked at an analogous list of words in OM and BM whose spellings we do not use?”


Not that I’ve recorded my findings statistically, but I check every headword against the texts. Of course there is potential for error and I’m most grateful to anyone who spots them.


“Have you established your own rule that no form will be acceptable unless it is attested? Because that has *never* been the way we do things.”


No, I haven’t. And I never said I did. But it makes me feel better if the SWF spelling can be backed up with a textual attestation. 


> “Moreover the similarity of sg/pl gavar/gever with davas/deves is  

> not without its attraction.”


> So what? The unstressed vowel in davas is not epenthetic and this is  

> thus a different case. Davas is also attested thus in the texts.


“So you rule is epenthetic vowels at least before -r must be written -e-?”


No, it isn’t. The rule is Trond’s ruling. I don’t like it anymore than you do, but that’s the way it is. We’ve discussed this before, so there’s really no need to bring this up again. 


“I don't find a lot of coherence in the several ways you have justified this change.”


Well, the word form is justifiable in several ways. That actually speaks in favour of the word form in itself. Gaver meets all the SWF criteria with the bonus that it is also thus attested in MC. I can live with that form. It doesn’t have to become my favourite lexical item and it is definitely not something I want to fight over, because it’s simply not that important. Personally I find both gaver and gavar acceptable. Gaver meets the SWF criteria. End of story for one who is putting together a SWF dictionary.


“>> What do you mean, change? Is there an established KS spelling of  

>> gaver?



> There is, as it happens. So the question is not irrelevant.”


> Fine, but in that case KS will differ from the SWF.


Or rather, in that case KS and UC and UCR and RLC will differ from the choice you made to follow George's choice for this etymon in the SWF.”


The author(s) of OM and BM chose this form, too, and they were native speakers of traditional Cornish. Good enough for me. 


“> And I thought the motivation was for it to be as close as possible  

> to the SWF.


It has been, but so far I have not found your arguments to be compelling. In this case it's *you* who are the lexicographer who has chosen the form of this word in the SWF.”


I’m sorry to hear that. From an SWF perspective I have to go with gaver. That’s what will be in my SWF dictionary. Whether you believe it is George’s choice or a spelling found in OM and BM or whatever else makes little difference. 


“On 6 Apr 2009, at 17:19, Daniel Prohaska wrote:


> Most forms of Revived Cornish are based on Middle Cornish. The  

> scribal tradition we all hold dear is Middle Cornish. Middle Cornish  

> has gaver.


Yeah, but Dan, the Scribal tradition is poor on this word, isn't it? And the scribal tradition offers us many choices for many etyma and there are certainly many forms the tradition offers us which we do not use.


But when I see:


OCV gauar 1x

Lhuyd gavar 2x

Borlase gavar 1x gavar môr 1x

Williams gavar

Jago gaver, gavar (both)

Jenner gavar

Hal Wyn gavar môr, gaver (both)

Nance gavar

Williams gavar

Gendall gavar

Kennedy gavar



BM gaver 1x

OM gaver 1x

George gaver


I simply don't believe for a minute that George was here bowing to the authority of the two Cornish texts. Rather, he was doubtless re- shaping Cornish because of the -e- in Latin "caper". And I am really  

not very impressed by the SWF "rule" that this sort of reconstructed etymology is how we should decide things for Cornish.”


I’m not claiming he did. I was just explaing how I justify SWF gaver an why I can live with this form. Maybe George has -e- as a rule for the epenthetic vowel before -r. He also has arader (cf. W aradr).


“I think it is probably accidental that only "gaver" is attested 2x in MC and that we simply don't have an attestation for "gavar".


I am sure there are other examples of final unstressed -e- in BM and OM for which we nevertheless prefer to write -a-. OM writes "taves" for instance, and we do not.”


But the SWF writes taves, allowing tavas as a variant.


“I'm afraid you haven't made a strong enough case for your choice. Do you really think that OC gavar > MC gaver > LC gavar?”


MC -er and LC -ar are ways of writing schwa + r. 

This reminds me of the way KKer try to justify oe (OC luit > MC los > LC loose etc. against OC nos > MC nos > LC nos).

If you want to write gavar, write gavar. I’m bound by SWF rules. This could go on your list of request for changes in 2013. 




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