[Spellyans] Goat

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Tue Apr 7 13:04:50 BST 2009

-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Everson
Sent: Tuesday, April 07, 2009 12:42 AM


“On 6 Apr 2009, at 22:29, 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**.


You chose not to respond to this salient point.”


There was nothing to respond to. You call two attestations “paucity”, I say the only attestations in Middle Cornish read gaver. You say “tomádo” and I say “tomâto”.


“>> 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.


The point is that it is improbable that the form "gavar" could be considered proscribed by MC orthography.”


I never said this and I don’t claim it. Yet gaver is what is attested in Middle Cornish.


“> 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.


What document are you citing? I have seen no such document.”


Not a document, but Trond’s ruling as arbiter. If there is no etymological vowel to follow because of epenthesis then we get Trond’s plan B. Albert said he explained it several times in the AHG sessions and says that Andy Climo was not happy with this: Look at the KK reconstruction, check for authenticity, correct if necessary, keep the rest. Trond: "Only deviate from KK where linguistic authenticity necessitates it."


“> 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.




So the SWF will have gaver and KS will have gavar.


“> “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.


It is merely accidental that we have no MC "gavar" attested. Unless you posit a linguistic and orthographic change gavar > gaver > gavar (as I mentioned previously).”


No change – a choice. We have two forms to choose from. It’s accidental that we haven’t got *gavar in Middle Cornish? That doesn’t mean gaver is wrong, or should be avoided. Be honest at least! You hate the fact that gaver is KK and that this will form will be SWF, despite the authenticity of the form itself. You have no qualms whatsoever in changing other forms from UC to KS where it suits your needs and is not KK. I really want to move beyond such petty sniping at KK. I feel obliged to follow the SWF specification and Trond’s rulings as arbiter whether I like particular rules or not. I hate the SWF’s <kk> v. <ck> solution. It’s silly, difficult and absurd. But it is there, unfortunately, and I sincerely hope we can have that changed in 2013. The problem of gaver v. gavar is petty in comparison and not worth getting in a huff about. Both forms are authentic, gaver fits Trond’s explanation on how to proceed – that’s what’s going in the dictionary. If you want that changed then perhaps we need to formulate how epenthetic vowels are to be treated in general, whether we spell them <a>, <e> or <o>, orth whether they should follow the stressed vowel. 


“> “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.


It is more likely that he was thinking of Latin caper. It is doubtful that he was thinking of the two attestations in MC.”


I think you’re assuming too much. You simply don’t know his reasons for writing gaver. It’s OK not to know things and admit to that.


“> “> 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.


Because they're not very good. They sound like excuses to use KK forms.”


No, that’s your dislike of KK forms speaking. There is nothing to say against gaver. It’s authentic, it’s attested, it’s in agreement with the SWF spec. They are good enough.


“> 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.


I have made reference to OM and BM orthography previously and you chose to overlook my comments.”


Because they don’t change the fact that gaver is attested in OM and BM and in place names. You play the numbers game when it suits your argument, see gavar and tavas, but ignore it where it doesn’t, like when I was discussing the –ita ending, which more frequently appears as –ite. Suddenly number don’t count anymore. Then it’s the fact that –ite is unprecedented in Revived Cornish. Well, gaver, like it or not, isn’t.


“> 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,




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


**Only** George's adventitious change has been used for a mere 20  

years. There seems to be no good reason for it apart from Latin caper.”


Again, I don’t think you can assume that he uses gaver because of L caper. Also, gaver is an authentic spelling, just as gavar is. The SWF has gaver.


“This is an unwarranted CHANGE from mainstream Cornish practice for this word, in my view.”


Fine, and in my view it’s not a change, but a CHOICE, between the two authentic spellings gaver and gavar. Following the SWF spec I have to choose gaver.


“> as well as in the 15th century. As far as the SWF goes and Trond’s  

> ruling,


To which document do you refer? Are you privy to documents we are not?”


See above.


“> gaver is the form in the SWF.


This is your choice alone. Trond did not rule on this word and neither does it appear in the SWF specification.”


No, it is not. I’m bound by the SWF spec and Trond’s rules. Gaver it is. 


“> So KK and SWF have gaver while UC/R, KS, RLC have gavar. Can we all  

> be happy people now?


Have you noticed that this word is contentious, as tavas/taves was?”


You’re the one who’s contending. Others have agreed that both gaver and gavar are authentic. 


“> “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.


The weight of


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


really does outweigh the two attestations in BM and OM for me, particularly as we know that there are many spellings in those texts (map for instance) which are not followed now.”


See numbers game above. You apply it when it suits you. You can do this of course in your own variety, which is what you’ve made KS with Nicholas. I work with the SWF and have to follow the spec, at least until the spec is changed. There are a few things I would like to see changed. Gaver, for one, is not that important. I couldn’t care less if it’s spelt gaver or gavar. The SWF rules specify gaver though. 


“> “So you rule is epenthetic vowels at least before -r must be  

> written -e-?”


> No, it isn’t. The rule is Trond’s ruling.


That's not a linguistic rule.”


Like many decisions in the SWF. If you want compromise you sometimes have deal with issues that are not 100% to your liking. That’s the way it works.  


“> 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 think you would do well to note this word as a tavas/taves.”


It is not a tavas/taves word. Trond’s plan B is clear. I will follow it. It makes absolutely no difference in the recommended pronunciation. Tavas/taves has an etymological vowel which is like -ek in Kernowek. Gaver doesn’t. It’s a different case.



“> 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.


And I say again it is only accidental that we don't have additional spellings, because the word is poorly attested in MC.”


We could say this of so many more spellings we wish for, but alas, we have what is attested. 


“> 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.


So does gavar.”


No, it doesn’t go along with Trond’s plan B. Sorry, but that’s the way it is. Talk to him. I thought you were colleagues. I’m done talking about this etymon.


“> End of story for one who is putting together a SWF dictionary.


You have a lot of respect for George's reconstructions, it seems.”


And you seem to have so much disrespect for his, it’s not even a reconstruction because gaver is in the texts, word form that you cannot see the trees for the wood. If you want gavar write gavar. The form in the SWF is gaver.

I haven’t got respect or disrespect for George’s word forms. They’re either correct or they aren’t. If they aren’t they can be changed in the SWF. Gaver isn’t wrong. 

I know you want KS and SWF to be independent of KK and not a derivative, but the arbiter ruled otherwise. I don’t know why you are arguing over this again. I remember speaking to you on the phone about this several months ago. Why are you acting as though this is something new?


“> 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.


I have spoken to this point already. This word isn't like "tavas" with dozens of attestations. It is poorly attested, so your resting on this argument isn't very convincing. Your analysis of the scribal tradition, by the argument you give here, is shallow, and not dynamic. I find that surprising and troubling.”


It’s one thing if I’m analying the texts for the sake of analysing the texts, or whether I’m trying to put a dictionary together by following a book full of specifications. There is nothing troubling or surprising about this. You know these rules, but you always seem to fly back to square one and pretend that the rules you set up for KS somehow apply to the SWF as a whole. See the issues of <nn> and <mm> automatically alternating with <dn> and <bm>. This is not the case in the SWF, whether we like it or not. Or using the KK form as the basis and correcting it where the evidence against it is strong enough. If gaver weren’t attested, I’d be all for gavar. But the point is, it is attested, so not only does it meet the SWF criteria, it is also authentic. What’s to discuss. If you prefer gavar, fine, write gavar. 


“>  “> 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.


Because Trond said use KK in a document we have not seen.”


See above.


“> 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.


I believe it is your choice and there are good grounds to make a different one.”


No, it’s not, as I have explained above. Can we leave it at that now?


“>> 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 am sure there are OTHER examples. This is about principles, not individual attestations, which are often accidental as we know.”


Yes, principles. I can’t put a SWF dictionary together, call it SWF and change the rules now, can I? That would be dishonest.


“> “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.


So you are saying that -ar would be proscribed in MC? If not, then it is "MC -er/-ar and LC -ar are ways of writing schwa + r".”


Yes, or better MC -er ~ -ar and LC -er + -ar are ways to write schwa + r, with a tendency towards -er in MC and -ar in LC.  


“> 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).


I don't see it as the same at all. In fact it seems to me that one OUGHT to expect vowel colouring of the kind Eddie mentioned earlier in sg. gav(a)r and pl. gev(e)r.”


Yet we find gaver in the texts … so it meets the authenticity criterium. I thought that was something you’re interested in.


“> If you want to write gavar, write gavar. I’m bound by SWF rules.


I think you interpret these very selectively, by ignoring all but two sources for this word. That is not tota Cornicitas, is it?”


I think the SWF is as tota Cornicitas as it can get. If writing the word for “goat” with and unstressed a for e is so much more preferable, then go ahead and do it. I will not argue about this anymore. It’s just not worth it. If you want to argue about Trond’s rule that KK is the basis for the SWF lexicon, with changes as specified by the rules, then that’s something for the Partnership and the AHG to decide. I didn’t make the rule book, I’m just following it.


“> This could go on your list of request for changes in 2013.




Typo, I meant “requests” for changes. There are a number of things you want to see changed in 2013 – I thought this was the whole point of this e-mail list. So put gavar on the list, put KK as default on the list, put the call for a rule how to spell an epenthetic vowel on the list. 




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