[Spellyans] Normalization of words in -ak and -ek

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Thu Jun 4 14:45:25 BST 2009

Dhe whei lowena!


The Middle Cornish allographs <e>, <o> and <u> are usual spellings for the phoneme /œ/ which in later Middle Cornish and Late Cornish falls in with original /ɛ/. It is also possible that the variations in the two lexemes below, which are the most frequently attested words of this category across the texts, have linguistic relevance. I would theorize that they either stand for


(1)               /œ/, meaning earlier [œ] and later [ɛ];


(2)               [ɛ], [ɔ] or [ʊ], i.e. dialectal forms; 



-ogyon, -ogyan, -ogyen (PA, BM, BK, AB)

-ouggyon (OM)

-egyon, -egion, -eggyon (PC, RD, AB)



-ogyon (PA, BM)

-ugyon (PC, AB)

-egyon (PC)


Nicholas has mentioned, in his book, Cornish Today if I recall correctly, that he believes that the authors or scribes of the various texts could have been from different dialect areas. Maybe the plural suffixes -ogyon, -egyon are dialectal variants of one suffix. 


The relevant question from a historical perspective would be whether original Proto-Celtic *a:, Late British *ɔ: underwent pre-tonic shortening in Cornish before the accent shift. If it did, the result would most likely be /ɔ/ as in Welsh. If the vowel in the old pre-tonic syllable didn’t shorten, it would have developed in the same way as Late British long *ɔ:, that is to /œ/. So, dialectal variation could have emerged owing to whether certain dialects shortened the old pre-tonic vowel, or how soon the old pre-tonic syllable shows unrounding of /œ/. These developments could have happened at different times and places in Cornish speaking areas, leading to such dialectal forms. 

How is this relevant to the spelling of Revived Cornish? Well, if -ogyon, -egyon are really the same suffix, why would we need to distinguish the two at all? Couldn’t it always be -ek ~ -oyon, or -ek ~ -egyon?

I have the following proposals:


(1)               standardised -ek ~ -ogyon and allow -egyon as an alternative spelling where attested. 

(2)               standardised -ek ~ -ogyon and allow -egyon as an alternative spelling for all such words.

(3)               standardise  -ek ~ -ogyon for each word where it dominates in the attestations and -ek ~ -egyon where prevalent in a given word (i.e. as in UC).


I am not in favour of the distinction -ak ~ -ogyon and -ek ~ -egyon. I believe they are the same suffixes and the distinctions in the texts are owing to dialectal or orthographical variation. 









-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Everson
Sent: Thursday, June 04, 2009 9:27 AM

"Well, George ends up with some changes (vis à vis Nance) of -ak to -ek and -eg- to -og- and vice versa, but his rationale is to reflect underlying forms in Proto-Brythonic. What I have proposed is a synchronic normalization, as broadly supported by the texts as Nance's own selection. By this I mean since for many words the texts offer us little more than (both, say) -ek/-ak for a given word, yet Nance gave us feminines and plurals and other derivatives. Unfortunately he didn't comb over that list for pattern as I have recently done; I suspect he would have approved of the proposed scheme.


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