[Spellyans] Holyer an Gof 2010

nicholas williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Sun Aug 22 21:05:14 BST 2010

I was the deviser of UCR. I recommended it in Cornish Today as a way  
of retaining the link with the traditional Cornish texts but also  
attempting to systematise their spelling and to remove some of the  
inconsistencies in Unified Cornish. At the same time I criticised KK  
as being based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the sound system  
of Cornish and as using a very largely concocted spelling. This  
criticism, coming as it did from a professional student of the Celtic  
languages, did little to endear me or my efforts to many, and as a  
result UCR was never allowed as a spelling for Gorsedd examinations.  
In consequence UCR did not replace UC; and of course KK users would  
not touch it, since it was the work of the severest critic of KK.

I did not "dump" UCR. I withdrew my support for it because I believed  
that it was too inconsistent and too difficult to be used as a  
compromise orthography for the  whole revival. Instead, with others, I  
was involved in the elaboration of KS which has the merit of using  
traditional graphs (for the most part) and being almost entirely  
phonetic. It is immediately apparent from the spelling of KS how it is  
to be pronounced. In this respect KS is superior to SWF/T, which for  
example, has no way of distinguishing the three separate  
pronunciations of <u> (as short u, long u and long French u [y:]). It  
is of course also greatly superior to SWF/M which uses spellings alien  
to traditional Cornish (notably <hw>, <kw> and <i> in chi 'house',  
etc.); as well as whole string of "etymological" spellings. In SWF,  
for example, "book" is lyver and "number" is niver, but the words are  
a perfect rhyme.  "We see" is gwelyn and "mill" is melin in the SWF,  
but the two words rhyme perfectly. "Tongue, language" is invariably  
tavas in the Cornish texts, but the SWF spells the word <taves>. There  
are many, many more examples of such unnecessary distinctions in the  

The essential point to remember, I think, is this: since Cornish has  
no native speakers whose speech we can imitate, we need a spelling  
which is as clear and as unambiguous as possible. Unless our spelling  
is phonetic on the one hand and firmly rooted in traditional Cornish  
spelling, it will not survive.

I am convinced that the SWF as it stands, in both its main and  
traditional forms, needs to undergo major revision. A revision is  
scheduled in 2013. I hope that such a revision proves sufficient. If  
not, I believe that the SWF will ultimately be abandoned—to be  
replaced by a more traditional and less ambiguous orthography.

Nicholas Williams

On 22 Est 2010, at 20:17, WILSON NANCY wrote:

> for all it has been so prematurely dumped by most,

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