[Spellyans] Holyer an Gof 2010

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Mon Aug 23 14:14:49 BST 2010

On 23 Aug 2010, at 11:17, Ray Chubb wrote:

> We must remember that the intention of the SWF was that it should be a compromise spelling for use in Statutory Education and Public Life only.

We must remember too that the need for compromise was so that MAGA for instance could publish in an orthography and so that no one would complain that they were using the wrong one. 

> It was never intended to replace anything that went before.  With hindsight I think that a big mistake was accepting that what used to be referred to as the Single Written Form was in the future to be known as the Standard Written Form.  This implies that everything else is in some way inferior.

I don't really see it that way. I think that UC is inferior to UCR. It is missing the phoneme /ø/ entirely, which is a mistake. UCR corrected this with "ue", now written "eu" in SWF and KS. UC writes final -p and -k in many monosyllables with long vowels, and we believe now that these consonants were voiced. UCR and the SWF and KS write -b and -g in these words. UC writes 

I believe UCR was an improvement (that is, was superior) to UC. 

UCR is pretty wonderful, but one of the things it doesn't do is help learners predict when vowels are long and when they are short. What KS1 did was to work out a set of rules, ultimately inspired by Jordan's orthography, to make it so that vowel length could be predicted from the spelling. KS1 had to be changed after the SWF specification was published, in order to minimize the distance between the two (we chose to change "beis" to "bÿs"/"bës" for instance), but it still has all the advantages of UCR plus a regular and predictable orthography.

I believe that because of this, KS is an improvement (that is, is superior) to UCR. A regular and predictable orthography offers more to learners of an endangered language than an ambiguous orthography does, in my opinion.

> At a personal level I use UCR and will continue to do so and yes it is a rich form of Cornish based firmly on the historical texts. I sincerely hope that what ever changes are made to the SWF in 2013 will give it the regularity of KS

Indeed, so do I.

> but at the end of the day KS like the SWF is a compromise spelling and, apart from the stated uses, not something for those of us who wish to imitate Cornish at the high point of its history.

There are two points here which are interesting. The first is that KS is a compromise spelling with stated uses. Now, KS does support both RMC and RLC dialect choices, but why wouldn't it? But does this mar KS or make it unsuitable?

I believe that the only feature of KS which is not really found in the texts is its regular distinction of "i" for long [iː] and "y" for short [ɪ] in stressed monosyllables. But at the same time, "gwin gwydn" does not seem particularly unnatural or objectionable. I certainly can't see an advantage to UC or UCR "gwyn gwyn". I know from talking to Ray in the past that he's not fond of "gwin gwynn", and indeed he might prefer "gwin gwyn" -- but KS's compromise is to support both pre-occlusion and non-pre-occlusion, so we're simply obliged to offer a "dn"/"nn" alternation.

KS doesn't have a "stated use". It is for general use. That's why we have published literature in it.

The second point of interest is Ray's suggestion that Cornish had "a high point". I don't know. Who says? Is the Ordinalia "better" than Bêwnans Ke or the Creacyon an Bës? Which is more or less accessible? We cannot know what Jenner or Nance would have done had Tregear and Bêwnans Ke been available to them. 

I don't think it can really be said that KS is "inauthentic". Where it has trade-offs, it is to increase functionality. I believe, with Herbie, that UCR was a natural progression of the work to date. But the work has continued, and I believe that KS is the natural continuation of that work.

Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com/

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