[Spellyans] Shall we vote on diacritics just now?

Craig Weatherhill craig at agantavas.org
Tue Feb 1 19:58:16 GMT 2011

I can only see it this way:

Diacritical marks are essential to KS in order to show anomalous  
pronunciations, etc.

On the other hand, no one will ever be able to enforce their use.   
Individuals will write what they please.  Some will use the  
diacritics; others (most people, I suspect) won't in their everyday  
writings.  As we can't dictate their use, what can KS do?  Eddie asks  
for a vote but I think it's not quite that simple.  Yes or no will  
still leave several questions unanswered.

The only way forward, as I see it, is to use diacritics in  
dictionaries and learning materials, much as Nance did.  Users will  
come to learn how each word is pronounced as the language becomes  
increasingly familiar, just as most people did with UC.  What those  
pronunciations are is another question because speakers do pronounce  
differently.  Many pronounce a stressed long A as the "a" of "hat"  
prolonged.  Others (like me) pronounce it to rhyme with the "ai" of  
"fair".  In words like clav, bras, gwav (but NOT hav), some (me again)  
will speak it as something like "aw".  Some round a final -ow as in  
"blow"; others will pronounce it somewhere between "au" and "ah" (or  
the US way of pronouncing "thought").  I pronounce Kernow as "KAIR- 
nau"; some as "ker-noe".

That still leaves (at least) one problem:  the bys/bes words.  If we  
derogate from the SWF with regard to those words, and revert to the - 
ei- of KS1, then that's solved as well (beas might be another  

Other observers may have ideas that differ from mine, and I look  
forward to reading them.  There has to be a solution somewhere among  
those views and, what's more, we must find it.  We can only do this by  
constructive debate, not point-of-view, I'm-not-shifting, table- 
thumping, and I'm seeing far less of that kind of debate which we had  
(quite brilliantly) to begin with, and got us KS1 in a remarkably  
short time.

Thinking caps on.


On 1 Whe 2011, at 19:27, Eddie Climo wrote:

> On 2011 Whe 1, at 09:11, j.mills at email.com wrote:
>> …most people's objections to diacritics seem to me irrational; they  
>> merely state that they do not like them, without addressing the  
>> linguistic concerns that are entailed.
> Rational, irrational: it doesn't matter in the slightest. All that  
> matters is the fact of widespread opposition to mandatory diacritics.
>> I suspect that among the Cornish language community as a whole,  
>> diacritics are not popular,
> I have no doubt your suspicion is quite correct: mandatory  
> diacritics will not be accepted by much of the wider Cornish  
> speaking community. Neither, I think, will they be accepted by the  
> Cornish Language Partership in 2013. Indeed, if KS were to insist of  
> diacritics being mandatory, it would be dismissed out of hand by  
> many, I feel.
>>> and that the majority will need to be persuaded if they are to  
>>> adopt the use of diacritics.
> After a prolonged period of discussion on this forum, a significant  
> number of Spellyans members (who have followed and participated in  
> those discussions throughout that time) are UNCONVINCED by the case  
> presented for mandatory diacritics.
> Personally, I've followed the linguistic arguments until I'm sick of  
> hearing them. Like many on this list, I just don't accept them.
> Given so much oppostiion within Spellyans, Jon, what chance do you  
> think there would be of 'persuading the majority' outside of this  
> forum? None at all.
> The wording of the KS submission in 2013 must reflect these views of  
> so many members of Spellyans. To insist that 'diacritics are  
> mandatory' will not succeed. Consider what the Oxford Dictionary (US  
> ed.) says about this word:
> mandatory: required by law or rules; compulsory; conveying a command.
> Plainly any such laws, rules, compulsions and commands cannot be  
> enforced for diacritics. It would be ludicrous to even attempt to do  
> so, and to proclaim them as such would make KS a laughing stock.
> Instead, the wording needs to urge and recommend.
> For if KS tries to boss Cornish people about, their response will be  
> unprintable, as will my own!
> Eddie Foirbeis Climo
> - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- -
> Dres ethom akennow byner re bo lyeshes
> Accenti non multiplicandi praeter necessitatem.
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Craig Weatherhill

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