[Spellyans] dictionnaire de l'Académie française

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Sun Jan 30 10:30:20 GMT 2011

On 29 Jan 2011, at 22:36, Herbie Blackburn wrote:

> My main question would be – were diacritics always used in the heyday of Cornish literature? Having looked at folios of the Ordinalia I think they did not have diacritics in the general text, maybe elsewhere?

Acute accents appear to be used here and there in BM I think and in Tregear. Perhaps in Tregear they might be prosodic (indicating points of reference in oratory). No one has studied this. But it is certainly the case that diacritics were first used in a regular linguistic sense by Lhuyd. Some writers like William Gwavas used them, which would legitimize them unless one is looking for excuses not to use diacritics. 

I don't understand the excuses. Even the KKers who complain bitterly about attested English loanwords in favour of made-up Celtic words have argued that diacritics are "too hard". Of course some of those KKers know French and Portuguese. I know it for a fact. Isn't it odd that they don't actively embrace diacritics as being "un-English"?

In any case we've been using diacritics in KS for linguistic reasons. 

> If not – then I suggest diacritics are optional in written Cornish, but mandated in dictionaries, teaching material and the like, I,e, as Eddie suggests ‘Should they be hightly recommented in lexicographic/reference/didactic writings and optional elsewhere?‘, otherwise it becomes a language that alienates those trying to pick it up from a less familiar base, one more block to taking it up.

Well, Herbie, that's already been tried. Nance tried it, and it resulted in people being unable to distinguish long and short /y/ as against long and short /u/, and George tried it, and it resulted in people regularly pronouncing every "y" as short. Those are faults. Long-standing faults that resulted from ambiguity in orthography.

So. We've got French and Hungarian (and Irish and Spanish and German and other languages), which use diacritics. Each word is spelt with its diacritics. One learns the words and their spellings. In none of these languages does one learn "Oh, you can write them or leave them off, it doesn't matter". I don't understand why you are arguing to make Cornish a special case. 

On 30 Jan 2011, at 09:58, Ray Chubb wrote:

> Herbie is making a lot of sense here.  I have always maintained that if the Cornish revival is to have credibility its written form must approach the forms of Cornish written down by our ancestors.
> Only by reflecting, as far as possible within the bounds of their irregularities, the Cornish of the texts can we avoid the 'badly restored painting' charge.

And that is why we use diacritics, Ray. We write "Lûk" and "lùck", keeping their traditional word-shapes. If you want to show the linguistic distinctions (from *luk [lʏk]~[lɪk] for instance) without diacritics, then you have to resort to "Loek" or "Louk" and "loeck" or "louck". 

I think we may be safe in saying that our ancestors would have found KS quite recognizably Cornish.

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

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