[Spellyans] dictionnaire de l'Académie française

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Sun Jan 30 21:41:25 GMT 2011

On 30 Jan 2011, at 20:16, Christian Semmens wrote:

> Nicholas Williams said
>> Rather than give one's opinion about how Cornish should or should not be written, interested parties should first, I believe, learn to speak Cornish and indeed to speak it well. The spelling can come later.
> This is without doubt one of the most important aspects of the revival that all the main orthographies have so far (until the arrival of KS) failed to address effectively.

And we have addressed it. But the current conversation would lead to a much less effective solution.

> As to the diaresis, I would personally prefer to see a short y marked with a grave accent or a long y marked with a circumflex (ŷ) although I have just encountered the font problem Michael has already identified with the short y, hence me not reproducing it. 

I might have preferred it to. But there are tens of thousands of fonts which do not support it. Now, I can modify fonts. But few people can. 

> For my part, I think that diacritics should be mandatory in print. The advantage to having them there, aiding pronunciation, is invaluable.

I am glad to hear it. 

> I also do not advocate the sidelining of RLC spelling, I simply do not believe that it *requires* marking out. I think it should simply be written and we accept that there are alternative pronunciations and hence word forms for the same word. That is certainly where we are currently with bÿs/bës. The written word would be phonetically correct and the context of the sentence would help to give the correct meaning. 

Which could possibly work if we had communities of families transmitting Cornish from generation to generation. But we don't. We have learners of all kinds, and while you may not appreciate it, I know from reliable sources that RLC users really have trouble with RMC spellings. If they are taught that ÿ is a form of their ë, they will find it much easier to recognize the words in the other dialect. As I say, if this were a handful of words it would not be an issue (just as it's not necessary to write why/whei since there's only a very small words which have the [i]~[əi] alternation). But the bÿs/bës class is systemically pervasive (and separate from the bys-class and the res-class) and not something one can learn off from a short list. 

> At this point my relative inexperience may be starting to show, but would it not be possible to remove the diaresis and replace it with a circumflex? The length of the vowel being identified correctly and the function of the diacritic maintained?

The bÿs/bës distinction could be made by writing bŷs/bês. It would not affect the system structurally. However, since ŷ is not in the Latin-1 or the Mac Roman legacy character sets, both PC and Mac users would find many if not most fonts not supporting the character. ÿ on the other hand does not offer this disadvantage. I consider the disadvantage to be very serious indeed. It's one thing to recommend diacritics; it's another to recommend diacritics that aren't supported by people's fonts. 

Are you willing to live with that? Options are (1) Mandate ŷ/ê but permit ÿ/ë in fallback and (2) Use ÿ/ë but permit ŷ/ê and (3) Use ÿ/ë as at present. 

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

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