[Spellyans] tavas in early Middle Cornish

Craig Weatherhill craig at agantavas.org
Thu Jul 14 14:57:21 BST 2011

Thank you for that, Dan.  It's clear that there's a lot to be sorted  
out in 2013, and I think that etymology has been taken too far in the  
modern revival.  There may well be a clear indication in the languages  
of 2000 years ago of what the sound was back then, but languages  
change in that time.  With regard to Brythonic, much of its  
reconstruction is just that - theoretical reconstruction.  Hardly a  
good basis on which to determine etymology as a "definite".  Nothing  
was written in those days, and the only real indication of written  
Brythonic is the list of somewhat Latinised personal names and  
epithets found on the inscribed stones of the 5th to 9th centuries.


On 14 Gor 2011, at 14:40, Daniel Prohaska wrote:

> -----Original Message-----
> From: spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net [mailto:spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net 
> ]
> On Behalf Of Craig Weatherhill
> Sent: Thursday, July 14, 2011 12:18 AM
> To: Standard Cornish discussion list
> Subject: Re: [Spellyans] tavas in early Middle Cornish
> “SWF is certainly inconsistent.  The earlier distinction between  
> melyn 'mill' and melen, 'yellow' was clear, but that's gone under KK  
> influence.  These are now 'melin' and 'melyn' respectively.”
> I’m not s sure the earlier, clear distinction between the two was  
> justified. Going by the attestations both words show great  
> similarities in the spelling of the unstressed vowel. I cannot  
> determine with certainty that there was a contrast. UC melyn, SWF  
> melin ‘mill’ and UC melen, SWF melyn ‘yellow’ may well have  
> been homophonous.
> SWF melin ‘mill’ (cf. melin (VC), velyn (BK), belin (Lh),  
> †milin (Lh), †melin (Lh), vellan (Pryce), mellyn (Pryce))
> SWF melyn ‘yellow’ (cf. milin (VC, Pryce), melyn (OM, BM, Lh,  
> Pryce), mellen (Chirgwin), mellyn (Lh, Pryce), melen (Lh), velin  
> (Hawke));
> “After seeing melin, kegin, etc. I expected 'holly' to be kelin in  
> SWF. But it's not. It's kelyn.
> It only serves to baffle.
> Craig”
> With etymological spellings it is impossible to predict whether the  
> spelling has been fixed at <y> or <i> by guessing from the sound  
> alone. SWF has kelyn ‘holly’ (cf. kelin (VC)) because the */i/ in  
> British *kol-ino- was short. This distinction is certainly not  
> necessary in the revived language, in that I agree with you,  
> Nicholas and Michael. It is also not necessary to distinguish the  
> suffixes -ys (verbal adjective) and -is (1st & 3rd pers.sg.preterite).
> For 2013 I would definitely like to see a redistribution of <i y> in  
> the SWF, but not the way KS has tackled the issue. Many words that  
> show <e> in LC have <i> in KS now, such as the preposition ‘in’,  
> which is usually <en> in LC and other examples. In my opinion, SWF  
> should have <i> where both RMC and RLC have an i-type vowel (/iː/ ~ / 
> ɪ/) and <y> in SWF/M (M for ‘Middle’ not ‘Main’!!!) where  
> RMC has i-type vowel, but RLC has an e-type vowel (/eː/ ~ /ɛ/), and  
> <e> where both RMC and RLC have an e-type vowel. SWF/L could then  
> regularly replace all instances of SWF/M <y> with <e> (or <ë> if so  
> desired).
> Dan
> “On 13 Gor 2011, at 22:42, Michael Everson wrote:
> > On 13 Jul 2011, at 21:42, Jed Matthews wrote:
> >
> >> That's very interesting.
> >>
> >> Is there a wider lack of distinction between ɨ and ə across the
> >> texts? As an LC speaker one of my main concerns about KS is
> >> unstressed y representing schwa where it possibly shouldn't.
> >
> > I think you've been sold a pup. I think you've put a lot of store
> > into something that isn't significant in Cornish.
> >
> > By and large in unstressed final closed syllables you get /ə/. Now
> > there seems to be evidence that there are three colours of this,
> > namely [ᵻ] and [ə] (perhaps [ɐ]) and [ᵿ]. Dick Gendall's
> > orthography masks the colouring distinction as much as anything
> > else. He writes (as I said previously) <kegen> with <ān> right
> > alongside <kettermen> <ẏn> and termen <en>. According to his own
> > key he intends these to correspond to [ɒ] and [ə] and [e]. I'm
> > afraid that here, at least, his recommendations are not coherent.
> >
> > Certainly his recommendation that "kegen" has a low back vowel
> > (effectively "kegon") is at odds with your view that it should have
> > a high front vowel.
> >
> > The reason kegin has an i in the SWF is that Ken George thought it
> > was better because in British Latin it was cocîna. His recommended
> > pronunciation is [ˈkɛɡɪn]. Ken George writes <melyn> because
> > Welsh does, and he says the pronunciation is [ˈmɛlɪn]. He writes
> > <melin> because in Latin it was molîna, and he says the
> > pronunciation is [ˈmɛlɪn]. No difference in pronunciation.
> >
> > In Gendall's 2007 dictionary he writes <melin> 'yellow' [ˈmelin],
> > <belin> 'mill' [ˈbelin], and he writes <kegen>  
> 'kitchen' [ˈkegǝn].
> > But in CW <gegen> rhymes with <onyn>, which is in SWF written <onen>
> > and <onan>. If there were really such a distinction even in RLC,
> > you'd want to write <onin>, wouldn't you?
> >
> > Kegyn/kegen/kegin are all pronounced as in "The frog he went a-
> > beggin'." Whether that's realized as [ˈbɛgᵻn] or [ˈbɛgɪn] or
> > [ˈbɛgən], all allophonic. English "melon" is the same. Makes no
> > difference whether it's realized as [ˈmɛlᵿn] or [ˈmɛlən] or
> > [ˈmɛlən].”
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Craig Weatherhill

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