[Spellyans] gwyw

Craig Weatherhill craig at agantavas.org
Wed Jul 27 17:35:56 BST 2011

The latest version of the SWF glossary hasn't been distributed yet.


On 27 Gor 2011, at 16:29, Daniel Prohaska wrote:

> -----Original Message-----
> From: spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net [mailto:spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net 
> ]
> On Behalf Of Michael Everson
> Sent: Tuesday, July 26, 2011 10:09 PM
> To: Standard Cornish discussion list
> Subject: Re: gwyw
> “On 26 Jul 2011, at 13:54, Daniel Prohaska wrote:
> >> I cannot see what reason there is for spelling this word with  
> <iw> in the SWF, apart from gwiw in Common Cornish. This is based  
> upon Welsh gwiw and Breton gwiv.
> >
> > While I believe you are right in saying the SWF spelling is based  
> upon KK, it is the whole distribution of <i> and <y> that was  
> largely taken over from KK.
> It was not taken over because of any extended discussion and  
> principled consensus that George's distribution of the two letters  
> had any merit. It was taken over because there were twice as many KK  
> users in the AHG than UC/R and RLC users, and because there was no  
> time to examine the question thoroughly.”
> Examining a question thoroughly also includes reaching a different  
> conclusion from your own. I cannot say how the consensus of the AHG  
> was reached exactly – I wasn’t there, but the system does have  
> its merits. I can, for example, see the advantages of  
> differentiating between long [iː] and short [ɪ] in monosyllabic  
> words, something that UC and UCR didn’t show; the different origin  
> of the w-diphthongs in monosyllabic words (/iw/ : /ɪw/ : /ɛw/ : / 
> aw/ : /ow/ : (/yw/?)),. Since a correct pronunciation can be derived  
> from this etymologising spelling (minus KK’s actual mistakes), this  
> is a valid solution. I can’t see the ex-KK users who have actually  
> switched to the SWF/M allow a change to the solution offered in KS,  
> let alone the KK users who have not turned, as well as those who, no  
> doubt, harbour hope that 2013 will bring a return to KK-proper.
> “Having examined it, we find no merit in George's etymological  
> distribution. Quite the contrary: we find teachers criticizing it  
> because the sound is no guide to the spelling and vice-versa.”
> Is this not a case of “unattributed criticisms without examples”?
> “> As far as I can gather, Nicholas, you say that <y> and <i> are  
> allographs in MC.
> In many contexts. There are, however, *no* instances of <iw>.”
> But we’ve already established that this is not true. We have  
> <diweth> in TH, we have several occurrences of <iụ> in Lhuyd where  
> <ụ> can be considered a direct equivalent of <w>; Lhuyd’s  
> <diụadh> and <diụedh> in the very same etymon as the attestation  
> in TH. The digraph <iu> is also frequent in the OC VC.
> > So I would conclude that any systematic or regular distribution  
> decided upon for RC is arbitrary and per se a feature of modern RC  
> orthography and not ‘spelling as the texts’.
> The contribution of Ben and Albert was to distinguish <i> and <y> as  
> [iː] and [ɪ] in stressed monosyllables and in their derivatives.  
> (Their system obliged us to distinguish <ÿ> and <ë> for [iː] and  
> [eː] in a class of stressed monosyllables, but at least we have no  
> ambiguity.) Both Crist and Cryst may be found in the texts  
> indifferently, but having settled on a distribution does not mean  
> that one would just settle on anything.”
> Not anything, an etymological approach, such as was decided for  
> Icelandic or Faeroese. The latter language is dialectally quite  
> divers and despite considerable development away from the Old  
> Western Norse phonological base, an Old Norse based orthography  
> appears to work just fine as a written ‘roof’ over the Faeroese  
> dialects. A similar approach is possible for Cornish, too, if we  
> want to be inclusive of the spoken varieties of RC.
> “>> Everybody pronounces gwyw to rhyme with 'alive', which the SWF  
> spells byw and bew.
> >
> > I don’t know if this is true. The SWF/M form <gwiw> has /gwiw/  
> which is pronounced [gwiˑʊ], while SWF/M <byw> is /bɪw/ pronounced  
> [beˑʊ].
> Excuse me? First: there is *no evidence* for half-length in the  
> phonology of Revived Cornish. Second: The SWF does not mandate that / 
> ɪw/ is pronounced [eʊ].”
> Sorry, this way my analysis; if you don’t like the notion of half- 
> length because it reminds you too much of George or Breton or both,  
> it certainly appears to be a bit of a ed rag here, let me rephrase  
> and express it with length (or lack thereof) only:
> SWF liw ‘colour’ can be analysed as /liw/, i.e. as the sequence  
> CVC, and pronounced [liːw], the same way SWF mir ‘look’ is CVC / 
> mir/ = [miːr]. I cannot find any example of Lhuyd writing *îụ or  
> *îu, but he does have <blêụ> (8x) ‘hair’, <vêụ> (2x),  
> <vêu> (2x), <bêụ> (3x), <bêu> ‘alive’; <knêu> ‘fleece’,  
> <lêụ> (2x) ‘lion’ (which may be only from a written source  
> (VC)), likewise <lêụ>, <lêu> ‘rudder’, <plêụ>  
> ‘parish’ (cf. N.Boson/Gwavas <pleaw>, O.Pender <pleau>, J.Tonkin  
> <plewe>), <têu>, <têụ> ‘fat’; <frâu> ‘rook’, <glâu>,  
> <glâụ> ‘rain’ (cf. Pryce <glawe>), <kâụh> ‘shit’,  
> <klâv> as well as <klâu> ‘sick’, <mâu> (2x), <mâụ> (3x)  
> ‘boy’, <nâụ> ‘nine’ (cf. Pryce <nawe>), <sâu> (2x),  
> <sâụ> ‘safe, save’, <tâụ>, <tâu> ‘hush’. These  
> spellings suggest that the nucleus of the diphthong was (relatively)  
> long. Pryce has <deew>, <dêw>, <dêu> ‘God’ also showing a long  
> nucleus in open syllables in monosyllabic words. Spellings with  
> <eaw> (apart from French loan words) in BK and CW <deaw> ‘two’,  
> as well as <bleaw(e)> ‘hair’ and <reaw> ‘ice’ in CW confirm  
> this.
> “The SWF says that <iw> is RMC [iʊ], TC [ɪʊ] (here it is wrong),  
> and RLC [ɪʊ] (which also appears to be wrong; Gendall gives liu  
> [liu] for 'colour' and [iu] is not [ɪʊ].”
> It shows that Gendall interprets the retention of the contrast /iw/  
> (< older /iw/) v. /ew/ (< older /ɪw/ + /ɛw/). I would like to say,  
> however, that the contrast /iw/ : /ew/ is phonologically marginal on  
> account of the few instances of /iw/ and the existence of only near- 
> minimal pairs, though there is <liụ> ‘colour’ and <lêụ>  
> ‘rudder’.
> “The SWF says that <yw> is RMC and TC [ɪw] which might be right  
> (in theory) for KK but is incorrect for UC/R, since people say [iʊ].  
> UC/R and TC speakers do not distinguish "du" 'black' and "duw" 'god'  
> and "dyw" 'two', and all three of these rhyme with "lyw"/*"liw"  
> 'colour'. UC/R and TC speakers do not distinguish words which in SWF  
> are written <iw> from words which in SWF are written <yw>. And  
> nobody in the AHG could do it either. Trond asked everyone in turn  
> to distinguish a range of such words and no one could do it.”
> You are incorrect as far as UC goes, which does distinguish m. dew  
> and f. dyw. Gendall also distinguishes the m. and f. forms of the  
> numeral.
> You are speaking of native speakers of English, non-linguists, not  
> being able to contrast these sounds, I’m talking about the evidence  
> of a long nucleus in this environment in traditional Cornish. And  
> what you say is also only partially true, because I know Ben and  
> Albert, both were present in advisory function to the AHG, are quite  
> capable of making these sounds. Again, this is a teaching issue  
> rather than an observation of what was likely in traditional  
> Cornish. I accept Nicholas’ analysis that the numeral was only  
> partially, if at all, distinguished by gender of its following noun.
> “(I am of course aware that some speakers especially older ones say  
> [juː] rather than [iʊ], but as you know this is no longer  
> recommended.)
> The SWF says that <ew> is [ɛʊ] for everyone and so it is.”
> Many speakers of RC have trouble distinguishing /iw/:/ew/:/aw/:/ow/:/ 
> ɔː/ consistently, mixing sounds found in Standard English and Anglo- 
> Cornish.
> “The SWF's table is such a mess because it does not recognize the  
> bÿs/bës class of words, and so tries to use <y> as an umbrella  
> graph (which is objectionable enough to begin with).”
> The SWF does recognise the bys ~ bes class of words, hence the  
> optional spelling variants. The idea of an umbrella graph <y> for  
> words pronounced as [iː], [ɪː] or [eː] in RMC and [eː] in RLC is  
> not fully fleshed out, though I would like to see this in the coming  
> adjustments in 2013. Since RLC users generally don’t like the <y>  
> graph for ideological reasons (mainly to distance themselves from  
> MC, as well as Nance’s overuse of the letter) and a possibility of  
> consistently converting every RMC <y> to RLC <e> (or <ë>) would be  
> desirable from my point of view.
> “But it cannot do this consistently because of its rule with <y>  
> and <i> in stressed monosyllables. This incoherence is a structural  
> flaw in the SWF, and no amount of making excuses for it can fix it.”
> No, because <i> would be written where RMC and RLC both have [iː],  
> while <y> ~ <e> (or <ë>) would be written for RMC [iː] ~ [ɪː] ~  
> [eː], RLC [eː] and <e> where both RMC and RLC have /eː/.
> “The SWF says that RMC has "lyw" for 'rudder' and RLC has "lew" for  
> rudder, but this is also false.”
> No, the SWF has <lew> for ‘rudder’. So it is your claim above  
> that is false. See the latest version of the Glossary.
> “UC, UCR, and RLC all have "lew" for 'rudder'. The SWF's attempt to  
> blot out UC and UCR with KK forms by assuming that KK is RMC and UC/ 
> R do not exist is just another fault of the SWF.”
> See above.
> “>> Would it not be sensible therefore to spell 'worthy' gwyw and  
> gwew?
> >
> > I would like to see SWF/L <gwew> either dropped or replaced by  
> <gwev>.
> I have pointed out the pronunciation of "kniv" Norwegian and Danish  
> as an indication that such s shift is fairly normal.”
> Yes, it also occurs in Breton where <kreñv> is [kʀɛ̃ːw] or  
> [kʀɛːw] (cf. W cryf, C crev). The vocalisation of /v/ > /w/ in  
> Danish is, however, the reverse order as compared to the supposed  
> change of Cornish /w/ > /v/. See also the interesting change of /w/  
> > /f/ in the Breton Goelo dialect with a theoretical intermediate  
> stage /v/, again closer to the Cornish shift than the Danish/ 
> Norwegian example (both from ON knífr as you know well, I’m sure).
> “> I could accept SWF/M <gwyw> if we were to spell <tyr> ‘land’  
> and <hyr> ‘long’, but if we have <tir> and <hir>, <gwiw> makes  
> sense on a systematic level.
> No, it doesn't, because there is no alternation [ɪʊ] vs [iʊ], so  
> there is no need to distinguish <yw> from <iw>.”
> Diachronically, yes, there is, see liw ‘colour’, byw ~ bew  
> ‘alive’ and tew ‘fat’. The diphthongs of the latter two  
> examples fall in with each other, while the first remains in LC.  
> Nobody pronounces liw with the diphthong in tew, while there are  
> people who pronounce byw with either the diphthong in liw or with  
> the diphthong in tew. It makes perfect sense. KS has the same set of  
> differences, even if realised in a different way graphically: KS  
> gwyw : bÿw : tew, or gwyw : bëw :tew, the only difference is that  
> the SWF uses <i> instead of KS <y>, <y> instead of <ÿ> ~ <ë>, and  
> <e> in both - same systematic difference, just different graphs. It  
> is completely analogical to the set mis ‘month’, bys ~ bes  
> ‘world’, bedh ‘grave’. What is unsystematic is that KS writes  
> mis, bÿs~bës, bedh instead of *mys,bÿs~bës, bedh, because <y>  
> is reserved for the short vowel [ɪ] only.
> “This is part of Ken George's "aspirational" /i/ vs /ɪ/ vs /e/ and  
> such a triad simply is not a part of the Revived language.”
> There are many features in the varieties of Revived Cornish that are  
> aspirational. Many speakers rhyme pow and adro – do you suggest in  
> turn that they be written poand adro or pow and adrow? No, I don’t  
> think you would, if I may be so bold as to venture to answer for you  
> (‘quote’ me if I’m wrong ;-)).
> “Even if it were a part of the dialect continua in traditional  
> Cornish, it is nowhere in the orthography distinguishable.”
> This is not entirely true. You have the mis-set (or whatever you  
> call it), the bys~bes-set, and the bedh-set. This set of contrasts  
> was part of the language at some time, according to Nicholas, before  
> the prosodic shift, in the interpretation of other people was  
> maintained longer, and eventually the vowel of the bys~bes-set was  
> redistributed and fell in with either the mis-vowel (usually before  
> coronal fricatives) and the bedh-set, usual development.
> “And twenty-five years of KK have proved that it is not possible to  
> teach such a three-way distinction.”
> … which may have something to do with the ability of the teachers,  
> who are all native speakers of English, to become functionally aware  
> of the contrasts and pronounce them.
> “For this reason we in Spellyans took the decision long ago to  
> discard such fictions as we began to examine the shortcomings in the  
> SWF.”
> ‘We’ based the first incarnation of KS on a later date than the  
> one KK is based on, taking ‘us’ and the phonological base of  
> Cornish around 1600 safely out of the disputed period of when the  
> prosodic shift happened into a period where old /ɪ/ had fallen in  
> with either /i/ or /ɛ/. Thus the distinction became irrelevant. But  
> today there are speakers of Revived Cornish who want to (whether  
> they achieve it is another matter entirely) retain the earlier  
> distinction, or at least have the option of doing so.
> “> If, however, we are discussing the redistribution of <y> and <i>  
> in general, I’m open to discussing other options and suggestions.
> We have made it easy.
> i- at the beginning of words.”
> This doesn’t allow RLC speakers to predict the pronunciation of a  
> number of key words, such as in (SWF yn ~ en).
> “-y at the end of words.”
> This I would agree with and very much like to see changed in the  
> adjustments of the SWF in 2013.
> “y [ɪ] in stressed monosyllables and [ɪ] in their derivatives”
> Yes.
> “i [iː] in stressed monosyllables and [ɪ] in their derivatives”
> As mentioned above, inconsistent with the spelling of the iw- 
> diphthongs where liw can just as well be analysed as having the  
> syllable structure CVC as mis.
> “y [ɪ] elsewhere in polysyllables
> î [iː] elsewhere in polysyllables”
> I find this set of rules quite complicated, and incompatible with  
> allowing predictable pronunciations for both RMC and RLC speakers.  
> The SWF isn’t perfect either in this regard, but can be tweaked.
> “This is extremely easy to learn. And if you can pronounce a word,  
> you can most likely spell it.
> Of course we also have ÿ~ë [iː]~[eː] in that class of words (this  
> is essentially separate from the distribution of i and y). This  
> complication could have been avoided with <ei>, but that umbrella  
> graph was not accepted by the AHG.”
> Yes, unfortunate, but simply the way it went. The compromise looks  
> similar to KK, but since I view the SWF as a separate beast it is  
> possible to arrive at the correct pronunciations by formulating a  
> set of rules that suits users of all previous orthographic camps.
> > I do not find the KS solution workable in an ‘interdialectal’  
> orthography such as the SWF as it doesn’t take into account the  
> differences between MC and LC based forms.
> Where's your list? This criticism doesn't mean anything to me.  
> Certainly Jowan Hir Silver speaks LC. Of course the more different  
> one wishes to make the two dialects, the more differences one will  
> wish to build into the orthography. In our view there were some  
> differences which were “
> This sentence is fading out, so I can’t tell which point you’re  
> trying to make here…
> As far as the ‘list of criticisms’ goes, I’ve already mentioned  
> words like KS <in> which does not represent RLC’s <en>. The problem  
> of the <y> ~ <i> ~ <î> distribution ‘enshrines’ Nicholas’s  
> phonological theory, that Cornish distinguished only two high and  
> mid-high front long vowels, when there are people who want to make a  
> three-way distinction, whether this is warranted or not. The graphs  
> used in the texts are interpretable either way especially in the  
> bys~bes-set. In essence, KS makes such a distinction where the long  
> vowels are concerned, but doesn’t allow it where in the case of the  
> w-diphthongs.
> “> RLC users, other than myself, have said as much.
> Hurrah, unattributed criticisms without examples."
> I have asked permission to quote an RLC user, but haven’t heard  
> back from here yet. I will, if she responds positively.
> Dan
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Craig Weatherhill

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