[Spellyans] Dauns and dauncya

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Tue Apr 24 18:50:59 BST 2012

On Apr 23, 2012, at 5:15 PM, Michael Everson wrote:

> Here's a transcription issue that has been bugging me since the beginning. Even when I was editing Jenner it kept coming up. 
> Dick Gendell writes these as ‹daunz› [dɐːnz] with a long vowel, and ‹daunssia› [ˈdɐnsjə] with a short vowel. His [ɐ] is IPA [ɔ]. Nance writes ‹dōns› (Late downs, daunce), ‹donsya› (downsya CW) and says that "au is like aw in "saw"; this sound is usually represented by ō".
> The question I think is how many phonemes we have in Cornish. We have
> /o/ long [oː] short [ɔ] (ros, awotta)
> /ɒ/ long [ɒː] short [ɔ] (brâs, brâssa)

In my dictionary I transcribe short [ɔ] (in ‹awotta›) and M [ɑ] ~ L [ɒ] (in ‹brassa›), and long M [ɔː] ~ L [oː] (in ‹ros›) and M [ɑː] ~ L [ɒː] (in ‹bras›). 

> where the short vowels fall together though the phonemes remain distinct when long.

I keep them distinct for now, because there is a fluctuation of ‹a› and ‹o› spellings where the short vowel is concerned, e.g. SA has both ‹brassa› and ‹brossa›...

> I don't believe ‹dauns›, ‹dauncya› have /o/;

I agree.

> ‹dauns› does not rhyme with ‹ôns› 'they go'. I've been speaking with Neil Kennedy eliciting examples from him, and we agree that while the short vowel in ‹brâssa› (sometimes ‹brossa› in the texts) is the same as the short vowel in ‹awotta›, the vowel in ‹dauncya› retains its quality. 

I think ‹dauncya› retains both quality and quantity. I say [ˈdɒːnsjɐ].

> For it do do that, it must, I think, be retaining (at least some of) its length.

While I agree this is likely, there are plenty of examples of languages that may retain a contrast between /o/ : /ɔ/ or /ɔ/ : /ɒ/. So, I don't think we can conclude that a contrast in the short vowel in Cornish is impossible, though it's impractical from the perspective of English native speakers learning Cornish.

> In this way it would be like other loanwords in ‹ai›: ‹paint› [peːnt], ‹paintya› [ˈpeːntjə]. The CW ‹downssya› doesn't look very short to me. 
> ros [ɹoːz], awotta [əˈwɔtə]
> brâs [bɹɒːz], brâssa [ˈbɹɔsə]
> dauns [dɒːns], dauncya [ˈdɒːnsjə]
> Or, if you like dauns [dɒːns], dauncya [ˈdɒ(ː)nsjə]... but not [ˈdɔnsjə]

I agree.

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