[Spellyans] Collated SWF Review Issues 4.) & 5.)

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Mon Apr 29 13:07:39 BST 2013

Dear all, 

Some comments concerning the issues 4.) and 5.) 


4.)         distribution of ‹i› and ‹y› is unclear and incoherent;

The Cornish orthographies in use don’t show any consensus as to the use and distribution of the graphs ‹y› and ‹i›.


-) The orthographies UC and UCR do not distinguish in any meaningful way between the graphs ‹y› and ‹i› with ‹y› mainly used.


-) RLC for the most part tries to avoid the use of ‹y› as it is associated with UC and it is felt that this graph is ‘overused’ in that orthography. Some forms of RLC use ‹y› in word final position though.


-) KK attempts a systematic and etymological distinction between the proposed phonemes /i/ and /ɪ/, which, according to their environment, appear in fully long, half-long and short form, ‹i› [iː iˑ i] and ‹y› [ɪː ɪˑ ɪ]. There is some overlap between ‹i› and ‹y› in the short form bot in unstressed position (e.g. ‹melyn› = ‹melin›) as well as in stressed position in closed syllables (e.g. ‹dillas›). One problem with the KK solution is that it does not always conform with the textual attestations which show an alternation of both ‹y› and ‹i› with ‹e›. Furthermore, the proposed KK-pronunciation is mostly re-interpreted by teachers and learners as equating and thus substituting KK ‹i› with the English phoneme /iː/ (e.g. in E “see”) and KK ‹y› with the English phoneme /ɪ/ (e.g. E “bit”). This does not conform to the pronunciation rules formulated by Ken George, nor does it reflect a likely reconstructed phonology of traditional Cornish.


-) KS distinguishes the spellings ‹y›, ‹ÿ› and ‹i› and gives them a positional and partly morpho-phonemic distribution;


-) The SWF distinguishes ‹i› and ‹y› according to KK, though it allows for an alternation of ‹y› ~ ‹e› and partially a variation between ‹i› ~ ‹e› in a few variant forms. The distribution is partially phonologically determined, partially etymological and partly taken from textual attestations.


It is desirable to arrive at a predictable spelling of ‹i›, ‹y› and ‹e› taking into consideration the forms preferred in both Middle Cornish (MC) and Late Cornish (LC) based Revived Cornish (RC). Phonological issues such as Vocalic Alternation (VA) and development from MC to RC as well as textual attestation and spelling patterns should be taken into consideration.


5.)         difficulty in distinguishing different sounds for long ‹a›, short ‹o› and ‹u›;


These are really two separate points.


5.1) Distinguishing different sounds for ‹a› in a long context (e.g. ‹bras, tal, clav›), and don’t only affect the long vowel, but also a short vowel (e.g. ‹brassa› etc.); The SWF/L variant digraph ‹oa› is permitted for the long vowel and appears to be suitable for the most part, though some RLC users say it is unnecessary. Also, ‹oa› does not seem suitable for the short vowel.


5.2.) The SWF does not adequately distinguish between ‹u› and ‹o›, but what it actually fails to do is distinguish between three short sounds [ʊ] : [ʏ] : [ɔ]. In KK the former two are often grouped together in ‹u› = /y/, while ‹oe› stands for [ɤ] (a sound otherwise unsupported in other reconstructions of Cornish phonology), as well as ‹o› for [ɔ]. The SWF on the other hand has a mixed distribution: [ʏ] is generally represented by ‹u›, [ʊ] by both ‹u› and ‹o›, and [ɔ] also by ‹u› and ‹o›. This is an unsatisfactory situation and needs to be tackled in the current Review pocess.



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