[Spellyans] Suffix -yeth in KS

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Mon Jun 3 17:40:48 BST 2013

On 3 Jun 2013, at 16:00, Daniel Prohaska <daniel at ryan-prohaska.com> wrote:

> Perhaps you can answer my question. Reading "Devocyon dhe Greryow" I saw that KS spells the suffix (SWF) -ieth as -yeth which suggests a pronunciation [jəθ] in words such as ‹mythologyeth, mainoryeth, Bùddyeth, canybalyeth, chromotografyeth, damcanyeth, kevarhewyeth, kevrinyeth, plansoryeth, radicalyeth, Satanyeth, technologyeth›. The SWF pronunciation is [ˈiːəθ], i.e. with two syllables and long stressed /i/, which is not only a continuation of KK, but also UC and UCR, e.g. ‹medhygyeth›, which is written ‹medhygȳ•eth› in dictionaries which also indicates disyllabicity and a long stressed /i/. Why does KS write ‹yeth› and not ‹ieth›? 

Both Devocyon and Alys were written while the system was still being discussed; it was not until the Beybel Sans was published that all the bugs were worked out. (Obviously we do not pretend to perfection.) In point of fact those spellings in Devocyon were probably influenced by UCR.

In the Beybel's front matter ‹sonieth› occurs and in the text ‹dewynieth› occurs with some frequency. ‹wasonieth› occurs once. ‹yeth› occurs only in ‹lynyeth› where it means [jəθ] (as it does in UC). 

In Desky Kernowek §0.3.2 it can be seen that we write ‹teknologieth›. The words ‹sonieth›, ‹prydydhieth›, ‹bardhonieth› occur in DK as well. 

I have not checked all of our other texts for consistency; there may of course be errors. But KS writes ‹ieth› in these words. 

> Why is ‹Renêssans› thus spelt, when KS could also spell *Renaissans yielding the same pronunciation and be closer to English and French from which the word is borrowed?

Again, Devocyon is an older text. In general the choice between ‹ê› and ‹ai› is relatively straightforward, but there are always edge cases. In the UCR dictionary the word wasn't borrowed into Cornish at all; it is listed in italics as an unassimilated loanword. Whether this word should be ‹Renaissans› or ‹Renêssans›… well, I don't know. Either suits. There aren't really any derivatives that are affected. I think we would favour ‹Renaissans› however, remembering that Devocyon is from a work-in-progress stage (and was a particularly difficult book to translate, too).

> What would be the modalities for propsing spelling changes in KS,

I have no idea what you mean by "modalities". 

Any change would need to be justified, of course. A change from ‹Renêssans› to ‹Renaissans› can be proposed on grounds of consistency with KS's use of ‹ai› in a certain class of loanwords. Otherwise, however, the change doesn't solve any problem in pronunciation, and is only cosmetic. As the word is rare in Cornish of any kind (Devocyon is hardly a typical text), making this change has little effect on readers. 

One might (for instance) argue to change ‹sêsya› to ‹saisya› in the basis of Old French "saisir". This, I think, would be rejected on two grounds. First, we believe that most loanwords into Cornish came from English, not French, and the typical Middle English spelling is "seisen" (MED: Also seise, seize, saise, sese(n, sesse, sesi(e, seas(s)e, (chiefly early) seisi, saisi & ces(s)e; p. seised(e, etc. & sezed, seasod, ceased; ppl. seised, etc. & iseis(e)d, isesed, seisit.) So the use of ‹ê› here is well-justified. In addition, this is a fairly common word, and since the change of ‹sêsya› to ‹saisya› solves no problem, it would be better not to make the change. (Of course, a quick check of the texts shows no instance of ‹sais› but does show ‹sesya› 2x and ‹sesyogh› 1x.

> also in the light of the SWF Review? Will KS follow such changes where they make sense to you and Nicholas?

As there is no way of knowing what (if any) changes to the SWF will come out of the SWF Review, or whether any of them will be improvements to the SWF, there is really nothing to say at this time. 

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

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