[Spellyans] Collated Issues for the SWF Review

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Fri May 3 13:34:59 BST 2013

Here are some comments concerning Issues 6.) to 12.):


6.)         varying vowel & consonant values;


Unfortunately it is impossible to address this issue without knowing what the original proposal entailed, with examples of what exactly the problem is. It is unclear whether variation in phonology or graphic/graphemic variation is concerned.


7.)         minimal use of ‹z›;


As specified in the spec, loan words such as ‹zebra, zodiak, zombi, zynk, zyp›. It would be interesting to see which other examples and cases were up for consideration to be spelt with ‹z›. There have been proposals in the past for spelling Old Cornish (OC) /d/ as ‹z›, e.g. in ‹taz› ‘father’ (but not in ‹nos› < OC /s/). RLC often spells initial, internal and final SWF ‹s› as ‹z› where it stands for /z/ whether etymologically from OC /d/ or OC /s/.


8.)         reduction of ‹oo› to ‹o› and ‹gh› to ‹h›, causing confusion and misrepresentation;


The ‘reduction’ of SWF ‹oo› to ‹o› where it stands for non-long /o/ ~ /u/ ties into the question of the distribution of short /y/ : /u/ : /o/.


The ‘reduction’ of SWF ‹gh› to ‹h› in syllable-initial position is a different question and should perhaps be listed under a separate issue. This orthographic practice is reflected in the Cornish manuscripts and represents a genuine orthographic practice of traditional Cornish. To remedy this perhaps SWF ‹gh› could be replaced by ‹h› in all position leading to an all in all more authentic pronunciation of /h/ ~ /x/, as Cornish ‹gh› ~ ‹h› has been described as having been less ‘harsh’ or ‘softer’ than Welsh ‹ch› or Breton ‹c’h›, i.e. rather more like [h] than [x]. Also, English native speakers seem to have a problem with pronouncing [x] often substituting [k] in words like ‹ar(g)hans› which are often mispronounced **[arkans] and the like, even by ‘fluent’ speakers. As [h] is easier to pronounce spelling ‹h› in all positions may trigger a better pronunciation in RC.    


9.)         vocalic alternation - lack of a systematic and understandable rule;


The rule, as it stands, follows Vocalic Alternation found in UC; this is a workable compromise in the light of all to infrequently applied VA in KK (mainly in the inflectional paradigm of ‹bos›), and very frequently applied VA in UCR and KS. Another solution would be to go by a word-by-word basis checking on the spellings in the Cornish texts and standardising accordingly.


10.)       ‹th› in RLC variant - standing on its own when reduced from ‹yth›;


Users of SWF/M (SWF-Middle Cornish base) should accept the preferences set up by users of SWF/L (SWF-Late Cornish base), whether this leads to spellings such as ‹th era›, ‹’th era›, ‹thera› or ‹th’era›. Also, where does this cause a problem for users of SWF/M?


11.)       ‹ow› - RLC variant ‹o›: ‹a› would be preferable;


This again should be for SWF/L users to decide, but the question is in how far one wishes to retain a link to the SWF/M or have a kind of ‘spin-off’ orthography for SWF/L. Even in RLC the various particles, even if spelt ‹a› cause a different set of mutations. I wouldn’t mind having particles SWF/M ‹y›, ‹a›, ‹ow› spelt SWF/L ‹e›, ‹a›, ‹o› respectively. These forms could by rule all have the recommended pronunciation [ə] as found in RLC.


12.)       RLC ‹e›/‹a› - SWF/L uses ‹e› where RLC would use ‹a›;


Again, without examples it is impossible to answer this criticism and propose an improved way of dealing with this apparent problem. 
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