[Spellyans] tavas

Chris Parkinson brynbow at btinternet.com
Tue May 14 19:22:27 BST 2013

The reason I wondered whether vowels in unstressed syllables are in fact ' evidently schwa', (as you now repeat without further evidence apart from a claim to the mushiness of Cornish!) is that Lhuyd had a schwa symbol, or so I thought, i.e. 'y' with a dot on it. But he rarely used it. So he maybe was hearing the pure vowel with a secondary stress on it. It would matter because there are a number of vocabulary items spelled with 'a' in RLC and 'e' in MC where RLC users would want to pronounce the'a'. e.g. Kembrack. Or would you want to say that Lhuyd is misleading us!  Chris

-----Original Message-----
From: Spellyans [mailto:spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net] On Behalf Of Michael Everson
Sent: 14 May 2013 18:48
To: Standard Cornish discussion list
Subject: Re: [Spellyans] tavas

On 14 May 2013, at 18:29, Chris Parkinson <brynbow at btinternet.com> wrote:

> Michael, you write that all the vowels (in Cornish) are found in unstressed position where they all mean schwa or...  Did you intend to add something?

The argument has been given so many times I may have moved on.

Vowels in unstressed syllables are evidently schwa /ə/, though there seems to be some utility for distinguishing schwi /ᵻ/ and schwu /ᵿ/ in descriptions for revivalists. (Jenner describes this as well.)

Compare English "Rosa's" and "Rose's" where the first is schwa and the second schwi. But not in all dialects. Cornish "gwelas" and "gwelys" both have schwa, though the latter is i-coloured.

> If not, how can you be sure that this always happens to unstressed vowels in Cornish? This doesn't happen in all languages. It doesn't happen all the time in Welsh where supposed words 'tavas' and 'taves' would be pronounced differently.

The prosody of Welsh is completely different from that of Cornish. Welsh (and English spoken in Wales) is staccato, with vowels clipped and pure. Cornish has always been described as mushier than that ;-) 

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

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