[Spellyans] tavas

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Wed May 15 13:51:58 BST 2013

On 14 May 2013, at 19:22, Chris Parkinson <brynbow at btinternet.com> wrote:

> 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!)

The reason we know that unstressed syllables were schwa is that over and over and over again in the MSS we find these written variously as a, or as e, or as o, or as y. The word for 'heart' can be found written


There is no question here. None. We do not have [ˈkɔlan] alongside [ˈkɔlɛn] and [ˈkɔlɔn] and [ˈkɔlɪn] We have [ˈkɔl:ən], maybe with some u-colouring [ˈkɔlᵿn] because we get [kəˈlɔnoʊ] in the plural. 

> is that Lhuyd had a schwa symbol, or so I thought, i.e. 'y' with a dot on it.

I tend to read his ‹ẏ› more as a stronger [ʌ] than as a weaker [ə]. And remember, Lhuyd did not have the kinds of phonetic training we have today. He was a pioneer.

> But he rarely used it.

Not quite so rarely. 

> So he maybe was hearing the pure vowel with a secondary stress on it.

And yet we have colan/colen/colon/colyn. 

> 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.

Both ‹kembrek› and ‹kembrak› should be read to [ˈkɛmbrək].

> Or would you want to say that Lhuyd is misleading us!

As a Welsh speaker, it is likely that he perceived vowels more crisply according to his expectations. 

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

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