[Spellyans] tavas

Chris Parkinson brynbow at btinternet.com
Sun May 19 10:01:59 BST 2013

Thank you for your reply and the examples from Nicholas.

I consider it to be a grammatical change, albeit small, when a functional
morpheme, e.g. a particle, is added or deleted. The example you give from
Irish looks to me as if the 'a' in question is merely a phoneme. (But I
don't know Irish)

In the UK, it is indeed the normal sequence to start learning a modern
foreign language with the spoken language. I suppose I am talking largely of
the primary and secondary educational level. But any distance learning for
adults would be backed up by audio materials. Many learners of course have
had perforce to learn Cornish at a distance from books. You could argue that
this is why there are still so few confident and fluent speakers. 

People all over the world have of course learnt English well in spite of its
orthography. I have taught English as a foreign language to both children
and adults myself.
But equally,  problems in literacy have been caused in the UK by the
English spelling system and it would be a great pity to make difficulties
that are not necessary
 for young Cornish learners.

Re the changes you make to RLC to standardise it to KS spelling, you say
that the LC writers were unaware of the scribal tradition. Lhuyd writes in
the preface to his grammar that he got the best part of his learning 'from
three manuscript Cornish book, put into my hands by...Sir Jonathan
Trelawney, Bishop of Exeter.' 

When I have more time I will look again at the spelling changes to RLC made
in Chap 40 of Desky Kernowek  and send you a list for your comments.

-----Original Message-----
From: Spellyans [mailto:spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net] On Behalf Of Michael
Sent: 18 May 2013 12:13
To: Standard Cornish discussion list
Cc: Neil Kennedy
Subject: Re: [Spellyans] tavas

On 18 May 2013, at 11:00, Chris Parkinson <brynbow at btinternet.com> wrote:

> Thanks for your detailed reply. However, I think you are mistaken in
saying that the changes you make are merely a question of orthography.

I disagree. There is nothing wrong with writing "me a wrug" even though you
say "me wrug". As I pointed out, this sort of thing occurs in Irish all the
time. "Tá mé ag iarraidh" 'I want' is univerally pronounced "tá mé 'g
iarraidh" yet no one, ever, thinks its necessary to delete that a-.

> In changing the orthography, I would want to say that you are also often
making small but significant grammatical changes on the morphological level.

I don't believe that there is a "grammatical" change in writing "me a wrug"
or "ow tesky" rather than "me wrug" or "tesky". 

> Also, as I've said before, the normal sequence of learning a modern
foreign language is to start with the spoken form.

This is simply not true. Different learners learn in different ways. Indeed
many learners of Cornish in particular do so at a distance from books. Tens
of thousands of people learn Esperanto successfully and few of them start by
speaking it. 

> Therefore you need an orthography to reflect that in the early stages of
learning at least. You wouldn't dream of telling young learners that  'that
is the way we spell it but you pronounce it like this!'  

I'm sorry, but this is a philosophical perspective, not supported by the
facts. Many people all over the world have learnt English and French and
Irish, and it is well known that these three languages have spelling
idiosyncrasies which are far, far more complicated than the deletion of "a"
or "ow" in speech. 

> RLC users - (I'll stick with that for now!) very much want to share an
orthography with all Cornish speakers and writers, past and present. We
don't want a separate system. But we need a system with more flexibility
than KS offers at the moment.

In what way? Please be specific. If you can't bring yourself to write "ow",
leave it out (but if you do write it, don't write it "o"). We don't
recommend leaving it out. We don't recommend writing "geno why" because it
is identical to "genowgh why" in pronunciation: only people speaking very
very slowly or hyper-formally would likely pronounce that -gh. But it is
part of the spelling of the word, and the Revival is not served by having
"geno" alongside "genowgh". To be honest when Dan writes Cornish it's like
reading Tom Sawyer, all apostrophized and maximally different from what I'm
used to reading. I never object to "th'erof vy" or "th'erowgh why". I do
object to "thero vy" and "thero why" though -- just as I object to "tho" for
"though" in English or writin' all the participles in English omittin' the
final -g just 'cause it's said like 'at.

I do encourage you to provide as exhaustive a list as you can of things in
KS which you find "inflexible". Perhaps we have overlooked some things that
could reasonably be accommodated. It is certainly the case that we have
never been presented with such a list of objections. 

> Publishers in Welsh are quite happy to spell according to the demands of
the text, with colloquial contractions, and other features of spoken
language where necessary, and standard forms at other times.

"thero" vs "th'erof" or "th'erowgh" is not a contraction, however. It is a
different spelling for a standard form which is pronounced just the same.
It's better for the Revival in the long run not to write things like "thero"
or "thera". The only reason the -f and -gh was lost in the LC texts is that
the writers were unaware of the scribal tradition. They were surely and
certainly omitting those segments in their own pronunciation long before
1700. Nicholas may be able to collect examples. 

> Regional variations might be included.

Of course we do support bÿs/bës (and note that Nicholas tends to favour the
later bës), and we support nn/dn and mm/bm (and we definitely favour the
pre-occluding forms). 

> We wish you would give consideration to this.

Please be explicit and comprehensive about what you consider to be

> But in any case, I hope I have shown that that there is indeed an informal
spoken form to Cornish which you chose not to reflect in your orthography
for the sake of standardisation. Mistakenly, which I for one regret. 

Once again, we centred on 1600, not 1500 and not 1700. People used to UC
have to get used to seeing pre-occlusion written. People used to Gendall's
various orthographies have to get used to ‹u› meaning /y~/i/. We recommend
against the deletion of particles in general because omission of such
particles in speech is fairly common in other languages and not really
problematic in Cornish (unless people are not used to it because they were
taught a form which always omitted them). We recommend against
"eye-spelling" omissions of final consonants because it splits the language
unnecessarily. We definitely support "th'" as an alternative to "yth". We
have published books making use of a strongly colloquial form; indeed we
always use "gwil" (the colloquial form) except in the Beybel Sans where we
use "gul". 

I invite you to take your time drawing up your list. Some items may be
explainable; some may be actionable. 

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

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