[Spellyans] a vry

Chris Parkinson brynbow at btinternet.com
Fri Nov 8 09:50:31 GMT 2013

After your invitation to draw up a list of problems back in May, I went through chapter 40 of DK again. But at this stage I think that the lack of flexibility isn't just to do with individual examples. There is a more basic problem because firstly, you still consider as a mere question of orthography something that a linguist would consider grammatical  on a morphological level. You said that "me a wrug"  is grammatically the same as "me wrug".  They are not the same. The first has 3 morphemes and the second only two. "ow tesky" has 2 morphemes and "tesky" only one. That is how language is described.  You also say that it isn't true that the normal sequence for learning a modern foreign language is to start with the spoken form. In UK schools this is indeed the practice, and the younger the pupils, the more spoken language comes first. Many Cornish learners do have to learn at a distance from books but without audio input, their chance of achieving fluency is small.
There is a hope to get Cornish into schools and this is what is worrying. I just don't think that using UC based forms and spellings is the best way to do it. And I don't think that deciding what forms/spellings are to appear in print should be matter for  purely editorial decision. At the very least, they should be discussed, item by item if necessary and to be fair, you do suggest this. There is great freedom in the Welsh press for authors to write what forms they think best to reflect the spoken language and even the area it comes from. In children's books this can make for a very lively dialogue and popular reading. The narrative part of the text would be less informal. I refer here particularly to Gomer's  'Cyfres Cawdel'  There is no suggestion of what "we should write" even if it doesn't reflect the pronunciation. When I say that KS seems somewhat inflexible, this is what I mean.

-----Original Message-----
From: Spellyans [mailto:spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net] On Behalf Of Michael Everson
Sent: 08 November 2013 01:32
To: Spellyans discussion list
Subject: Re: [Spellyans] a vry

On 7 Nov 2013, at 22:59, Nicholas Williams <njawilliams at gmail.com> wrote:

> I don't know what you mean, Chris. If you wish to pursue this matter, write to me privately.

No, please, let’s do it in the open. I responded to Chris back then and did not have a response from him or her. (I’m sorry, I don’t know, and the name is polyvalent.)

Here is what I said in May:

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 omissions. 

> 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/

I would add one thing now. We write “Did you eat yet?” but nearly all of us will at some time say “J’eachet?” This is the mistake Gendall made and the mistake Chris is making, if I have understood the argument. We should write “a” and “ow” even if we do not say them in some contexts. We should write "-owgh why” even where the pronunciation is [o ˈʍiː] or [o ˈʍə:i]. 
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