[Spellyans] The two roles of â (a-circumflex) in Kernowek Standard

A. J. Trim ajtrim at msn.com
Wed Sep 18 15:31:05 BST 2013

We expect the SWF to be revised after 5 years, so it is sensible to see what 
they do first before revising KS -- but here are some thoughts:

According to "Desky Kernowek", the word for "alive" is spelt 'bew' in KS.

In any natural language, we expect some anomalies. It is not necessary to 
make the orthography watertight (though it helps.)
KS does not write the word for "Cornish" as 'Kernôwek' / 'Kernêwek', nor 
does it write "I see" as 'mÿ a wel' / 'më a wel', nor "is" / "are" / "am" as 
'ÿw' / 'ëw'.

KS does not write the word for "and" as 'hàg', nor the word for "for" as 
'ràg' (perhaps because these are always unstressed.)  Yet KS spells the word 
for "so" as 'dell' (which is also unstressed, so the 'e' must be short 
without the second 'l'. This is done because "leaves" is 'del' with a long 

However, in practice, these anomalies do not seem to matter. I would not 
seek to change them.

KS does not spell "they" as 'y' (with a long vowel) any differently from 
"his" as 'y' (with a short vowel) or from "verbal particle" as 'y' (with an 
obscure vowel.)  Perhaps that is a candidate for change.

You could write the alternation 'yw / 'ew ' as 'yu' / 'eu' instead. That 
would give "alive" as 'byu' / 'beu', "is" / "are" / "am" as 'yu' / 'eu', 
"twice" as 'dyuweyth' / 'deuweyth', and "today" as 'hedhyu' / 'hedheu'. The 
endings '-ewgh' and '-ywgh' would become '-eugh' and '-yugh' in cases where 
there is alternation.

Of course, if you were to do that, you would need a different spelling for 
the vowel that is currently written 'eu'. This has two pronunciations. It's 
a good candidate for 'ü'. (Remember my two dots for two pronunciations 
rule?)  The spelling for "I have" becomes 'yʼm büs', "full" becomes 'lün', 
and "how much?" becomes 'pysül?'.

You would be using all of: 'ä', 'ë', 'ö', 'ü', 'ÿ' -- and using them 
consistently, each for a vowel that has two pronunciations.
Perhaps I'm being too radical! Nyʼm dür!


Andrew J. Trim

-----Original Message----- 
From: Philip Newton
Sent: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 7:44 AM
To: Standard Cornish discussion list
Subject: Re: [Spellyans]The two roles of â (a-circumflex) in Kernowek 

First off, I would like to apologise for the slightly provocative tone
in my original message - I was a bit frustrated.

On 17 September 2013 23:52, A. J. Trim <ajtrim at msn.com> wrote:
> Introducing the ring would add to the types of diacritical mark. So I'm 
> not
> in favour.

That's reasonable.

> I favour: bräs, brässa, cläv, clävjy, äls.

That would work as well; the double-dot diacritic is already in use,
but not for "a", and could apply here as well.

> I do not think that it is necessary to mark êw/ôw but if you do, ëw/öw 
> would
> be more logical, and it would match the use of ë/ÿ.

There is a word which the SWF spells either "bew" or "byw" ("alive,
lively, active, etc."), which I imagine KS currently spells bëw, bÿw.

This would seem to preclude the use of ëw/öw for that alternation,
since if you saw "bëw" in a text, you would know that it has an
alternative spelling but couldn't tell whether that alternative
spelling is böw or bÿw.

Unless the êw/ôw alternation (or the ë/ÿ one) is limited to certain
positions? For example, the words that I can think of off the top of
my head that have êw/ôw are all polysyllabic, so "bëw" would then be
unambiguously bëw/bÿw. My vocabulary is not nearly large enough to
know whether any other collisions would be possible.

> The circumflex would then always mean a long vowel, and the diaeresis 
> would
> always mean a vowel with two pronunciations.
> The two dots would be a good reminder of two pronunciations.

That sounds like an attractive property to have.


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