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

Philip Newton philip.newton at gmail.com
Thu Sep 19 08:31:14 BST 2013

On 18 September 2013 17:05, Michael Everson <everson at evertype.com> wrote:
> On 16 Sep 2013, at 11:30, Philip Newton <philip.newton at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I found this confusing because when I see the symbol, I keep having to wonder which particular meaning is intended.
> Perhaps, but you are expected to learn. It isn't actually very difficult. And the number of words which use it is not very large.

I think part of my frustration was *how* to learn. In a class, I could
copy the teacher, but - for better or for worse - I'm trying to study
by myself, from books, using the written explanations of the sounds.

> In words where the vowel remains long in the polysyllable, the diacritic is retained: "shâp", "shâpya".

I see.

> there are not many of these words, and most of them are of high enough frequency that you are expected to learn them.

OK. Perhaps those words should be mentioned explicitly in learning books.

Students learning languages with tricky spelling systems might be
accustomed to checking their dictionary for every new vocabulary word,
but I'm not aware of a dictionary for SWF that marks pronunciation,
and I don't know of any KS dictionary at all.

Could such tricky words be called out explicitly in future editions of
works such as _Desky Kernowek_ and _Skeul an Tavas_?

>> However, in the KS edition of _Skeul an Tavas_, I see in the pronunciation section that _âls_ is to be pronounced "[ælz]~[ɒlz]".
> Also "fâls" [fælz]~[fɒlz]

Ah - thanks!

>> At which point, KS "â" seems nearly as capricious to me as SWF "y" (is _bys_ long or short? does _glyb_ rhyme with _ryb_? etc.).
> You are over-stating the case;

Yes; I apologise for the overstatement.

>> Is it possible to resolve this part of KS in a way which enables one to predict the pronunciation of a word unambiguously given the spelling? Whether by splitting the two current roles of "â" or in some other way?
> No one ever claimed that KS orthography was entirely free from occasional ambiguity.

Oh! Then this was a misunderstanding on my part.

I had understood, for some reason, that KS was essentially "SWF made
phonemic", and that one of its goals was to enable users to pronounce
any word they see written.

Perhaps a better description would be something like "SWF with as many
ambiguities as possible removed"? Which would make sense; at some
point, it's probably impossible to remove all doubt and you enter the
land of diminishing returns.

> "Continue to guess"? At what point does one learn?

Learn from where? There's no complete list of such corner cases that
I'm aware of, there's no KS dictionary indicating pronunciation,
there's no audio companion for _Desky Kernowek_, and the CD for _Skeul
an Tavas_ features a variety of pronunciations, some of which I
suspect are not entirely standard in places (such as "imach" with a
final /x/).

> I am travelling and am not at home with my sources, but I did a quick look at words with "â" in An Beybel Sans.

Thank you very much for this.

> 3) Vowels where "â" marks a dialectal vowel alternation, usually long but occasionally short in derivatives: (10)
> âls, âls-ma, âlsyow     (15, 1, 20)
> Brâs, brâs, brâs-ma, brâs-na, brâs-pàn, brâs-saw, Brâssa, brâssa, Brâster, brâster, brâster-ma, brâstereth, brâsyon, VRÂS, Vrâs, vrâs, vrâs-ma, vrâs, vrâssa, Vrâster, vrâster, vrâstereth, vrâsyon     (36, 962, 21, 3, 1, 1, 4, 87, 2, 33, 1, 4, 9, 1, 1, 216, 4, 15, 4, 15, 7, 9)
> Cân, cân, Gân, gân, gân-ma, gân-na, [Ganow], Gânow, [ganow], [ganowow], hân     (33, 31, 1, 10, 11, 1, [1], [1], [196], [3], 3)
> Clâv, clâv, clâv-, clâv-oll, glâv       (1, 84, 1, 1, 3)
> Fâls, [fals], fâls, fâls-cabel, fâls-derivas, fâls-descadoryon, fâls-dùstuniow, Fâls-dùstuny, fâls-dùstuny, fâls-duwow, Fâls-esperans, fâls-fara, fâls-gober, fâls-gobrow, fâls-gwarek, fâls-gwreg, fâls-hunrosow, fâls-lavarow, fâls-profecy, fâls-profettys, fâls-prontyryon, fâls-venyn-na, fâls-vesyon, fâls-vesyons, fâls-was, fâls-wesyon, fâls-wonesyjy, fâls-yn, [falsa], [falslych], fâlslych, Fâlsury, fâlsury        (3, [4], 82, 1, 1, 1, 2, 1, 3, 4, 1, 1, 9, 4, 2, 1, 1, 1, 3, 1, 2, 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 1, 1, 5, 5, 2, 1, 40)
> Glân, glân, [glander], glânder, lân, lânder     (4, 136, 1, 2, 1, 3)
> Gwâv, gwâv, gwâvas, gwâvy       (1, 16, 1, 1)
> gwlân, wlân     (14, 5)
> hâv, hâvy       (24, 1)
> tâl, dâl, thâl, adâl    (15, 12, 8, 83)
> Of these 10 words, 3 of them end in -ân (cân, glân, gwlân), 3 of them end in -âv (clâv, gwâv, hâv), 2 of them end in -âls (âls, fâls), 1 in -âs (brâs), and 1 in -âl (tâl)

And of those, all but _âls, fâls_ are fairly easily recognisable since
they end in a single, voiced consonant. (At least the base word; for
derived words or compounds such as _brâster, glânder_ the student will
need to recognise the base: not a particularly onerous requirement.)

> I don't believe that this is too difficult for anyone to learn.

No; once such a list is present, it's not too bad.

I think my main difficult was that I had little way to estimate the
scope of the issue. Now that I know about _âls, fâls_ it will be
simpler. (And the fact that even counting brâv, gwâv, etc., there
aren't that many: ten plus derivatives in the Bible.)

Again, I think it would be useful to the learner if a complete list of
such words (either just âls-fâls words, or all such words including
brâs, gwâv, and friends) were available somewhere at some point.
(Similar to the list of "Words with Unpredictably Long Vowels in the
SWF" in that specification.)

Thank you!

Philip Newton <philip.newton at gmail.com>

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