[Spellyans] The Cornish for 'cousin'

Philip Newton philip.newton at gmail.com
Tue Jul 29 08:19:01 BST 2014

On 29 July 2014 00:20, ewan wilson <butlerdunnit at ntlworld.com> wrote:
> I think you both speak common sense and make an unanswerable point about
> first language speakers. The speech of those few speakers should be, in my
> opinion, well and truly recorded. They very probably reproduce in
> instinctual way the way the old monoglots and fluent bi-lingual speakers
> spoke and are closer to the pre revived pronunication than all the more
> sophisticated learners put together!

I wonder why you think that!

They can quite possibly be interesting sources for grammar and syntax
questions: someone using a language natively and regularly will
probably have developed a stable system, extrapolating from their
input, and this may approximate that of past fluent monoglots.

But I fail to see how this could happen with pronunciation. From what
I know, pronunciation generally comes either from one’s parents or
one’s peers (e.g. at school); I doubt that it would spontaneously
gravitate to some hypothetical ideal past pronunciation.

For example, I gather that many people believe that the Cornish word
for ‘is’ (yu, yw) was probably pronounced something like ‘eeoo’ (a
falling diphthong), much as other diphthong such as ‘aw’ or ‘ew’ or
‘ay’ or ‘ey’ are falling diphthongs, but if a native speaker hears
‘you’ (a rising diphthong), as I believe many people who learned UC
speak, then I would imagine that the native speaker will use this
rising diphthong (that they constantly heard growing up) rather than
the pre-revived falling diphthong.


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