[Spellyans] The Cornish for 'cousin'

Ken MacKinnon ken at ferintosh.org
Tue Jul 29 10:28:10 BST 2014

A gowetha,

These ideas on grammar, syntax, etc.,  seem to have at basis a concept of 'universal grammar' as developed by Noam Chomsky.   Recent theorists have tended to challenge this theory and reject the possibility of a genetic wired-in grammatical system in the human brain.

- an ken Ken

-----Original Message-----
From: Spellyans [mailto:spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net] On Behalf Of Philip Newton
Sent: 29 July 2014 08:19
To: Standard Cornish discussion list
Subject: Re: [Spellyans] The Cornish for 'cousin'

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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