[Spellyans] Ian Jackson: introduction

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Fri Dec 25 21:02:00 GMT 2015

> On 15 Dec 2015, at 18:04, Michael Everson <everson at evertype.com> wrote:
> On 15 Dec 2015, at 14:36, A. J. Trim <ajtrim at msn.com> wrote:
>> The MAGA on-line dictionary gives:
>> ponya
>> ponya
>> vb run / trot
>> M: 
>> ‘pɤnja
> Gosh, I really do love this fiction. In the Revived Language, despite the influence of most speakers’ native English-language dialect, the short and long forms of phonemes “aimed at” is simple, and not more difficult than most languages, including English. After study of this, in KS we specify and recommend:
> /a/ [æː æ]
> /i/ [iː ɪ]
> /e/ [eː ɛ]
> /o/ [oː ɔ]
> /u/ [uː ʊ]
> /ɒ/ [ɒː ɔ] 
> /ø/ [øː œ]~[eː ɛ]
> /y/ [yː ʏ]~[iː ɪ]
> Here both quantity and quality differ for Cornish long and short vowels — in a common 
> The "Middle Cornish” transcription of short /o/ here is simply unrounded to /ɤ/ rather than lowered to /ɔ/. I think it is too fine a distinction, and [oː ɤ] to be far more rare than [oː ɔ] for it to be plausible. Even in Received pronunciation, /ɤ/ is found as an allophone of /ə/ between velar consonants. 

Nadelik lôwen dhe whei! 

Ha wolcom dh’agan bagas, Ian Jackson. 

Ken George proposed the transcription [ɤ] for short KK ‹oe›, e.g. KK ‹poell› [pɤlː] ‘reason’, i.e. the short allophone of /o/. He transcribes ‹poenya› ‘run, running’ as [ˈpoˑnja]. The monosyllabic 3rd person singular of the present-future tense would be [poːn], according to his analysis of Middle Cornish phonology. 

One may differ with his analysis, and other theories are as possible (or impossible) as his. It may be interesting to look at the attested forms of this verb:

Verbal noun: 
‹ponye› (PC, RD), 
‹ponya› (TH, Pr), 
‹pụnnia› (Lh), 
‹pụnnya› (Lh), 
‹pannya› (Pr), 
‹punnia› (Pr), 
‹punnya› (Pr); 

Verbal adjective: 
‹poenys› (Pr), 
‹poenis› (Pr);
‹ponyas› (PA), 
‹poonias› (TT); 

‹poynyn› (OM); 

>> L: 
>> ‘pʊnjɐ
> More fiction!

Not necessarily, simply a differing theory from the one you expect, or believe in. 

> How is this [ɐ] to be distinguished from [ə]?

The same way [ɐ] is distinguished from [ə] in languages where the difference occurs. German, for example distinguishes the two: ‹reite› “(I) ride” [ˈʀaetə] : ‹Reiter› “rider” [ˈʀaetɐ]. 

In the dictionary I am in the process of putting together I give Middle Cornish ‹ponya› and transcribe it [ˈpɔnjə]. The Late Cornish ‹pònya› (diacritic optional) is [ˈpʊnjɐ]. This fits Lhuyd’s ‹pụnnia› quite well. The unstressed [ɐ] is not phonemic but represents a post-tonic allophone of /ə/ based on the frequent occurrence of the graph ‹a› in this position in written traditional Cornish after TH. I tried as best to accommodate Richard Gendall’s pronunciation, albeit in a more systematic phonology. His pronunciation represents the one to which most learners of Revived Late Cornish aspire. I am not claiming that this is what Late Cornish sounded like, just that it is a workable aspirational phonology that ,ore or less fits what speakers of Revived Late Cornish are doing or trying to do. It is thus not fiction, but a theory on the one hand, and practiced by some, aspired to by others. 

> How could anyone demonstrate that it is “near-open central” (ɐ) rather than mid central (ə)? Even in Received Pronunciation, [ɐ] is more often transcribed [ʌ].

One cannot, of course as far as traditional spoken Cornish is concerned, just as one cannot determine whether traditional speakers would have uttered *[ɯ], *[ʊ], *[ɵ], *[ə], *[ɤ], *[o], *[ɔ], *[ʌ], *[ɐ], *[ɞ], or *[ɒ] as the stressed vowel of the word. Looking at the traditional attestations it could have been any of them. 

> As Nicholas has pointed out, short o and short u may well have been in free variation regionally or temporally or both while Cornish was still spoken as a native language. Is it necessary or desirable to try to maintain this (non-)distinction in the Revived language?

I cannot answer this question, though I can say that it is being done, considering there are several schools of thought where the pronunciation of Revived Cornish is concerned. Some go for something closer to [ʊ] or [ə], while others go for [ɤ] or [ɔ]. Who is right? Who is wrong? Who can determine that? 

> In KS we are cognizant of the important pronunciation markers of RLC, but some of them, where there was free variation throughout Cornish history, do not seem to be important enough to retain.

If what you say is true then who would be capable of determining which vowel is the appropriate one to use/promote/aspire to in Revived Cornish. Revived Cornish in itself shows a great deal of internal variation, as do the traditional Cornish written remains. 

> We write bÿs~bës because distinctiveness in long stressed vowels is important. We could write pùnya alongside ponya, but this would multiply the number of word-forms rather a lot for little gain.

True, though the variation is real in Revived Cornish. Since the 2014 Review optional diacritics are permitted for the SWF and a number of Revived Late Cornish users have agreed upon a set of diacritics that will allow to mark the SWF spellings in order to derive the pronunciation in Revived Late Cornish. In the case of ‹ponya› this would be ‹ò› that shows the pronunciation to aspire to to be [ʊ] or [ə], rather than [ɒ], which would be the ‘expected’ reading pronunciation of the stressed vowel in ‹ponya› without the diacritic. So in this aforementioned version of the SWF (Late Cornish based; traditional graphs; + diacritics), it has been settled to spell ‹pònya›. Neil Kennedy has proposed the name ‹Kernôwek Bew› for this variety of the SWF. 

> I don’t believe that the evidence for traditional Cornish permits such fine phonetic detail;

Probably not, but modern speakers of Cornish will have phonetic detail in their speech, whether this is ‘authentic’ (which can never be determined), or not.  

> the scheme KS offers as shown in the table above is simpler, more likely, and easier for English-speakers to manage.

There are interesting attitudes found within the Revival which point to contradictory opinions on Cornish phonology. On the one hand you will hear comments such as “Cornish should sound less English” while the same person may say “but this is not how we pronounce it” - which is often phonologically a heavily anglicised pronunciation of Revived Cornish. 

> We would transcribe ‹ponja› as [ˈpɔnjə]. Were there a ‹pùnya›, we would transcribe it as [ˈpʊnjə]. 

Well, ‘we’ wouldn’t, as ‘we’ have decided to write ‹ponya› and/or ‹pònya›. On a conciliatory note, I think we are close enough in order to be able to understand each other, as well as being within the range of variation conceivable for traditional Cornish. 

Maybe one could agree on a phonological form */ˈponjə/ where */o/ can vary between [ʊ] ~ [ɤ] ~ [ɔ], and */ə/ between [ə] ~ [ɐ] ~ [a]. I find neither of these solutions particularly outrageous or fictitious. 

Ehes da dhewgh, Nadelik lôwen arta, ha bledhen nowydh da dhe whei, les na wren nei scrifa kens pedn vledhen. 


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