[Spellyans] Grave accent query

iacobianus at googlemail.com iacobianus at googlemail.com
Sat Feb 4 10:05:14 GMT 2017

Dear All,


I wonder if anyone can clarify for me please the use in Standard Cornish spelling of the grave accent on vowels other than ‘u’ in the second syllable of a disyllabic word.


In Desky Kernowek Michael Everson wrote (page xxiv) ‘Stressed vowels in disyllables ... are short.’ This explains the form ‘arâg’, in use from the outset in Standard Cornish: the long vowel is treated by the Standard Cornish spelling system as exceptional, and so needs to be marked with the circumflex. But it does not explain the form ‘abàn’, where the accent is apparently pleonastic.


The form ‘agès’ has now appeared in print (Dracùla), though it is ‘ages’ in Desky Kernowek. Is it now the rule that one carries into a disyllable a grave accent employed for the monosyllabic cognate (pàn, ès) where the stress remains on the accented letter?


Personally, I should prefer to avoid such pleonasm, and write ‘aban’, ‘ages’. There is a risk that the accent will come to be seen as a marker of stress (since it is not actually required as a marker of length: contrast ‘arâg’); this will breach the principle that Standard Cornish spelling does not attempt to mark stress patterns.


Finally, according to Desky Kernowek ‘dhywar’ is stressed on the first syllable, though Nance (1938) thought it was stressed on the second. I have not yet seen ‘[dhywàr]’ in print, but ‘abàn’ and ‘agès’ will presumably justify it for those who retain Nance’s pronunciation.


Best regards, 


Ian Jackson
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