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A new forum dedicated to Kernewek - the Cornish language, Cornish culture and the history of the Duchy of Cornwall
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factotum
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Post by factotum » Fri Apr 09, 2010 2:56 am

Ynmedh Everson :

Nicholas’ hypothesis of the prosodic shift is irrelevant.

We did notice this not so subtle change of tack some time ago. Basically having been unable to convince us that MC and/or possibly LC was pronounced more of less 'like English' or 'like Penwyth dialect', they fall back on the defense that many people can't pronounce Cornish correctly (due to poor teaching, or poor reconstructions of the language in the past) and so we must throw in the towel and just accept it. Well that's certainly one attitude, but it would lead to the 'Cornic' that an earlier generation of revivalists were ridiculed for using.

Everson and Williams claim to be professional/trained linguists. Everywhere else in the world the linguistic establishment appears these days to be practically falling over backwards to help communities retain/regain their languages, as fully and as accurately as possible. Yet you appear to be totally out of step. If people in the revival cannot speak Cornish correctly they are hardly to be blamed. Getting to grips with an unfamliliar phonology is difficult without careful teaching, special techniques and special training. Yet instead of assisting us to put things right, you simply mock us for getting them wrong and at the same time encourage us to make yet more errors rather than less. You who know better cannot be let off the hook so easily. What, I wonder, are your motives for trying to perpetuate such a travesty?

The 'crises' of the 1970's and 80's in the revival was that it became clear that an anglicised pronunciation had been grafted on to MC. Nance and Co. could hardly be blamed, they were doing the best they could. There were three ways to resolve this mismatch.

Gendall's way was to change the grammer etc. to LC which he believed had a Penwyth dialect type of pronunciation. This can now be disputed, at least in part, but it was a genuine attempt to fix the problem. It might have been successful but clearly hasn't, since RLC has never had much of a following.

The second approach was Ken's, fix the pronunciation and spelling. This has been successful as far as the written language goes, less so for the spoken language, where for example intensive retraining of teachers was called for. Perhaps no one appreciated how persistent the 'tradition of mispronunciation' would be (Ken certainly didn't). It should be noted that as we move more into a world of easy aural communication with sound and video files easily distributed on line, this becomes a far more pressing need than in previous decades when print predominated.

The third approach, a very cunning one at that, was Williams' in CT and later. Let's pretend that MC really was pronounced in the Nancian ad hoc manner (for all I know he may have believed this). And lets then rewite the history of the language to "make it so". Well his bluff has been called, his theories don't stand up, although they have created much confusion in the minds of ordinary learners. Was this his real intention?

What this shows clearly perhaps is that it's high time to review the methods we use for teaching and learning Cornish. Do we actually want to revive the language, or just to study it? If so perhaps we need to look at all the available models for creating fluent and accurate speakers. Most of the techniques seem to be out there, often used with other small languages. One thing all the 'experts' seem to agree on though is that classroom teaching alone rarely gets people to fluency, rather it was always intended principally to teach reading and writing.

 

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factotum
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Post by factotum » Fri Apr 09, 2010 3:10 am

"You can believe what you like. I am sure that you do believe that they “were” both pronounced [nː]. But they are not
pronounced differently in Revived Cornish. UC and UCR users say [dʒɪn]
and [pɛn]. RLC users say [dʒɪn] and [pɛᵈn]. NOBODY says *[dʒɪᵈn]. This
is why we suggest that pre-occluders spell jyn/pedn and non-pre-occluders spell jyn/penn."

 

And yet in CW, the 'foundation text' for KS, jynn is rhymed with erbynn (the latter historically a by-form of penn). Since the second syllable of erbynn is stressed, there would be no neutralisation of length, so both words would have had the same sound, if not they wouldn't have rhymed. That's how the system worked in Cornish, just as it does in Welsh and Breton. This is no great feat of deduction, it's there in the ms for anyone to see, I've reproduced the lines in question here in the past. It's as plain as the nose on your face. It's also plain that Jordan sometimes transcribed this sound as 'dn' and sometimes as plain 'n', seemingly at random. I imagine he sometimes copied what was before him ('n') and sometimes spelled as he spoke ('dn'). However there is no evidence to suggest a consistent difference between these two words, quite the reverse.

So now who is living in some theoretical cloud cuckoo land, and who is actually looking at the texts?

 

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factotum
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Post by factotum » Fri Apr 09, 2010 3:22 am

To aspire to better pronunciation is laudable. The worst thing about Revived Cornish pronunciation is “English” diphthongized vowel quality. That should be improved.

Why pick on one fault any more than another? If Ben and his pupils could get things right so can anyone else, with help where needed. The worst thing about RC for me, is the lack of proper stress/intonation/quantity, since this reduces the historic verse texts to rather obscure prose. Whereas pronounced properly quite a lot of it is rather grand. It's most of what we have of traditional Cornish, so we ought to make the most of it and enjoy it (and build on it). It's uniquely Cornish. Removing this feature from the language simply rips it's heart out. The odd off-colour vowel is a stubbed-toe by comparison.

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Marhak
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Post by Marhak » Fri Apr 09, 2010 6:24 am

Do you ever sleep, Keith?

pietercharles
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Post by pietercharles » Fri Apr 09, 2010 7:19 am

marhak said:

Do you ever sleep, Keith?



 

Na wra, dell hevel.

Chons da rag an hwarvos y'n lyverva hedhyw!

Karesk
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Post by Karesk » Fri Apr 09, 2010 7:31 am

Pes da ov vy ow klewes bos Morvoren nowydh war'n hyns. Y whaytyav agan bos mar dhadhelek es lemmyn pan dheu hi, may wrello hi kavoes omma kemmys argemmynnans heb kost hag a kyv lyver Evertype.

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Marhak
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Post by Marhak » Fri Apr 09, 2010 7:37 am

Ah, meur ras rag 'gas bolunjedh da.  A wrussowgh whi redya adro dhe'n wharvos y'n paper newodhow?  Res yw dhymm parusy ragdho.

Karesk
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Post by Karesk » Fri Apr 09, 2010 7:42 am

(pardon my mutations too late to edit them)

Karesk
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Post by Karesk » Fri Apr 09, 2010 8:14 am

Ny redis an papur, ny won an pyth a wreta yn lyverva mes chons da. Na ankov an bib blomm!

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Anselm
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Post by Anselm » Fri Apr 09, 2010 8:18 am

David said:

One can debate the value of Nicholas Williams translating 20th and 21st Century English prose into  Neo-16th Century Cornish,

 



 

That's fair enough. Translation has made an important contribution to the development of languages and the growth of literature in many countries. Sometimes, it can be crucial. The Irish state publishing house An Gu/m conducted a programme of translation for many years. Opinion on the overall merits of this venture is still divided, although a number of works - Seoasamh O/ Grianna's translation of Joseph Conrad, for example - are still highly valued.
Anselm

'Against a promontory my ship' Rump L. Stiltz-Kinn

'With regret I feel that unless you have a serious change of heart your presence at the Mennaye on Cornish Pirates match days is no longer desired.'
Rod Coward
CEO
Cornish Pirates

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Anselm
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Post by Anselm » Fri Apr 09, 2010 8:21 am

David said:

Revived Cornish (not traditional Cornish ) will be influenced by the native language of those speaking it, maybe that is not a bad thing,Modern Revived Cornish is not Irish or Breton which has a reserve of native speakers, it is re-inventing itself. 



 

I've observed a certain amount of code-switching, in which people make a fuller and more accurate realization of the prescribed pronunciation when speaking formally, reading a text out aloud, or talking to somebody they haven't met before.
Anselm

'Against a promontory my ship' Rump L. Stiltz-Kinn

'With regret I feel that unless you have a serious change of heart your presence at the Mennaye on Cornish Pirates match days is no longer desired.'
Rod Coward
CEO
Cornish Pirates

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Anselm
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Post by Anselm » Fri Apr 09, 2010 8:30 am

factotum said:

Gendall's way was to change the grammer etc. to LC which he believed had a Penwyth dialect type of pronunciation. This can now be disputed, at least in part, but it was a genuine attempt to fix the problem. It might have been successful but clearly hasn't, since RLC has never had much of a following.

 

 



 

If Dick had called some of his disciples to order, and concentrated on producing more wonderful things for us to read, then with his literary gifts he would have carried the day.
Anselm

'Against a promontory my ship' Rump L. Stiltz-Kinn

'With regret I feel that unless you have a serious change of heart your presence at the Mennaye on Cornish Pirates match days is no longer desired.'
Rod Coward
CEO
Cornish Pirates

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factotum
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Post by factotum » Fri Apr 09, 2010 10:18 am

Gendall has produced textbooks and dictionaries over the years, no doubt an immense amount of work. The only literary output I'm aware of is that he translated quite a number of songs, a very important contribution to the popularity of the Revival. (This was when he was still in the mainstream). Later, after several had become popular, almost 'traditional' amongst us, he attempted to suppress them by forbidding the words to be reproduced on song sheets etc. (not permanent publications, but the things that were run-off and handed round at gatherings). This IMO was about as mean-spirited as you can get, some of them had even to be retranslated.

---------

When Cornish is fully revived, by which I mean when there is normal intergenerational transmission once again, then it will of course begin to evolve in it's own way, and the choices of such new native speakers, when there are enough to form a community (or communities), must be respected. But pending that happy future, we need to remain bound fairly closely to the historical language, or else we'll be accused of making the whole thing up. While I believe that as writers and readers many are now fairly competent to invent new vocabulary and idioms (as we must), I wouldn't give any present-day speaker's pronunciation priority over what I can deduce from the texts. (Would you want to learn to pronounce a language by copying non-native speakers?)

Seriously, the reason is that this is a difficult and still evolving part of the reconstruction of Cornish, (although great strides have been made over the past 20 or so years), but also because far too little attention has been given to teaching what has been gleaned. This I suspect is all part and parcel of the teaching strategies that are mostly used to teach Cornish, and to be fair second languages in general in the UK. Traditional classroom teaching was apparently evolved to teach Latin and Greek, and hence teaches reading and writing and formal grammar, but (so it would seem) is next to useless when it comes to actual fluency, pronunciation, and indeed any sort of oral communication. If you're learning say French, this is not too bad, since if you ever really need these skills you'll probably be around native French speakers and so get all the input you need. With a revived language (or a language that's no longer commonly spoken) the deficiency is far more serious. This is why the thousands of people who learn Irish or Scots Gaelic etc. at school as a subject (not as the medium of instruction) usually cannot use the language to any great extent.

The problem is by no means special to Cornish, so hopefully we can learn from others, but it is more serious if we actually want to revive the language as a means of communication. Between 1988 and 2006 a total of 104 people passed the Kesva's Grade IV examination. That's the top grade. So there ought to be over 100 fluent Cornish speakers in additional to those who learned before and after those dates, who didn't bother with exams and so on.  So perhaps a figure around 200-300 for the language as a whole? Yet the Kowethas survey of its members in 2005 with a c2/3 response rate, turned up only 80 people who claimed Grade 4 level or better, equivalent to c120 for the whole organisation, and of these less than half rated themselves as 'fluent'. If spending several years working your way up the grades doesn't leave you fluent, then what is the point of the exercise? Are we attracting what the Welsh sometimes call 'professional learners', people who are there for the ride rather than the destination? In the Maga survey, 81 people claimed  fluency in speaking, and 105 claimed to be able to follow 'complex spoken Cornish', interestingly almost exactly the same figure who claimed to speak Cornish on a daily basis (106). It this survey netted around half the Cornish speakers, then we're again looking at say 200 fluent people. But does 'fluent' mean anything like the same thing for Cornish as it does for Welsh or French etc.?

Is c200 fluent speakers reasonable after 100+ years of revival, and over half a century of widespread teaching etc. Can we really expect to revive Cornish without doing a lot better?

Sorry, I need to start a new "How to get more people speaking Cornish" thread. Later maybe, but anyone else can start it if they wish.

 

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Marhak
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Post by Marhak » Fri Apr 09, 2010 2:58 pm

Re: first paragraph.  There is a story to that, Keith, and it wasn't mean-spirited.  I can recall the outline of this.  A certain record company then in existence had shafted him regarding rights and royalties and it will all he could do to regain control of his own intellectual property.  Other people were gaining from what was rightfully his, while he was getting nothing.  I remember that this treatment upset him very deeply, and he can't be blamed for feeling that way.

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Marhak
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Post by Marhak » Fri Apr 09, 2010 3:01 pm

What would be interesting (and telling) about those figures would be the advanced average age of those speakers.  There is only one solution.  Get Cornish into schools, as a matter of absolute priority.

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