Spellyans

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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Re: Spellyans

Post by factotum » Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:36 am

And I know perfectly well that Nance was wrong on this point, as in not recognising _oe_ and _eu_, even though the last is pretty obvious from the texts, was pointed out by Smith, and indeed was one of Williams' objections to UC. But for some reason his picture of Cornish became frozen at that point.

People learn Cornish in classes and pronounce as they are taught. At one time in was the custom in English grammar schools to teach Latin and Greek with an ad hoc heavily anglicised pronunciation, a pronunciation still frequently heard when non specialists recite Latin tags, mottos etc. Now however I believe these languages are taught with something much closer to their historic sounds (e.g. Allen's Vox Latina), and consequently this is how pupils pronounce them. Exactly the same is true of Cornish, which like it or not is at present just like Latin, a "taught language", not a fully natural language.

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Anselm
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Re: Spellyans

Post by Anselm » Mon Feb 07, 2011 7:58 am

Mann dhe beub!
Anselm

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'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.'
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Evertype
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Re: Spellyans

Post by Evertype » Mon Feb 07, 2011 10:37 am

factotum wrote:And I know perfectly well that Nance was wrong on this point, as in not recognising _oe_ and _eu_, even though the last is pretty obvious from the texts, was pointed out by Smith, and indeed was one of Williams' objections to UC.
Nance was indeed wrong in omitting /ø/ [øː]~[œ] from his phonology of RMC.

I do not believe that Nance (or Jenner before him) was wrong in positing /i/ [iː]~[ɪ] nor do I believe that this can be considered to be an awful blot upon the Revived language, since everyone has this phoneme and not your beloved /i/ /ɪ/ distinction. Nobody has your wretched oe either. :o

You can stamp your feed and whine about how bad KK teachers have been for two decades, but you've not succeeded in implementing your construed phonology and you never will. I doubt you'll have much success being an itinerant phonologist correcting all of the KK teachers. Surely you'd've done that by now if you were going to make such a contribution.

(Not that I believe that you actually distinguish [iː] and [ɪː]. I listened to Tim Saunders on YouTube and he says dÿdh [diːð], not *[dɪð]. Just as predicted. Will you be making a recording so we can hear you?)

Morvil
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Re: Spellyans

Post by Morvil » Mon Feb 07, 2011 11:42 am

While I do believe that at some point in the history of the Cornish language the reflexes of Late British (LB) /i/ : /ɪ/ : /ɛ/ were distinguished, I'm not sure how long this three part contrast lasted in Cornish. We begin to see instances of lowering /ɪ/ > /e/ already in the Vocabularium Cornicum (VC). Albert Bock and Ben Bruch have written an excellent article on /ɪ/ > /e/ lowering and Vocalic Alternation and I hope it will be available soon for the interested community to read. Insightful and very well argued.
The evidence for either /ɪ/ > /e/ > /iː/ (or /ɪ/ > /iː/) in (SWF) dydh ~ dedh (MSS <det, dyth, deyth, deth, dith, deeth, dêdh>) is a little more telling than for bys ~ bes (MSS <bit, bys, beys, beis, bis, byes(e), beaz(e), beyz, bŷz>). Interestingly enough (SWF) res (MSS <rys, reys, ris, res, ryes, reis, rez, reiz, rêz>) has a very similar orthographic profile. Maybe an indication that, at least in some varieties of Cornish, old /ɪ/ had not only lowered to /e/, but already merged with old /ɛ/ since the earliest MC texts. It is also conceivable that a contrast remained and the merger of old /ɪ/ and /ɛ/ was a slow process by lexical diffusion that carried on throughout centuries and didn't happen at the same time in all varieties of Cornish.
Proposing dialectal forms is not a cop-out as has been claimed here by some. There are variants attested in the texts that can only be owing to dialectal variation, even if we don't know the exact area of distribution. Differing dialectal forms can be both old, as in the distribution of the alternation between /œ/ : /ɔ/ ~ /œ/ in the stressed vowel of marhogyon (MSS <varogyon, marrouggyon, marregyon, marrogyon>), or younger as in the merger of old /ɪ/ and /ɛ/ which appears to be older in some varieties than in other, and in some contexts didn't occur, typically before /z/ and /ð/, for which there must be a connection to the distribution of the various reflexes of OC /ui/ which also tends to appear as /uː/ before /z/ and /ð/ while falling in with old /ɔ/ in other contexts.
I'm actually very glad the SWF leaves us some leeway to figure out why the Cornish texts show variation and emulate this variation in the revived language.

pietercharles
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Re: Spellyans

Post by pietercharles » Mon Feb 07, 2011 12:46 pm

Morvil wrote:
I'm actually very glad the SWF leaves us some leeway to figure out why the Cornish texts show variation and emulate this variation in the revived language.
Well said!

For myself, I'm actually very glad that the general public gets the opportunity to see all these professional linguists, amateur linguists, pseudo linguists and other linguists battling it out on Cornwall 24 with such lively, cogent debate. Never repeating themselves, never indulging in circular argument, never stating guesswork as fact, but always presenting the language as something exciting, alive, and accessible to all.

Classes in Cornwall are currently bursting at the seams with people that have been attracted to the language by the fascinating linguistic debates they have read on C24. They've found it all so attractive, so exciting. So relevant. You can hardly get a class of beginners past a 'dydh da!' or a cheery 'fatla genes?' before somebody starts a lively debate about whether /ɪ/ > /e/ > /iː/ (or /ɪ/ > /iː/).

These fabulous linguistic debates in public on C24 have done the language an enormous service, to the extent that I can see we'll just have to open more classes in the very near future to deal with the demand they've generated.

It's quite unbelievable how the determined efforts of C24's resident linguists have encouraged such an enormous number of ordinary people to sign up for classes. People who would never have dreamed of learning their own language until it was brought home to them, on C24, what a linguists' nirvana the language is, requiring little more than an MA in Linguistics to get anyone past the first lesson.

Thank goodness you're all working with us, not against us!

Gwrys yn ta, sos. Ni a garsa drehevel agan hatt dhywgh.

Morvil
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Re: Spellyans

Post by Morvil » Mon Feb 07, 2011 12:53 pm

Factotum a scrifas:
It's true that the distinction between /i/ and /I/ was sufficiently neutralised in unstressed finals for them to be regularly rhymed together, although they may still have been distinguishable in deliberate speech. However a word like kegin still basically contains /i/ which takes on its distinctive sound when the stress shifts on to it, as in the plural keginow, or a derivative e.g. kegine 'to cook' (implying keginav, keginydh ...); keginer 'a (male) cook, chief'; keginyz 'cooked'. So writing *kegyn is simply misleading, and altogether unhelpful to learners.
The phonemic contrast /i/ : /ɪ/ wasn't just neutralised in unstressed position, it was neutralised in all contexts in which /i/ and /ɪ/ were short. While /ɪ/ had a more pronounced tendency to lower to /e/ generally, short /i/ also underwent this development which shows that when short original /i/ and /ɪ/ had most likely coalesced already.
I do, however, agree with you that /i/ and /ɪ/ remained distinct when long, maybe not in all contexts (e.g. before /z/ and /ð/), but generally yes.
The word kegin appears only in VC keghin; BM gegyn, gegen; N.Boson gegen, Lhuyd has kegin (presumably from VC). There is no plural form attested. Neither are the other forms you cite attested, so it is impossible to say that this is a justification for assuming an underlying /i/. The verbal adjective kegynys is attested in BK as the only form that adds a suffix and thus shifts the stress to the penultimate syllable. And as we know a MSS <y> can be the reflex of /i/, /ɪ/ or even /ɛ/, as an */ɛ/ could have undergone i-affection owing to the /ɪ/ in the ending of the verbal adjective. So, back to square one!

Morvil
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Re: Spellyans

Post by Morvil » Mon Feb 07, 2011 12:54 pm

Factotum a scrifas:
It's true that there are very few words where /i/ is stressed before two or more consonants and so pronounced short. This is also the case in Welsh, showing that the cause lies way back in Common Brittonic rather than being an active force in Cornish or Welsh as we know them.


An example of historical /i/ in short, stressed position is SWF dillas 'clothes' (MSS <dillat, dyllas, dylles, delles, dillas, dillaz>). Note that BM has several examples of delles, which shows the vowel was lowered, at least in the scribe's variety of Cornish, and the vowel 'behaved' exactly like short /ɪ/. Because of e forms it impossible to ascertain whether there was a phonemic contrast /i/ : /ɪ/ in short stressed position which would have to have been pronounced something like : [ɪ] or [ɪ] : [e]. I believe that the stressed vowels in dillas and, say dyllo were pronounced identically in this context, i.e. the phonemic contrast between /i/ and /ɪ/ was neutralised i this contaxt.

Morvil
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Re: Spellyans

Post by Morvil » Mon Feb 07, 2011 12:55 pm

Factotum a scrifas:
However examples exist, if only in compounds such as gwinlann 'vinyard'.


I cannot find an attestation for gwinlan. Can you point me towards it?

Morvil
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Re: Spellyans

Post by Morvil » Mon Feb 07, 2011 12:56 pm

Factotum a scrifas:
[quote]Nevertheless, the Welsh who speak their language every day by the tens of thousands, still find it useful to distinguish 'i' from 'y' in writing, even in finals. The need is greater in Cornish were reliance on the written word is so much more important.[quote]

I agree in principle, that <i> and <y> should be distinguished in Revived Cornish. My distribution would differ from yours. While you would distinguish by etymology, I would distinguish by textual analysis. I would spell <i> wherever both Middle Cornish and Late Cornish forms show /i/, but write the alternating couple MC based <y> ~ LC based <e> where MC and LC differ, as well as MC <y> (for original /ɪ/) in monosyllables and <e> in polysyllables where we can see VA (Vocalic Alternation).

Morvil
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Re: Spellyans

Post by Morvil » Mon Feb 07, 2011 12:57 pm

The MC mss actually show a sporadic tendency for e to become y as a result of analogy, vowel harmony, raising before certain consonant groups, or whatever.

There is nothing sporadic about this, it is quite frequent. Nance normalised the MC spellings and so phenomena like i-affection show up in UC, but Ken George stated in PSRC that secondary or enhanced i-affection would not be standardised in KK - hence many KK forms in <e> that actually show <y> in the MSS.

General lowering of /ɪ/ as well as secondary i-affection essentially neutralised the a definitive phonemic contrast between short /i/ : /ɪ/ : /e/ in many contexts - a feature which is also evident in LC and even in Anglo-Cornish dialect.
This shows that these sounds were perceived as similar. I don't really see the opposite tendency, y > e, even though the two sounds appear to have merged as LC e.


It's there. Check the MSS again, there are many, many examples of <y> > <e>.
Nor do I see examples of i and y interchanging, other than the neutralisation in finals already mentioned.
Again, there are many examples. Check the MSS spellings of words like dillas, mires, gwitha etc. etc. etc.

Morvil
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Re: Spellyans

Post by Morvil » Mon Feb 07, 2011 1:00 pm

Thank PieterCharles for your sarcasm. If you don't like this discussion, simply change to another thread, but let those who want to discuss these matters do so, friendly, amicably and constructively. You're like the person complaining about the TV programme, but who is unable to find the 'off'-switch. If you don't like it, don't watch it. But please don't try to censure our debate by implying that the Cornish Revival is not important to us or that we were 'working against it'. Thank you.

Morvil
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Re: Spellyans

Post by Morvil » Mon Feb 07, 2011 1:11 pm

Sorry, I got something wrong with embedding the quotes... I'll try again...

Factotum a scrifas:
The MC mss actually show a sporadic tendency for e to become y as a result of analogy, vowel harmony, raising before certain consonant groups, or whatever.
There is nothing sporadic about this, it is quite frequent. Nance normalised the MC spellings and so phenomena like i-affection show up in UC, but Ken George stated in PSRC that secondary or enhanced i-affection would not be standardised in KK - hence many KK forms in <e> that actually show <y> in the MSS.

General lowering of /ɪ/ as well as secondary i-affection essentially neutralised the a definitive phonemic contrast between short /i/ : /ɪ/ : /e/ in many contexts - a feature which is also evident in LC and even in Anglo-Cornish dialect.
This shows that these sounds were perceived as similar. I don't really see the opposite tendency, y > e, even though the two sounds appear to have merged as LC e.
It's there. Check the MSS again, there are many, many examples of <y> > <e>.
Nor do I see examples of i and y interchanging, other than the neutralisation in finals already mentioned.
Again, there are many examples. Check the MSS spellings of words like dillas, mires, gwitha etc. etc. etc.

Tennven
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Re: Spellyans

Post by Tennven » Mon Feb 07, 2011 1:23 pm

Pieter, I understand...

However, I do find that underneath all the bluster and bull**** the conversations actually about people theories and development of cornish sounds/orthography is most interesting. Currently I think both sides offer something interesting, whose right I couldn't say?

Probably somewhere along Morvils thinking, if I'm reading it right, i think thats down the middle!?!

Morvil
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Re: Spellyans

Post by Morvil » Mon Feb 07, 2011 2:36 pm

Tennven a scrifas:
Probably somewhere along Morvils thinking, if I'm reading it right, i think thats down the middle!?!
I'd say so, though leaning to one or the other "side" depending on the textual evidence. Of course the textual evidence needs to be interpreted and even these interpretations can differ respectively. This is why we should all be duly careful in making absolute statements about what Cornish phonology was like. All we have is our pet theories, and of course they get fleshed out, develop and change as well.
All I'm saying is that there are many theories and hypotheses flying around and we should be careful to dismiss any of the too quickly. I think that's also the way to discussing these matters rationally and with mutual respect instead of arguing in an absolutist fashion what we believe was to have been the case.

Morvil
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Re: Spellyans

Post by Morvil » Mon Feb 07, 2011 2:41 pm

Factotum a scrifas:
The MC mss actually show a sporadic tendency for e to become y as a result of analogy, vowel harmony, raising before certain consonant groups, or whatever.
Evertype a scrifas:
Vowel harmony. Really? Vowel harmony? That's something operative in Uralic and Turkic. You'll be trying to convince us that Cornish had a tj and dj next. But "or whatever" just shows that you really don't know what you're on about.
Actually, phonological processes such as a-, or i-affection (Umlaut) are certain types of vowel harmony. Given, they have not eventually been grammaticalised in the way that it is found in Uralic languages, but they are a form of vowel harmony nonetheless.

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