Orthography, Revival and Change.

A new forum dedicated to Kernewek - the Cornish language, Cornish culture and the history of the Duchy of Cornwall
Pokorny
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Re: Orthography, Revival and Change.

Post by Pokorny » Tue Feb 15, 2011 2:07 pm

Nance 1938, reprinted 1990, Introduction:

eu, ew, yu, yw are all like ew in "dew".

Nance obviously rhymed UC clew with tew. He would even have done so if he had spelt them clyw and tew because in any case he instructed people to mispronounce both (as **klyou and **tyou).

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Evertype
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Re: Orthography, Revival and Change.

Post by Evertype » Tue Feb 15, 2011 2:21 pm

Williams pointed that out in 1995, too.

pietercharles
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Re: Orthography, Revival and Change.

Post by pietercharles » Tue Feb 15, 2011 2:42 pm

Spot on, Pokorny.

I think that is what Keeley was trying to say in an earlier post - that the Unified users that she met sounded 'clewes' in much the same way as she sounded 'klywes'. That is, rhyming with English 'dew' (yes, I know that neither of them should rhyme with English 'dew').

To witness this you only have to go to the Gorsedh. When all the Bards shout 'klyw/clew/klew' the overwhelming impression is that they've shouted something very close to the English 'clue', even if you're standing by a whole group of people that 'should know better'.

As has been pointed out, 'kewsel' and 'dew' are often pronounced 'kyoosl' and 'dyoo' (there are many other examples). This is clearly Nance's legacy because, contentious as this may be, it is heard almost exclusively from Unfied and ex-Unified users.

This is a clear example, it seems to me, of why we should not be basing recommended pronunciations on the way Revivalists currently pronounce Cornish, as some would have us do.

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Marhak
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Re: Orthography, Revival and Change.

Post by Marhak » Tue Feb 15, 2011 3:10 pm

Lhuyd still provides the only guide to native Cornish pronunciation that even approaches clarity and, again, I recommend Richard Gendall's "Guide to the Pronunciation of Cornish" (Teere ha Tavas 1992), which is an analysis of Lhuyd. It might not be perfect, but it's all we have from when the language was still spoken in the community. Why some won't entertain this utterly defeats me.

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Marhak
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Re: Orthography, Revival and Change.

Post by Marhak » Tue Feb 15, 2011 3:13 pm

Sorry - it's entitled "The Pronunciation of Cornish". I should add that, where Lhuyd likens a sound in Cornish to that of the standard English of his day, Gendall referred to a work about the pronunciation of English up to and including Lhuyd's time.

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Evertype
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Re: Orthography, Revival and Change.

Post by Evertype » Tue Feb 15, 2011 5:02 pm

pietercharles wrote:This is a clear example, it seems to me, of why we should not be basing recommended pronunciations on the way Revivalists currently pronounce Cornish, as some would have us do.
Of whom do you speak? In Spellyans we recommend aw [aʊ], ew [ɛʊ], ow [oʊ], êw~ôw [ɛʊ]~[oʊ], and uw, yw [iʊ].

I ask because of course I have written about exploiting the phonology of the Revived Language. But I have always mentioned caveats with regard to vowel quality.

CJenkin
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Re: Orthography, Revival and Change.

Post by CJenkin » Tue Feb 15, 2011 5:41 pm

pietercharles wrote:Spot on, Pokorny.

I think that is what Keeley was trying to say in an earlier post - that the Unified users that she met sounded 'clewes' in much the same way as she sounded 'klywes'. That is, rhyming with English 'dew' (yes, I know that neither of them should rhyme with English 'dew').

To witness this you only have to go to the Gorsedh. When all the Bards shout 'klyw/clew/klew' the overwhelming impression is that they've shouted something very close to the English 'clue', even if you're standing by a whole group of people that 'should know better'.

As has been pointed out, 'kewsel' and 'dew' are often pronounced 'kyoosl' and 'dyoo' (there are many other examples). This is clearly Nance's legacy because, contentious as this may be, it is heard almost exclusively from Unfied and ex-Unified users.

This is a clear example, it seems to me, of why we should not be basing recommended pronunciations on the way Revivalists currently pronounce Cornish, as some would have us do.
You're quite right, I must admit I was thinking about the call at the Gorsedh which hasn't altered for decades which is neither of the proposed pronounciations but klu: . Nance's legacy is confusion around pronunciation and despite his advice in dictionaries I don't think it is obvious what he often meant because I think he deliberately simplified pronunciation. I can't belief he wasn't aware of the different sounds we're discussing. Surely he knew that is some dialects of english dew is pronounced as Cornish diw through to english Jew. I still think it would be helpful if we could hear some of his Cornish to see what distinctions that he realised, if only to define the debates here more satisfactorily.

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Evertype
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Re: Orthography, Revival and Change.

Post by Evertype » Tue Feb 15, 2011 6:15 pm

In this Nance was following Jenner, and made the same mistake which Jenner did. I would say that this is one of the very few mistakes Jenner made, actually. Have you seen my annotated edition of Jenner, published in February 2010? In this matter it says the following:
Jenner wrote:2.1.2.2.3. eu, ew have the sound of ew {[juː] (in narrow transcrip­tion [i̯uː])} in the English word dew, the usual English long u. This sound is also represented in Cornish by y consonant followed by u, as in the word yu ‘is’ which has exactly the sound of the English per­sonal pronoun you. {Nowa­days it would seem more likely that the sound is [iʊ] (narrowly [iʊ̯]), and that this should be preferred to [juː], though [juː] is widespread in the revived language.}
My annotations are given in {curly brackets}.

Palores
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Re: Orthography, Revival and Change.

Post by Palores » Tue Feb 15, 2011 8:09 pm

Nicholas Williams pointed this out in 1995.
When did he retract his idea that Middle Cornish failed to keep apart the masculine and feminine forms of the numeral 'two'? Or did I miss that?

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Evertype
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Re: Orthography, Revival and Change.

Post by Evertype » Tue Feb 15, 2011 8:24 pm

Where is it that he retracted it?

Palores
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Re: Orthography, Revival and Change.

Post by Palores » Tue Feb 15, 2011 9:18 pm

Where is it that he retracted it?
Please tell me. You are obviously familiar with his writings.

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Evertype
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Re: Orthography, Revival and Change.

Post by Evertype » Tue Feb 15, 2011 9:36 pm

Your question was "When did he retract his idea that Middle Cornish failed to keep apart the masculine and feminine forms of the numeral 'two'?" This implies that you (already) have evidence to suggest that he did so. What is this evidence? Or to put it another way, what makes you think that he did retract this idea?

(I am asking because your question, as posed, is a "Have you stopped beating your wife?" kind of question.)

carrek
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Re: Orthography, Revival and Change.

Post by carrek » Tue Feb 15, 2011 9:57 pm

Evertype wrote:Your question was "When did he retract his idea that Middle Cornish failed to keep apart the masculine and feminine forms of the numeral 'two'?" This implies that you (already) have evidence to suggest that he did so. What is this evidence? Or to put it another way, what makes you think that he did retract this idea?

(I am asking because your question, as posed, is a "Have you stopped beating your wife?" kind of question.)
If Nicholas retracted the idea, then answer his question and say when. If he didn't, then tell Palores he didn't. If you don't know, then say you don't know. If you didn't know he did, then say you didn't know he did.

These word games are getting tedious.

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Evertype
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Re: Orthography, Revival and Change.

Post by Evertype » Tue Feb 15, 2011 10:03 pm

Thanks for your input, but I prefer to request a straight question from Palores, not one with barbs. He's made an allegation cloaked in vagueness. I want to know its substance before I respond.

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factotum
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Re: Orthography, Revival and Change.

Post by factotum » Wed Feb 16, 2011 3:55 am

Some time ago I looked at the pronunciation information in the works of Nance and Smith. Not only were they imprecise (difficult to know exactly what sounds they had in mind), in places one book outright contradicted another. It's hard to believe that pronunciation was taken especially seriously at that stage of the Revival. Their main concern was to establish a consistent written standard, based it would appear on a rather subjective normalisation of the texts (fair enough, they didn't have digital texts they could search through in seconds). They probably honestly believed that one could never obtain a satisfactory reconstruction of the historical pronunciation, so that some sort of agreed ad hoc and more or less anglicised pronunciation was sufficient. That after all was how Latin and Greek were taught in schools at the time, even though there was far more data and much more work had been done, even then, to reconstruct their phonology.

By now we have reconstructed the sounds of Middle Cornish with a high degree of confidence in most cases. There are a few areas of uncertainty still to be nibbled away at, but the overall system is pretty well established. There is sufficient information to do that. However there will always be some words that turn up too rarely to absolutely sure about. If a word seems to break the rules, and occurs perhaps only once or twice, it is difficult to be sure if it really has developed irregularly, or if the scribe simply made a mistake, as they do from time to time. Occasionally, of course, we may well find, on more detailed examination, that we have been mistaken over this individual word or that.

And _klyw_ or _klew_ may well be one such word. It's purely chance that the correction, if judged necessary, happens in this case to take us back to Nance's form. This doesn't in any way validate Nance's "inspired guesswork" approach to orthography. Although as I've tried to explain above, Nance can hardly be blamed. He is of his time, working with the outlook and available techniques of his time. But we are of a later time, and with better techniques and building on the accumulated work of the past we can do better. And I would say we need to do better, because spoken Cornish is now much more to the fore than it was 80-odd years ago. And with the increasing ease with which recordings and videos can be made and distributed, that trend is bound to increase.

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