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Kernowek Standard

Kernowek Standard

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Encyclopedia
Kernowek Standard is a variety of revived Cornish
Cornish language
Cornish is a Brythonic Celtic language and a recognised minority language of the United Kingdom. Along with Welsh and Breton, it is directly descended from the ancient British language spoken throughout much of Britain before the English language came to dominate...

 and a proposed set of revisions to the Standard Written Form
Standard Written Form
The Standard Written Form or SWF of the Cornish language is an orthography standard that is designed to "provide public bodies and the educational system with a universally acceptable, inclusive, and neutral orthography"...

. Developed gradually by a group called UdnFormScrefys ('Single Written Form'), it was published as a proposal in a series of revisions. Its principal authors were Michael Everson
Michael Everson
Michael Everson is a linguist, script encoder, typesetter, and font designer. His central area of expertise is with writing systems of the world, specifically in the representation of these systems in formats for computer and digital media...

, Neil Kennedy, and Nicholas Williams
Nicholas Williams
Nicholas Jonathan Anselm Williams , writing as Nicholas Williams or sometimes N.J.A...

. The orthography was meant to adhere to two basic requirements which the group identified: to be based on orthographic forms attested in the Cornish literary scribal tradition, and to have an unambiguous relationship between spelling and sounds. In order to embrace both Middle and Late Cornish forms, Kernowek Standard took as its foundation the late Middle Cornish play Creacon of the World by William Jordan
William Jordan (writer)
William Jordan , Cornish dramatist, lived at Helston in Cornwall, and is supposed to have been the author of the Cornish-language mystery or sacred drama Gwreans an Bys: the Creacon of the World. The oldest manuscript is in small folio in the Bodleian Library ; with it is a later copy; another is...

 (1611). In 2007-8, Kernowek Standard was designated to provide a key source of input into the Standard Written Form
Standard Written Form
The Standard Written Form or SWF of the Cornish language is an orthography standard that is designed to "provide public bodies and the educational system with a universally acceptable, inclusive, and neutral orthography"...

 for Cornish in official contexts (SWF), along with Kernewek Kemmyn
Kernewek Kemmyn
Kernewek Kemmyn is a variety of the revived Cornish language.Kernewek Kemmyn was developed, mainly by Ken George, from Unified Cornish in 1986. It takes much of its inspiration from medieval sources, particularly Cornish passion plays, as well as Breton and to a lesser extent Welsh...

.

KS differs from the Standard Written Form in several respects. It uses diacritics to mark unpredictable vowel length or quality. While rejecting graphemes such as hw, kw and iw on the grounds that they are not found in the scribal tradition, KS uses some others such as ai and au which were not included in the SWF. KS and the SWF also differ in their treatment of unstressed vowels and in the spelling of a number of individual words. Both KS and the SWF share a common phonology, however.

Derogations from the Standard Written Form


KS is a proposal for a number of changes to be made to the Standard Written Form
Standard Written Form
The Standard Written Form or SWF of the Cornish language is an orthography standard that is designed to "provide public bodies and the educational system with a universally acceptable, inclusive, and neutral orthography"...

 of Cornish in 2013, when that orthography comes under review. A number of orthographic issues remain with the SWF, resulting in inaccurate pronunciation, and KS proposes the following changes:

Distribution of ‹i› and ‹y›


The SWF inherited much of the inconsistency of Kernewek Kemmyn
Kernewek Kemmyn
Kernewek Kemmyn is a variety of the revived Cornish language.Kernewek Kemmyn was developed, mainly by Ken George, from Unified Cornish in 1986. It takes much of its inspiration from medieval sources, particularly Cornish passion plays, as well as Breton and to a lesser extent Welsh...

with regards to the distribution of the letters ‹i› and ‹y› outside monosyllables. For example, the SWF currently has palys 'palace' and conis 'work', but it also has kegin 'kitchen' and kemmyn 'common', even though the final sound is the same. KS makes the following proposal:
  • Use ‹i› in initial position in all words apart from the pronoun y 'they' [iː] and the particles yn [ən], ytho [əˈθo], y(th) [ə(θ)], yma [əˈma], and ymowns [əˈmoʊns]. The adverbial particle yn [ən] which causes mutation and the preposition in [ɪn] which does not are distinguished.
  • Use ‹i› for [iː] and ‹y› for [ɪ] in stressed monosyllables (as in the SWF); derivatives of the words in ‹i› retain the ‹i› even when the vowel shortens when additional syllables are added, as in the SWF.
  • Use ‹y› for all short /i/ in unstressed final syllables: palys, conys, kegyn and kemmyn.
  • Use ‹î› for stressed [iː] in polysyllables: exîlys 'exiled'.
  • Use ‹y› in final position in monosyllables and polysyllables (replacing the variant graphs ‹i› and ‹ei›: e.g. chi/chei 'house', whi/whei 'you', to become chy, why).

Quantity and quality of ‹u›


The SWF is ambiguous and inconsistent in its use of ‹u›, which can be pronounced a number of ways. KS proposes the following in order to fix this problem and prevent mispronunciation:
  • Use ‹û› for /uː/, e.g. frût 'fruit', to prevent confusion over another <u> sound that can be pronounced either /iː/ or /yː/ (e.g. tus 'people')
  • Use ‹ù› for short /ʊ/, e.g. pùb 'very', also to prevent confusion over the ‹u› above

Restoration of ‹ai› and ‹au›


KS proposes two to restore graphs to the SWF:
  • ‹ai› [eː] to distinguish from ‹ay› [aɪ] and ‹ey› /əɪ/ - e.g. trailya 'to translate'
  • ‹au› /ɔ/ ([ɔː]~[ɔ]) to distinguish from ‹aw› /aʊ/ - e.g. Australya 'Australia'

Use of ‹f› and ‹th› in unstressed final syllables


The SWF uses the graphs ‹ev› and ‹edh› in final unstressed position, which results in wrong pronunciation. For example KS uses genef 'with me' [ˈɡənəf]~[ˈɡənə] and myterneth 'kingdom' [mɪˈtɛɹnəθ], since the pronunciations [ˈɡənəv] and [mɪˈtɛɹnəð] are not recommended.

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