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Re: Breathanach

Geoff Eddy wrote:

> To be a bit more specific, orthographic A EA AI I, depending on the
> qualities of the adjacent consonants... but please excuse my pedantry!

Well, okay.  The statement about A and E being the only allowed
written vowels is still in there, actually:

# Finally, only [the letters] A and E are used in polysyllables; both
# indicate a schwa.
> > This contradicted the existing paradigms anyhow.
> I have to admit not knowing what you mean by this - could you clarify?

For example:  the synthetic comparative and superlative endings
*-ior* and *-isiomh*, the adverb ending *-mheinn*, the 2nd
and 3rd conjugation infinitive endings *-eirr* and *-irr*,
the present tense 2nd and 3rd person plural endings in the 2nd
and 3rd conjugations, ...  I could go on.  There are *lots*
of polysyllables with "-i-" or "-io-" or "-ei-" in unstressed

All of which suggests to me a three-vowel system in reduced
syllables:  [@] written A EA AI E; [E] written EI, [I] written
I IO.  What do you think?

> The problem, of course, is that of reconciling the sound-systems of
> Q-Celtic with Romance; I imagine that it was a lot easier with
> Brithenig. As I understand it, information which in Romance is carried
> by vowel quality is more likely to be carried by consonant quality in
> Breathanach - although, as you point out, my solution is probably too
> far towards Q-Celtic. I've had similar problems with long vowels, and
> have yet to come across a satisfactory solution.

No problem.  Just give Breathanach a Sardinian-type rather than a
Western-type vowel system.  That would be consistent with an
early separation date from the rest of Romance: Sardinian may
have separated as early as the 1st century B.C.  Some Southern
Italian dialects, oddly, have a Sardinian-type system as well.

Latin		Sardinian	Western		Eastern

any a		a		a		a
short e		e		E		E
long e		e		e		e
short i		i		e		e
long i		i		i		i
short o		o		O		O
long o		o		o		o
short u		u		o		u
long u		u		u		u		

> Another awkward question concerns the diphthongs /ia ua/: should these
> evolve from original long /e o/, as in Q-Celtic, or from short /e o/, as
> in Romance?

How about having them evolve from Latin ae oe?  That would be radical
and yet satisfying it some ways.  In all other Romance languages,
ae > long e and oe > short e very early, but with an early separation
date that might not have happened with Breathanach.  That leaves
Latin au to be resolved: in most Romance lgs (not Port.) it fell
together with long o.

BTW, there is an error in the "Vowel spellings" table: the IA
column should read "(4) (4) IA IAI".  I note also that E alone
never appears in initial syllables, though the 2nd half of the
table says it is an alternative to EI.

How closely does this table track actual Irish spelling rules, long
vowels aside?  I've been looking for a table like this for Irish for
years and never seen one.

It would be useful, also, to clarify that "tune" "dune" "lure" in your
sound examples are [tjun] [djun] [ljur], since most varieties of
American English have uniformly changed [tju-] [dju-] [lju-] words to
[ tu-] [du-] [lu-].

John Cowan	http://www.ccil.org/~cowan		cowan@ccil.org
	You tollerday donsk?  N.  You tolkatiff scowegian?  Nn.
	You spigotty anglease?  Nnn.  You phonio saxo?  Nnnn.
		Clear all so!  'Tis a Jute.... (Finnegans Wake 16.5)