At 12:50 +0000 2003-01-13, etaonsh <rcom@...> wrote:

>Celtic (especially Gaelic) spelling sticks to eccentric and archaic
>spelling with a sectarian(?) rigour, as tho


>archaism was somehow confused with lifeblood and authenticity, such
>that this very statement faces possible vitriol & denial.

Only because what you are saying is rubbish. Why do you consider
Gaelic orthography to be eccentric? It marks the palatal and
non-palatal consonant series rather well, and indicates consonant
mutation rather conveniently, preserving the basic spelling of the
root while also showing the mutation. Is this unusual? Perhaps. Is it
unnatural or inauthentic? No.

>Those whose cultures have been suppressed and abandoned cling
>conservatively and self-destructively to counter-productive
>orthographies, but to criticise
>it is a bit like criticising the consequences of poverty - an
>uncertain but, at times, necessary occupation.

Irish and Welsh orthographies developed at a time when hardly any of
the other languages of Europe were written at all. Welsh orthography
in particular is remarkably well-suited to its phonology, with little
ambiguity. It isn't "archaic" at all.

>Welsh and Manx have been saved some of the extremes of this
>tendency, perhaps due, ironically, to suppression of writing/long
>periods without a written

Welsh has been continuously written since the 9th century.

>thus, for example, making Manx the most phonetic of the three Gaelic scripts,

It isn't at all phonetic; indeed it is rather difficult to relate
Manx orthography to Manx phonology. It appears that you don't know
what you are talking about.

>despite being a recently 'revived' language (but thereby the only
>one not in decline),

Manx may well be on the upswing but it isn't accurate to say that all
the other Celtic languages are "in decline". They are threatened by
their giant neigbour-languages, yes, and they are definitely minority
languages, yes, but schools, publishing and media using them are
constantly on the increase.

>but it regularly receives (partially inaccurate) accusations of
>'anglicisation'/foreign influence from inefficient, traditionalist
>orthographers from among its Gaelic neighbours.

What the bejesus are "authoritarian orthographers"? In English we
have a standard orthography, with some slight differences between
Europe and North America. I guess the writers of the Oxford and
Websters dictionaries are "authoritarian orthographers" for us.
Criticism of Manx orthography from readers of Gaelic and Irish is
generally positive. We recognize that Manx is related to our
languages, but think that it is a pity that Manx orthography provides
a barrier to reading Manx which would not be the case had Manx a
spelling system based on "traditional" Gaelic spelling.

>The political parallels seem oddly lost on otherwise expert and
>radical Gaelic speakers (rather like the current fashion in
>contemporary local nature management for 'native species at all
>costs,' a virtually, if unintentionally, Nazi approach to the
>environment, when you think about it).

A naïve view of politics at best.

>The Cornish language enthusiasts, more progressive, in contrast, but
>similarly lacking the urbanity of cosmopolitan 'cool,' war over
>different spelling systems like splitting dog-house political

Anyone would like information about the actual facts of the
orthography dispute should read my forward to Nicholas William's
English-Cornish Dictionary. I have placed it online at

>As with other ethnic and aboriginal minorities, it takes a deep
>understanding of the consequences of long-term oppression for Celts

Get over it. Today is today. Inniu an lá atá ann.

>to avoid the twin pit-falls of a) embarrassment and shame,

Useless emotions easily dispensed with.

>and b) acceptance of inferior inherited habits, both with ourselves
>and our linguistic heritage. If and where this is achieved, it
>opens a door to an ancient, seminal culture of an oft hidden, global
>influence, fired with aboriginal authority and wisdom.

You know, languages are just languages. Speaking Irish doesn't cause
a magic mist to come out of one's mouth, despite what John Boorman's
Excalibur might suggest. All orthographies are "inherited" unless
they are replaced, as happened in the former Soviet Union (Arabic to
Latin to another Latin to Cyrillic to another Cyrillic, in the case
of some of them). Shán Ó Cuív and others tried to "abandon"
traditional "bh" and "mh" with "v" and so on in the 1920s. The
benighted users preferred their traditional orthography.
Michael Everson * * Everson Typography * *