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Thanks for your further suggestions and comments about Breathanach. Here
are my thoughts about them:
> 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
You're quite right. This is evidence of my uncertainty about what to do
with unstressed syllables; I had hoped nobody would notice the
discrepancy! I think the spellings I vs EI in unstressed syllables were
originally intended to indicate the original vowels rather than their
> 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?
It's possible, but not very likely given that this assumes that all back
vowels fall together, while front vowels remain distinct. I'll give it a
bit of thought anyway. At present I'm considering a vowel system with
seven vowels, five short vowels and two diphthongs in stressed
syllables, and six vowels in unstressed syllables.
> 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.
This is probably the answer to my problems! The only difficulty is that
it doesn't allow long /a/, but I can ignore that...
As for /ae oe/ > /ia ua/, this is also a nice solution. It can be
explained by them developing to forms of long /e o/ more open than the
usual, and then diphthongising to remain distinct (as in Spanish).
> BTW, there is an error in the "Vowel spellings" table: the IA
> column should read "(4) (4) IA IAI".
Oops - well spotted. I've fixed it now.
> 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.
This is meant to shadow Irish practice, in which very few E's appear by
themselves in non-final position.
> 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.
I think the correspondence is reasonably close for about 60% of vowels,
but that's an educated guess, since Irish spelling doesn't reflect the
pronunciation terribly well, and my knowledge of Irish doesn't extend to
speaking it. The spelling of Breathanach is based on my original
assumptions about Irish, with some Liotan influence.
I remember sending Sally Caves a pronunciation table of Irish spellings
some time ago; I assembled it from several sources. I'll send you a
copy, if you want...
> 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-].
Of course. This has also been fixed.
Finally, one of my main problems with Breathanach has always been
knowing how much I'm allowed to make up. There are several sound-changes
(such as final -nt > /nn/) which could have happened but don't reflect
what actually happened in Irish; however, I don't think that evolving
Irish from Classical or Vulgar Latin instead of Proto-Celtic would be
particularly rewarding. Do you happen to know how much of Brithenig is
invention on Andrew Smith's part, rather than speculation?
 My mission in life is to create original,  Geoff Eddy, in
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