Mis Ebrel 2014

Mis Ebrel 2014 · April 2014

1 · A wrewgh hwi neppyth fol hedhyw? · Will you (pl.) do something foolish today?

  • gwrewgh (v) you (pl.) do, you (pl.) make; you (pl.) will (2pl. present/future of gul ‘do, make’)
  • neppyth (pro) something
  • fol (adj) foolish, crazy, absurd
  • Milestone: Congratulations! As of today, we’ve learned the full set of personal conjugated forms for the important auxiliary verb gul ‘do, make’ in the present/future indicative tense:
    • 1sg. gwrav ‘I do’
    • 2sg. gwredh ‘you (sg.) do’ (often contracted to gwre’ta with a suffixed pronoun)
    • 3sg. gwra ‘he/she/it does’ (also used with all noun subjects, both singular and plural)
    • 1pl. gwren ‘we do’
    • 2pl. gwrewgh ‘you (pl.) do’
    • 3pl. gwrons ‘they do’

2 · Pyth yw dha soodh? · What’s your job?

  • soodh (nf), sodhow profession, office (position held), job

3 · Dyskador ov vy / Dyskadores ov vy · I’m a teacher (masc.) / I’m a teacher (fem.)

  • dyskador (nm), dyskadoryon teacher (masc.)
  • dyskadores (nf), dyskadoresow teacher (fem.)
  • ov (v) I am (1sg. present indicative short form of bos ‘be’)
  • Grammar and usage note: As today’s phrase illustrates, Cornish sometimes makes distinctions in gender that contemporary English does not. Whereas the English word teacher can refer to a man or a woman, Cornish uses dyskador for ‘(male) teacher’ and dyskadores for ‘(female) teacher.’ The words for many different professions in Cornish have masculine forms ending in -er or -or, and in both cases the equivalent feminine form ends in -ores. As we will see, the masculine noun is often treated as the ‘basic’ form in Cornish, and the feminine form is created by adding -es to the masculine form (occasionally with some other changes thrown in). We see this bias toward the masculine form in the plurals as well: the plural dyskadoresow is used for a group of teachers who are all female, while dyskadoryon can refer either to a group of male teachers or to a group that includes both men and women. If this bias in favor of the masculine form seems sexist, well, frankly, it is—but it is also a common feature of many other European languages that have grammatical gender.
  • Note on pronunciation: Remember that adding a suffix (whether the feminine ending -es or the plural endings -yon or -ow) changes the stress pattern of the word: dys-KA-dor has the plural dys-ka-DOR-yon, and dys-ka-DO-res has the plural dys-ka-do-RE-sow.

4 · My yw tiek / My yw tioges · I’m a farmer (masc.) / I’m a farmer (fem.)

  • tiek (nm), tiogyon farmer (masc.)
  • tioges (nf), tiogesow farmer (fem.); farmer’s wife
  • Grammar and usage note: Yesterday’s phrase illustrated the most common word order for a simple sentence in Cornish involving a pronoun subject and the short form of bos: Dyskador(es) ov vy, literally, ‘A teacher am I.’ Most often, we say things like ‘I’m a teacher’ or ‘I’m a farmer’ because someone has asked us what we do for a living, or because we want to tell people about our job. Cornish word order is much more flexible than English, and because of this Cornish speakers tend to choose a sentence structure that puts the most important information—like the answer to a question or a word we want to emphasize—right at the beginning. Today’s phrase, however, reflects a situation where the speaker wants to emphasize the pronoun: ‘I am a farmer.’ In this case, Cornish allows us to start the sentence with the independent pronoun my ‘I’ followed by the third person singular form of the verb and then the rest of the sentence: My yw tiek or My yw tioges. (For a discussion of why the 3sg. form of the verb is required in a sentence that begins with the subject, see the grammar notes for February 14).
  • Usage note: Many dictionaries and textbooks define tioges as ‘farmer’s wife,’ which I assume reflects a time in history when it would be taken for granted that a farm would be under the (at least nominal) direction of a man—or, perhaps, a time in history when a woman’s status as a farmer’s wife would be considered more important than any skills she might have as a farmer in her own right. I have chosen to gloss tioges here as ‘farmer (fem.).’ which is a more likely meaning for the word to have in the twenty-first century. Nowadays, I expect many Cornish speakers would translate the English phrase ‘the farmer’s wife’ as gwreg an tiek ‘the wife of the farmer.’

5 · Py lies skrifennyas eus yn agas sodhva? · How many secretaries are there in your (pl.) office?

  • py? (pro) what? which? (usually placed before a noun or pronoun; compare English ‘What book are you reading?’ or ‘Which one did you like best?’)
  • lies (pro, adj) many (usually followed by a singular noun)
  • py lies? (phr) how many? (usually followed by a singular noun)
  • skrifennyas (nm), skrifenysi secretary (masc.)
  • sodhva (nf), sodhvaow office (workplace; from soodh ‘job, profession’ + -va ‘place where’)
  • Grammar rule of the day: On March 19, we learned that in Cornish we always use the singular form of a noun in expressions that include a numeral, so ‘five people’ is translated as pymp den (literally, ‘five person’). The same rule applies to the word lies ‘many,’ so ‘many people’ in Cornish is lies den (which you can compare to English ‘many a person’), and this extends to the question py lies? ‘how many?’
  • Grammar note: The Cornish suffix -va means ‘place associated with…’ and is found in a number of words including Kernewegva ‘place where Cornish (Kernewek) is commonly used’ and sodhva ‘office (workplace),’ derived from soodh ‘office (job).’ All nouns in -va are feminine, and all have plurals in -vaow.
  • Usage note: In today’s phrase, I have used the masculine noun skrifennyas ‘(male) secretary’ here as a catch-all term for secretaries male and female, in much the same way that the plural form skrifenysi may be used to refer to a group of secretaries of both genders.

6 · Yma tri skrifennyas ha teyr skrifenyades · There are three male secretaries and three female secretaries

  • tri3 (num, m) three (masc.)
  • teyr3 (num, f) three (fem.)
  • skrifenyades (nf), skrifenyadesow secretary (fem.)
  • Grammar and usage note: While most numerals in Cornish have only one form, there are separate masculine and feminine forms for the numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4. (The masculine and feminine forms of the Cornish words for ‘one’ look and sound alike, but the feminine forms cause a following word to lenite while the masculine forms do not.) As a result, we say tri skrifennyas for ‘three (male) secretaries’ but teyr skrifenyades for ‘three (female) secretaries’ (bearing in mind that in each case Cornish uses the singular form of the noun after the numeral ‘three’). In cases where we are referring to numbers as digits (as when giving a phone number) or in the abstract (as when counting out loud), the masculine forms are invariably used. Note that both tri3 and teyr3 cause spirant mutation (coincidentally marked by the superscript 3) to a following noun.

7 · Piw yw an dus yowynk hons? · Who are those young people over there?

  • tus (nmp) people (used as the plural form of den ‘person, man’; see January 16)
  • yowynk (adj) young
  • hons (pro) that over there, those over there, yonder (used only in phrases preceded by the definite article an ‘the’)
  • an X hons (phr) that X over there, those X over there (where X stands for any noun, singular or plural)
  • Grammar rule of the day: Back on January 19, we learned that the initial consonant of a feminine singular noun is subject to lenition (soft mutation) after the definite article an ‘the,’ which is why benyn ‘a woman’ becomes an venyn ‘the woman.’ On February 4. we learned that the same thing happens to adjectives when they follow feminine singular nouns, so that ‘an old woman’ is benyn goth and ‘the old woman’ is an venyn goth. The same rules apply in the case of masculine plural nouns that refer to people, so tus ‘people’ becomes an dus ‘the people’ and ‘the good people’ would be an dus dha. Remember that lenition of certain letters (P, T, CH, K, and, for some speakers, D) does not occur in cases where the preceding word ends in s or th, so ‘the old people’ would be an dus koth, not an dus goth.
  • Grammar note: Back in January, we learned about two demonstrative suffixes (ma and na) which are added to a noun phrase introduced by the article an as a way of translating the English ‘this, these’ and ‘that, those.’ The phrase an den ma (literally, ‘the person here’) means ‘this person,’ while an den na (literally, ‘the person there’) means ‘that person,’ and the plural equivalents of these would be an dus ma ‘these people’ and an dus na ‘those people.’ Cornish also has a third demonstrative suffix that is less commonly encountered: hons, which means ‘yonder’ or ‘way over there.’ While ma is used to refer to things that are close by and na to refer to things further away, hons is the correct form to use when describing something that is very far away indeed, or even out of sight. The phrase an den hons could thus be translated ‘that person over there’ and an dus hons as ‘those people over yonder.’ Note that the demonstrative suffixes mana, and hons do not always immediately follow the noun they modify: they come after any adjective(s) that modify the noun, as in today’s sentence Piw yw an dus yowynk hons? ‘Who are those young people over there?’
  • Mutation rule of the day: T lenites to D, so the masculine plural noun tus ‘people’ becomes dus after the definite article an.

8 · Studhyoryon yns i · They’re students

  • studhyer (nm), studhyoryon student (masc.) (usually referring to a college or university student; younger students would be described using the word skoler, pl. skoloryon)
  • yns (v) they are (3pl. present indicative short form of bos ‘be’)

9 · Ymons i ow kerdhes yn uskis · They’re walking fast

  • ymons (v) they are (3pl. affirmative present indicative long form of bos ‘be’)
  • yn5 (part) -ly (optional particle placed in front of an adjective to form an adverb)
  • uskis (adj) fast, quick
  • yn5 uskis (phr) fast, quickly
  • Grammar rule of the day: Cornish, like English, can change almost any adjective into an adverb. English does this by adding the suffix -ly, so that ‘quick’ becomes ‘quickly.’ In Cornish, we use a particle yn5 which precedes the adjective (and causes a mixed mutation where possible), so the word uskis ‘quick’becomes yn uskis ‘quickly.’
  • Grammar and usage note: The distinction between long and short forms of bos is not limited to the third person singular. In the third person plural, the short form is yns ‘they are,’as we saw in yesterday’s phrase, while the long form—in simple affirmative sentences, anyway—is ymons. Ymons behaves much like its 3sg. counterpart yma: both are used mainly in affirmative sentences, and both are unusual among Cornish verbs in that they often appear right at the beginning of an affirmative sentence. Normally, affirmative sentences in Cornish begin with the subject, the object, an adverb, or a prepositional phrase.

10 · Esons i ow mos dhe’n Bennskol? · Are they going to the University?

  • esons (v) they are (3pl. negative/interrogative present indicative long form of bos ‘be’)
  • mos (vn) go
  • pennskol (nf), pennskolyow university (from penn ‘head, chief’ + skol ‘school’)
  • Grammar and usage note: Back in February, we learned the three different third person singular long forms of bos in the present tense: yma, usi, and eus. (The rules about which form to use are given in a table under the phrase for February 15). There are also two different third person plural long forms of bos in the present tense: ymons, which is used mainly in simple affirmative sentences like yesteray’s phrase, and esons, which is used in all other cases. If you’re looking for a (relatively) simple rule, use ymons wherever you would use yma, and esons wherever you would use usi!
  • Mutation rule of the day: M is not subject to provection, so there is no change to mos after the particle ow4.

11 · Nag esons, dhe’n diwotti ymons ow mos · No, they’re going to the pub

  • diwotti (nm), diwottiow pub, tavern (from diwes ‘drink’ + -ti ‘house, building’)
  • Note on word order: As we have seen in other phrases, Cornish has a lot of flexibility when it comes to word order. In general, we try to place the most important information at (or near) the beginning of the sentence. In this case, placing dhe’n diwotti ‘to the pub’ in front of ymons emphasizes the fact that the students are going to the pub rather than to the University. A more neutral word order would be Ymons i ow mos dhe’n diwotti (since the long forms of bos often appear at the beginning of a sentence in Cornish), but that would not be as meaningful a reply to yesterday’s question.

12 · Ow nith yw studhyores yn Kembra · My niece is a student in Wales

  • nith (nf), nithow niece
  • studhyores (nf), studhyoresow student (fem.) (female equivalent of studhyer; see April 8)
  • Kembra (nf) Wales
  • Mutation rule of the day: N is one of the consonants that is not subject to any type of mutation, so there is no change to nith after ow3 ‘my.’

13 · Yma hi ow studhya awgrym · She’s studying mathematics

  • studhya (vn) study
  • awgrym (nm) mathematics
  • Grammar note: As you may have guessed, the nouns studhyer ‘(male) student’ and studhyores ‘(female) student’ are both formed from the verb studhya ‘study.’ This illustrates the usual way in which the suffixes -er (masc.) and -ores (fem.) can be added to the root of any verb X, producing a noun meaning ‘person who does X.’ With verbs like studhya ‘study’ whose verbal nouns end in -ya, the -y of the verbal noun ending is retained before these suffixes, which is why we see the forms studhyer and studhyores.

14 · Ow noy yw ilewydh yn Pow Sows · My nephew is a musician in England

  • noy (nm), noyens nephew
  • ilewydh (nm), ilewydhyon musician (masc.) (from ilow ‘music’)
  • pow (nm), powyow country
  • Pow Sows (nm) England (from pow ‘country’ + Sows ‘Saxon, Englishman’)
  • Grammar and usage note: Cornish has many words that can be translated as ‘country,’ ‘nation,’ or ‘land.’ The word pow can mean ‘country’ in the sense of ‘the countryside’ or ‘out in the country’ (as opposed to ‘in town’ or ‘in the city’), but it is also used in the names of many countries. In addition to Pow Sows (literally, ‘Saxon country’ or ‘Saxon-land’) for England, you will also encounter Pow Frynk (‘Frankish land’ or ‘Frank-land’) for France, Pow Belg (‘Belgic land’ or ‘Land of the Belgae’) for Belgium, and even Pow Densher (‘Land of Devonshire’) for Devon!
  • Usage note: The noun ilewydh is probably the most commonly used word for ‘musician’ is contemporary Cornish, and is a modern coining based on the word ilow ‘music’ + the suffix -ydh ‘one who does X professionally.’ However, the word ilow did not originally mean ‘music’ in traditional Cornish, and only acquired that meaning as a result of a mistake in an early dictionary. By the time the mistake was spotted, ilow was established in many people’s minds as the word for ‘music’ in Cornish, and so it has remained for many if not most Cornish speakers today. While others prefer to use musik for ‘music’ and musician for ‘musician,’ these have not replaced ilow and ilewydh,in part because some speakers prefer to use words that do not so closely resemble their English equivalents.

15 · Y wreg yw ilewydhes ynwedh· His wife is also a musician

  • y2 (poss.adj) his
  • gwreg (nf), gwragedh wife
  • ilewydhes (nf), ilewydhesow musician (fem.)
  • Milestone: As of today, we have met all seven of the Cornish possessive adjectives. Here is the complete list:
    • ow3 ‘my’
    • dha2 ‘your (sg.)’
    • y2 ‘his’
    • hy3 ‘her’
    • agan ‘our’
    • agas ‘your (pl.)’
    • aga3 ‘their’

16 · Pyth esos ta ow kul lemmyn? · What are you (sg.) doing now?

  • esos (v) you (sg.) are (2sg. present tense long form of bos ‘be’)
  • lemmyn (adv) now
  • Grammar note: While there are two or three different options for the third person singular and plural long forms of bos, the first and second persons do not make these distinctions, so the 2sg. present tense long form of bos is esos ‘you (sg.) are’ in all situations: affirmative and negative sentences, questions and answers. As we shall see, the 1sg., 1pl., 2sg., and 2pl. long forms of bos look exactly like the equivalent short forms with the addition of an initial syllable es-.

17 · Yth esov ow skrifa lyther dhe’m kenderow · I’m writing a letter to my cousin

  • esov (v) I am (1sg. present tense long form of bos ‘be’)
  • skrifa (vn) write
  • lyther (nm), lytherow letter (document)
  • ‘m (poss.adj) my (variant form used in many contractions instead of ow3)
  • dhe’m (phr) to my (contraction of dhe2 ‘to’ + ‘m ‘my’)
  • kenderow (nm), kenderwi cousin (masc.)
  • Grammar and usage note: Unlike other Cornish verbs, the long forms of bos are frequently placed right at the beginning of an affirmative sentence. In such cases, the first and second person long forms are introduced by the affirmative pre-verbal particle yth. (Yth is the variant form of y5 used before a vowel or h.) Since the third person affirmative long forms yma ‘he is, she is, it is, there is’ and ymons ‘they are’ both begin with an unstressed y-, they are treated as if they already contain the affirmative particle y5.
  • Pronunciation note: Kenderow ‘(male) cousin’ has an irregular word stress on the first syllable (KEN-de-row), but in the plural form kenderwi ‘cousins’ the stress falls on the second syllable from the end as usual in Cornish (ken-DER-wi).
  • Note on mutation: While the possessive pronoun ow3 ‘my’ causes spirant mutation to a following P, T, or K, the alternative form ‘m does not cause any mutation, so kenderow ‘cousin’ does not change in the phrase dhe’m kenderow ‘to my cousin.’

18 · Esowgh hwi trigys yn Alban hwath? · Are you (pl.) still living in Scotland?

  • esowgh (v) you (pl.) are (2pl. present tense long form of bos ‘be’)
  • trigys (p.part) dwelt, resided, lived (in a place) (past participle of triga ‘dwell, reside’; often used with present meaning ‘dwelling, residing, living’)
  • Alban (nm) Scotland
  • hwath (adv) still, yet
  • Grammar and usage note: The adjective trigys is the past participle of the verb triga ‘dwell, reside, live (in a place),’ but is often used in cases where English employs a present participle, as in today’s question. It may be used with either the long or the short form of bos, so you might also hear this question phrased as Owgh hwi trigys yn Alban hwath? Note that -ys is the usual ending for past participles in Cornish, and may be compared to -ed in English (although English has a much larger number of irregular verbs than Cornish).

19 · Nag eson, mes lowen on yn agan chi nowyth yn Iwerdhon · No, but we’re happy in our new house in Ireland

  • eson (v) we are (1pl. present tense long form of bos ‘be’)
  • on (v) we are (1pl. present tense short form of bos ‘be’)
  • chi (nm), chiow house
  • Iwerdhon (nf) Ireland
  • Milestone: As of today, we’ve learned all the personal conjugated long and short forms of bos in the present tense. In the list below, the short form for each person is given first, followed by the corresponding long form (or forms):
    • 1sg. ov · esov ‘I am’
    • 2sg. os · esos ‘you (sg.) are’
    • 3sg. yw · ymausi / eus ‘he/she/it is, there is’ (also used with all noun subjects, both singular and plural)
    • 1pl. on · eson ‘we are’
    • 2pl. owgh · esowgh ‘you (pl.) are’
    • 3pl. yns · ymonsesons ‘they are’

20 · P’eur fedhowgh hwi ow tehweles dhe Vreten Vyhan? · When will you (pl.) be returning to Brittany?

  • p’eur5? (adv) when? (contraction of py ‘what’ + eur ‘time’ + the pre-verbal particle y5)
  • bedhowgh (v) you (pl.) will be (2pl. future/habitual present of bos ‘be’)
  • dehweles (vn) return, come back, go back
  • Breten (nf) Britain
  • byhan (adj) small
  • Breten Vyhan (nf) Brittany (literally, ‘Little Britain,’ as opposed to Breten Veur ‘Great Britain’)
  • Grammar note: The English word ‘when’ has two different possible translations in Cornish depending on how it is used in a sentence. In cases where ‘when’ introduces a subordinate clause (e.g. ‘I don’t know when he is coming’), Cornish uses the conjunction pan2 for ‘when.’ In cases where we are asking a direct question about what time something is happening, Cornish uses the interrogative adverb p’eur5, which is actually a compound of py ‘what’ + eur ‘time’ + the pre-verbal particle y5.
  • Bonus phrase of the day: Pask Lowen! · Happy Easter!

21 · Y’n hav y fedhyn ni ena · We’ll be there in the summer

  • hav (nm) summer
  • bedhyn (v) we will be (1pl. future/habitual present of bos ‘be’)
  • ena (adv) there, then
  • Note on word order: Since today’s phrase is an answer to yesterday’s question P’eur fedhowgh hwi ow tehweles dhe Vreten Vyhan? ‘When will you (pl.) be returning to Brittany?’ the information requested (y’n hav ‘in the summer’) is placed at the beginning of the sentence. In affirmative sentences where the initial element is a prepositional phrase like y’n hav, the usual word order is prepositional phrase + pre-verbal particle y5 + conjugated verb + subject (optional) + rest of sentence. The same word order is used in cases where an adverb (like ena ‘there’) comes at the beginning of the sentence. If we were answering a question like ‘Will you be here or in Brittany this summer?’ we would therefore reply Ena y fedhyn ni y’n hav ‘We’ll be there in the summer.’

22 · A vedhydh omma dres an gwenton? · Will you (sg.) be here through the spring?

  • bedhydh (v) you (sg.) will be (2sg. future/habitual present of bos ‘be’)
  • omma (adv) here
  • dres (prep) through, during
  • gwenton (nm) spring (season)
  • Vocabulary note: It may be helpful to note that in Cornish many words referring to things, people, times, or places that are nearer to the speaker (hemma ‘this one,’ an venyn ma ‘this woman,’ lemmyn ‘now,’ omma ‘here’) contain m or mm, while similar words referring to things, people, times, or places that are further away (henna ‘that one,’ an venyn na ‘that woman,’ ena ‘then, there’) contain n or nn.

23 · Na vedhav, my a dhe Vanow gans ow theylu · No, I’m going to [the Isle of] Man with my family

  • bedhav (v) I will be (1sg. future/habitual present of bos ‘be’)
  • a (v) goes, will go (3sg. present/future of mos ‘go’)
  • Manow (nf) Isle of Man
  • teylu (nm), teyluyow family
  • Grammar and usage note: The 3sg. present/future indicative form of mos ‘go’ is a ‘goes, will go.’ Since today’s phrase contains an affirmative sentence with the subject at the beginning, the third person singular is the appropriate form to use, even though the subject is first person singular (my ‘I’). When reading quickly, it is easy to mistake the verb a ‘goes’ for the pre-verbal particle a2 that usually follows the subject in SV (subject-verb) sentences like this one.In the spoken language, however, the distinction is always clear, since the verb a ‘goes’ is always stressed while the pre-verbal particle a2 is never stressed. Note. too, that the a2 particle drops out before the verb a ‘goes,’ probably because it would be awkward to pronounce My a a dhe Vanow.

24 · A vydh agas keniterwi ow viajya y’n kynnyav? · Will your (pl.) cousins (fem.) be traveling in the fall?

  • keniterow (nf), keniterwi cousin (fem.)
  • viajya (vn) travel
  • kynnyav (nm) autumn, fall (season)
  • Usage note: Like many other languages, Cornish has different words for ‘male cousin’ (kenderow, which we saw on April 17) and ‘female cousin’ (keniterow, whose plural form keniterwi is found in today’s phrase). As with other nouns in Cornish, the masculine plural kenderwi can be used to mean ‘male cousins’ but is also the appropriate form to use when referring to a group of male and female cousins, while the feminine plural form keniterwi can only mean ‘female cousins.’
  • Note on mutation: V is one of the consonants in Cornish that is not subject to any mutation, so viajya does not change after the particle ow4.

25 · Bedhons, i a vynn mos dhe Ostrali · Yes, they’re going to go to Australia

  • bedhons (v) they will be (3pl. future/habitual present of bos ‘be’)
  • Ostrali (nf) Australia
  • Milestone: Congratulations! As of today, we’ve learned the full set of personal endings for the future/habitual present tense of bos. As you can see, this form of bos is conjugated like a regular verb with a stem bydh- (which becomes bedh- in polysyllables):
    • 1sg. -av · bedhav ‘I will be’
    • 2sg. -ydh · bedhydh ‘you (sg.) will be’
    • 3sg. no ending · bydh ‘he/she/it will be’ (also used with all noun subjects, both singular and plural)
    • 1pl. -yn · bedhyn ‘we will be’
    • 2pl. -owgh · bedhowgh ‘you (pl.) will be’
    • 3pl. -ons · bedhons ‘they will be’

26 · Pandr’a vynses ta dhe eva? · What would you (sg.) like to drink?

  • mynses (v) you (sg.) would like (2sg. conditional of mynnes ‘want to’)
  • eva (vn) drink
  • Grammar note: Today’s question features a verb in a tense we have not yet encountered: the conditional. The conditional mood is the form we use for discussing hypothetical situations: what we would do, if something happened or if a particular opportunity arose (in other words, if some particular ‘condition’ were met). It is also the form used for polite requests, just as in English it is more polite to ask ‘What would you like to drink?’ rather than ‘What do you want to drink?’

27 · Pinta korev, mar pleg! · A pint of beer, please!

  • pinta (nm), pintys pint
  • korev (nm), korevow beer, ale
  • Grammar note: In cases where English uses a phrase like ‘a pint of beer’ where two nouns are joined together by the preposition ‘of,’ Cornish often simply places the two nouns side by side (in the same order) and no preposition is needed: pinta korev.

28 · My a garsa gwedrennas a win rudh · I’d like a glass of red wine

  • karsa (v) would like, would love (3sg. conditional of kara ‘love’)
  • gwedrennas (nm or nf), gwedrenasow glassful (from gwedren ‘[drinking] glass’ + -as ‘-ful,’ ‘contents of’)
  • a2 (prep) of, from
  • gwin (nm), wine
  • rudh (adj) red
  • Grammar and usage note: The word gwedrennas in today’s sentence means ‘glassful’ and is derived from the noun gwedren ‘[drinking] glass’ + a suffix -as ‘contents of’ (equivalent to the English suffix ‘-ful’). Breton and Welsh use a related suffix in cases where we are describing the contents of a container rather than the material of which it is made, and many Cornish speakers today prefer to say gwedrennas a win for ‘glass[ful] of wine’ rather than gwedren a win ‘glass of wine’ (even though the latter form is attested in an eighteenth-century source).
  • Grammar note: Yesterday’s sentence contained the phrase pinta korev for ‘pint of beer,’ where the two Cornish nouns are simply placed one after the other without a preposition to link them as in English. As we see from today’s sentence, however, it is also possible to translate an English phrase like ‘glass of wine’ literally (word for word) using the Cornish preposition a2 ‘of, from’ as the equivalent of the English ‘of.’

29 · Gwell via genev vy dowr tomm Alban · I’d prefer (a) Scotch

  • bia (v) would be (3sg. conditional of bos ‘be’)
  • gwell via gans X (phr) X would prefer (literally, ‘[it] would be better with X’)
  • dowr (nm), dowrow water
  • dowr tomm (nm) strong liquor (literally, ‘warm water’ or ‘hot water’), which can be specified as:
    • dowr tomm Alban (nm) Scotch whisky
    • dowr tomm Iwerdhon (nm) Irish whisky
    • dowr tomm Frynkek (nm) brandy (‘French dowr tomm‘)
  • Grammar note: Back on February 11, we learned the idiom gwell yw genev ‘I prefer,’ which literally translates as ‘[it] is better with me.’ Today’s sentence uses the equivalent construction in the conditional mood: gwell via genev ‘I would prefer,’ which is a more polite form to use when ordering or requesting a drink. Short forms of bos are often used in phrases like gwell yw genev without a pre-verbal particle coming between the initial element (the adjective gwell ‘better’) and the verb (yw ‘is’). When we substitute a form of bos from another tense that begins with a b (like bia in today’s sentence), we can also omit the pre-verbal particle, but the verb will be lenited, as in gwell via genev.
  • Usage note: Some Cornish speakers today prefer to use hwyski rather than dowr tomm for ‘whiskey.’

30 · Yehes da! · Cheers! (Literally, ‘Good health!’)

  • yehes (nm) health
  • Cultural note: Yehes da! ‘Good health!’ is the Cornish equivalent of a toast that is found in all six modern Celtic languages. The Breton and Welsh versions (Yec’hed mat! and Iechyd da!) use the same word for ‘health’ and sound quite similar to the Cornish phrase. Another popular Cornish toast is Pysk, sten, ha kober! ‘Fish, tin, and copper!’ which references Cornwall’s ancient traditions of mining and fishing.

Summary · Mis Ebrel 2014

In April 2014 we learned:

  • 30 phrases plus 3 bonus phrases
  • 83 vocabulary words, not counting idiomatic phrases and personal names

Mis Me 2014 · May 2014



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