Mis Hwevrel 2014

Mis Hwevrel 2014 · February 2014

1 · Chons da! · Good luck!

  • chons (nm), chonsyow chance, luck, opportunity

2 · Duw genes / Duw genowgh · Goodbye (sg.) / Goodbye (pl.) (Literally, ‘God with you’)

  • Duw (nm), duwow God, gods
  • Usage note: Duw genes is probably the most formal way to say ‘Goodbye’ in Cornish. In informal settings, it is most commonly used in cases where you are not expecting to see someone again for a while. We’ll be learning some other ways to say ‘Goodbye’ or ‘See you later’ in Cornish in the coming week. Duw genes may seem like a very religious phrase, but bear in mind that English ‘Goodbye’ is also short for ‘God be with ye.’ Interestingly, the very similar formula (Dia duit / Dia daoibh ‘God to you’) is used in Irish as a greeting!

3 · Dha weles! / Agas gweles! · See you (sg.)! / See you (pl.)! (Literally, ‘[I’ll do] your seeing’)

  • agas (poss.adj) your (pl.)
  • gweles (vn) see
  • Grammar and usage note: This is the usual informal way to say ‘Goodbye’ in contemporary spoken Cornish. Dha weles is short for My a wra dha weles, which literally means ‘I will do your seeing’ (just as English ‘See you!’ is short for ‘I’ll see you!’). Gweles is a part of speech called a verbal noun which expresses an action like a verb but behaves grammatically more like a noun. The closest equivalent to a Celtic verbal noun in English is a gerund, like the word ‘seeing’ in the sentence ‘Seeing you makes me happy.’ Because words like gweles are treated like nouns in Cornish, the object of the action ‘seeing’ is expressed as a possessive adjective (dha2 ‘your’) that governs the verbal noun gweles ‘seeing’ (thus, ‘your seeing’ or ‘the seeing of you’). Agas gweles,with the plural possessive adjective agas, is the appropriate form to use when saying ‘Goodbye’ or ‘See you’ to a group of people.
  • Mutation rule of the day: The sequence GW (a common initial consonant cluster in Cornish) lenites to W.

4 · Nos da / Nos dha · Good night

  • nos (nf), nosow night
  • Grammar rule of the day: When an adjective (like da ‘good’) follows a feminine singular noun (like nos ‘night’), the initial consonant of that adjective is usually subject to lenition (soft mutation). This is why many Cornish speakers say nos dha for ‘good night.’
  • Important exception to this rule: Lenition of certain consonants (P, T, and K) does not take place when the preceding word ends in the sounds s or th. Some Cornish speakers extend this exception to cover the consonant D as well, which is why they say nos da for ‘good night.’ Click here to download a table that shows the rules for all the different types of consonant mutation in Cornish.

5 · Bys a-vorow · Till tomorrow

  • bys (prep) until
  • a-vorow (adv) tomorrow
  • Note on pronunciation: In Cornish, most letters and combinations of letters (like th or oo) are pronounced the same way no matter where they appear in a word. The letter s has two possible pronunciations, however, just as it does in English. Often, especially at the beginning of a word or next to a p, t, or k, it is pronounced like the s in English see or fast. In other cases, especially in the middle or at the end of a word, it is pronounced with a z sound, like the s in English nose or toes. This is why the preposition bys ‘until’ is pronounced like biz. There are some exceptions to these rules, however: the final s in the word nos ‘night’ from yesterday’s phrase is usually pronounced like the s in English bus.

6 · Kemmer with! / Kemerewgh with! · Take (sg.) care! / Take (pl.) care!

  • kemmer (v) take (2sg. imperative of kemeres ‘take’)
  • gwith (nm) care (in the sense of ‘watchfulness, concern’)
  • kemerewgh (v) take (2pl. imperative of kemeres ‘take’)
  • Grammar note: In today’s phrase, the noun gwith is lenited to with, even though there is no clear grammatical reason for this mutation to take place. The direct object of a verb is normally lenited in Welsh, but Cornish has no such rule. This irregular mutation may simply be the result of treating the phrase Kemmergwith as a single unit, since lenition of the second element often occurs when two words are run together into one.
  • Note on pronunciation: The singular verb form kemmer is written with mm, so be sure to pronounce both ms (or hold the m sound for twice as long as usual) in this word. Some Cornish speakers will pronounce (and write) this form as kebmer. The plural form kemerewgh and the verbal noun kemeres ‘take’ are written with a single m, and should be pronounced accordingly. In Cornish, the double consonants ll, mm, nn, and rr can only occur after a stressed vowel, as in the first syllable of KEM-mer. Since the first syllables of ke-ME-rewgh and ke-ME-res are unstressed, the mm reduces to a single m.

7 · Eus karr dhis? · Do you (sg.) have a car? (Literally, ‘Is there a car to you?’)

  • eus (v) is, there is (3sg. long form of bos ‘be’)
  • karr (nm), kerri car
  • dhis (prep+pro) to you (sg.) (2sg. conjugated form of dhe2 ‘to’)
  • eus X dhe2 Y? (phr) does Y have X?
  • Grammar note: On January 13, we learned the word yw ‘is,’ the 3sg. short form of bos ‘be’ in the present tense. Today’s phrase contains a different word for ‘is,’ eus. Eus is one of three 3sg. long forms of bos in the present tense (we will learn the other two long forms in the coming days). While the short forms of bos are used in cases where we are describing something (e.g. He is happy) or equating two noun phrases (e.g. He is a fisherman), the long forms are used in other situations, such as when we are talking about where something is (e.g. It is here), what someone is doing (e.g. She is running), or discussing whether something exists (e.g. Is there an answer?).
  • Usage note: There are three different 3sg. long forms of bos in the present tense, and they are used in different contexts. Eus is the appropriate form to choose in cases where the subject of the sentence is indefinite (e.g. ‘a car,’ ‘some books,’ ‘anyone,’ ‘who?’). It is mainly used in questions, answers, negative sentences, and relative clauses, and can often be translated as ‘is there?’ or ‘there isn’t.’ One very common use of eus is in the phrase Eus X dhis? which literally means ‘Is there an X to you?’ but which is actually how we ask the question ‘Do you have an X?’ in Cornish. We’ll see more examples of this idiom in the next few days.
  • Note on pronunciation: Karr ‘car’ ends in rr, a ‘long’ consonant that is held for twice as long as a single r. Because the final consonant of karr is long, the vowel a is short. Be careful to pronounce karr with a short a and a long rr, since there is also a word in Cornish with a long a and a short r: kar, which means ‘parent, close relative.’ Remember that in Cornish the terms ‘short’ and ‘long’ refer to how much time you spend pronouncing a sound—how many ‘beats’ you hold it for—not what it sounds like.
  • Pronunciation rule of the day: Stressed vowels are pronounced short before a long (double) consonant, and are pronounced long before a short (single) consonant.

8 · Eus, yma karr dhymm · Yes, I have a car (Literally, ‘There is, there is a car to me’)

  • yma (v) is, there is (3sg. long form of bos ‘be’)
  • yma X dhe2 Y (phr) Y has X
  • Grammar rule of the day: To answer a yes/no question in the affirmative, we reply with the appropriate conjugated form of the verb used in the question. Since the question Eus karr dhis? uses the verb eus for ‘is?’ or ‘is there?’ we answer ‘yes’ by repeating the verb eus.
  • Usage note: Like eus, yma is a 3sg. present tense long form of bos ‘be.’ While eus is mainly used in negative sentences, questions, and answers, yma is mainly used in affirmative sentences. Since yma is the affirmative form of eus, the correct way to translate the English phrase ‘I have a car’ is Yma karr dhymm—literally, ‘There is a car to me.’
  • Note on pronunciation: The word yma ‘is, there is’ has an unusual stress pattern: the main word stress is on the final syllable (ma), and the initial y- is hardly heard at all. In fact, some Cornish speakers just say (and write) ma.

9 · Nag eus, nyns eus karr dhymm · No, I don’t have a car (Literally, ‘There isn’t, there is not a car to me’)

  • na2, nag (part) not (negative pre-verbal particle)
  • ny2, nyns (part) not (negative pre-verbal particle)
  • nyns eus X dhe2 Y (phr) Y doesn’t have X
  • Grammar rule of the day: To answer a yes/no question in the negative, we reply by placing the negative pre-verbal particle na2 or nag before the appropriate conjugated form of the verb used in the question. Since the question Eus karr dhis? uses the verb eus for ‘is?’ or ‘is there?’ we answer ‘no’ by saying nag eus.
  • Grammar and usage note: There are two different negative pre-verbal particles in Cornish: na2, which becomes nag before a vowel, and ny2, which becomes nyns before forms of the verb bos ‘be’ and mos ‘go’ that start with a vowel. Ny2/nyns is used in simple sentences and main clauses (in today’s phrase, the sentence Nyns eus karr dhymm ‘I don’t have a car’—literally, ‘there is not a car to me’), while na2/nag is used in relative clauses and answers to questions (in today’s phrase, the words Nag eus, ‘No’).

10 · Yma diwros dhymm · I have a bicycle

  • diwros (nf), diwrosow bicycle
  • Usage note: Obviously bicycles had not been invented yet when Cornish was traditionally spoken (up to about 1800 in the far west of the country). Dictionaries from the early 20th century translate ‘bicycle’ as margh-horn (literally, ‘iron horse’), based on the Modern Breton word marc’h-houarn. Nowadays, most Cornish speakers use the word diwros (literally, ‘two-wheels’) instead. The usual Cornish word for ‘motorcycle’ is jynn diwros (‘engine bicycle’), so the phrase ‘I have a motorcycle’ would be translated Yma jynn diwros dhymm.

11 · Gwell yw genev kerdhes · I prefer to walk (Literally, ‘Walking is better with me’)

  • gwell (adj) better (irregular comparative form of da ‘good’)
  • kerdhes (vn) walk
  • gwell yw gans X (phr) X prefers (literally, ‘[it] is better with X’)
  • Grammar note: The phrase gwell yw genev ‘I prefer’ is related to the idiom da yw genev ‘I like’ which we learned on January 25. Gwell ‘better’ is the comparative form of da ‘good,’ so a sentence like Da yw genev lywya, mes gwell yw genev kerdhes ‘I like to drive, but I prefer to walk’ literally means ‘Driving is good with me, but walking is better with me.’

12 · Eus pluven genes? · Have you (sg.) got a pen? (Literally, ‘Is there a pen with you?’)

  • pluven (nf), pluvennow pen
  • eus X gans Y? (phr) does Y have X (with him/her)?
  • Usage note: Like most other Celtic languages, Cornish does not have a simple verb that corresponds to the English verb ‘have.’ Instead, Cornish speakers use a variety of constructions involving the verb ‘be,’ often combined with a preposition. On February 7, we learned the most common way to ask ‘Do you have X?’ in Cornish: Eus X dhis? That phrase uses the preposition dhe2 ‘to, for’ to ask whether something ‘is to you’ (in the sense of ‘belongs to you’). Today’s phrase employs a slightly different construction: Eus X genes? ‘Is X with you?’ This question features the preposition gans ‘with’ and is the appropriate form to use in cases where we are asking not whether you own a particular item, but whether you have it with you.

13 · Nag eus, mes yma pluven blomm genev · No, but I’ve got a pencil (Literally, ‘There isn’t, but there is a pencil with me’)

  • mes (conj) but
  • pluven blomm (nf), pluvennow plomm pencil
  • plomm (nm) lead (metal)
  • yma X gans Y (phr) Y has X (with him/her)
  • Usage note: Yma X genev is the usual way to translate ‘I have X’ or ‘I’ve got X’ when the meaning is ‘I’ve got X with me.’
  • Grammar rule of the day: As we learned on February 4, the initial consonant of an adjective is subject to lenition (soft mutation) when the adjective follows a feminine singular noun. This rule also applies in cases where a noun is used like an adjective to modify or describe another noun, as with pluven blomm ‘pencil’—literally, ‘lead pen’ or ‘pen [of] lead.’
  • Mutation rule of the day: P lenites to B, so plomm ‘lead’ becomes blomm following the feminine singular noun pluven ‘pen.’

14 · My a’th kar · I love you (sg.)

  • my (pro) I
  • a2 (part) relative pre-verbal particle (equivalent to English ‘that’ or ‘who’)
  • ‘th5 (pro) you (sg.) (infixed object pronoun)
  • kar (v) loves (3sg. present/future of kara ‘love’)
  • Grammar and Usage note: On January 15, we learned one Cornish pronoun that can mean ‘I’: vy, which is the correct form for ‘I’ in cases where the pronoun is placed after a conjugated verb. When the subject pronoun ‘I’ is the first word in a sentence, however, we use the form my instead, as in My a’th kar ‘I love you.’
  • Grammar rule of the day: In an affirmative sentence where the subject precedes the verb, the verb is preceded by the pre-verbal particle a2 ‘that, who’ and remains in the third person singular form, no matter what the subject is. So when you say My a’th kar, you are literally telling someone ‘[It is] I who loves you.’
  • Grammar note: The ‘th in a’th is an example of what Celtic grammar books call an infixed pronoun. Infixed pronouns are used in Cornish to express the direct object of a conjugated verb, and they get their name because they are inserted between a pre-verbal particle (like a2 in today’s phrase) and its verb (kar in today’s phrase). The pronoun ‘th5 means ‘you (sg.)’ and causes a type of mutation we haven’t encountered before: mixed mutation. Actually, it causes an irregular form of mixed mutation—groan!—which is illustrated in this chart. Words that cause mixed mutation are marked in textbooks, grammars, and dictionaries with a superscript 5. Fortunately for us, however…
  • Mutation rule of the day: K is not subject to mixed mutation, so nothing happens to kar after the infixed pronoun ‘th5!
  • Saying ‘I love you’ can lead to so much confusion, can’t it? But hey, at least you’ll learn a lot of new grammar!
  • Bonus phrase of the day: If you’re not yet ready to speak of love, there are two ways to wish someone ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’ in Cornish: Gool Valentin Lowen ‘Happy Feast of [St.] Valentine’ and Dydh Sen Valentin Lowen ‘Happy St. Valentine’s Day.’ Listen to them both here.

15 · Usi dha erlyver Kernewek genes? · Have you (sg.) got your Cornish dictionary with you? (Literally, ‘Is your Cornish dictionary with you?’)

  • usi (v) is (3sg. long form of bos ‘be’)
  • gerlyver (nm), gerlyvrow dictionary (from ger ‘word’ + lyver ‘book’)
  • Kernewek (nm) Cornish (language)
  • usi X dhe2 Y? (phr) does Y have X (with him/her)?
  • Grammar note: So far this month, we have learned two of the three 3sg. present tense long forms of bos—two Cornish words for ‘is’: eus and yma. Today’s phrase contains the third (and last) form: usi. As long forms of bos ‘be,’ yma, eus, and usi are used in similar ways. They tell us:
  1. Where someone or something is.
  2. What someone or something is doing.
  3. That someone or something exists (like English ‘There is a(n)…’).
  4. That someone has something (when used in combination with the preposition dhe2 or gans to mean that something belongs to someone or is with someone).
  • Usage note: When choosing which long form of bos to use, follow these rules:
  1. In a simple affirmative sentence, use yma for ‘is’ or ‘there is.’ Yma is also used in a few other situations, which we will learn later on.
  2. In negative sentences, questions, and answers, use eus for ‘is’ or ‘there is’ when you are talking about something indefinite (e.g. ‘a dog,’ ‘some books,’ ‘who?’).
  3. In negative sentences, questions, and answers, use usi for ‘is’ when you are talking about something definite (e.g. ‘my dog,’ ‘the books,’ ‘John,’ or ‘she’). Note that usi is the correct form to use with a personal pronoun (like ev ‘he’ or hi ‘she’), as well as any noun that is preceded by the definite article an ‘the’ or a possessive adjective like ow3 ‘my’ or dha2 ‘your (sg.).’
  • Mutation rule of the day: As we learned on January 28, G disappears through lenition when the following vowel is a, e, i, or y, so gerlyver ‘dictionary’ changes to erlyver after the possessive adjective dha2 ‘your (sg.).’

16 · Usi, yma ow gerlyver genev hedhyw · Yes, I’ve got my dictionary with me today (Literally, ‘It is, my dictionary is with me today’)

  • hedhyw (adv) today
  • Grammar and usage note: Remember that we use usi in answers to yes/no questions that are asked with usi (like Usi dha erlyver genes?), so usi in today’s phrase should be translated simply ‘yes.’ When following up this ‘yes’ with a complete sentence like ‘I’ve got my dictionary with me,’ however, we need to use the proper long form of bos for affirmative statements: yma.
  • Mutation rule of the day: G is not affected by spirantization (the type of mutation that follows ow3 ‘my’).

17 · Nag usi, nyns usi va genev · No, I haven’t got it (masc.) with me (Literally, ‘It isn’t, it is not with me’)

  • va (pro) he, it (reduced form of ev ‘he’ sometimes used after yma)
  • Grammar and usage note: As we learned on January 18, the usual word for ‘he’ in Cornish is ev. Today’s phrase features a ‘reduced’ form of this pronoun, va, which may be used in place of ev after the verb yma or usi ‘is.’ Note that ev and va can both be used to translate English ‘it’ in cases where we are referring to a masculine noun (like gerlyver ‘dictionary’). The phrase Yma va genev / Yma ev genev could therefore mean either ‘I’ve got it with me’ or ‘He is with me’ depending on the context. If we were referring to a feminine noun (like pluven ‘pen’), we would say Yma hi genev for ‘I’ve got it with me.’

18 · Nyns eus saw lyver lavarennow genev · I’ve only got a phrasebook with me (Literally, ‘There is not [anything] but a phrasebook with me’)

  • saw (prep, conj) but, except (for)
  • lyver lavarennow (nm), lyvrow lavarennow phrasebook
  • lyver (nm), lyvrow book
  • lavaren (nf), lavarennow phrase
  • Nyns eus saw X gans Y (phr) Y only has X (with him/her)
  • Grammar and usage note: In Cornish, the usual way to translate ‘I’ve only got X’ or ‘There’s only X’ is to use a negative form of bos (nyns eus or nyns usi) followed by the word saw ‘but, except for’ or marnas ‘except for.’ In effect, you are saying ‘I haven’t got [anything] except for X’ or ‘There isn’t [anything] but X.’ Since lyver lavarennow ‘a phrasebook’ is an indefinite noun, today’s phrase uses nyns eus. If we were translating the sentence ‘I’ve only got my phrasebook with me,’ however, we would say Nyns usi saw ow lyver lavarennow genev because ow lyver lavarennow ‘my phrasebook’ is a definite noun, referring to a specific phrasebook. To review the rules for using eus and usi, see the entry for February 15.

19 · Fatel yw an gewer? · How is the weather?

  • fatel2 (adv) how
  • kewer (nf) weather
  • Grammar note: For the past few weeks we have been focusing on the long forms of bos: yma, eus, and usi. Here, however, we are back to the short form: yw. This and other short forms of bos are used in cases where we are talking about:
  1. What something or someone is (‘That is a cow’; ‘He is a writer’).
  2. Who someone is (‘This is Jori’; ‘She is my friend’).
  3. How someone or something is (‘How is the weather in Australia?’; ‘She is happy’).
  4. What someone or something is like (‘Learning Cornish is easy’; ‘That big black dog is friendly’).
  • Usage note: On January 7, we learned the phrase Fatla genes? ‘How are you?’ where Cornish fatla is the equivalent of English ‘how.’ Today’s phrase features a different form of the word ‘how’: fatel. In Cornish, fatel is the correct form to place before a conjugated verb (like yw ‘is’ in the question Fatel yw an gewer?), while fatla is used for ‘how’ in other situations (as before the conjugated preposition genes ‘with you’).
  • Note on mutation: Don’t forget that feminine singular nouns like kewer ‘weather’ are subject to lenition (soft mutation) after the definite article an ‘the.’

20 · Yeyn yw hi · It’s cold

  • yeyn (adj) cold
  • Grammar note: Since kewer ‘weather’ is a feminine noun, the correct way to translate ‘it’ in the English phrase ‘It’s cold’ is with the feminine pronoun hi ‘she, it (fem.)’ You can also leave out the pronoun and just say Yeyn yw.

21 · Yma an howl ow splanna · The sun is shining

  • howl (nm), howlyow sun
  • ow4 (part) -ing (particle used to form a present participle from a verbal noun)
  • splanna (vn) shine
  • Grammar rule of the day: In English, when we talk about something that is happening right now, we use a special tense called the present progressive, which consists of the present tense of the verb ‘to be’ + a present participle (formed by adding the suffix -ing to a verb). We see an example of this tense in today’s phrase: The sun is shining. Cornish also has a present progressive tense, which operates in more or less the same way, and consists of a present tense long form of bos + a present participle. In Cornish, however, a present participle is formed by placing the particle ow4 in front of a verbal noun, rather than by adding a suffix to the end of a verb as in English. So the verb splanna ‘shine’ has the present participle ow4 splanna ‘shining.’
  • Note on mutation: The particle ow4 ‘-ing’ is pronounced the same way as the possessive adjective ow3 ‘my’—the only difference between the two words is the type of mutation each may cause to the initial consonant of a following word. Ow3 ‘my’ causes spirant mutation, which affects the consonants P, T, and K, while ow4 ‘-ing’ causes provection or hard mutation, which affects the consonants B, D, G, and sometimes J. Click here to download a table that lists all the Cornish consonant mutations.
  • Mutation rule of the day: S is not subject to provection, so nothing happens to splanna after the particle ow4.
  • Note on pronunciation: Cornish ow is pronounced like the ow in English know, grow, and not like the ow in cow, now.

22 · Yma ow kul glaw · It’s raining (Literally, ‘It is making rain’)

  • gul (vn) do, make
  • glaw (nm) rain
  • Usage note: In Cornish, we always use the verb gul ‘do, make’ when talking about different types of precipitation: it ‘makes rain’ or ‘makes snow.’
  • Mutation rule of the day: G changes to K through hard mutation, so the present participle of gul ‘do, make’ is ow4 kul ‘doing, making.’
  • Note on pronunciation: In Cornish, the sequence aw is pronounced like the ow in English cow or now.

23 · Ergh a wra y’n gwav · It snows in the winter (Literally, ‘It makes snow in the winter’)

  • ergh (nm) snow
  • gwra (v) does, makes (3sg. present/future form of gul ‘do, make’)
  • y’n (phr) in the (contraction of yn + an)
  • gwav (nm) winter
  • Grammar note: Yesterday’s sentence Yma ow kul glaw uses the present progressive tense (equivalent to the English ‘is raining) to describe an action that is in progress right now. Today’s phrase uses a different tense, the present/future indicative. This is the normal ‘present’ tense in Cornish, and like the equivalent English form (‘It [usually] snows in the winter’) it may be used to describe things that usually happen (but aren’t necessarily happening right now). Unlike English, however, this tense can also have a future meaning, so Ergh a wra y’n gwav can also be translated ‘It will snow in the winter.’
  • Note on mutation and pronunciation: As we learned on February 3, the sequence GW lenites to W, so gwra ‘does, makes’ becomes wra after the pre-verbal particle a2. Be sure to pronounce the w in wra, however! Cornish is not like English, where write, wrightrite, and right all sound alike. If you have trouble with pronouncing the cluster WR at the beginning of a word, try thinking of the phrase a wra as aw ra (‘Ow, rah!’ in English spelling).
  • Note on pronunciation: There is no difference in pronunciation between the preposition yn ‘in’ and the contraction y’n ‘in the.’ Both sound like the English word in.
  • Question of the day: How would you say ‘It’s snowing’ in Cornish?

24 · Yma hager-awel ow tos · A storm is coming

  • hager-awel (nf), hager-awelyow bad weather, storm (from hager ‘ugly’ + awel ‘weather, wind’)
  • dos (vn) come
  • Mutation rule of the day: The hard mutation changes D to T, which is why the present participle of dos ‘come’ is ow4 tos ‘coming.’
  • Answer to yesterday’s question: Yma ow kul ergh · It’s snowing

25 · Yma ow kolowi hag ow tarenna · It’s thundering and lightning (Literally, ‘It’s lighting up and thundering’)

  • golowi (vn) light up, flash (of lightning) (derived from the noun golow ‘light’)
  • hag (conj) and (used before words that begin with a vowel)
  • tarenna (vn) thunder (derived from the noun taran ‘thunder’)
  • Usage note: on January 12, we learned the word ha, which is the most common way to say ‘and’ in Cornish. Like many linking words in Cornish, however, the word for ‘and’ has two forms, and which one we choose depends on what comes after it. Ha is the appropriate form when the next word begins with a consonant, while hag is the correct form before a word that starts with a vowel (and, for some speakers, before the consonant h as well).
  • Mutation rule of the day: The hard mutation does not affect T, so there is no change to tarenna ‘thundering’ after the particle ow4.

26 · Glas yw an ebron · The sky is blue (Literally, ‘Blue is the sky’)

  • glas (adj) blue, green (of plants)
  • ebron (nf) sky
  • Usage note: The main meaning of the word glas is ‘blue’ but it is also used to mean ‘green’ when referring to any kind of green plants. In some cases, glas may even extend to include certain shades of grey. Basically, glas is the color of the land, sea, and sky. To talk about ‘green’ as a color distinct from ‘blue’ or to describe something green that is not a plant, we use a different word, gwyrdh, which is ultimately borrowed from Latin (viridis). When we are discussing something ‘green’ in the sense of ‘environmentally conscious’ or ‘ecologically friendly,’ glas is the correct form to use, since it refers to the green shades of the natural world.

27 · Yma kommol du y’n ebron · There are black clouds in the sky

  • kommol (nc) clouds
  • du (adj) black
  • Grammar note: The word kommol ‘clouds’ is a special type of noun in Cornish that is neither singular nor plural: a collective noun. Collective nouns often have a plural meaning when translated into English, and usually refer to plants, animals, and things that are most commonly found in large numbers or mass quantities. If we want to refer to a single individual member of this collective entity, we add the suffix -en to create a singulative form. Thus kommol means ‘clouds’ in the sense of ‘a whole bunch of clouds, a sky covered with clouds, a big mass of cloud, too many clouds to count’ while its singulative form komolen means ‘a cloud.’ Collective nouns behave like masculine singular nouns, so they do not become lenited after the article an ‘the’ or cause a following adjective to lenite; singulatives behave in all respects as feminine singular nouns, so the phrase ‘the black cloud’ would be translated an gomolen dhu. Singulatives can also be pluralized by adding the suffix -ow. The plural form komolennow might be used to describe several individual clouds, rather than the undifferentiated mass of clouds implied by kommol.

28 · My a wel komolennow gwynn · I see white clouds

  • gwel (v) sees (3sg. present/future of gweles ‘see’)
  • komolen (nf), komolennow cloud (singulative of kommol)
  • gwynn (adj) white
  • Grammar note: Today’s sentence shows the usual word order for an affirmative statement in Cornish: Subject + a2 particle + Verb + Object. In sentences like this, the verb remains in the third person singular form no matter what the subject is, so My a wel komolennow gwynn literally means ‘[It is] I who sees white clouds.’ We saw a similar sentence structure on February 14 with the phrase My a’th kar (although in this case the object pronoun is inserted between the a2 particle and the 3sg. verb kar ‘loves’).
  • Usage note: The verb gwel is the 3sg. present/future form of gweles ‘see,’ and as we have observed, this tense is often used with future meaning in Cornish, so My a wel could also mean ‘I will see.’ With verbs of the senses like gweles, however, it is quite common to use the present/future in cases where an English speaker would say ‘I can see X,’ referring to something he or she is seeing right now.

Summary · Mis Hwevrel 2014

In February 2014 we learned:

  • 28 phrases plus 4 bonus phrases
  • 57 vocabulary words, not counting idiomatic phrases, personal names, and variant forms

Mis Meurth 2014 · March 2014

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