Mis Meurth 2014

Mis Meurth 2014 · March 2014

1 · Fatel o an gewer de? · How was the weather yesterday?

  • o (v) was (3sg. short form imperfect tense of bos ‘be’)
  • de (adv) yesterday
  • Grammar note: Cornish has a number of different past tenses. One of these is the imperfect tense, which describes an action or state in the past that continued for a period of time or that took place frequently or on a regular basis. The verb bos ‘be’ has a short form and a long form in the imperfect tense, just as it does in the present tense, and o ‘was’ is the 3sg. short form of the imperfect. It is used in the same situations where we would use yw in the present tense, so it tells us:
  1. What something or someone was (‘That was my childhood home’; ‘George Washington was the first president of the United States’).
  2. Who someone was (‘That was Loveday’; ‘He was my father-in-law’).
  3. How someone or something was (‘How was your drive?’; ‘She was happy’).
  4. What someone or something was like (‘Learning to ski was hard’; ‘That dessert was tasty’).

2 · Brav ha tomm o hi de · It was fine and warm yesterday

  • brav (adj) fine
  • tomm (adj) warm
  • Question of the day: Why do we translate English ‘it’ as hi in today’s phrase?

3 · Nyhewer yth esa kowas · Last night there was a [rain] shower

  • nyhewer (adv) last night
  • y5,yth (part) affirmative pre-verbal particle (no direct English equivalent in this sentence)
  • esa (v) was (3sg. long form imperfect tense of bos ‘be’)
  • kowas (nf), kowasow shower (of rain), shower (bath)
  • Grammar note: In most Cornish sentences, a conjugated verb is preceded by a pre-verbal particle. These particles are short (one-syllable) words that tell us how the verb relates to the other elements of the sentence. We have already met three of these pre-verbal particles: the negative particles ny2/nyns and na2/nag, which can both be translated ‘not’ and are placed before the verb to show that the sentence is negative, and the relative particle a2, which is used in a simple affirmative sentence where the subject or direct object precedes the verb (as in My a wel an howl ‘I see the sun’). Today’s phrase is also an affirmative sentence, but instead of the subject or object, it begins with an adverb, nyhewer ‘last night.’ In such cases, the correct particle to use is y5, which becomes yth before a word that starts with a vowel (or, for some speakers, h). In complex sentences, y5/yth corresponds to the English conjunction ‘that,’ and simple sentences like Nyhewer yth esa kowas may be derived from cases where an adverb was  shifted to the beginning of the sentence for extra emphasis: ‘[It was] last night that there was a shower.’
  • Grammar and usage note: On March 1 we learned the 3sg. short form of bos in the imperfect tense: o ‘was.’ Today we meet the corresponding long form, esa. While the present tense of bos has three different long forms (yma, eus, and usi) that are used in different contexts, the imperfect tense uses esa in all situations where the long form applies, no matter whether the sentence is affirmative or negative, or whether the subject is definite or indefinite.
  • Answer to yesterday’s question: We use hi for ‘it’ in the sentence Brav ha tomm o hi de ‘It was fine and warm yesterday’ since ‘it’ refers to the weather, and the word gewer ‘weather’ is a feminine noun in Cornish.

4 · Fatel vydh an gewer a-vorow? · How will the weather be tomorrow?

  • bydh (v) will be (3sg. future/habitual present of bos ‘be’)
  • Grammar note: Today’s phrase introduces another new verb form: bydh, the 3sg. future tense form of bos ‘be.’ In Cornish, only bos and a few other verbs based on bos make a distinction between the present and future tenses; with all other verbs, we speak of a present/future tense that combines both meanings. Technically, bydh is also the habitual present tense of bos, so we can also use this form in sentences like Yeyn vydh an gewer y’n gwav ‘The weather is [usually] cold in the winter.’ Note that bos only distinguishes between a short form and a long form in the simple present (yw vs. yma/usi/eus) and imperfect (o vs. esa) tenses—in the future tense, bydh is the only 3sg. form.

5 · Splann vydh an gewer rag Gool Peran · The weather will be splendid for St. Piran’s Day

  • splann (a) splendid, shining, bright, brilliant
  • rag (prep) for
  • gool (nm), golyow feast, festival, vigil; feast day of a saint
  • Peran (nm) Piran (name of Cornwall’s patron saint, also the patron of tin miners)
  • Gool Peran (nm) St. Piran’s Day (Cornwall’s national holiday, akin to St. David’s Day for the Welsh or St. Patrick’s Day for the Irish)
  • Grammar note: In affirmative sentences where an adjective precedes a conjugated form of bos, the pre-verbal particle y5/yth is usually omitted. In such cases, however, the initial b of forms like bydh will be lenited to v, which is why we say Splann vydh an gewer for ‘The weather will be splendid’ in today’s phrase.
  • Usage note: The word gool ‘feast’ is used to mean ‘a saint’s feast day’ in the names of many holidays. One of the most important Cornish holidays is Gool Peran, the feast day of Cornwall’s patron saint, which is celebrated on March 5. Gool Peran Lowen! · Happy St. Piran’s Day!

6 · Pandr’a vynnowgh hwi dhe wul an penn-seythen ma? · What do you (pl.) want to do this weekend? / What will you (pl.) do this weekend?

  • pandra (pro) what
  • pandr’a2 (phr) what (before a conjugated verb; pandra ‘what’ + a2 particle)
  • mynnowgh (v) you (pl.) want to, you (pl.) will (2pl. present/future of mynnes ‘want to, will’)
  • penn-seythen (nm or nf), pennow-seythen or pennseythennyow weekend (from penn ‘end’ + seythen ‘week’)
  • Grammar note: Some Cornish speakers treat penn-seythen as a feminine noun, and would therefore say an benn-seythen ma for ‘this weekend.’
  • Grammar and usage note: Mynnes ‘want to, will’ is one of the most important auxiliary verbs in Cornish. Auxiliary verbs like mynnes are used in conjunction with verbal nouns (like gul ‘do’ in today’s sentence) to modify the meaning of the other verb or to express various tenses and moods without having to conjugate the other verb. Mynnes can be translated two different ways depending on context:
  1. The primary meaning of mynnes is ‘want to,’ so Pandr’a vynnowgh hwi dhe wul can be interpreted as ‘What do you want to do?’ Other tenses of mynnes can be used to translate forms like ‘wanted to’ or ‘would like to’ and we will learn those in the coming months.
  2. Mynnes can also be used in a broader sense to form a future tense, since in discussing what we want to do we may also be describing something we plan to do in the future. Therefore Pandr’a vynnowgh hwi dhe wul can also mean ‘What will you do?’
  • Usage note: On January 13, we learned the word pyth ‘what.’ Pandra in today’s phrase is another Cornish word for ‘what.’ While pyth is primarily used with the simple present and imperfect tenses of bos ‘be,’ pandra is the usual way to say ‘what’ in questions involving any other verb (including forms of bos that start with a b, like bydh ‘will be’). Note that pandra combines with a following a2 particle as pandr’a2.
  • Mutation rule of the day: M lenites to V, which is why mynnowgh ‘you want to, you will’ becomes vynnowgh after the pre-verbal particle a2.

7 · Ni a vynn mos dhe gevewi gans kowetha · We want to (or We will) go to a party with friends

  • ni (pro) we
  • mynn (v) wants to, will (3sg. present/future of mynnes ‘want to, will’)
  • kevewi (nm), kevewiow party (celebration)
  • koweth (nm), kowetha friend, companion
  • Grammar note: Today’s phrase provides another example of the normal word order for an affirmative sentence in Cornish: Subject (ni ‘we’) + a2 particle + 3sg. verb (mynn ‘wants to’) + rest of sentence.

8 · A vyn’ta dos genen ni? · Do you (sg.) want to come with us? (Will you come with us?)

  • a2 (part) interrogative pre-verbal particle (used in yes/no questions; no English equivalent)
  • myn’ta (v+pro) you (sg.) want to, you (sg.) will (a common contraction of the 2sg. present/future form mynnydh ‘want to’ + ta ‘you’)
  • genen (prep+pro) with us (1pl. conjugated form of gans ‘with’)
  • Grammar and usage note: Today’s phrase introduces a new pre-verbal particle: a2, the interrogative particle that is placed before a verb when asking a yes/no question. While this particle looks, sounds, and lenites a following consonant just like the relative particle a2, they are considered two different words because of their different functions. Both of these particles are dropped before forms of bos ‘be’ and mos ‘go’ that start with a vowel, which is why we have not seen the interrogative particle before now.
  • Grammar note: Yes/no questions, answers, and negative sentences in Cornish almost always start with the verb, and this verb will always be conjugated to agree with the person and number of a pronoun subject.

9 · Mynnav, sur! · Yes [I want to], sure!

  • mynnav (v) I want to (1sg. present/future of mynnes ‘want to, will’)
  • sur (adj, adv) sure(ly), certain(ly)
  • Grammar note: As we learned on February 8, we answer a yes/no question in Cornish by repeating the appropriate conjugated form of the verb. Since yesterday’s question was asked using the second person singular present/future tense form of mynnes ‘want to, will’ (A vyn’ta dos genen ni? ‘Do you want to come with us?’), the answer ‘yes’ is mynnav (literally ‘I want to’), which uses the first person singular form of the same tense of mynnes. The suffix -av is used to form the 1sg. present/future indicative of all regular and most irregular verbs in Cornish.

10 · Na vynnav, meur ras. Martesen neb prys aral? · No, thank you. Perhaps some other time?

  • martesen (adv) maybe, perhaps, possibly
  • neb (adv) some, any
  • neb prys (adv) sometime, at any time
  • prys (nm), presyow time
  • aral (adj), erel other
  • Grammar and usage note: As a rule, adjectives in Cornish do not have distinct singular and plural forms (although differences may arise due to the lenition that occurs following feminine singular nouns and masculine plural nouns that refer to people). One exception is aral ‘other,’ which has the plural form erel.
  • Usage note: Remember that the negative particle used in answering a question is nag before a vowel (as in nag eus or nag yw) but na2 elsewhere (as before the verb mynnav in today’s phrase).

11 · A vynn agas kerens dyski Kernewek? · Do your (pl.) parents want to learn Cornish?

  • kar (nm), kerens close relative, parent
  • kerens (nmp) parents
  • dyski (vn) teach, learn
  • Grammar note: The verb mynn in today’s phrase is the 3sg. present/future of mynnes ‘want to, will,’ even though the subject of the sentence is the plural noun kerens ‘parent.’ As we learned on January 22, we use the third person singular (or ‘he/she/it’ form) of a verb with any noun subject in Cornish, regardless of whether the noun is singular or plural.
  • Usage note: The Cornish verb dyski means both ‘teach’ and ‘learn.’ It is usually clear from context which is meant, and the two meanings use different prepositions: dyski Kernewek dhe2 nebonan means ‘teach Cornish to someone’ while dyski Kernewek gans nebonan means ‘learn Cornish from [literally, ‘with’] someone.’

12 · Mynnons, agan kerens a vynn dyski taves aga hendasow · Yes [they want to], our parents want to learn the language of their ancestors

  • mynnons (v) they want to, they will (3pl. present/future of mynnes ‘want to, will’)
  • agan (poss.adj) our
  • taves (nm), tavosow tongue, language
  • aga3 (poss.adj) their
  • hendas (nm), hendasow forefather, ancestor (from hen ‘ancient’ + tas ‘father’)
  • Grammar note: Here, the response ‘Yes’ is translated as mynnons, literally ‘they want to’ or ‘they will,’ where the third person pronoun ‘they’ is expressed by the suffix -ons. Although yesterday’s question (A vynn agas kerens dyski Kernewek?) used a third person singular verb (mynn) before a noun subject, mynnons is the correct form to use in the reply since the plural noun phrase agas kerens ‘your (pl.) parents’ is not included in our answer (and has been replaced by an ending representing the pronoun ‘they’). While -ons is the usual 3pl. suffix for the present/future indicative in Cornish, all 3pl. verb forms in Cornish—in every tense—end in a vowel followed by -ns.

13 · A vynnowgh hwi mos dhe’n Penn-seythen Kernewek? · Do you (pl.) want to go to the Cornish Language Weekend? (Will you go to the Cornish Language Weekend?)

  • dhe’n (phr) to the (contraction of dhe2 ‘to’ + an ‘the’)
  • Penn-seythen Kernewek (nm) or Penn-seythen Gernewek (nf) Cornish Language Weekend
  • Grammar and usage note: As we noted on March 6, some Cornish speakers treat the noun penn-seythen ‘weekend’ as a masculine noun while others regard it as feminine. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the name of the Cornish Language Weekend, an annual event where Cornish speakers and learners from all across Cornwall and all around the world gather to speak (and improve) their Cornish. Many people call this event an Benn-seythen Gernewek or (using a different spelling system) an Bennseythun Gernewek, where the lenition of P > B and K > G indicates that the noun penn-seythen is feminine.

14 · Mynnyn, saw ny yllyn ni mos hevlena · Yes [we want to], but we can’t go this year

  • mynnyn (v) we want to, we will (1pl. present/future of mynnes ‘want to, will’)
  • gyllyn (v) we can (1pl. present/future of gallos ‘be able, can’)
  • hevlena (adv) this year
  • Grammar note: The verbs mynnyn ‘we want to, we will’ and gyllyn ‘we can’ both show the regular 1pl. present/future tense ending -yn. The suffixed pronoun ni is only added for emphasis, and is completely optional. As you learn other verb forms, you will find that the 1pl. suffix in every tense ends in a vowel followed by -n.
  • Usage note: As we learned on February 9, the negative particle used in a main clause or a simple sentence (like ny yllyn ni mos ‘we can’t go’ in today’s phrase) has the form nyns before forms of the verbs bos ‘be’ and mos ‘go’ that start with a vowel (as in nyns usi or nyns o) but is simply ny2 elsewhere (as before the verb gyllyn in today’s phrase).
  • Milestone: Congratulations! As of today, we’ve learned the full set of personal endings for regular verbs in the present/future indicative tense. Here they are, using the verb mynnes ‘want to, will’ (root mynn-) as an example:
    • 1sg. -av · mynnav ‘I want to’
    • 2sg. -ydh · mynnydh ‘you (sg.) want to’ (often contracted to myn’ta with a suffixed pronoun)
    • 3sg. no ending · mynn ‘he/she/it wants to’ (also used with all noun subjects, both singular and plural)
    • 1pl. -yn · mynnyn ‘we want to’
    • 2pl. -owgh · mynnowgh ‘you (pl.) want to’
    • 3pl. -ons · mynnons ‘they want to’

15 · Res yw dhyn oberi · We have to work (Literally, ‘Working is necessary for us’)

  • res (adj) necessary
  • dhyn (prep+pro) to us, for us (1pl. conjugated form of dhe2 ‘to, for’)
  • res yw dhe2 X gul Y (phr) X has to do Y, X must do Y
  • oberi (vn) work
  • Grammar note: In January and February, we learned a number of idioms involving adjectives used with the preposition gans ‘with.’ These include da yw gans X ‘X likes’ (January 25), drog yw gans X ‘X is sorry’ (January 31), gwell yw gans X ‘X prefers’ (February 11). Cornish also has several idioms involving an adjective and the preposition dhe2 ‘to, for,’ of which res yw dhe X ‘X must, X has to’ is probably the most common. Just like the auxiliary verbs mynnes ‘want to, will’ and gallos ‘be able, can,’ expressions like res yw dhymm ‘I have to’ or res yw dhyn ‘we must’ are followed by a verbal noun (oberi ‘work’ in today’s sentence) that tells us what action is being discussed. While Res yw dhyn oberi should be translated as ‘We have to work’ or ‘We must work,’ it literally means ‘Working (oberi) is necessary (res) for us.’

16 · Yw res dhywgh oberi nos Sadorn? · Do you (pl.) have to work Saturday night? (Literally, ‘Is working necessary for you Saturday night?’)

  • dhywgh (prep+pro) to you (pl.), for you (pl.) (2pl. conjugated form of dhe2 ‘to, for’)
  • yw res dhe2 X gul Y? (phr) does X have to do Y?, must X do Y?
  • Sadorn (nm) Saturn, Saturday
  • nos Sadorn (nf) Saturday night
  • Usage note: By itself, Sadorn is a masculine noun that refers to the planet Saturn or the Roman god of the same name. In some situations, Sadorn can also be used to translate the English ‘Saturday.’ Most of the time, however, the Cornish equivalent of English ‘Saturday’ is dy’Sadorn (short for dydh Sadorn ‘Saturn’s day’), which is also a masculine noun because dydh ‘day’ is masculine. ‘Saturday night’ may be translated dy’Sadorn dhe nos (‘Saturday at night’) or, as in today’s phrase, nos Sadorn (literally, ‘Saturn’s night’). Since nos ‘night’ is feminine, nos Sadorn is also considered a feminine noun.
  • Grammar note: Remember that as we learned on March 8, the interrogative pre-verbal particle a2 (which normally introduces a yes/no question like today’s phrase) is dropped before forms of the verbs bos ‘be’ and mos ‘go’ that start with a vowel.

17 · An nos na y fydh troyll dhe eth eur · That night there will be a troyll at eight o’clock

  • troyll (nm or nf), troyllyow troyll (an evening gathering featuring live music, singing, and traditional Cornish dancing; the Cornish equivalent of a cèilidh)
  • dhe2 (prep) at (in expressions indicating a specific time)
  • eth (num) eight
  • eur (nf), euryow o’clock
  • Grammar and usage note: In today’s sentence, the noun phrase an nos na ‘that night’ is used as an adverb to tell when the troyl is happening, and since it is neither the subject nor the direct object of the verb bydh ‘[there] will be’ the particle y5 is placed before the verb. This is the same affirmative pre-verbal particle we encountered on March 3 in the sentence Nyhewer yth esa kowas. Like many other short unaccented words in Cornish, the affirmative particle has two forms: it is yth before a vowel and y5 before a consonant. (Before words beginning in h-, speakers may choose either form.)
  • Mutation rule of the day: The mixed mutation of B is F, which is why bydh ‘will be’ changes to fydh after the particle y5 in today’s sentence.

18 · A yl’ta ri gorrans dhyn? · Can you (sg.) give us a lift?

  • gyl’ta (v+pro) you (sg.) are able to, you (sg.) can (a common contraction of the 2sg. present/future form gyllydh ‘can’ + ta ‘you’)
  • ri (vn) give
  • gorrans (nm), goransow lift (in a car)
  • Grammar note: Gorrans ‘lift’ is an abstract noun formed from the verb gorra ‘put, place, set,’ which is also used to express the idea of transporting someone else in a vehicle. Like all abstract nouns in -ans, gorrans is a masculine noun.

19 · Gallav! Yma spas lowr rag pymp den yn ow harr · Yes! There’s enough room for five people in my car.

  • gallav (v) I can (1sg. present/future of gallos ‘be able, can’)
  • spas (nm), spassow space, opportunity
  • lowr (adj) enough
  • pymp (num) five
  • Grammar rule of the day: In Cornish, we use the singular form of the noun whenever that noun is preceded by an exact number, so the phrase pymp den ‘five people’ literally means ‘five person.’
  • Mutation rule of the day: The spirant mutation of K is H, so the phrase ‘my car’ in today’s sentence is ow3 harr.

20 · A yll ow hwor ha’y gour dos ynwedh? · Can my sister and her husband come too?

  • gyll (v) can (3sg. present/future of gallos ‘be able, can’)
  • hwor (nf), hwerydh sister
  • ha’y3 (phr) and her (contraction of ha ‘and’ + hy3 ‘her’)
  • hy3 (poss.adj) her
  • gour (nm), gwer husband, man
  • ynwedh (adv) also, too
  • Usage note: The word gour can be translated as either ‘husband’ or ‘man’; the meaning is usually clear from the context. Gour and its plural form gwer are the correct words to use for ‘man’ or ‘men’ in the sense of ‘male human being(s).’ The Cornish for ‘men and women’ is therefore gwer ha benenes. The masculine noun den (plural tus) which we learned on January 16 is sometimes also translated as ‘man’ in English, but it may be used to refer to any person regardless of gender, so it is perhaps better to think of it as having the primary meaning ‘person.’
  • Note on pronunciation: Ynwedh is one of the relatively few words in Cornish that is stressed on the final syllable: yn-WEDH.

21 · Gyllons, heb mar! · Yes, of course!

  • gyllons (v) they can (3pl. present/future of gallos ‘be able, can’)
  • heb (prep) without
  • mar (nm) doubt (the same word as mar4 ‘if’)
  • heb mar (phr) without a doubt, of course
  • Grammar note: As we saw on March 12, the 3pl. form of the verb (here gyllons ‘they can’)  is the correct choice for responding to a yes/no question involving a plural noun subject (A yll ow hwor ha’y gour dos ynwedh? ‘Can my sister and her husband come too?’).

22 · A yllowgh hwi bos parys er-bynn seyth eur? · Can you (pl.) be ready by seven o’clock?

  • gyllowgh (v) you (pl.) can (2pl. present/future of gallos ‘be able, can’)
  • bos (vn) be (verbal noun of the irregular verb we have already met in several conjugated forms including eus, usi, yma, and yw ‘is’)
  • parys (adj) ready, prepared
  • er-bynn (prep) against; by (in expressions indicating a time)
  • seyth (num) seven
  • Milestone: As of today, we’ve encountered all the personal conjugated forms of the verb gallos ‘be able, can’ in the present/future indicative tense. As you can see from the table below, the personal endings are the same as those used for mynnes, but in the case of gallos (root gall-) something extra happens: in all of the forms except for the 1sg., the vowel in the root raises from a to y. This is a type of change called vowel affection, and we will learn more about it in the coming weeks:
    • 1sg. -av · gallav ‘I can’
    • 2sg. -ydh · gyllydh ‘you (sg.) can’ (often contracted to gyl’ta with a suffixed pronoun)
    • 3sg. no ending · gyll ‘he/she/it can’ (also used with all noun subjects, both singular and plural)
    • 1pl. -yn · gyllyn ‘we can’
    • 2pl. -owgh · gyllowgh ‘you (pl.) can’
    • 3pl. -ons · gyllons ‘they can’

23 · A wodhes ta kewsel Kernewek? · Can you (sg.) speak Cornish? / Do you (sg.) know how to speak Cornish?

  • godhes (v) you (sg.) know, you (sg.) know how to (2sg. present of godhvos ‘know [a fact], know how to’)
  • kewsel (vn) speak
  • Grammar and usage note: In the last few weeks we have encountered many forms of the verb gallos ‘be able, can.’ Some Cornish learners tend to use gallos wherever they would use ‘can’ in English, but in fact gallos is not the correct translation of English ‘can’ in all situations. Gallos is the right choice when we are talking about:
  1. Things we are (or aren’t) allowed to do: ‘Can I [= May I] have a piece of cake?’
  2. Things we are (or aren’t) physically capable of doing: ‘I can run a 5-minute mile!’
  3. Things we have (or don’t have) the opportunity to do: ‘I can’t come next Friday.’
  • In cases where we are talking about something we have learned how to do or know how to do, the correct verb to use is godhvos ‘know [a fact], know how to.’ Therefore, when asking someone if she or he can speak Cornish, we need to ask A wodhes ta kewsel Kernewek? If instead we were to ask A yl’ta kewsel Kernewek? the meaning would be either ‘Are you allowed to speak Cornish?’ or ‘Do you have time to speak Cornish?’
  • Mutation rule of the day: On January 28, we learned that lenition (soft mutation) causes an initial G to disappear, except when the next vowel in the word is o, u, or eu. When a word begins with go-gu-, or geu-, however, the initial G lenites to W (yielding wo-, wu-, and weu-). We can see this in the lenited form of godhes ‘you (sg.) know’ which appears in today’s phrase: A wodhes ta? ‘Do you know?’ This same mutation rule also applies to the consonant clusters gr-, gl-, and gn- when these are followed by an o, u, or eu. So while gras ‘grace, thanks’ lenites to ras by dropping the G, gront ‘grant’ lenites to wront by changing the initial G to W.

24 · Gonn, my a wor kewsel Kernewek · Yes, I can speak Cornish. / Yes, I know how to speak Cornish

  • gonn (v) I know, I know how to (1sg. present of godhvos ‘know [a fact], know how to’)
  • gor (v) knows, knows how to (3sg. present of godhvos)
  • Grammar note: As you may have noticed from the verb forms in yesterday’s and today’s phrases, godhvos ‘know [a fact], know how to’ is not a regular verb, and does not have the regular singular endings in the present tense. The verbal noun godhvos is actually a compound of a root godh- ‘know’ + bos ‘be,’ and some of the conjugated forms of godhvos are likewise based on the equivalent forms of the verb bos. One example is the 2sg. present indicative form godhes ‘you (sg.) know,’ which can be analyzed as godh- + os ‘you (sg.) are.’ In the case of the 1sg. gonn ‘I know’ and the 3sg. gor ‘he/she/it knows,’ the forms are simply irregular and must be memorized as special cases. Fortunately, they are very common, so you will have a lot of opportunity to practice using them! In any case, truly irregular verb forms are quite rare in Cornish outside of the verb bos and its compounds.

25 · A wodhowgh hwi donsya? · Do you (pl.) know how to dance?

  • godhowgh (v) you (pl.) know, you (pl.) know how to (2pl. present of godhvos ‘know [a fact], know how to’)
  • donsya (vn) dance
  • Grammar note: Most Cornish verbal nouns can be analyzed as a root + an ending. The most common verbal noun endings are -a and -ya. Most verbs that are based on English or French loanwords (like donsya in today’s phrase) form verbal nouns by adding -ya.

26 · Na wodhon, mes ni a vynn dyski an donsyow hengovek · No, but we want to learn the traditional dances

  • godhon (v) we know, we know how to (1pl. present of godhvos ‘know [a fact], know how to’)
  • dons (nm), donsyow dance
  • hengovek (adj) traditional (from hen ‘old, ancient’ + kov ‘memory’ + -ek [suffix used to form adjectives])
  • Grammar note: Many Cornish adjectives that are formed from nouns end in the suffix -ek, which often corresponds to English -ish (e.g. Kernewek ‘Cornish,’ derived from Kernow ‘Cornwall’), -y (e.g. komolek ‘cloudy,’ derived from kommol ‘clouds’), or -al (e.g. hengovek ‘traditional,’ derived from hengov ‘tradition’).

27 · Wosa an troyll y hwren ni kana “Bro Goth Agan Tasow” · After the troyll we’ll sing “Bro Goth Agan Tasow”

  • wosa (prep) after
  • gwren (v) we do, we make; we will (1pl. present/future of gul ‘do, make’)
  • kana (vn) sing
  • bro (nf), broyow land, country
  • koth (adj) old
  • tas (nm), tasow father
  • Grammar and usage note: Today’s phrase introduces another auxiliary verb: gul ‘do, make.’ We have already met one of the conjugated forms of this verb (the 3sg. present/future gwra ‘he/she/it does’) on February 23, and we encountered the verbal noun itself on March 6. As an auxiliary verb, gul is used with the verbal noun of another verb as a way to convey information about tense without having to add conjugated endings to the main verb of the sentence. English does something similar in sentences like I did not go (where ‘did’ marks the action as past tense) or He does not speak French (where ‘does’ conveys the habitual present tense). The present/future tense of the auxiliary verb gul has two possible meanings:
  1. Most often, the present/future of gul is used to form a simple future tense, so gul can be translated as ‘will’ or ‘shall’: Wosa an troyll y hwren ni kana ‘After the troyll we shall sing.’
  2. Sometimes, however, the present/future of gul is used to convey a habitual present tense, describing something that usually or repeatedly happens. In this case, Wosa an troyll y hwren ni kana would mean ‘After the troyll we [always] sing.’
  • Cultural note: “Bro Goth Agan Tasow” (Old Land of Our Fathers) is the song many Cornish speakers would describe as the national anthem of Cornwall. (The other contender for the title of Cornish national anthem is “Trelawny,” which has lyrics in English and is more widely known both in and outside of Cornwall. There is also a Cornish translation of “Trelawny” which you will often hear sung at Cornish language gatherings.) “Bro Goth” is sung to the same tune as the Welsh national anthem Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau ‘Ancient Land of My Fathers’ and the Breton national anthem Bro Gozh Ma Zadoù ‘Old Land of My Fathers.’ It is customary to make “Bro Goth” the final song of the evening at any Cornish language musical gathering, and it is appropriate to stand while it is sung. Usually you will hear only one or two verses of the full anthem, but some members of the Cornish diaspora make sure to include the third verse as well, as it talks about how Cornish people and their descendants can be found all around the world. No matter how many verses are sung, the anthem always concludes with a shout of Kernow bys vykken! ‘Cornwall Forever!’
  • Mutation rule of the day: The mixed mutation of GW is HW, which is why gwren ‘we do, we make, we will’ changes to hwren after the pre-verbal particle y5.

28 · A wor dha gothmans an geryow? · Do your (sg.) friends know the words?

  • kothman (nm), kothmans friend
  • ger (nm), geryow word

29 · Na wodhons, saw haneth y hwrons i aga dyski! · No, but they will learn them tonight!

  • godhons (v) they know, they know how to (3pl. present of godhvos ‘know [a fact], know how to’)
  • haneth (adv) tonight
  • gwrons (v) they do, they make; they will (3pl. present/future of gul ‘do, make’)
  • i (pro) they
  • aga3 dyski (phr) learn them (literally, ‘their learning’)
  • Grammar note: Today’s phrase shows how to put together a Cornish sentence with a pronoun object (them in the equivalent English sentence ‘Tonight they will learn them’) using the auxiliary verb gul. Here’s how it works:
    • The 3pl. present/future form gwrons i conveys all the necessary information about the subject (‘They,’ represented by the verb ending -ons and the suffixed subject pronoun i) and the tense (since gwrons is used as a future tense of the verb gul).
    • The action (‘learn’) is described using a verbal noun (dyski) which, technically speaking, is the direct object of the verb gwrons i, so y hwrons i dyski = ‘they will do learning.’
    • The pronoun object of the verb ‘learn’—the word that tells us what is being learned—is indicated by a possessive adjective that governs the verbal noun: aga3 dyski ‘their learning’ (or, if you prefer, ‘the learning of them’).
    • Literally, therefore, the whole sentence Haneth y hwrons i aga dyski means ‘Tonight they will do their learning’ or ‘Tonight they will do the learning of them.
  • We have actually met this structure before: on February 3, when we learned the phrase Dha weles (short for My a wra dha weles, literally, ‘I will do your seeing.’
  • Milestone: As of today, we’ve encountered all the personal conjugated forms of the verb godhvos ‘know [a fact], know how to’ in the present indicative tense. (Since godhvos is a compound of bos ‘be,’ it has separate present and future tenses, not a combined present/future tense like most Cornish verbs.) Since godhvos is an irregular verb, let’s review all the forms here:
    • 1sg. gonn ‘I know’
    • 2sg. godhes ‘you (sg.) know’
    • 3sg. gor ‘he/she/it knows’ (also used with all noun subjects, both singular and plural)
    • 1pl. godhon ‘we know’
    • 2pl. godhowgh ‘you (pl.) know’
    • 3pl. godhons ‘they know’
  • Mutation rule of the day: D is not subject to spirant mutation, so the possessive adjective aga3 has no effect on the initial consonant of the verbal noun dyski.

30 · A wre’ta goslowes orth Radyo an Gernewegva? · Do you (sg.) listen to Radyo an Gernewegva?

  • gwre’ta (v+pro) you (sg.) do, you (sg.) make; you (sg.) will (a common contraction of the 2sg. present/future form gwredh ‘do’ + ta ‘you’)
  • goslowes (vn) listen
  • orth (prep) at
  • goslowes orth (phr) listen to
  • radyo (nm), radyos radio
  • Kernewegva (nf), Kernewegvaow place or region where Cornish is commonly spoken (the Cornish equivalent of a Gaeltacht) (from Kernewek ‘Cornish’ + -va ‘place of…’)
  • Radyo an Gernewegva (nm) Radio of the Kernewegva, a weekly Cornish language podcast featuring music, news, interviews, and spoken word performances
  • Grammar note: In English, when we want to show that one noun possesses another, we often add an ‘s to the noun that indicates the possessor. This marks that noun as being in the genitive (or possessive) case. Many other languages use a similar system, adding a genitive case ending to make a possessive form that looks different from the regular dictionary form (or nominative case) that is used when the noun stands alone or is the subject of the sentence. Another way to express this type of relationship between two nouns in English is by using the preposition of to join the two nouns, as in the phrase ‘the name of the old man’ (which we could also convey by the phrase ‘the old man’s name’). In Cornish, there is no possessive marker equivalent to the English ‘s, and we do not usually need to use a preposition like of. Instead, we simply place the two noun phrases next to each other, with the possessor in second position. Thus ‘the name of the old man’ and ‘the old man’s name’ would both be translated into Cornish as hanow an den koth (literally, ‘name + the old man’). We call this construction the appositional genitive, and we will see many more examples of it in the coming weeks. In today’s sentence, the name of the podcast Radyo an Gernewegva uses the appositional genitive, and would be translated into English as ‘The Radio of the Kernewegva’ or ‘The Kernewegva’s Radio.’

31 · Gwrav, pub seythen oll · Yes, every single week

  • gwrav (v) I do, I make; I will (1sg. present/future of gul ‘do, make’)
  • pub (adj) each, every
  • seythen (nf) seythennyow week
  • oll (adj) all
  • pub X oll (phr) each and every X, every single X

Summary · Mis Meurth 2014

In March 2014 we learned:

  • 31 phrases plus 4 bonus phrases
  • 98 vocabulary words, not counting idiomatic phrases and personal names

Mis Ebrel 2014 · April 2014


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