Friday, 26 December 2014

Learn Late Cornish Bit by Bit 1 (definite and indefinite articles)

Learn Little Bits of Late Cornish 1

After many years of struggling with changes in Cornish spelling, in this blog I have decided to use the "Standard Written Form" Late Variant with "traditional" graphs (hereafter referred to as SWFLt), based on post-Tudor writings and place names. At the opposite end of the spelling spectrum is the Middle (Mediaeval) Cornish Variant with non-traditional graphs, as used in MAGA publications (hereafter referred to as SWFM) - sometimes this will be shown (in brackets).

Definite article

   There is no indefinite article, so that removes one complication. The indefinite article is implicit in the noun. The definite article, written before the noun, is an.   You may occasionally come across it written as a (only before a consonant) or abbreviated to ’n, using an apostrophe, after a vowel (particularly after ha meaning and, e.g. ha’n = and the).

So, aval

an aval
an apple

the apple

   If you want to say that there is a worm in the apple, you can use

e’n aval

Ma prev e’n aval.
(Yma pryv y’n aval.)


in the apple

There is a worm in the apple.

    Some nouns are masculine and some are feminine. If a feminine singular noun[1] begins with a certain consonant it mutates after an,[2] e.g.

gwedhen[3]

an wedhen  

a tree

the tree
           
To say there is an apple in the tree, you can use                      

e’n wedhen

Ma aval e’n wedhen.
Yma aval y’n wedhen.
in the tree

There is an apple in the tree.

An alternative to the definite article.

   Another short word, that gives rather more emphasis than using an as the definite article, is üdn[4]. It is a number, being the version of one that is used before a noun. Like an, it causes soft mutation of some feminine nouns, e.g.

benyn  
                                     
an venyn
                                   
üdn venyn   
                       
           
Ma üdn venyn e’n wedhen.
(Yma unn venyn y’n wedhen.)

a woman 

the woman

one woman, a certain woman, a particular woman

There is one woman in the tree.






[1] Feminine plural nouns do not mutate – but masculine plurals associated with people do.
[2] see table A for the consonants which mutate after an
[3] <dh> is voiced, as in English “then”
[4] Pronounced [idn] in Late Cornish (üdn uses an “umbrella” vowel which accommodates LC and MC). Traditional Late Cornish spelling is idn or edn. 

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