Saturday, 3 January 2015

Learn Late Cornish Bit by Bit 12 (Verbs 2)

Verbs 2

Continuing our look at boas, be/being, the past tense of the third person singular is fairly simple:

i)   Descriptive form:

The past equivalent of ew it is is o it was. This is used for descriptions which were of long duration, rather than events which were completed in the past. (N.B. There are other ways of saying it was, which we will deal with later.)

Two short words can still form a sentence, e.g.:

Da o.[1]                                            It was good.
Teg o.                                              It was lovely.
Wheg o.                                           It was nice.
Hager o.                                          It was horrible.
Drog o.                                            It was bad.

With a past participle, o can be used to form the past perfect passive tense, e.g.

Debrys o.                                        It had been eaten.
Liwys o.                                          It had been coloured.

If you start the sentence with O it is a question, e.g.

O teg?                                            Was it lovely?
O wheg?                                        Was it nice?

The verbal particle Th[2] stops a sentence from being a question, e.g.

Tho teg.                                          It was lovely.
Tho flogh.                                      It was a child.
Tho drog.                                       It was bad.

Replacing Th with Nag[3] gives you a negative sentence, e.g.:

Nag o teg.                                      It was not lovely.
Nag o flogh.                                   It was not a child.
Nag o diu.                                      It was not black.

ii)         Locative form:

The past tense equivalent of Ma is Thera[4]. When used alone, this is the indefinite form.
Again, a few short words can form a sentence, e.g.

Thera keus.                                  There was (some) cheese.
Thera mel.                                    There was honey.

By adding a location we get:

Thera keus war an bord.            There was (some) cheese on the table.
Thera mel e’n pot.                       There was honey in the pot.
Thera prev et an aval.                 There was a worm in the apple.
Thera kei reb tan.                        There was a dog by a fire.

For the indefinite interrogative and negative, instead of eus, you still use era. If the sentence starts with Era it is a question, e.g.

Era keus?                                     Was there (any) cheese?
Era mel?                                       Was there (any) honey?
Era cath reb an tan?                   Was there a cat by the fire?

And if a sentence starts with Nag instead of Th it is negative, e.g.

Nag era bara war an bord.          There wasn’t (any) bread on the table.
Nag era mel moy.[5]                    There wasn’t any more honey.
Nag era cath reb an tan.             There wasn’t a cat by the fire.

[1] Surely the shortest sentence ever!         
[2] The Middle Cornish equivalent of <th> is <yth> which is always written separately, whereas <th>   is joined to the verb. 
[3]  In older texts you may see <nag> joined to the verb, e.g. <nagera>
[4] The Middle Cornish equivalent of <era>  is <esa>. Obviously there was a shift in pronunciation that resulted in a change in spelling. This happened (independently and much earlier) in English as well, which is why we now have “he/she/it was” and “they were”. (The [s] was “rhotacised” to [r]. )
[5] Even better is Nag era mel namoy.

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