Saturday, 3 January 2015

Learn Late Cornish Bit by Bit 14 (Pronouns 2)

Pronouns 2

So far we have seen the 3rd person singular, ev and hei. The first person singular is me or vy, depending on position[1]. In Middle Cornish based grammar this is often used with ew/yw to mean <I am>, though it is rather Biblical[2], e.g.

Me yw lev onen eus o carma I’n gwylfos…[3]
                                                I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness…
rag me an Arluth dha Dhuw yw leun a envy, …[4]
                                                for I the Lord thy God am full of envy

The form of boas (be/being) to use with me/vy in the present tense is either o  [5](descriptive form) or era (locative form), e.g.

Coth o vy.                             I am old.                     I was old.
Tho vy yonk.                        I am young.                I was young.

What’s the difference between the two versions above? In Cornish the most important thing in the sentence goes first, whereas in English we would stress it with our voices.

Once again, if a sentence starts with the verb it is a question. The verbal particle Th would stop its being a question. And if it starts with Nag (another verbal particle) it is a negative statement, e.g.:

O vy coth?                                        Am I old?                 Was I old?
O vy yonk?                                       Am I young?            Was I young?

Nag o vy coth.                                 I am not old.              I wasn’t old.
Nag o vy yonk.                                I am not young.         I wasn’t young.

You can, of course, have a negative question. Just add a question mark, e.g.

Nag o vy teg?                                  Am I not beautiful?    Wasn’t I lovely?

How do you know if you have the present tense or the past tense? Just add a time indicator[6], e.g.

Nag o vy teg lebmen?                   Am I not beautiful now?       
Nag o vy teg de?                           Wasn’t I lovely yesterday?

Skith o vy hedhyw[7].                   I am tired today.
Bew o vy newher!                         I was lively last night!

[1] Generally, Me before the verb and vy after it.
[2] Williams also uses this in his translation of Alice in Wonderland, e.g. “<Me yw muscok, ty yw muscoges.>” I’m mad. You’re mad.(said by the Cheshire Cat)
[3] Jowan 1, verse 23, from Nicholas Williams’s new translation of the Bible in KS.
[4] Exodus 20, verse 5, ibid.
[5] This is identical with the past tense of the descriptive form, so context is significant.
[6] If you use <o> or <era> for the past tense it indicates a continued state of affairs rather than a short term event.
[7] There are numerous spellings in the texts.  The end of the word is a diphthong, like the vowel in English [cute], so does not rhyme with [cow]. <dh> is “voiced” like <th> in English “this” or “that”.

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