Sunday, 22 February 2015

Learn Late Cornish Bit by Bit 44 (A Bit More About the Past)

A Bit More About the Past

So far, we have looked at the descriptive version of the continuous past tense of boas to be, for long lasting conditions. The complete version is:

tho vy                        I was (this is also I am)
tho che                      you were (singular, familiar, this is also you are)
tho ev                        he was (present is ew not o)
tho hei                       she was (present is ew not o)
tho nei                       we were (this is also we are)
tho whei                    you were (formal or plural, this is also you are)
tho anjei                    they were (present is ens not o)

The negative version replaces the verbal particle th with the negative particle nag:

Nag o vy                    I was not
Nag o che                 You were not (singular, familiar)
Nag o ev                    He was not
Nag o hei                  She was not
Nag o nei                  We were not
Nag o whei               You were not (formal or plural)
Nag o anjei               They were not
The interrogative (question) version misses off the particle and starts the sentence with the verb:

O vy?                         Was I?
O che                         Were you?
O ev                           Was he?
O hei                          Was she?
O’nei                          Were we?
O whei                       Were you?
O anjei                       Were they?

Now we have a version for briefer conditions or events. The non-specific veu was, were, with verbal particles a, na, e (y in RMC), can be used with pronouns, nouns, names, adjectives, past participles, etc.:

Here are some examples using adjectives:

An sagh a veu gwag.                          The bag was empty.
An flehes a veu adermyn.                  The children were punctual.
Me a veu serrys rag tecken.               I was cross for a moment.

Here are some examples using past participles[1]:

Nei a veu engrys gen an kei.            We were annoyed with the dog.
Wella Gwavas a veu genys en Pensans.         
                                                           William Gwavas was born in Penzance.
An chei coth a veu derevys e’n vledhen etek cans.
                                                          The old house was built in the year 1800.
An olifans a veu pernys en Truru.The elephant was bought in T ruro.
An desen a veu debrys.                 The cake was eaten.

Here are some questions and negative examples:

A veu an gwin pernys gen an düs na? 
                                                         Was the wine bought by those people?
A veu an wedhen ma tevys en Kernow?          
                                                         Was this tree grown in Cornwall?
A veu anjei adermyn po na?         Were they on time or not?

Na veu an cor’ evys.                      The beer was not drunk.
Na veu an flehes nakevys.[2]        The children were not forgotten.

Here are some examples from literature:

Abraham a veu tas dhe Isak...[3]    Abraham was father to Isaac.
Pan veu Jesu genys en Bethlem[4]      When Jesus was born in Bethlehem…
Na veu hedna coynt[5]                            That was not strange…
hag y veu golow.[6]                                  … and there was light.

William Bodinar’s letter, in its original spelling, gives an indication of how we should pronounce it:

… termen me vee mawe. when I was a boy
Me vee de more gen seara vee a pemp dean moy en cock.
                                                            I was at sea with my father and five more men in a boat.

So does Jooan Chei a Horr in John Boson’s spelling:

Po leea ve chee mar bel?[7]            Where were you so far?
Me a ve servia[8]                            I was serving…

[1] Gendall ends past participle in -ez
[2] SWFM <ankevy>
[3] Mathew 1:1
[4] Mathew 2:1
[5] Alys en Pow an Anethow, p1
[6] Jenesys 1:3
[7] Jowan Chei a Horr 14
[8] Jowan Chei a Horr 15

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