Sunday, 8 March 2015

Learn Late Cornish Bit by Bit 57 (A Bit More About Appearances)

A Bit More About Appearances

So far we know enough to describe some general characteristics, e.g.:

Benyn yonk ha gwadn o’vy.        I am a young and feeble woman.
Tho’vy den coth gwydn o bar’.   I am an old man with a white beard.
Bloodh vy ew hanter cans.         I am fifty years old.
Tewal ew o lagajow.                    My eyes are dark.
Tho’vy pedn rous.                        I am a red head.
Tho’vy den crev hir.[1]                 I am a tall, strong man.

Pe le ero’whei o mos, mowes fettow teg,                                
                                                      Where are you going to my pretty maid,
gen agas bejeth gwydn ha’gas blew melyn?                         
                                                       with your fair face and your yellow hair?
War dhorn, hir ew bes rag,          On a hand a fore finger is long,
Besies oll, pe le ero’whei?           All fingers, where are you?

Lavar coth (old saying)

Na wrewgh eva re,                        Don’t drink too much,
Bes evo rag ’gas sehes,               But drink for your thirst,
Ha hedna, moy po le,                    And that, more or less,
’Vedn gwitha corf en ’ehes.          Will keep a body in health.

Here are some more features and body parts (radnow an corf). Some also have other names (omitted here). Notice that there are several different ways of forming the plurals, partly depending on whether they belong to one person or more than one.

Some have the most common –ow or –yow plural ending[2], e.g.:

bregh[3] (brehow)                          arm (arms)
dorn (dornow)[4]                            hand (hands) 
frigow                                             nose (plural used as singular)
ganow (ganowow)                          mouth (mouths)
garr (garrow)                                  leg (legs)
keyn (keynow)                                back (backs)
codna (conaow)                              neck (necks)
min[5] (minow)                                lip (lips) 
pedn (pednow)                               head (heads)
scoodh (scodhow)                         shoulder (shoulders)
scovarn[6] (scovornow)                 ear (ears)
tron (tronow)                                  nose (animal trunk, snout or muzzle)

A few plurals end in -s, e.g.:

besies[7]                                         fingers
besies troos                                   toes (fingers of the feet!)

In some, the word length stays the same but the vowel changes, e.g.:

dans (dens)                                    tooth (teeth)
troos (treys)                                   foot (feet)
crohen (crehyn)                             skin (skins)

Because the body has a symmetrical left and right side, with two of many bits, this is acknowledged in the plurals, in the same way that English might say “a pair of eyes”, etc. However, these “dual” plurals were more widely used in Middle Cornish than in Late Cornish.

devron, diwvron[8]                       (2) breasts
diwbedren                                     (2) buttocks, haunches
diwscodh                                      (2) shoulders
diwscovarn                                  (2) ears
diwvordhos[9]                             (2) thighs
diwvregh                                      (2) arms
diwwar                                         (2) legs
diwweus                                      (2) lips
dowla, diwleuv                            (2) hands
dowlin                                          (2) knees

Here is some spin-off vocabulary:

dornla                                           door handle
pel dhorn                                      hand ball
Me ’vedn gwary pel dhorn.         I want to play hand ball. 
                                                      I will play hand ball.
dre dhorn                                     by hand
dhe dhorn                                    to hand, near at hand
fardellow dorn                             hand luggage
O fardellow dorn ew kellys.       My hand luggage is lost.

pel droos (pelyow troos)            football (footballs)
Me ’venja gwary pel droos.        I would like to play football.
Pandr’ew a-droos?                     What’s afoot? What’s up?

kig mordhos hogh                      ham (literally pig thigh meat)
maw[10] mordhos                       a ham sandwich
scoodhya                                     to support, to assist

 [1] If using more than one adjective in this type of construction, put the adjective you consider to be most important next to the noun. It usually works out that the order is the reverse of what you would do in English.
[2] though they may also have a “dual” ending – see later
[3] the [g] is silent, RLC spelling is breh
[4] RLC tends to use dorn for the singular hand but the dual plural dowla based on the alternative leuv
[5] pronounce [meen]
[6] the hare is called scovarnek for obvious reasons
[7]  pronounced as 3 syllables with stress on the <i>
[8] bron as a place name element means a breast-shaped hill (often corrupted to English-sounding “born”, “brown”, “burn” or “barn”, etc. that give no idea of the true meaning), e.g. Barncoose, Brown Willy, Camborne
[9] in RLC the middle –dh- is silent
[10]  possibly related to the dialect word “morsel” used for a bit of bread and butter or a light snack to fill an odd gap!

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