Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Learn Late Cornish Bit by Bit 68 (A Bit About Colours)

A Bit About Colours

To ask what colour something is (whether the subject is singular or plural), we say:

Pe liw ew …?

e.g.      Pe liw ew an margh na?                What colour is that horse?
            Pe liw ew ev?                                 What colour is he?
            Pe liw ew an vergh[1] na?            What colour are those horses?
            Pe liw ens?[2]                                What colour are they?

The simplest answers could be:

Gwidn[3] ew.                                               It’s white.
Gwidn ens.                                                 They’re white.

We have a number of words for colours, some British and others perhaps influenced by Latin and Norman French, etc. Some relate to the natural world or are found in place names, e.g.:

cann[4]                                                        bright white, feldspar
gwidn                                                          white, fair
gwidnek                                                      whitish
skilwyn                                                       off-white
dû                                                                black, dark
loos                                                             grey
glas[5]                                                         blue, green (of vegetation), grey
blou[6]                                                        blue
rüdh[7]                                                       red
rous                                                           red
cogh [8], co’                                              blood red, scarlet
mel                                                            honey
melyn                                                        yellow, buff
gwer[9]                                                      bright green
kigliw                                                        pink (lit. meat/flesh colour)
purpur[10]                                                purple
tewl                                                          brown, dark
donek                                                       brown[11]

Other colours can be made by combining some of those above, e.g.:

rüdhvelyn                                              orange
glasrüdh                                                purple
gwidnrüdh                                             pink

We also have the names of metals (similar to their Latin names) that can be used to describe colour, e.g.:

owr[12]                                                  gold
owryek                                                  golden
arhans[13]                                            silver
arhansek                                              silvery
cober                                                    copper
brons                                                   bronze

Here are some terms involving colours:
canntir                                                quartz (lit. white land)
mor (collective)                       berries
                                       (from Latin morum mulberry, blackberry)
moren (f, individual)                          berry
moren dhû, mor                          blackberry
mola dhû                                          blackbird
spern (collective)                              thorns
spernen (f, individual)                      thorn
spernen dhû, spern                   blackthorn(s), sloe(s)
spernen widn, spern gwidn          whitethorn(s), hawthorn(s)
gwiwer                                             squirrel
gwiwer rous                                     red squirrel
gwiwer loos                                      grey squirrel
rüdhek                                               robin
pedn rous                                         red head, red headed

We have already seen some place names which include glas. Here are some more with other colours:

Kenwyn (Keynwyn 1316)               PN white/fair ridge
Baldhu (Baldue 1755)                     PN black/dark diggings
Carrick Luz                                    PN grey rock
Carnmeal (Carnmele 1501)            PN honey tor
Millook (Mellek 1345)                     PN honeyed
Ruthvoes (Rudhfos 1296)              PN red wall
Wheal Reeth (Wheal Rudh)            PN red mine
Pollreath (Poll Rudh)                       PN red pool
Redruth (Unyredreth 1563)            PN St Euny at a red ford
Wheal Vlow                                     PN blue mine
Gwarder (Gwerthour 1312)             PN green water/stream

And St Michael’s Mount was once called
Carrek Loos y’n Coos[14]                grey rock in the wood

[1] Usually only male human plurals mutate after an. This is an exception, perhaps because riders personified their horses …
[2] This is non emphatic. If you want to be more emphatic you can use Pe liw en’jei?
[3]  SWFM <gwynn>
[4]  cf Latin candor shining whiteness
[5] cf Greek glaukos (Homer used it to describe the glimmering sea) / Latin glaucus blue-grey, green-grey – glaucous now used in botany to describe leaves (there is also a glaucous gull)
[6] cf French bleu blue
[7] in Late Cornish this is pronounced [reeth] rather than [rooth]
[8] blood itself is gooj
[9] cf Latin ver spring or viridis green
[10] cf Latin purpur purple
[11] theSWF glossary has gell light brown and gorm dark brown
[12] cf Latin aurum
[13] Gendall also has argan, cf Latin argentum
[14]  This is traditional pre SWF spelling . SWF wood is coos

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