Friday, 8 May 2015

Learn Late Cornish Bit by Bit 74 (A Bit About Gender)

A Bit About Gender

We know that nouns in Cornish can be either masculine or feminine, but how (apart from the obvious ones, such as den man and benyn woman) do we know which is which?  

Some masculine words have a feminine equivalent ending in -es (similar to adding –ess in English). So lew lion becomes lewes lioness.

Other examples include:

abas                                                  abbot
abases                                              abbess

arlòdh                                               lord
arlòdhes                                           lady, duchess

descador                                          teacher (m)
descadores                                      teacher (f)

gwarior                                             actor, player (m)
gwariores                                         actress, player (f)

car                                                     relation, relative (m)
cares                                                 female relative (f)

carer                                                 lover (m)                                            
carores                                             girlfriend, female lover (f)

maw                                                  boy
mowes[1], mos                                girl

mester                                               master
mestres                                             mistress

metêrn[2]                                           king
metêrnes                                           queen

ôst                                                      host
ôstes                                                  hostess

and, of course: 
Kernow                                               Cornishman
Kernowes                                           Cornishwoman

 moas dhe’n mor en servis an Vetêrnes[3]                                                                                                  to go to sea in service of the Queen

rag an Arlòdhes an wlas Kernow[4]                                                                                                                      for the Duchess of the land of Cornwall

Pandra ven’ta gwil gen ôst an chei?[5]
                        What do you want to do with the host of the house (i.e. landlord)?
Obma ma ’gan ôstes nei, ha yonk ew hei…  
                                                              Our hostess is here, and she is young…

Ha me o moas war an vorr[6]                          As I was going along the road
me mettias gen mos ha clav o hy thor.[7]                                                                                                          I met a girl with a sick belly (pregnant!)

…thera an Metêrn ha’n Vetêrnes a Golodnow esedhys e’n tron[8] …
… the King and Queen of Hearts were seated on their throne …
Ha’n Metêrn a garas Hester moy ‘vel oll an benenes erel[9] 
And the King loved Esther more than all the other women …
O’whei Kernowes?                         Are you a Cornishwoman?

[1] This is the version based on Middle Cornish. Gendall has moaz for girl, maid, servant girl. Previous spellings include moes, moas, moaze, mauz, moze, môz, maôz –  similar in appearance and sound to the verb to go.
[2] Middle Cornish spelling myghtern. In Late/Modern Cornish the middle –gh- is not pronounced. Gendall has matearn or matern. Unusually the stress is on the final syllable. [me-TERN] (The circumflex is used to show this unusual stress.)
[3] originally Thomas Tonkin
[4] originally Nicholas Boson
[5] from John of Ramshouse by Nicholas Boson
[6] SWFM fordh
[7] originally verse from Borlase manuscript
[8] from Alys en Pow Anethow, Chaptra 9

[9] Hester 2,17

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