Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Taking a New Look at Cornish Grammar 20 (predicate adjectives)

So far we have been concentrating on the activities that our subjects have been doing.  Now it is time to have a look at what our subjects are like. 
In previous lessons we have seen the combination of a noun followed by an adjective as a subject or an object, e.g.
Benyn wheg a dheuth.
nice woman came.
Thesta o redya lever da.
You are reading a good book.
In some sentences an adjective or an adjective phrase can be the predicate itself. This requires a linking verb between the subject and the adjective. By far the most common and useful linking verb is boas to be. We have already used the locative form of the verb (also known as the long form) in relation to positions and activities, e.g.
Ma va obma.
He is here.
Ma hei o càna.
She is singing.
However, when boas is functioning as a linking verb between a subject and its description we must use another version, known as the descriptive form.  

In Late Cornish we use
Tho vy
SWFM Yth ov vy or
My yw
I am
Tho che
SWFM Yth os ta or
Ty yw
You are (familiar)
Thew ev
SWFM Yth yw ev or
Ev yw
He is
Thew hei
SWFM Yth yw hi or
Hi yw
She is
Tho nei
SWFM Yth on ni or
Ni yw
We are
Tho whei
SWFM Yth owgh hwi or
Hwi yw
You are (plural or formal)
Thens
SWFM Yth yns i or
I yw

They are
Here are some example uses:

Tho vy coth.
Coth o vy.

I am old
Tho che wheg.
Wheg o che.

You are kind.
Thew ev skentel.
Skentel ew ev.

He is clever.
Thew hei teg.
Teg ew hei.

She is beautiful.
Tho nei broas.
Broas o nei.

We are big.
Tho whei skith.
Skith o whei.

You are tired.
Thens yeyn.
Yeyn ens.
They are cold.

You will notice that there are two ways of saying the same thing. So, what is the difference?
In Cornish we put the most important idea first in the sentence. It is subtle. So “Thens yeyn” emphasises that they are cold (rather than not), whereas “Yeyn ens” emphasises that they are cold (rather than hot).
Why not “Yeyn thens”? Initial “th” is a verbal particle only needed when the verb comes first. Without it, the sentence becomes a question, e.g. “Ens yeyn?” means “Are they cold?” And if the “th” is replaced by the negative particle “nag” the sentence becomes negative, e.g. “Nag ens yeyn” means “They are not cold”. (More about questions and negatives will come later.)

You will also notice that Middle Cornish speakers have an extra version (they call the “short form”) which uses the third person singular verb with all of the personal pronouns. We can do this in Late Cornish as well but it tends to over emphasise the person, e.g. “Me ew” means “I am” (but you are not!).
In addition to linking subjects and adjectives, boas descriptive can also link subjects with names, nouns and noun phrases (identities, occupations, etc.), e.g.

Tho vy dama wydn.
I am a grandmother.
Deskybel o che.
You are a pupil.
Thew hei maw drog.
He is a bad boy.
Maria ew hei.
She is Mary.
Tho nei pescadors.
We are fishermen.
Tüs heb tecter o whei.
You are men without beauty.
Jowan ha Jory ens.
They are John and George.


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