[Spellyans] long and short forms of bos

nicholas williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Sun Dec 28 10:07:12 GMT 2008

Eus cân genowgh is like Eus keus/Es kês? 'Is there cheese?'
The indefinite locative form used with an indefinite subject means 'is  
And when + gans is added it means 'have'.
Thus Eus cân genowgh 'Have you a song (for us)?'
This was already part of standard UC and is mentioned in Cornish  

I rather had in mind the view that UC taught to use yw with adjectives.
I learnt, for example, nyns yw ef trygys omma in UC and nyns ywa pell  
adhyworth an le-ma.
I should now write nyns usy va tregys obma and nyns usy pell dhyworth  
an tyller-ma.

UC never seemed to me to be certain about the difference between us  
and usy.
Usy/ugy is very common in Tregear in relative clauses when the  
antecedent is definite:

han discans vgy an egglos ow dysky TH 19
gwregh da thyn rena vgy worth agys casa, pesough rag an rena esy worth  
agys vexia hagys persecutia, may hallow why bos
flehes agys tas vsy in neff TH 22 [three definite antecedents in one  

In fact it is common in Tregear only because Tregear is so long and  
his sentences contain so
many relative clause. The same construction occurs elsewhere:

Kensa, vrt an hagar auall igge va gweell do derevoll warneny Keniffer  
termen dr’erany moas
durt Pedden an Wolas do Sillan, &c.
Nessa, vrt an skauoll Crackan codna igge va setha war en crees an  
aules ewhall heb drog
Tregya, vrt an Gurroll igge va gweell gen askern skooth davas, &c.  
NBoson, Duchess of Cornwall's Progress.

In all the examples with ugy/igge above the form of bos is used with  
the participle form of the verb (ow + vb)
to make a present tense. This was never mentioned in UC, although it  
is common enough in the texts:

in crist ihesu caradov yth eseff prest ov cresy BM 833-34
Nyns esos ov attendya an laha del vya reys BM 848-49.

Wella Brown is his dreadful grammar says that such periphrastic  
presents "can only be translated by the English continuous  
present" (page 147 of the KK version).
So these examples from BM must be translated "In Christ Jesus I am  
always believing" and "You are not considering how it would be  
necessary for the law", respectively.
Such a translation is clearly absurd in the examples from Boson:
"First because of the storms which he is [at this moment] making to  
rise up against us every time we go from Land's End to Scilly, etc."

In fact yma + ow + verbal noun is the unmarked way of making the  
present in Cornish. If Brown had known that, he wouldn't wrongly have  
written *mar trig Spyrys Dyw ynnowgh yn *hwir in his translation of  
Romans 8:3, but correctly mar pydh Spyrys Dyw trigys ynnowgh yn gwir;  
cf. e ma ef ow trega innaff ve SA 61.

And Nowodhow an Seythen would not have said: Ni a vir war-rag dhe'n  
fit rygbi yn Twickenham rather than Yth eson ni ow mires yn rag dhe'n  
fit rygbi yn Twickenham.

What is really required is a new Handbook/Grammar of Cornish with an  
exhaustive discussion
of the syntax with examples from the texts and a complete index.


On 28 Dec 2008, at 09:25, Ray Chubb wrote:

> I have always realised that one could use the long form, for  
> example, with objects that have no substance.  e.g. "Ues can  
> genough?" / Have you got a song?

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