[Spellyans] "understand" in Cornish

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Mon Feb 23 14:38:32 GMT 2009

Thanks for this, 

I have included both onderstondya and cammonderstondya in my dictionary.
We’ll have to leave it to the community of Cornish speakers to decide on
whether they wish to use this word or not. 




From: nicholas williams
Sent: Monday, February 23, 2009 10:12 AM


Not everybody is happy with the use of the word ùnderstondya 'to understand'
in Cornish.

Ùnderstondya is very well attested:


vnderstandia  x 3 (SA)

vnderstondia x 24 (TH)

vndyrstondia x 2 (TH)

vndirstondia x 1

wonderstondia x 1 (TH)

wondyrstondia x 1 (TH)

vnderstondya x 3 (TH)

vnderstondya x 1 (TH)

camvnderstondia x 1 (TH)


The related word vnderstonding is attested x 22 (TH), vndyrstonding x 1 (TH)
and vnderstandyng x 1 (SA).


This means that the root understand/understond- is attested 60 times in
tradtional Cornish. 

Moreover the compound camvnderstondia at TH 18 seems to indicate that the

had been so fully integrated into Cornish, that it could be used to produce
a derivative.


The only other word for 'to understand' is *convedhes. The verbal noun
convethas occurs

twice in CW and the verbal adjective convethys twice in the same text.

The verbal noun verbal adjective <gonvethes> (with permanent lenition) is
also attested

in a short passage in Pryce:  


Der taklow minniz ew brez teez gonvethes, avel an tacklow broaz; dreffen en
tacklow broaz, ma

angy mennow hetha go honnen; bus en tacklow minnis, ema angye suyah hâz go
honnen — By

small things are the minds of men discovered, as well as by great matters:
because in great things, they will [often]

stretch themselves; but in small matters, they follow their own nature.


Pryce translates gonvethes as 'discovered', not 'understood'.


We thus have the verb understondya 'to understand', attested in two
sixteenth-century texts no fewer than 37 times

and convethes, gonvethes 'to understand, to discover' attested five times
from one seventeenth-century text and one

from the eighteenth century.


We may find understondya, understandya too English to be really acceptable.
It would be difficult

to claim that it was not the ordinary word for 'to understand' in some forms
of Middle Cornish.


Other borrowings in -ondya are not uncommon in Middle Cornish:


londia 'to land'  BM

comondia, commondia, commandia  'to command'  OM, BM, TH, SA, CW

demandea 'to demand' SA

recommaundia 'to recommend' Bodewryd glossary.


If we don't like understondya 'to understand' or convedhes 'to discover', we
can, in some contexts, use percevya. 












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