[Spellyans] Spelling and linguistics - Yes

nicholas williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Fri Jun 18 11:36:20 IST 2010

I am not sure that py lyw is the right way to translate 'what  
colour?'. The word for 'which?' is more usually pana < py ehen a than  
py. Moreover by the Tudor period the default word for 'colour' seems  
to be color, colorys rather than lyw. The only example of lyw 'colour'  
in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that I can find is

ha frutes teke aga lew 'and fruits fair of colour' CW 1051.

On the other hand colour is seen in:

  yma S paul worth agan payntia ny in mes in colors in leas tellars in  
scriptur 'St Paul paints us out in colours in many places in  
scripture' TH 7a
Colorys cler, lun a whekter 'clear colours, full of sweetness' BK  
Rag kueth, pan i’n canfethis, me re jangyas ow holor 'For grief when I  
noticed him, I have changed my colour' BK 3129-30.

Color also occurs in a line in English in the Ordinalia:

fayr an suyt bryte of colour 'fair and sweet, bright of colour' PC 1684.

These matters, however, are secondary to Ewan's question: should the  
verb after py lyw/pana golour be definite or indefinite?
The texts appear to be uncertain. One finds both eus and usy used in  
such cases:

A eus
ha pan a commodite vs thynny drethy 'and what advantage there is for  
us through her' TH 31
Pan aray us genas, Ke, ha pan wyry? 'What array have you, Ke, and what  
game?' BK 904-05
me a vyn cowse ha desquethas thewgh pan a commodite ha profet vs  
thynny cristonnyan dre an Catholik egglos ma a crist 'I will speak and  
demonstrate to you what advantage and profit we Christians have  
through this Catholic church of Christ' TH 39
pana nowethis es genas 'what news have you?' CW 1886

B usy
May thill pub den heb error aswon y honyn, pan a stat ha condicion vsa  
ynna ow sevall 'So that everyone may without error recognise himself  
and in what state and condition he stands' TH 23
Why a glowas pan a kerensa pan a perfect charite vsy agan saviour ow  
requiria the vos ynnan ny 'You heard what love, what perfect charity  
our Saviour requires should be in us' TH 30
Alas, pan a cas vsy an rena inna 'Alas, what plight are those people  
in!' TH 32a.

With the expression 'what colour?' one would use yw rather than eus/ 
usy, so the question of definite ~ indefinite would not arise.
The Cornish for 'What colour is her hair?', 'What colour is your  
car?', for example, would be Pana golour yw hy blew hy? and Pana  
golour yw agas carr?


On 17 Efn 2010, at 23:41, ewan wilson wrote:

> Am I right therefore in gathering that 'py lyw' is considered  
> definite, the verb should be interrogative and so we should use  
> 'usy'? I'm still not entirely clear!

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