[Spellyans] gawas 'to get'

nicholas williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Wed Sep 7 12:47:13 BST 2011

Another feature of Late Cornish is the use of na(g) for ny(ns) in main clauses.
This is very widespread in TH, although Tregear writes nyg rather than nag:

Rag nyng esan ny ow cara Du mar ver dell one ny kylmys the cara,
gans oll agan colonow, agan mynde ha power, nyg esan ny ow dowtya du mar ver dell gottha
thyn, nyg esan ny ow pesy the thu mar perfect dell vea res thyn, nyg esan ny ow ry, ow gava, ow
cresy, ow cara, ow trystya mar perfect doll vea res thyn, nyg esan ny ow cowse, ow predery, ow
kull mar perfect dell vea res thyn, nyg esan ow omloth warbyn agan iii yskar, an bys, an kyge,
han teball ell, mar perfect dell vea res thyn TH 9a.

There he uses nyng (i.e. nynj) once and nyg five times. The same mixture can be seen here:

Nens ugy an publicans ow kyll in della? mar tewgh why ha cowse da only an rena neb ew agys brederath ha cothmans, pan a vattar bras
ew henna? nyg esy an Jewys ow kull in della inweth? TH 22.

All the same, I consider TH Middle Cornish rather than Late Cornish, because the orthography is within the Cornish scribal tradition.
SA is in the same tradition, but its language is more advanced than that of TH, e.g.

henna ew the leverall, gas ve the remembra fatla or ve inta tha honora, ha pana tabell esta ow setha: rag eth ony megys gans an
kethsam tra vgy an elath ow gwelas ha ow trembla, rag neg yns abell the welas heb mere a own rag an golowder vse ow tos tha worta: rag y thony gwres vn kig[g] gans agen arluth Christ. Pew a laver an gallus agen arluth Dew the declarya e honour ef? pana bugell a ruge bithquath maga e thevas gans e members e honyn? lowarth mamb wore e flehis the benenas erall the vaga mas agan arluth Christ na vennas gwell indella mes ef agan magas ny gans e gorf e honyn, han Jvnyas ny thotheffe e honyn SA 59.

or ve seems to be for oraf vy 'I can'
neg yns is for nyns yns
tha worta for thyworto is like za warta CW 266
laver for lever with loss of i-affection is also a Late Cornish feature.
lowarth mamb for lowr mam shows loss of th after r, hence the back spelling; and mamb seems to be pre-occluded
[actually rth > rh  e.g. for for forth is very much a Middle Cornish feature: ty the vennas sowthanas
lemmyn yn mes a pup for PC 2417-18 where for rhymes with scryptor, nep cor and tyr ha mor]
vennas gwell for vynnas gul looks Late.

When I wrote Clappya Kernowek I used many examples from Late Cornish. Rowe and Nicholas Boson in particular
write good Cornish. So for that matter did William Bodinar in 1776. Bodinar writes no rig avee biscath gwelles lever cornoack [Na wrug avy bysqweth gweles lyver Kernowek] which is perfect. He puts biscath in the right place and uses it correctly for 'never' in the past. Compare that with incorrect use of nefra in the following:

Wel, *nevra ny leveris bos Kernewek Kemmyn fonemek yn tien An Gannas, December 1995, page 5
*Nevra ny wrug paper yn Kernewek pryntya kemmys a dhyllansow An Gannas, January 1996, page 1.

The texts we have are inter alia:
CF c. 1350
PA c. 1400
Ordinalia c. 1450 (and also the original text of BK)
BM 1504
TH c. 1555
SA c. ?1570
CW 1611
Rowe c. 1650-90
Nebbaz Gerriau c. 1685
John Tonkin c. 1695
Delkiow Sevy 1698
William Gwavas c. 1710
[Some of these dates are guesswork.]

It's clear there is no obvious break anywhere. The language went on developing irrespective of the orthography used.

The spelling follows the language, not vice versa. All speakers of revived Cornish use variants of the same phonology though they spell differently. 


On 2011 Gwn 6, at 20:04, Ray Chubb wrote:

> Not, if like me, you consider the basis of Middle Cornish, or at least an authentic orthography for it, to be up until the time of the dissolution of Glasney College.

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