[Spellyans] war gamm

Nicholas Williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Fri Jan 11 12:35:43 GMT 2013

Ar y cam, ar gam is not Modern Welsh. But wàr gabm is not modern in Cornish either.

If the original sense of wàr gabm was 'at a walking pace', this could then have
developed to mean 'slowly, steadily'. Hence Ke wàr dha gabm would be 'go steadily, steady now, hold on a moment,
not so fast'. 

An interesting point in Cornish is this. Wàr gabm probably meant 'at a walking pace', but càm, cabm is used only 
as an adverb meaning 'at all'. 

Gans gloteny ef pan welas cam na ylly y dolla en tebell el a vynnas yn ken maner y demptye ‘When he saw that he could not in any way beguile him by gluttony, the devil wished to tempt him in another way’ PA 13ab
Mur a dus a leuerys ny dayl zys cam y naghe dre ze gows yz ew prevys ze vos den a galyle ‘Many said, You should not in any way deny it; by your speech it is proved that you come from Galilee’ PA 85ab.

The same is true of cammen:

ov arlothes sur gyne dre thynnargh agas pygys na wrellough cammen lathe an profus a nazare 'my lady indeed through me asked you that you should not in any way kill the prophet of Nazareth' PC 2194-97
me a vynse y wythe ha ny yllyn cammen vyth 'I would have preserved him but I was not able to at all' PC 3125-26
ellas the vos mar wokky cammen na vynnyth crygy 'alas that you are so foolish that you will not believe at all' RD 989-90
den na gresso dyougel an keth den na the selwel cammen vyth na yl wharfos 'a man who certainly won't believe, for that same man it cannot happen that he will be saved at all' RD 2478-80
my ny won p’ywe cammen 'I don't know at all who he is' RD 2493.

The only attested word for 'step' is stap:

ser turant agys pagys sur ny vynnons fovt wagys vn stap lafurye adro 'sir tyrant, your pages indeed for want of wages will not travel one step around' BM 3284-86.

Pass on the other hand means 'pace' only as a measurement:

M pas sur yv an meneth theworth an grond byteweth 'a thousand paces is the mountain from the ground ?at the bottom' BM 1147-48
Yma eff in meneth bras del glowevy sur myl pas theworth an grond awoles 'He is on the great mountain indeed 1000 paces from the ground below' BM 1956-58
Oma yma meryasek ov corthya du galosek poren in top an meneth myl pas in ban alemma 'Here Meriasek is worshipping mighty God exactly at the top of the mountain 1000 paces up from here' BM 1974-77
dovn yv an caff may ma hy cans pas del glowys ha moy crist guyth ny orth tewolgow 'deep is the cave so that it is 100 paces as I have heard and moy; Christ preserve us from the dark' BM 4071-73
An mens tyrath a barkys, hedre ven ow cul tronkys, me a ro thys perpetual in dyswyllyans an trespas, ha moyha pas te a vith dihogal 'As much land as you enclose, while I am taking a bath, I will give you as recompense for the wrong, and you will certainly a greater extent [of paces]' BK 1087-9.

In fact the only evidence that cabm ever meant 'walking pace, pace, step' is the expression wàr gabm and possibly also cabmdhavas for camneves 'rainbow', where cabmdhavas is to be understood as 'sheep's pass'.


On 11 Jan 2013, at 09:05, Hewitt, Stephen wrote:

> ar y cam, ar gam at a foot-pace, at a walking pace [not well known in Modern Welsh]

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