[Spellyans] 'to make the bed' in Cornish

Nicholas Williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Mon Apr 7 13:19:59 IST 2014


I may have mentioned this matter before. If so, I apologise. It is just that I am translating a text in which beds are made.
'To make the bed' in English means to get the bed ready to sleep in, to straighten the sheets and blankets, or whatever.
In Welsh 'to make the bed' is cyweirio y gwely. In Irish one says an leaba a chóiriú. Leaba 'bed' replaces an earlier folige which is identical in origin with gwely < *wolige-
The Welsh cyweirio and the Irish cóiriú are etymologically related, being based on an adjective *ko(m)-wari- 'correct, tidy, accurate'.
This adjective occurs once in Cornish in the expression bum pur gewar desezys 'a blow very accurately placed' PA 138b. The derived verb would
be *kewera 'to fit, to arrange', which is not attested, though Nance includes it in his 1938 dictionary;  keweras 'fulfilment' is attested at PA 83d.

My late mother-in-law from County Armagh never said 'make the bed' but always 'straighten the bed' and this would seem
to reflect the expression used in the Irish of her recent ancestors.

I think it is very likely that the Insular Celtic peoples, when getting beds ready for sleeping, used a phrase like
*kom-war- sindo- wolige-.

I would suggest, therefore, that for making the bed in Cornish we say kewera an gwely, e.g. res yw dhybm kewera an gweliow lebmyn.

Nicholas


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