[Spellyans] definite and indefinite

Ken MacKinnon ken at ferintosh.org
Fri Mar 28 15:09:08 GMT 2014


I have a copy of Lyver Hymnys ha Salmow (gifted to me by Richard Jenkin).
The flyleaf is rubber-stamped: ‘Pyth An Orseth Kernow’.

 

I have wondered about this, whether it should more properly have been ‘Pyth
Gorseth a Gernow’.

 

What do you think, Nicholas?

 

-        An ken Ken

 

From: Spellyans [mailto:spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net] On Behalf Of
Nicholas Williams
Sent: 28 March 2014 14:12
To: Standard Cornish discussion list
Subject: [Spellyans] definite and indefinite

 

I have mentioned this before but it is perhaps worth repeating.

When I was recently at the Kescùssulyans I noticed a little book for

children on the stall of the Cowethas/Kowethas.

The title was

 

STERENN AN KOLIN KERNOW.

 

I think that this title was meant to be understood as 

'Sterenn the Cornish Puppy'. Unfortunately it cannot bear that sense.

If it means anything it could possibly mean 'The star of the puppy of
Cornwall', but the syntax is still wrong.

 

The problem arises from the difficulty in the Celtic languages of having
indefinite

nouns dependent on definite ones. 

 

In Irish for example to say 'a king of France' one has to say rí de ríthe na
Fraince i.e. a king of the kings of France,

and for 'a city bus' (as distinct from a country bus) one has to say bus de
chuid na cathrach

i.e. 'a bus of the share of the city'.

 

The same rule applies in Cornish, though Nance did not seem to have
understood it properly

so he writes *an Yeth Kernow for Yeth Kernow 'the language of Cornwall'

and Lyver *an Pymp Marthus Seleven for Lyver Pymp Marthus Seleven.

Since Kernow and Seleven are both definite, the nouns dependent upon them
are all definite. 

 

If one wants to say 'Sterenn, a Cornish puppy'

one would need to write (and I am using the orthography of the author) one
of the following:

 

STERENN, KOLIN DHIWORTH KERNOW

STERENN, KOLIN A GERNOW

KOLIN A GERNOW, STERENN Y HANOW

 

If one wants to say 'Sterenn, the Cornish puppy' one would need to write:

 

STERENN, AN KOLIN A GERNOW

STERENN, AN KOLIN DHIWORTH KERNOW

though neither is very happy since either could mean 'the Star of the puppy
of Cornwall'.

 

Perhaps 

 

AN KOLIN A GERNOW, STERENN Y HANOW would be the best rendering.

 

The expression Yeth an Weryn is objectionable for the same reason.

It can only mean 'the Lanuage of the People' and is ipso facto definite.

It is of doubtful validity anywhere since gweryn has been borrowed from
Welsh

and is unattested in Cornish. In more authentic Cornish the phrase would be

Tavas an Bobel or possible Yêth an Bobel.

 

i have recently heard AN GOOL PYRAN. This is also incorrect.

Pyran is a proper noun and is definite. The article is not merely
unnecessary, it is incorrect.

 

On Youtube there is a video from 1964 of the first wedding ever in Cornish,
which took place in the parish church of St Piran, Perranaworthal.

The commentary begins with a shot of the church, the flag of St Piran
fluttering in front of it and the spoken words:

AN EGLOS SEN PYRAN. This is incorrect; the narrator should have said EGLOS
SEN PYRAN 'the church of St Piran' or better still

EGLOS PYRAN 'the church of St Piran'.

 

Pyran is a proper name, it is therefore definite; any noun governed by it is
therefore also definite; the definite artice is not required and indeed is
incorrect.

 

Nicholas

 

 

 

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