[Spellyans] glas ~ gwer'

Harry 'Double-H' Hawkey bendyfrog at live.com
Wed Aug 10 09:09:28 IST 2016


There's a nice graphic illustrating this in Jon Mills' paper, 'Linguistic Relativity and Linguistic Determinism...' pg. 3 (you can find it at https://kar.kent.ac.uk/8401/ ) in case anyone hasn't seen it...


On 09/08/16 16:56, Jon Mills wrote:
Prototypical glas refers to a shade somewhere between blue and green and grey. It can refer to both living and non-living. Glas can refer to the colour of foliage:
"war an pren glays mar a te yn pren seygh ha casadow sur yn erna fatel ve" [Pascon agan Arluth: 170] 'if it comes upon the green wood, how indeed will it be then upon the dry and blighted wood?'

"branche olyf glase" [Jordan 1611: 2462] 'a branch of green olive'

Glas can refer to the colour of water:

"dun ganso dywhans touth bras | rak y worre yn dour glas | yu ow dysyr" [Resurrexio Domini: 2192-4] 'Let's go with him very quickly; to put him into blue/green/grey water is my desire'

Glas can refer to the colour of glass:

"toul e in the wedyr glays" [Ton 1504: 1445] 'Throw it in your blue/green glass!'

Glas can refer to the colour of grey hair:

Blêụ glâz [Lhuyd 1707: [3a]] 'gray hairs'

In the following example, the dove's eyes could be blue, green, grey or somewhere in between:

"an golom glas hy lagas" [Origo Mundi: 1109] 'the dove with the blue/green/grey eyes'

As Nicholas rightly points out, attestations of gwer refer to the colour of living matter, more specifically to the colour of leaves, grass and pasture.

Bloụ is also attested.

"ny wysk blow ha more" [Bewnans Ke: 3064] 'We'll wear blue and murrey'

"CÆRULEUS, ... C Bloụ, † glas" [Lhuyd 1707: 291a]

Glas is a reflex of Proto-Celtic *glasto-. Gwer is a borrowed word from Latin 'viridius'. Blou is a borrowed word from Old Norman French.

The difference between these Cornish colour terms does not concern a distinction between animate and inanimate or between living and non-living. Instead the distinction is between shades of colour. Glas embraces blue, green and grey and prototypical glas is a shade somewhere between these. Gwer is specifically green, i.e. a colour of the spectrum intermediate between blue and yellow, as of grass. Blou is specifically blue, i.e. a colour of the spectrum intermediate between green and violet, as of the sky on a clear day.

Ol an gwella, Jon

Sent: Saturday, August 06, 2016 at 3:26 PM
From: "Nicholas Williams" <njawilliams at gmail.com><mailto:njawilliams at gmail.com>
To: "Standard Cornish discussion list" <spellyans at kernowek.net><mailto:spellyans at kernowek.net>
Cc: "Agan Tavas discussion list" <agantavas at spyrys.org><mailto:agantavas at spyrys.org>
Subject: [Spellyans] bythwer 'evergreen'
In his 1951 dictionary under ‘evergreen’ Nance suggests the neologism *bythwer.

More recently it has been claimed that *bythwer should really be *bythlas, since gwer
refers to "inanimate" green.

I wonder whether this criticism is valid.

In Cornish gwer certainly seems to refer to growing things and is not therefore simply an adjective for “inanimate green".

Lhuyd gives:

Kẏ guêr vel an guelz [maga gwer avell an gwels] ‘as green as grass’ AB: 248c.

He also cites:

delkio guêr s.v. Frons ‘a green bough with leaves’ AB: 61c.

Under Pascuum ‘Feeding ground, pasturage’ he gives Gueruelz AB: 113c, where gueruelz [gwerwels]
is clearly a compound of gwer ‘green’ and gwels ‘grass’.

Gwer in Lhuyd’s day was clearly the ordinary word for ‘green’ when referring to leaves and grass.

For Lhuyd on the other hand glas meant ‘grey’:

Blêu glâz ‘gray [sic] hairs’ AB: 3a; W Glâs, Gray, C[ornish[ Glâz AB: 30b; Cinereus ‘Ash-coloured’ C[ornish] Glâs AB: 47c-48a.

It seems therefore that Nance’s bythwer ’evergreen’ is perfectly permissible and indeed preferable to *bythlas.

Nicholas
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