[Spellyans] glas ~ gwer'

Nicholas Williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Wed Aug 10 12:22:59 IST 2016


I take it that originally glas meant grey/green/blue as you say. In the same way that its congener glas in Irish means ‘green’ of leaves but ‘grey’ of cattle and other animals.
I assume that Cornish speakers unconsciously wanting greater specificity, began to use gwer < uiridis for green leaves, green grass; and adopted blou from English. As a result glas remained
only to mean ‘grey, ashen coloured’. 

On page 115 of An Gerlyver Meur (2009) s.v. *bythlas ‘evergreen’ we read: Nance’s bythwer appears incorrect, because the <wer> refers
to inanimate green; this mistake was perpetuated in EC00.’ EC00 is my English Cornish Dictionary’. 

I rather think the mistake is that of the compiler of An Gerlyvr Meur (2009).

Another curious feature revived Cornish is the view that ‘at’ referring to a place is dhe.
I can find no examples in the texts. 


> On 9 Aug 2016, at 16:56, Jon Mills <j.mills at email.com> 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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