[Spellyans] 'behind' in Cornish

Nicholas Williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Thu Jul 3 13:04:03 BST 2014

For ‘behind’ Nance recommends adryf, adref (KS adrëv); with prepositional pronouns he recommends adryf dhe, e.g. adryf dhym, adryf dhys, etc. (KS adrëv dhybm, adrëv dhis, etc.). I have been able to find only one example of adryf/adrëv:

ny gowsyn yn tewolgow a dryff tus yn vn hanas ‘we did not speak in the dark, whispering behind men’ PA 79d.

I cannot find any other example. Nor can I find any instance of *adrëv dhe. Not wanting to be inauthentic, for ‘behind’ I use warlergh and ‘for behind me, behind you’, etc. wàr ow lergh, wàr dha lergh, etc.  Such forms are attested:

Ihesus a ve hombronkis ha war y lyrgh mur a lu ‘Jesus was led and behind him a great crowd’ PA 163c
war aga lergh fystynyn ‘let us hasten after them’ OM 1641
gans moreth yth of lynwys war the lergh ov arluth whek ‘I am filled with sorrow after you, my sweet lord’ OM 2194-95
dun war y lergh me a'th pys ‘let us go after him, I beg you’ PC 663.

The problem is that war dha lergh, etc. often mean ‘in your absence’ and ‘according to you’, etc. as much as ‘behind you’ in a physical sense. Perhaps for the physical and metaphorical senses of ‘behind‘ with both nouns and personal pronouns it might be better to use adhelergh dhe.  This is found in both Tregear and Lhuyd:

fatell vea ha na rella an appostles gasa scryffa vith a thillar thethe? ‘how would it have been if the apostles had not left any scripture behind them?’ TH 19
Adhelhar dhyn remènat 'Behind the rest' AB: 249b.

Adhelergh is already an adverb with the sense ‘behind’, when no movement is implied:

argya orto ny ammont yth esen pel atheller ‘there is no point in arguing with him [the master who is reluctant to pay wages]; we are far behind [i.e. in arrears]’ BM 3332-33
in marvere dell rug an appostlis y gasa a thellar kepar ha dell vova tresure riche ‘in as much as the apostles left it behind as though it were a rich treasure’ TH 19
Ha hedna vedn gus tubma theller a arâg ‘And that will warm you behind and in front’ JJenkins.

‘Behind, back’ when movement is implied is wàr dhelergh. 

Warlergh, adhelergh and wàr dhelergh are all based on the simplex lergh ‘trace, track’, seen for example in trulerch ‘footpath’ in OCV.
It seems likely that dhelergh in adhelergh and wàr dhelergh is stressed on the penultimate syllable.


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