[Spellyans] definite and indefinite

Nicholas Williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Fri Mar 28 15:57:55 GMT 2014

I should have put Gorseth Kernow at the head of phrase and would have said:  Gorseth Kernow a bew an lyver-ma.
That is unambiguous, grammatical and has a verb. 

Pyth Gorseth Kernow even when the syntax is corrected, looks like a direct translation from Property of the Gorsedd of Cornwall.


On 28 Mar 2014, at 15:09, Ken MacKinnon wrote:

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