[Spellyans] 'Something' in Cornish

Nicholas Williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Mon Sep 22 13:00:02 BST 2014

In his 1938 dictionary Nance says of neb tra ‘aught, anything, something’ that it is commonly replaced by neppyth. With our present knowledge of the texts, we can see that this is not really true. I have collected the following instances from the texts:

1 Neb tra
Aliquid, nebtra OCV
maraz herg zys gul nep tra lauar zesy byz ny venna ‘if he bids you to do anything, do you say I will not’ CF 32
kyns bos neb tra i’n ur na tyller nyns o ‘before anything was, then there was no place’ BK 148-49
Pyth esa Du kyns bos neb tra? ‘Where was God before anything was?’ BK 151 (note)
Ha whecter ema gansa; ny glowis moy in neb tra na ny glowa’ byttyth fynn ‘And there is fragrance about him; I did not smell more in anything nor will I ever smell until doomsday’ BK 515-17
Ru’m faye! neb pyth ew neb tra ‘Upon my faith! Something is something’ BK 601
me athe pys awos neb tra na gymar marth anotha ‘I beg you do not be afraid of it for anything’ CW 559-60
na vea me theth cara ny vynsan awos neb tra yn ban tha vos exaltys ‘if I did not love you, I would not for anything that you should be elevated on high’ CW 699-700
worthaf ve sertan ny dale bos mellyes avs neb tra ‘I should not be meddled with certainly for anything’ CW 1619-20
han oyle a vercy whela mar kylleth avs neb tra ‘and seek the oil of mercy, if you can, above anything’ CW 1734-35
Te na ras gouas hirrath rag chuy de contrevack, na ra guas hirrath rag greage de contrevack, na e guaz, na maiteth, na de ouggan, na e rouzan, na neb tra es do de contrevack ‘You shall not long for your neighbour’s house, you shall not long for your neighbour’s wife, nor his servant, nor maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything which belongs to your neighbour’ TBoson.

2 Neppyth
grannt the'th whythres my a'd peys nep peyth a oel a vercy 'grant to your creature something of the oil of mercy, I beg you' OM 326-27
me a’th pys arluth a ras a thanfon thy’nny cannas may ben nepith aswonfas fatel yw thy’s ‘I pray you, Lord of grace, send us a messenger, that we may have somewhat of knowledge how it is with you’ RD 767-70
ha neb na relha neb pyth e vos gwyer Thew ne brevith bys venytha, te pen cog! ‘and whoever does not do anything, you will not ever prove to be true God, you fool!’ BK 229-31
Ru’m faye! neb pyth ew neb tra ‘Upon my faith! Something is something’ BK 601
kewses warlerth an maner an bobyll, pan vons y ow mois the wull nampith a ober bras ‘spoken according to the manner of the people, when they are going to do something of great work’ TH 1
pew vs in agan mysk ny mas eff a gylwe y gentrevak hay kyscristian foole vncharitably bo nampith a throg ha gwan hanow arell? ‘who is there among us but calls his neighbour and his fellow Christian a fool uncharitably or something of another evil and bad name?’ TH 28a
Gear Christ ill changia takclennow the nappith, na ve travith derag dorn ‘The word of Christ can change things to something that were nothing before’ SA 61a
Andelna eu pe na veth nab peth gwrez lebben ita, na scant vedna bose gwrez ugge hemma ‘So it is, since not anything will be done in it, nor hardly will be done hereafter…’ NBoson
pera ne doaze the Newlen ha en nepeath a choye ‘why not come to Newlyn and ?drink something in my house?’ TBoson
Rag me a venja cowas napeath ‘For I would get something…’ JTonkin.

Lhuyd writes nèpeth AB: 222, but s.v. Nihil ‘nothing’ he gives ni nebtra AB: 99a. 

It seems that overall neb tra ‘something, anything’ is as common as neppyth ‘something, anything’. It also seems that neppyth was stressed on the second syllable, reducing the first syllable to schwa, sometimes written <a>. Neppyth also seems to mean ‘somewhat’ as much as ‘something’. The same does not appear to be true of neb tra. The spelling neppyth does not seem to be found anywhere.

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