njawilliams at gmail.com
Fri Aug 7 12:46:42 BST 2015
If a definite noun, i.e. one after by the definite article or a proper noun (which is by nature definite) qualifies a preceding noun, the preceding noun is definite.
Kesva an Tavas 'the Committee of the Language'
Gorseth Kernow 'the Gorsedd of Cornwall'
The use of the apostrophe in a'n instead of an may allow an indefinite noun to be qualified by a definite one:
Berdh a'n Tavas 'Bards of the Language', rather than Berdh an Tavas 'the Language Bards'.
Since however a'n and an are phonetically identical, it is better to avoid such constructions and to use less ambiguous phrasing.
Berdh an Tavas Nowyth can only mean The Bards of the New Language'. Berdh Nowyth a'n Tavas in theory can mean 'New Bards of the Language, New Language Bards', but the phrase is indistinguishable in speech from Berdh Nowyth an Tavas 'the New Bards of the Language'.
In the latter case I prefer Berdh Nowyth dre Apposyans i'n Tavas.
This matter of definite nouns qualifying indefinite ones is a problem in the Celtic languages and circumlocutions are often
required. In Irish if you want to say, for example, Henry VIII was a king of England, since Sasana 'England' is definite, you
cannot say Ba rí Shasana Anraí VIII because that means 'Henry VIII was the king of England', and you want to say 'a king of England'.
So the best way of saying it is Ba rí de ríthe Shasana Anraí VIII 'Henry VIII was a king of the kings of England'.
The difference between definite and indefinite is important in Cornish where eus is used indefinite and usy definite.
In the Gaelic languages it is crucial. In Irish one says:
An dochtúir é? 'Is he a doctor?' Is ea 'Yes'.
An é an dochtúir é? 'Is he the doctor?' Is é 'Yes'
Nance does not seem to have understood this syntax in Cornish. That is why he writes an Yeth Kernow for Yeth Kernow (no article is necessary since Kernow is definite)
and Lyver an Pymp Marthus Seleven where the article is unnecessary because Seleven is definite. Lyver Pymp Marthus Seleven is correct, i.e., the Book of the Five Miracles of St Levan.
On 7 Aug 2015, at 11:21, Ray Chubb <ray at spyrys.org> wrote:
> I assume from this that it would be correct to always use the apostrophe in 'a'n' when the meaning is: of the/for the. The use of the apostrophe or not over the years seems to me to have been variable in revived Cornish writing.
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