Cornish notes for beginners by Neil Kennedy

Sections 1 and 2
1.1 Nuts and Bolts
1.2 Adjectives after nouns
1.3 Gender
2.1 Getting started: Handy social phrases
2.2 Names
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1.1 Nuts and Bolts

Here are some basic link words that you will need for your first sentences:

We do not usually use a word for a. We do not say: a book, a house etc.; We just say book lever, house chy. To say 'a certain' or 'a particular' something, or to emphasize the thing we are talking about, we use edn e.g. edn venen.

an: the. Occasionally shortened to a. There is no strict rule about when to use a except that you must use an before a vowel. An can also mean of the.

ha: and ha may become hag before a vowel (a,e,i,o,u,y) but this is often ignored in Late Cornish.

han: and the (i.e. ha + an). You can write this with an apostrophe: han.

dha or da: to. Dhis pronounced like the soft th of the. Da is a common variation but don't confuse it for the word for good which may be written da or daa.

[If you've learn't Unified or Kemmyn be aware that soft mutation is often ignored after dha/da.]

dhan: to the (i.e. dha + an). You can write this with an apostrophe: dhan.

Look at these place-names :

Pons an ooth: bridge of the stream, Chy an Chy: house by the house, Plain an Gwary: the playing place 'plane of the play', Pedn an drea: end of the town, Park an Growz: Field of the cross, Crowz an Wrah: The hag's/witch's cross, Park an Fentan: field with the spring.

This is a typical way of putting things together in Cornish. In these examples an can be translated in a variety of ways: of the, by the etc..

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1.2 Adjectives after nouns

Cornish word order is different. The adjective (description) follows the noun (name of thing) so we say: house big - chy broaz and dog white - ky gwidn rather than big house & white dog. If there are two adjectives, as in 'big, white house' we put the important one next to the noun: chy gwidn broaz

Occasionally we may place one adjective before the noun and another after it - brave ober da (a good, hansome job) - but you don't need to worry about that until you've gone further with your Kernuak.

Sometimes we put adjectives in front of nouns: hugeth meneth arall another huge mountain. Don't try it until you've heard it or seen it somewhere else.

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1.3 Gender

In Cornish everything is feminine or masculine. The first letter of many feminine words changes when placed after an (the). This is known as soft mutation. Do not be alarmed! It is not necessary to learn the rules at this stage. Just be aware that these letter changes may occur.

There is no easy way to tell whether a word is masculine or feminine (unless it refers to a person). It's probably easier to tell with baby rabbits, but after a while you will start to remember which words are masculine and feminine and you will recognize patterns. Dictionaries use m or f to show gender.

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2.1 Getting started: Handy social phrases

Greetings: Durdadha why! Good day to you!
Deedh da! Good day Metten da Good morning (don't use this after about 10 a.m.) Ha, soas! Hello mate! Darzona ! God bless (on meeting) Gothewhar da Good evening Lowena dha why ! Happiness to you!

Enquiry: Fatla gena why ? How are you?
Fatel era why a keel ? How are you doing?

Answers: Ma genam a ehas Im well Ma pedn droag dhem Ive got a headache Ma annes dhem Ive got a cold

Clav ('clauv') o ve Im ill
Skeeth o ve Im tired
Looan o ve Im happy
Yein o ve Im cold
Tubm o ve Im hot
Trawethak o ve Im sad
Da lowar o ve Im O.K.
(...o ve means I am )

Invitation: Vedo why cowas badna? Do you want a drop to drink?
Vedo why cowas tabm? Do you want something to eat?
Pandra vedo why comeras / cowas? What would you like to have?

Choices: Bolla tay/coffy: a cup of tea/coffee.
Cor: beer.
Gwyne: wine.
Cyder: cider.
Dowr: water.
Hogan: a pastry.
Coffan kyge: Meat pasty.
Tezan saffern: safron cake.
Scubmow: chips.
Pesk: fish.
Aval: an apple.

Requests: Me venja cowas...Id like to have...;
Me venja kens...Id rather have..../ Id prefer
pedgy ry dhem...Please give me... moy more (also spelt moye/moy )
badna moy a drop more
tabm moy a bit more
mar pleag please (at the end of a phrase)

gwage o ve Im hungry
sehes o ve Im thirsty
ethik sehes o ve Im awfully thirsty

ehas dha why ! health to you.
ehas ha sowena dha why whath ha goz heenath ! health and prosperity to you and your descendants.
pesk, cober ha stean ! Fish, copper and tin.

durdalada why or merastawhy or gromassy
In letters: mear a ras dha why or me a ry massy/marci dha why

Dew boz geno God be with you
benatugana God bless
tereba nessa Till next time
anowr Untill then
comero weeth Take care
ternestadha or noaz da dha why Good night to you.

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2.2 Names

Pe hanow o why ? What is your name?

There are several ways to answer, apart from just saying your name:

Beginners should concentrate on the first type of answer given above.

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