Cornish notes for beginners by Neil Kennedy

Section 3
3.1 I am; it is. Description.
3.2 What's this? What's that?
3.3 Fatel ew...? How is....? (What is
3.4 Obma
3.5 Plurals
3.6 These and Those
3.7 More about ew
3.8 Questions
3.9 Negatives
3.10 The descriptive tense of boaz (to be)
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3.1 I am; it is. Description.

You will probably have realised that o ve means I am and that ew means is or it is. We encountered o ve in section 2.1 (social language) with expressions like: tubm o ve: Iím hot, clav o ve: Iím ill. With a few basic nouns and adjectives it is possible to say quite a lot using o ve and ew. See how many phrases you can make. Here are some adjectives to use:

broaz: big; bian: little; heer:long/tall; bear: short; kern: round; pedrak: square; marow: dead; beaw: alIíve; daa: good; droag: bad; teag: beautiful; hagar: ugly; glane: clean; ploos: dirty; tubm: hot; yein: cold; seah: dry; gleab: wet; calish: hard; medall: soft; eays: easy; euhall: high; ezall: low; creav: strong; gwadn: weak; noweth: new; coath: old; younk: young; looan: happy; trawethack: sad; wheag: pleasant, nice, sweet; wherow: bitter; terres: broken; gwage: hungry, empty; lean: full; keef: expensive; raz: cheap; skave: light; pooz: heavy; tew: fat; tanow: scarce, thin; spladn: bright, obvious, splendid; tewal: dark, unclear, gloomy; parres: ready.

[ Users of Unified and Kemmyn should be aware that Late Cornish makes greater use of emphatic forms like o ve. ]

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3.2 What's this? What's that?

The word for this is hemma, occasionally written hebma. The word for that is hedna

There are also feminine forms of this and that: homma and hodna which you use when you know something is feminine.

The word for what is pandra. It contains the word for thing Ė tra / dra

Pandra ew hemma? What is this?
Pandra ew hedna? What is that?

(Pandra ew may be shortened to pandr'ew or even drew.)

To answer, simply name the thing and follow with ew (is):

Tezan ew Itís a cake
Bord ew Itís a table
Darras ew Itís a door

Alternatively, you can start with thew:

Thew gwedhan Itís a tree
Thew beisder Itís a window
Thew quillan It's a pen

Thew is the same word as ew. The th simply stops it from producing a question when placed at the start of the sentence.


Peath dha redia / Something to read: (floh: child an daama: the mother)

Floh: Mabm, Mabm Pandríew hedna?

An daama: Pandra?

Floh: Hedna Mabm....war an vrea. Pandríew hedna?

An daama: Ah, belin-gwins ew hedna. Onen broaz ew.

Floh: Ew hedna per weer belin-gwins Mabm? Nag ew pecaraín velin-gwins en lever ve.

An daama: Ah, thew hedna onen coath...thew hemma onen noweth.

(Belin-gwins: windmill, war an vrea: on the hill, lever ve: my book, per weer: really, en: in)

Build your vocabulary by asking Cornish speakers Pandríew hemma? Pandríew hedna?

[ ew may occasionally be written yw ]

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3.3 Fatel ew...? How is....? (What is

Fatel: how is the same word found in Fatla gana why? & Fatel era why keel?

You can practice your adjectives by asking questions about objects e.g.

Fatel ew an bord?....Pedrak ew? Fatel ew an tay?.....Tubm ew an tay.
Fatel ew an dezan?....Wheag ew an dezan. Fatel ew hedna?....Teag ew hedna.
Fatel ew an gistan?....Gwage ew an gistan? Fatel ew an scudell?....Glane ew. Nag ew ploos.

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3.4 Obma

Obma means either here or here is.

Obma ky. ky bian ew. Nag ew broaz. Here is a dog. Itís a little dog. It isnít big.

Obma chy. Chy coath ew. Nag ew chy noweth. Here is a house. Itís an old house. It isnít new.

You can use obma when presenting something:

Ha, Maria ! Obma bolla tay Tubm ha creav ew.
Hey, Mary. Hereís a cup of tea. It's hot and strong.

Obma scudell noweth. Glane ew. Nag ew ploos. Hereís a new plate. Its clean. It isnít dirty.

To say here I am / behold me use otta ve (also written yta ve). e.g. Otta ve parres: Behold, Iím ready

To say that you have got something use ottava for a masculine thing or otta hy for a feminine thing followed by genam (with me). e.g. otta va genam / otta hy genam behold, Iíve got it

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3.5 Plurals

There are severals kinds of plural:

Many of these apply to animals.

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3.6 These and Those

These: a rima
Those: a rina

What are these? Pandra ew a rima? What are those? Pandra ew a rina?

They are: ens or en'gy (when placed after the noun)..thens or then'gy (when placed before the noun):
e.g. Pandríew a rima? > Deves ens They are sheep

Pandríew a rima? > Levrow ens They are books Pandríew a rima? > Puscas ens They are fish

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3.7 More about ew

In the questions above ew (is) is used to mean are. In Cornish it is correct to say what is these?, what is those?. Similarly we say things like: the dogs is running, the books is open etc.. In effect ew may translate either is or are. However, you will need to use ens or en'gy when the meaning 'they are' is intended.

Letís look at ew a bit more:

We have already established that we can either start statements with thew or put ew later in the phrase. Look at these examples and try to get a feel for it:
An car ew noweth: The car is new Car noweth ew / Thew car noweth: It's a new car
Coath ew an marh: The horse is old Marh coath ew/ Thew marh coath: It is an old horse
An lever ew pooz: The book is heavy Lever pooz ew/ Thew lever pooz: It is a heavy book

thew would not normally be used in answer to a question. In answer to pandra ew hemma/hedna? use ew:
Chy teag ew: Itís a beautiful house Darras glase ew: Itís a blue door Bord kern ew: Itís a round table Bara gwidn ew: Itís white bread Tezan wheag ew: Itís a nice cake Brea vroaz ew: Itís a big hill Vor heer ew: Itís a long road Scath bian ew: Itís a little boat

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3.8 Questions

To ask a question, start with ew:

Ew marow an pesk? Is the fish dead?
Ew parres an booz? Is the food ready?

Ew an padik terres aweadh? Is the jug broken as well?
Ew hemma da? Is this good?
Ew an quillan rooz po du? Is the pen red or black?
Ew an flehas skeeth? Are the children tired?
Ew an vibbian looan? Are the boys happy?
Ew hedna edhan? Is that a bird?

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3.9 Negatives

To say is not/are not use : nag ew:

Nag ew droag an coríma This beer isnít bad
Nag ew teag an drea The town isnít beautiful
Nag ew da andella dha cowz It isnít good to speak like that
Nag ew gwage It is not empty
Nag ew hedna an gwella vor That is not the best way
Nag ew creav It isnít strong
Nag ew an muzzy vaz The girls are not good
Nag ew an bobel looan The people are not happy

[ Unified & Kemmyn speakers, be aware that nag is used here where you would use nyns/nynj ]

Useful words from above examples: aweadh: as well; po: or

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3.10 The descriptive tense of boaz (to be)

So far we have encountered EW (is/are), O VE (am I / I am), ENS / THENS (they are). These are parts of the descriptive form of the verb BOAZ: to be (& this is sounding seriously like grammar). Here is a summary of boaz:

a)The TH form. Used when the verb comes first: tho ve: I am, tho che: thou art, thew e: he is, thew hy: she is, tho ny: we are, tho why: you are, then'gy / thens: they are.

Be aware of the less emphatic forms which may be used where you wish to give less stress to the verb and subject:
thom: I'm, thooz: thou art, thew: he's / she's / it's, thon: we're, thens: they're

b)Without TH. Used when the compliment comes before the verb & for questions:

o ve: I am, o che/osta: thou art, ew e: he is, ew hy: she is, o ny: we are, o why: you are, ens/en'gy: they are

Again there are less emphatic forms for use when you don't need to stress the subject: om: I'm, ooz/os: thou art, ew: he's/she's, on: we're, o: you're, ens: they're

c) With nag. Used for negatives:

nag o ve, nag o che, nag ew e, nag ew hy, nag o ny, nag o why, nag ens

Note: The forms above are together the descriptive present tense of the verb BOAZ: to be. Use them for describing. In Cornish there are completely different forms of this verb for use when talking about actions and locations.

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