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Title: A Handbook of the Cornish Language - chiefly in its latest stages with some account of its history and literature
Author: Jenner, Henry, 1848-1934
Language: English
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Transcribed from the 1904 David Nutt edition by David Price, email


                               HENRY JENNER


       “Never credit me but I will spowt some Cornish at him.
    _Peden bras_, _vidne whee bis cregas_.”

                                 _The Northern Lass_, by RICH BROME, 1632.

                             57-59 LONG ACRE

                   Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON & CO.
                         At the Ballantyne Press


H. L. J.

_Kerra ow Holon_!  _Beniges re vo_
_Gans bennath Dew an dêdh a ’th ros dhemmo_,
_Dhô whelas gerryow gwan pan dhetha vî_,
_Tavas dha dassow_, _ha dhô ’th drovya dî_.
_En cov an dêdh splan-na es pel passyes_;
_En cov idn dêdh lowenek_, _gwin ’gan bês_,
_War Garrak Loys en Côs_, _es en dan skês_
_Askelly Myhal El_, _o ’gan gwithes_;
_En cov lîas dêdh wheg en Kernow da_,
_Ha nŷ mar younk_—_na whekkah vel êr-ma_
_Dhemmo a dhîg genev an gwella tra_,
_Pan dhetha vî en kerh_, _en ol bro-na_;
_Dheso mî re levar dha davas teg_,
_Flogh ow empinyon vî_, _dhô ’m kerra Gwrêg_.

                                                             _GWAS MYHAL_.

_Scrîfes en agan Chŷ nŷ_,
   _Dawthegves dêdh Mîs Gorefan_
      _En Bledhan agan Arledh_, 1904.


This book is principally intended for those persons of Cornish
nationality who wish to acquire some knowledge of their ancient tongue,
and to read, write, and perhaps even to speak it.  Its aim is to
represent in an intelligible form the Cornish of the later period, and
since it is addressed to the general Cornish public rather than to the
skilled philologist, much has been left unsaid that might have been of
interest to the latter, old-fashioned phonological and grammatical terms
have been used, a uniform system of spelling has been adopted, little
notice has been taken of casual variations, and the arguments upon which
the choice of forms has been based have not often been given.

The spelling has been adapted for the occasion.  All writers of Cornish
used to spell according to their own taste and fancy, and would sometimes
represent the same word in different ways even in the same page, though
certain general principles were observed in each period.  There was a
special uncertainty about the vowels, which will be easily appreciated by
those who are familiar with Cornish English.  Modern writers of all
languages prefer consistent spelling, and to modern learners, whose
object is linguistic rather than philological, a fairly regular system of
orthography is almost a necessity.  The present system is not the
phonetic ideal of “one sound to each symbol, and one symbol for each
sound,” but it aims at being fairly consistent with itself, not too
difficult to understand, not too much encumbered with diacritical signs,
and not too startlingly different from the spellings of earlier times,
especially from that of Lhuyd, whose system was constructed from living
Cornish speakers.  The writer has arrived at his conclusions by a
comparison of the various existing spellings with one another, with the
traditional fragments collected and recorded by himself in 1875, with the
modern pronunciation of Cornish names, with the changes which English has
undergone in the mouths of the less educated of Cornishmen, and to some
extent with Breton.  The author suggests that this form of spelling
should be generally adopted by Cornish students of their old speech.  The
system cannot in the nature of things be strictly accurate, but it is
near enough for practical purposes.  Possibly there is much room for
controversy, especially as to such details as the distribution of long
and short vowels, the representation of the Middle Cornish _u_, _ue_,
_eu_ sometimes by _î_, sometimes by _ê_, and sometimes by _eu_ or _ew_,
or of the Middle Cornish _y_ by _i_, _e_, or _y_, or occasionally by an
obscure _ă_, _ŏ_, or _ŭ_, and it is quite likely that others might arrive
at different conclusions from the same evidence, though those conclusions
might not be any the nearer to the sounds which the Cornishmen of the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries really did make.  As for grammatical
forms, it will be seen that the writer is of opinion that the difference
between Middle and Modern Cornish was more apparent than real, and that
except in the very latest period of all, when the language survived only
in the mouths of the least educated persons, the so-called “corruptions”
were to a great extent due to differences of spelling, to a want of
appreciation of almost inaudible final consonants, and to an
intensification of phonetic tendencies existing in germ at a much earlier
period.  Thus it is that inflections which in the late Cornish often seem
to have been almost, if not quite, inaudible, have been written in full,
for that is the author’s notion, founded on what Middle Cornishmen
actually did write, of what Modern Cornishmen were trying to express.
For most things he has precedents, though he has allowed himself a
certain amount of conjecture at times, and in most cases of difficulty he
has trusted, as he would advise his readers to do, to Breton rather than
to Welsh, for the living Breton of to-day is the nearest thing to Cornish
that exists.

Why should Cornishmen learn Cornish?  There is no money in it, it serves
no practical purpose, and the literature is scanty and of no great
originality or value.  The question is a fair one, the answer is simple.
Because they are Cornishmen.  At the present day Cornwall, but for a few
survivals of Duchy jurisdictions, is legally and practically a county of
England, with a County Council, a County Police, and a Lord-Lieutenant
all complete, as if it were no better than a mere Essex or Herts. {0a}
But every Cornishman knows well enough, proud as he may be of belonging
to the British Empire, that he is no more an Englishman than a Caithness
man is, that he has as much right to a separate local patriotism to his
little Motherland, which rightly understood is no bar, but rather an
advantage to the greater British patriotism, {0b} as has a Scotsman, an
Irishman, a Welshman, or even a Colonial; and that he is as much a Celt
and as little of an “Anglo-Saxon” as any Gael, Cymro, Manxman, or Breton.
Language is less than ever a final test of race.  Most Cornishmen
habitually speak English, and few, very few, could hold five minutes’
conversation in the old Celtic speech.  Yet the memory of it lingers on,
and no one can talk about the country itself, and mention the places in
it, without using a wealth of true Cornish words.  But a similar thing
may be said of a very large proportion of Welshmen, Highlanders,
Irishmen, Manxmen, and Bretons.

             _Omnia Græce_,
    _Quum sit turpe magis nostris nescire Latine_.

The reason why a Cornishman should learn Cornish, the outward and audible
sign of his separate nationality, is sentimental, and not in the least
practical, and if everything sentimental were banished from it, the world
would not be as pleasant a place as it is.

Whether anything will come of the Cornish part of the Celtic movement
remains to be seen, but it is not without good omen that this book is
published at the “Sign of the Phoenix.”

A few words of comprehensive apology for the shortcomings of this
handbook.  When the writer was asked by the Secretary of the
Celtic-Cornish Society to undertake a Cornish grammar, which was the
origin of this book, it was more than twenty years since he had dropped
his Cornish studies in favour of other and more immediately necessary
matters.  Much of what he once knew had been forgotten, and had to be
learnt over again, and the new grammar was wanted quickly.  There must
needs be, therefore, inaccuracies and inconsistencies, especially with
regard to the spelling, which had to be constructed, and he is conscious
also that there are at least two living men, if no more, who could have
made a far better book.  Of either of these two, Dr. Whitley Stokes and
Prof. Joseph Loth, Doyen of the Faculty of Letters in Rennes University,
who probably know more about Cornish between them than any one else ever
did, the writer may well say, as John Boson of Newlyn said of Keigwin two
centuries ago, “_Markressa an dean deskez fear-na gwellaz hemma_, _ev a
venja kavaz fraga e owna en skreefa-composter_, _etc._” {0c}  For,
indeed, even in that same _skreefa-composter_ is there much scope for
argument, and Boson’s “et cetera” stands for a good deal besides.

It is not given to a grammar-writer to strive after originality.  If he
did so, he would probably not be the better grammarian.  The writer
therefore has no hesitation in acknowledging to the full his many
obligations to previous workers on the subject.  To Lhuyd and Pryce, to
Gwavas, Tonkin, Boson, and Borlase he owes much (and also,
parenthetically, he thanks Mr. John Enys of Enys for lending him the
Borlase MS.).  But it is to the workers of the second half of the
nineteenth century, living or departed, that he owes most, and especially
to Dr. Edwin Norris, Dr. Whitley Stokes, Prof. Loth, Canon Robert
Williams, and Dr. Jago.  Of the works of these writers he has made ample
use, though he has not necessarily agreed with them in every detail.

The well-known work of Edwin Norris has been of the greatest value in
every way, and the copious examples given in his “Sketch of Cornish
Grammar” have frequently saved the writer the trouble of searching for
examples himself.  Dr. Whitley Stokes’s editions of two dramas and a poem
have been of the greatest assistance, the notes to the _St. Meriasek_
being especially valuable in collecting and comparing the various forms
of irregular verbs, etc.  Without Canon Williams’s Lexicon nothing could
have been done, and though some amount of friendly criticism and
correction has been given to it by Dr. Stokes and Prof. Loth, neither of
whom, of course, really undervalues the Lexicon in the least, no one can
fail to appreciate that excellent work.  Prof. Loth’s articles are mostly
on details.  A more general work from his hand is much to be desired, and
every Cornish student must look forward to the forthcoming volume of his
_Chrestomathie Bretonne_, which will contain the Cornish section.  It
would have been better for the present work if its author could have seen
that volume before writing this.  But Prof. Loth’s articles in the _Revue
Celtique_ have been full of suggestions of the greatest value.  Dr.
Jago’s English-Cornish Dictionary has also been most useful.  In a
somewhat uncritical fashion, he has collected together all the various
forms and spellings of each word that he could find, and this rendered it
possible to make easily comparisons which would otherwise have given a
good deal of trouble.  Even the somewhat unconventional lexicographical
arrangement of the book has had its uses, but, if one may venture an
adverse criticism, it was a pity to have followed Borlase in including
without notice so many Welsh and Breton words for which there is no
authority in Cornish.  It is on this account that the work needs to be
used with caution, and may at times mislead the unwary.

The author begs to thank very heartily Mr. E. Whitfield Crofts (“Peter
Penn” of the _Cornish Telegraph_) for his great service in making this
handbook known among Cornishmen.

Perhaps a subject in connection with Cornish which may be of greater
general interest than anything else is the interpretation of Cornish
names.  It is for this reason that a chapter embodying shortly some
general principles of such a study has been added, and for those who
would try their hands at original verse composition in Cornish a chapter
on the principles of Cornish prosody has also been given.  The
composition of twentieth-century Cornish verse has already begun.  Dr. C.
A. Picquenard of Quimper, well known as a Breton poet under the title of
_Ar Barz Melen_, has produced several excellent specimens, Mr. L. C. R.
Duncombe-Jewell published the first Cornish sonnet in _Celtia_ in 1901,
and the present writer has contributed a sonnet and translations of the
Trelawny Song and the National Anthem to the _Cornish Telegraph_, besides
writing two Christmas Carols, one in _Celtia_ and one printed separately,
and the dedication of this book, which, he may remark, is not meant for a
sonnet, though it happens to run to fourteen lines.

The writer had originally intended to add some reading lessons,
exercises, and vocabularies, but it was found that the inclusion of these
would make the book too large.  He hopes to bring out shortly a quite
small separate book of this character, which may also include
conversations, and he has in preparation a complete vocabulary, though he
has no idea as to when it will be finished.



There have been seven Celtic languages—not all at once, of course—and
indeed it is possible that there may have been more; but seven are known
to have existed.  One other may have been a Celtic speech, or it may have
been something pre-Celtic, but of it we know too little to judge.

The Celtic languages belong to the type known as Aryan or Indo-European,
the language of the higher or white races whose original habitat was once
taken to have been near or among the Himalayas, but is now located with
much less exactness than heretofore.  To this class belong the Sanscrit,
with its multitude of Indian derivatives; the Persian, ancient and
modern; the Greek, the Latin with all its descendants, the Lithuanian,
the Slavonic, the Teutonic and Scandinavian, the Albanian and the Celtic.
It is not to be supposed that the possession of an Aryan language is
necessarily a proof of the possession of Aryan blood.  In many cases the
conquering white race imposed its language on the aborigines whom it
subjugated and enslaved.  This must have been very much the case in
Britain, and it is probable that the lower classes of a great part of
England, though they now speak a language of mixed Teutonic and Latin
origin, as they once spoke Celtic, are largely the descendants, through
the slaves successively of Britons, Romans, and Saxons, and the
“villains” or _nativi_ of the Norman manorial system, of the aboriginal
palæolithic “cave” man, and have far less in common with the Anglo-Saxon,
the Celt, or any other white man than they have with the Hottentot, the
Esquimaux, the Lapp, or the Australian “blackfellow.”  This is
particularly the case in what was once the forest-covered district of
middle England.  There, no doubt, when there was any fighting to be done,
the aboriginal hid in the woods until it was all over, and only then came
out to share in the spoil and the glory and the drinks; while the white
man, whether Briton, Saxon, or Norman, went out to fight, and not
infrequently to be killed.  A survival, perhaps, of the unfittest was the
result, which may account for some of the peculiar characteristics of the
Midland lower classes.  That the successive changes of masters were
matters of little or no importance to the enslaved aboriginal, while a
life of servitude was intolerable to the free white man, may account for
the fact that the labouring classes of Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Wales,
and the Welsh border are of a type infinitely superior in manners,
morals, and physique to the same class in the Midlands, because they now
consist almost entirely of the descendants of the free Britons who were
driven westward rather than submit to the overwhelming invasion of the
Teutonic tribes.  Thus it is that probably, except for a certain Silurian
(or Iberian) element in South Wales, which descends from the higher or
fighting sort of pre-Aryan, and a surviving aboriginal element in parts
of Ireland, the natives of what are known as the “Celtic” parts of these
islands are more purely Aryan than any except the upper and upper middle
classes of the so-called “Anglo-Saxon” districts of Britain.  And of the
Celtic parts of Britain, the Highlanders of Scotland and the Cornish are
probably of the most unmixed Aryan or white race.

The Celtic languages are subdivided into two branches, representing two
separate immigrations, about which little is known for certain, except
that they happened a very long time ago.  These are:—

1.  The Goidelic (or Gaelic), consisting of the three languages, or
properly the three dialects, known as the Gaelic of Ireland, of the
Scottish Highlands, and of the Isle of Man.  It has been said, with some
truth, that these three are as far apart as three dialects of the same
language can well be, but are not sufficiently far apart to be counted as
three distinct languages.  Until the first half of the eighteenth century
the written Gaelic of the Scottish Highlands differed from that of
Ireland scarcely more than the written English of London differs from
that of New York.  Even now, though the use of the sixth and seventh
century Latin minuscules, which people choose to call “Irish” letters,
has been dropped in Scotland, any one who can read the one dialect will
have little difficulty in reading the other.  Manx adopted in the
seventeenth century an attempted, but not very successful, phonetic
spelling, based partly on Welsh and partly on English, and therefore
looks on paper very different from its sister languages; but it takes a
Gaelic-speaking Highlander of intelligence a very short time to get to
understand spoken Manx, though spoken Irish (except the Ulster dialect)
is more difficult to him.  Possibly Pictish, if it was Celtic at all,
which is uncertain, was of the Gaelic branch, for we find but little of
any language difficulty when St. Columba and his fellow-missionaries,
whose own speech certainly was Gaelic, were evangelising among the Picts.
But the absence of such mention proves very little, for Christian
missionaries, from Pentecost onwards, have not infrequently made light of
the linguistic barrier, and we really know next to nothing about Pictish.

2.  The Brythonic (or British), consisting of Welsh, Cornish, and Breton.
These may be said to be as near together as three separate languages can
well be, but to have drifted too far apart to be accounted three dialects
of the same language.  The place of Cornish, linguistically as well as
geographically, is between Welsh and Breton, but though in some points in
which Welsh differs from Breton, Cornish resembles the former, on the
whole it approaches more nearly to the latter.  Probably Cornish and
Breton are both derived from the language of the more southern, while
Welsh represents that of the more northern Britons. {6}  Of course
Cornish, like Welsh, has been influenced to some extent by English, while
the foreign influence on Breton has been French.  It is probable that the
ancient Gaulish, certainly a Celtic language, belongs to this branch.

The seven Celtic languages, then, are Irish, Albanic (or Scottish), and
Manx Gaelic, Welsh, Cornish, Breton, and Gaulish, and it is possible that
Pictish must be added to these.

Though a philologist has much to say on the points of resemblance between
the Goidelic and Brythonic branches, and though no one who studies both
can fail to be struck by their affinity in vocabulary, in grammar, and
even in idiom, the speakers of different branches—a Welshman and a
Highlander, for instance—are no more mutually intelligible than an
Englishman and a German would be, if as much so.  The three sets of
Gaels, however, can understand one another with considerable difficulty,
and Irish priests have been known to preach sermons (with but moderate
success) in the Catholic parts of the Highlands.  But though there has
been for some time a Welsh mission of some sort of Nonconformists in
Brittany (with doubtless a very limited following), it is said that the
missionaries, though they learnt Breton easily, were greatly disappointed
with the extent to which at first they could understand the Bretons or
make themselves understood.  Simple things of everyday life might be
asked for in Welsh, and a Breton might “average” what was said, but no
sort of conversation could be held, though any one who knew both Welsh
and Breton might make himself understood at some length by a mixed
audience, if he very carefully picked his phrases; it would not, however,
be good Welsh or good Breton.  But the same would only apply in a far
less degree to Cornish, for Cornish is very much nearer to Breton than
Welsh is. {7}  The divergence is increased by the tendency of all the
Celtic languages, or, indeed, of all languages, to subdivide into local
dialects.  Thus the Irish of Munster, of Connaught, and of Ulster must be
mutually intelligible only with great difficulty; the dialect of Munster,
by reason of the difference of the stress accent, being especially
divergent.  There is growing up now, with the Irish revival, what may be
called a Leinster dialect, founded on the literary language, with
peculiarities of its own.  The Scottish Gaelic has at least four marked
dialects: Northern, spoken in Sutherland, part of Caithness, and Ross;
Western, spoken in Inverness-shire and Argyle and in the Islands; and the
rather broken-down dialects of Arran and of Perthshire, but the speakers
of these are not very unintelligible to one another.  Even Manx has a
tendency to a “north side” and a “south side” dialect.  Welsh has two
fairly well marked dialects, of North Wales and South Wales, and the
Welsh of Glamorgan, once the classical form of the language, before the
Cardiganshire Welsh of the translation of the Bible superseded it, is now
tending to be a broken-down form of South Welsh.  But all these spoken
dialects of Welsh are kept together and their tendency to divergence is
greatly checked by the existence of a very clearly defined spelling,
grammar, and standard of style in the book language of what is far and
away the most cultivated and literary of all the Celtic tongues.  Breton
has four well-defined dialects, those of Leon, Treguier, Cornouailles,
and Vannes, besides the broken-down Breton of the Croisic district, the
Vannes dialect differing from the others as much as Cornish does, and
curiously resembling Cornish in some of its peculiarities.  Here there is
no one literary standard, but each of the four dialects has its own,
though it is generally held, rightly or wrongly, that the Leonais dialect
is the best, and the Vannetais the worst.  An examination of the names of
places in West Cornwall gives some indication that there was a slight
difference of dialect between the Hundred of Kerrier, or perhaps one
should rather say the peninsula of Meneage, and the Hundred of Penwith,
but it amounted to very little, and the evidence is very scanty.

The difference between Cornish and its two sisters is not very easy to
define in a few words.  There are differences of phonology, vocabulary,
and grammatical forms.  In phonology the most marked difference from both
is the substitution of _s_ or _z_, with a tendency, intensified in later
Cornish, to the sound of _j_ or _ch_, for _d_ or _t_ of Welsh and Breton.
Cornish agrees with Breton in not prefixing a vowel (_y_ in Welsh) to
words beginning with _s_ followed by a consonant, and its vowel sounds
are generally simpler and less diphthongalised than those of Welsh.  It
agrees with Welsh in changing what one may call the French _u_ sound into
_î_ (English _ee_), going apparently further than Welsh in that
direction, while Breton still retains the _u_.  Like Welsh, it retained
the _th_ and _dh_ sounds which Breton, in nearly all its dialects, has
changed into _z_, though these in Cornish, like the guttural _gh_, and
_v_ or _f_, showed a tendency to drop off and become silent, especially
as finals.  In vocabulary Cornish follows Breton more closely than Welsh,
though there are cases where in its choice of words it agrees with the
latter, and cases in which it is curiously impartial.  An instance of the
last is the common adjective _good_.  The ordinary Welsh word is _da_,
though _mad_ (Gaelic _math_) does exist.  In Breton _mad_ is the regular
word, though _da_ is used as a noun in the sense of _satisfaction_ or
_contentment_ (_da eo gant-han_, good is with him=he is pleased).  In
Cornish _da_ and _mas_ are used about equally.  As an instance of the
first, _bras_, which in Welsh means _fat_, _gross_, is the more common
Cornish and Breton word for _large_ or _great_, though _mêr_ (_mur_,
_meur_) in Cornish, and _meur_ in Breton, the equivalents of the Welsh
_mawr_, are also used.  In grammatical forms Cornish almost invariably in
cases where Welsh and Breton differ follows the latter, but, as in
vocabulary, it sometimes has also ways of its own.

                                * * * * *

Except for the existence of Cornish names in the Bodmin Gospels, and in
Domesday Book and one or two early charters, and of the Cornish
vocabulary in the Cottonian Library, the earliest mention of the Cornish
as differentiated from any other British language that has been as yet
discovered occurs in Cott. MS. Vesp. A. xiv., in the British Museum (the
volume in which the said vocabulary is included), in a Latin life of St.
Cadoc.  This speaks of St. Michael’s Mount being called, “in the idiom of
that province,” _Dinsol_ (or the Mount of the Sun).

Giraldus Cambrensis, writing in the latter part of the twelfth century,
says: “Cornubia vero et Armorica Britannia lingua utuntur fere persimili,
Cambris tamen propter originalem convenientiam in multis adhuc et fere
cunctis intelligibili.  Quæ, quanto delicata minus et incomposita magis,
tanto antiquo linguæ Britanniæ idiomati, ut arbitror, est appropriata.”

In the fifteenth-century cartulary of Glasney College, belonging to Mr.
Jonathan Rashleigh of Menabilly, an old prophecy is quoted: “_In
Polsethow ywhylyr anethow_, _in Polsethow habitaciones seu mirabilia
videbuntur_.”  This is supposed to date before the foundation of the
college in 1265.

In a letter of 1328-9 from John de Grandisson, Bishop of Exeter,
1327-1369, to Pope John XXII., the writer speaks of Cornwall as looking
on the south upon Vasconia [Gascony] and Minor Britannia [Brittany]
{10b}; “Cujus lingua ipsi utuntur Cornubici.”  And in another letter in
the same year to certain cardinals he says: “Lingua, eciam, in extremis
Cornubie non Anglicis set Britonibus extat nota.”  With this comes
another passage in the Register of Bishop Grandisson, quoted by Dr.
Oliver in his _Monasticon Diæcesis Exoniensis_ (p. 11), which, in an
account of the submission of the parish of St. Buryan to the bishop,
after a certain quarrel between them, states that a formal submission was
made by the principal parishioners in French and English (the names are
given, thirteen in number), and by the rest in Cornish, interpreted by
Henry Marseley, the rector of St. Just, and that after this the bishop
preached a sermon, which was interpreted by the same priest for the
benefit of those members of the congregation who could only speak
Cornish.  These records are to be found in Mr. Hingeston Randolph’s
edition of the Grandisson Registers, and in these and other
fourteenth-century Exeter registers there are several allusions to the
obligations of hearing confessions and propounding the Word of God in

But until the time of Henry VIII. we have no trustworthy information
about the state or extent of the language.  It is highly probable, from
the number of places still retaining undoubtedly Celtic names, and
retaining them in an undoubtedly Cornish form, that until at least the
fifteenth century the Tamar was the general boundary of English and
Cornish; though there is said to be some evidence that even as late as
the reign of Elizabeth, Cornish was spoken in a few places to the east of
the Tamar, notably in the South Hams.  Polwhele, however, limits the
South Hams use of Cornish to the time of Edward I., and we know from the
English Chronicle that when Athelstan drove the “Welsh” out of Exeter in
936, he set the Tamar for their boundary.  In the reign of Henry VIII. we
have an account given by Andrew Borde in his _Boke of the Introduction of
Knowledge_, written in 1542.  He says, “In Cornwall is two speches, the
one is naughty Englysshe, and the other is Cornysshe speche.  And there
be many men and women the which cannot speake one worde of Englysshe, but
all Cornyshe.”  He then gives the Cornish numerals and a few sentences of
ordinary conversation.  These are much mixed with English, and were, no
doubt, such as might have been heard on the borders of Devon, for he
probably did not penetrate very far, being doubtless deterred by the
impossibility of obtaining drinkable beer—a circumstance which seems to
have much exercised his mind in describing Cornwall.  These numerals and
sentences are, as far as is known, the earliest specimens of printed
Cornish, earlier by a hundred and sixty-five years than Lhuyd’s Grammar,
though Dr. Jago, quoting from Drew and Hutchins, who had evidently never
seen this book, Dr. Davies’s _Llyfr y Resolusion_ of 1632, or Gibson’s
edition of Camden’s _Britannia_ of 1695, says that there is no evidence
that anything was ever printed in Cornish before Lhuyd.

The Reformation did much to kill Cornish.  Had the Book of Common Prayer
been translated into Cornish and used in that tongue, two things might
have happened which did not—the whole language might have been preserved
to us, and the Cornish as a body might have been of the Church of
England, instead of remaining (more or less) of the old religion until
the perhaps unavoidable neglect of its authorities caused them to drift
into the outward irreligion from which John Wesley rescued them. {12}
But it is said by Scawen and by Bishop Gibson in his continuation of
Camden’s _Britannia_, that they _desired_ that the Prayer-book might not
be translated, and, though the statement is disputed, it is quite
possible that the upper classes, who spoke English, did make some such
representation, and that the bulk of the population in Cornwall, as
elsewhere, had no wish for the Reformed Service-book in any language; for
there were churches in Cornwall in which the old Mass according to the
Use of Salisbury was celebrated as late as the seventeenth century,
notably in the Arundel Chapel in St. Columb Church, as may clearly be
inferred from the inscription on the tomb of John Arundel and his wife,
the latter of whom died in 1602.

It is asserted by Carew, Polwhele, Davies Gilbert, Borlase, and others,
that in the time of Henry VIII. Dr. John Moreman, the parson of
Menheniot, was the first to teach his parishioners the Creed, Lord’s
Prayer, and Commandments in English, these having been “used in Cornish
beyond all remembrance.”  This same Dr. Moreman is mentioned in the
petition (or rather _demand_) presented to Edward VI. by the Cornwall and
Devon insurgents, in favour of the old form of worship.  One paragraph of
this is as follows:—“We will not receive the new service, because it is
but like a Christmas game.  We will have our old service of Matins, Mass,
Evensong, and Procession as it was before; and we the Cornish, _whereof
certain of us understand no English_, do utterly refuse the new service.”

In the early part of the reign of Elizabeth, during the course of the
many discussions on church matters, a number of articles were drawn up,
to judge by their general tone, by the extreme Protestant party, and a
copy of these, taken from a MS. in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge,
occurs in Egerton MS. 2350, f. 54, in the British Museum.  They are
entitled “Articles drawn out by some certaine, and were exhibited to be
admitted by authority, but not so admitted,” and their date, to judge by
accompanying letters, etc., is about 1560.  The last article is “A
punishment for such as cannot say the Catechisme,” and in it there occurs
the following sentence: “Item that it may be lawfull for such Welch or
Cornish children as can speake no English to learne the Præmises in the
Welch tongue or Cornish language.”

In the same reign, but somewhat later, a report on England, addressed to
Philip II. of Spain by an Italian agent, speaks thus of Cornwall: “Li
hauitanti sono del tutto differenti _di parlare_, di costume et di leggi
alli Inglesi; usano le leggi imperiali cosi como fa ancola li Walsche
loro vicini; quali sono in prospettiva alli Irlanda et sono similmente
tenuti la maggior parte Cattolici.”  However, since the agent insists
that the Severn divides Cornwall from England, he can hardly have known
much about the country.  The report occurs among a number of Spanish
state papers in Add. MS. 28,420, in the British Museum.

In Carew’s _Survey of Cornwall_, written about 1600, we read, however,
that the language had been driven into the uttermost parts of the Duchy,
and that very few were ignorant of English, though many affected to know
only their own tongue.  It seems, however, from what he says further on,
that the _guaries_, or miracle plays, were then commonly acted in
Cornish, and that the people flocked to them in large numbers, and
evidently understood them.  Carew adds that the principal love and
knowledge of the language died with one “Dr. Kennall, the civilian,”
probably John Kennall, D.C.L., Archdeacon of Oxford.  Carew gives the
numerals and a few other specimens of the language.

In a survey of Cornwall, by John Norden, entitled _Speculum Magnæ
Britanniæ_, _pars Cornwall_, addressed to James I., the following account
of the language is given.

“The Cornish people for the moste parte are descended of British stocke,
though muche mixed since with the Saxon and Norman bloude, but untill of
late years retayned the British speache uncorrupted as theirs of Wales
is.  For the South Wales man understandeth not perfectly the North Wales
man, and the North Wales man little of the Cornish, but the South Wales
man much.  The pronunciation of the tongue differs in all, but the
Cornish is far the easier to be pronounced.”  Here he goes on to compare
the sound of it with the Welsh, to the disadvantage of the latter. . . .
“But of late the Cornishmen have much conformed themselves to the use of
the English tongue, and their English is equal to the best, especially in
the Eastern partes; even from Truro eastward is in a manner wholly
Englishe.  In the west parte of the county, as in the Hundreds of Penwith
and Kerrier, the Cornishe tongue is mostly in use, and yet it is to be
marvelled that though husband and wife, parents and children, master and
servauntes, doe mutually communicate in their native language, yet there
is none of them but in manner is able to converse with a stranger in the
English tongue, unless it be some obscure persons that seldom converse
with the better sort.”

In 1630 Sir John Dodridge in his _History of the Ancient and Modern
estate of the Principality of Wales_, _Duchy of Cornwall_, _and Earldom
of Chester_, says: “The people inhabiting the same [_i.e._ Cornwall] are
call’d Cornishmen, and are also reputed a remanent of the Britaines . . .
they have a particular language called Cornish (although now much worn
out of use), differing but little from the Welsh and the language of the
Britaines of France.”

In 1632, Dr. John Davies, the well-known Welsh lexicographer, published a
Welsh translation of the _Booke of Christian Exercise_ of Robert Parsons
the Jesuit, under the title of _Llyfr y Resolusion_.  In it he gives a
Cornish version of the Lord’s Prayer and Creed, the earliest extant, and
evidently translated from Latin, not from English.

In the same year appeared a play called _The Northern Lass_, by Richard
Brome.  In this occurs an opprobrious sentence of Cornish, put into the
mouth of a Cornishman bearing the absurd name of “Nonsence,” and
addressed to a Spaniard who had no English, on the argument that Cornwall
being the nearest point of Britain to Spain, Cornish might possibly
approach nearer to Spanish than English did.

The next mention of Cornish we find in a diary of the Civil War, written
by Richard Symonds, one of the Royalist army in Cornwall in 1644 (Brit.
Mus., Add. MS. 17,052).  He gives a short vocabulary of common words,
together with four short sentences.  To these he appends the following

    “The language is spoken altogether at Goonhilly, and about Pendennis
    and the Land’s End they speak no English.  All beyond Truro they
    speak the Cornish language.”

Much about the same time William Jackman, the vicar of St. Feock, near
Falmouth, chaplain of Pendennis Castle during its siege by the rebel
troops, was in the habit of using Cornish for the words of administration
of Holy Communion, because the old people did not understand English.
The Cornish words asserted to have been used by him were printed in
Hals’s History of Cornwall in 1750, though they do not occur in all
copies of that scarce book.

In 1662 and 1667 John Ray, in his _Itinerary_, mentions one Dickon Gwyn
(his real name was Dick Angwin), of St. Just, as the only man who could
write Cornish.  Ray adds that few of the children could speak it, “so
that the language is like in a short time to be quite lost.”

This is probably the “Sieur Angwin” mentioned in a valuable little
treatise on the Cornish language by John Boson of Newlyn, of which more
later.  This little tract, entitled _Nebbaz Gerriau dro tho Carnoack_ (or
“A few words about Cornish”), is only known from a copy which formerly
belonged to the late Mr. W. C. Borlase.  It was written about the year
1700, and according to it the Cornish-speaking district was then “from
the Land’s End to the Mount and towards St. Ives and Redruth, and again
from the Lizard to Helston and towards Falmouth,” but the language had
decreased very much within the writer’s memory.

It is recorded by Dr. Borlase that Cheston Marchant, who died at Gwithian
in 1676 aged 164 (!), could speak nothing but Cornish.

Writing in the latter part of the reign of Charles II., William Scawen, a
Cornish antiquary, gives a long account of the state of the language in
his time, in a treatise in which he laments the decline thereof,
accounting for it by no less than sixteen elaborate reasons.  This
treatise, _Antiquities Cornu-Britannick_, was abridged by Thomas Tonkin,
the Cornish historian, and the abridgment was printed in 1777, and again
by Davies Gilbert at the end of his history.  A copy of the full form of
it in Tonkin’s beautiful handwriting, a much more elaborate work, is in
Add. MS. 33,420 in the British Museum.  According to this, the
inhabitants of the western promontories of Meneage and Penwith were in
the habit of speaking the language, so much so that the parson of
Landewednack, Mr. Francis Robinson, used to preach in Cornish down to the
year 1678, that being the only tongue well understood by his
parishioners.  Scawen mentions the MSS. of the aforesaid “Anguin,” as he
spells him, and laments their destruction.  He also speaks of a “Matins”
(possibly a Primer, or Hours of our Lady) in Cornish, which had belonged
to “Mr. Maynard.” {17}

In Bishop Gibson’s edition of Camden’s _Britannia_, published in 1695,
there is a short account of the Cornish Language, and the Lord’s Prayer
and Creed, the same versions as those given by Scawen, are given as
specimens.  According to Gibson the language was confined to two or three
western parishes, and was likely to last a very little longer.  He
mentions the _Poem of the Passion_, the _Ordinalia_, and the _Creation_
as the only books existing in the language.

The next authority is that excellent Celtic scholar, Dr. Edward Lhuyd,
who published his _Archæologia Britannica_ in the year 1707.  He gives
the following list of the parishes in which the language was spoken:—St.
Just, Paul, Buryan, Sennen, St. Levan, Morva, Sancreed, Madron, Zennor,
Towednack, St. Ives, Lelant, Ludgvan, and Gulval, and along the coast
from the Land’s End to St. Keverne (this would also include St. Hillary,
Perran Uthno, Breage, Germoe, Mullion, Gunwalloe, Ruan Major and Minor,
Landewednack, Grade, and St. Keverne), adding that many of the
inhabitants of these parishes, especially the gentry, do not understand
it, “there being no need, as every Cornishman speaks English.”  There is
a letter of Lhuyd’s to Henry Rowlands, author of _Mono Antiqua
Restaurata_ (1723), printed at the end of that work, in which similar
information, dated 1701, is given.  Lhuyd in this letter relates his
adventures in Brittany, and remarks on the closeness of Cornish to

Then the language quickly receded, until, in 1735, there were left only a
few people at Mousehole, Paul, Newlyn, St. Just, and other parishes along
the coast between Penzance and the Land’s End who understood it.  It was
about this time that Gwavas and Tonkin finished their collections on the
subject, and the language they found seemed to them a most irregular
jargon—a peculiarity of which was a striking uncertainty of the speakers
as to where one word left off and another began.

In the early part of the eighteenth century there was a little coterie of
antiquaries at Penzance and the neighbourhood, who had busied themselves
much with the remains of the old language.  The patriarch of these was
old John Keigwin of Mousehole, the translator of the _Poem of the
Passion_ and the play of _The Creation_.  He was born in 1641, and died
in 1710, and, according to Lhuyd and Borlase, his knowledge of Cornish
was “profound and complete.”  However, that did not prevent him from
making some extraordinary mistakes in his translations, which should
perhaps be set down to the archaic form of the language with which he had
to deal.  He seems to have been a considerable if rather pedantic
linguist, being accredited with an acquaintance with Latin, Greek,
French, and even Hebrew, and in a translation into Cornish of the letter
of King Charles to the people of Cornwall, he made use of his Hebrew
knowledge when he failed to remember the exact Cornish word, writing
“milcamath” for “war.”  Among the other members of this little party may
be mentioned William Gwavas, John Boson and his brother Thomas, Thomas
Tonkin the historian, Oliver Pender, and last (as probably the youngest)
Dr. William Borlase, the author of the well-known History of Cornwall.
It does not seem that any of these, except Keigwin, troubled themselves
much about Cornish literature, but they did good service in the way of
preserving words, proverbs, colloquial sentences, etc., and seem to have
found great enjoyment in translating various passages of Scripture,
songs, etc., into the Cornish that was current in their own day.  These
being spelt more or less phonetically (as far as the writers knew how to
do so), and therefore varying a good deal in orthography, are now of
great value in determining the sound of the latest Cornish.

When Lhuyd was at work upon his Cornish Grammar, he received considerable
assistance from Keigwin, Gwavas, and Tonkin, and a vocabulary and
collection of Cornish fragments compiled by the last two under the title
of _Archæologia Cornu-Britannica_ were afterwards printed by Dr. William
Pryce in 1790, with Lhuyd’s Grammar, _under his own name_, with the same
title. {19}  This fraud, if it really deserves so harsh a name, was
exposed by Prince L. L. Bonaparte, into whose hands the original MS. of
some of it fell; but though it certainly was not right of Pryce to act in
this manner, he does deserve some credit for having published the
vocabulary at all, and the service that he did in so doing may be the
better estimated by a knowledge of the fact that it was very considerably
through the medium of Pryce’s publication that Dr. Edwin Norris obtained
the acquaintance with Cornish necessary to enable him to bring out his
valuable edition of the early Cornish dramas.  It is strange that so much
abuse has been heaped upon Pryce, while Davies Gilbert has escaped with
comparative freedom, in spite of a villainously careless edition of a
number of scraps of Cornish (printed at the end of his edition of the
play of _The Creation_), gathered entirely from Tonkin’s MS., the Gwavas
MS., or the Borlase MS., and inserted, with notes and all, without a word
of acknowledgment, and in such a manner as to lead one to think that the
translation and notes at any rate were his own doing.  Pryce certainly
took the trouble to correct his proofs, and Davies Gilbert could hardly
have attempted to do so.  Moreover, if Pryce’s preface be read carefully,
it will be seen that he by no means claims the whole credit for himself,
but gives plenty of it, though perhaps not enough, to Gwavas, Tonkin,
Lhuyd, and Borlase.  The impression left by the preface is that Pryce was
a more or less intelligent editor who added a little of his own, the
amount of which he exaggerated.

In 1746 Captain (afterwards Admiral) the Hon. Samuel Barrington, brother
of Daines Barrington the antiquary, took a sailor from Mount’s Bay, who
spoke Cornish, to the opposite coast of Brittany, and found him fairly
able to make himself understood.  In 1768 Daines Barrington himself
writes an account of an interview with the celebrated Mrs. Dolly
Pentreath, popularly, but erroneously, supposed to have been the last
person who spoke the language.  He also contributed to _Archæologia_, in
1779, a letter received in 1776, written in Cornish and English, from
William Bodenor, a fisherman of Mousehole, who according to Polwhele died
in 1794.  The writer states that not more than four or five people in his
town, and these old folk of eighty years of age, could speak Cornish.
But Barrington says that he received information that John Nancarrow of
Market-Jew, aged only forty in 1779, could speak it.  Dolly Pentreath
died in 1777; but Pryce, in the preface to his book of 1790, part of
which is his own, though one knows not how much of it to believe, and
Whitaker, vicar of Ruan-Lanihorne, in his Supplement to Polwhele’s
_History of Cornwall_ (1799), mention that two or three people were still
living who were able to speak Cornish, though this was only hearsay

In his _History of Cornwall_, vol. v. (1806), the Rev. R. Polwhele speaks
of one Tompson, an engineer of Truro, whom he met in 1789, the author of
the well-known epitaph on Dolly Pentreath, and says that he knew more
Cornish than ever Dolly Pentreath did.  But Polwhele did not think that
at the time he wrote there were two persons living who could really
converse in Cornish for any length of time.  Some years ago the present
writer came upon a letter in the British Museum addressed to Sir Joseph
Banks, and dated 1791, the author of which mentions his own father as the
only living man who could speak Cornish.  Unluckily the reference to the
letter has been lost, and there is so much Banks correspondence in the
British Museum that it is almost impossible to find it again.  But the
statement is by no means conclusive, and there were probably several
other “last living men” going on at once, and certainly John Tremethack,
who died in 1852 at the age of eighty-seven, must have known a good deal
of Cornish, some words of which he taught to his daughter, Mrs. Kelynack
of Newlyn, who was living in 1875.  There was also George Badcock, the
grandfather of Bernard Victor of Mousehole, who taught a certain amount
of Cornish to his grandson, who was living in 1875, when the present
writer saw him.

Then it is considered that Cornish, as a spoken language, died out.  The
process was gradual, though perhaps rather rapid at the last, and, as far
as is generally known, the old tongue finally disappeared in the earlier
half of the nineteenth century.  Words and sentences, and even such
things as the Creed and Lord’s Prayer were handed on, some of them to our
own day.  The mother-in-law of the present writer, Mrs. W. J. Rawlings
(_née_ Hambly) of Hayle, who died in 1879 at the age of fifty-seven, had
learnt to repeat the Lord’s Prayer and Creed in Cornish when she was a
child at school at Penzance, but unluckily had quite forgotten them in
later life.  In 1875 Mr. and Mrs. John Kelynack, Mrs. Soady, Mrs.
Tregarthen, and Captain Stephen Richards, all of Newlyn, and Mr. Bernard
Victor of Mousehole handed on to the Rev. W. S. Lach Szyrma, then vicar
of Newlyn, and to the present writer the tradition of the numerals and a
few words and sentences, which may be found in a paper contributed by the
present writer to the _Transactions of the Philological Society_ in 1876,
and a few years later Dr. Jago received some of the same tradition.  Thus
it may be said that so long as any of these three are alive, a faint
flicker of living Cornish remains, even if there is no verity in the
weird legends of the survival of more as an esoteric language among the
peasantry and the mining and fishing folk of the West.  But even if the
spoken Cornish be dead, its ghost still haunts its old dwelling, for the
modern English speech of West Cornwall is full of Celtic words, and
nine-tenths of the places and people from the Tamar to the Land’s End
bear Cornish names.

Mr. Hobson Matthews in his _History of St. Ives_, _Lelant_, _Towednack_,
_and Zennor_, has an interesting chapter on Cornish.  He gives reasons
for supposing that the language survived in St. Ives, Zennor, and
Towednack even longer than in Mounts Bay, and states that the families of
Stevens and Trewhella were among the last to keep it up in Towednack.  He
also mentions one John Davy, who was living in 1890 at Boswednack in
Zennor (a hamlet between the Gurnard’s Head and Zennor Churchtown), who
had some traditional knowledge of Cornish, knew the meanings of the
place-names in the neighbourhood, and “could converse on a few simple
topics in the ancient language.”  Unless Mr. Matthews, whose judgment one
would trust in such a matter, actually heard him do so, the last
statement is not easy to believe.


The following is a list, in order of date, of the known remains of
Cornish from the earliest times to the end of the eighteenth century.
There may be others of very early date, which have been hitherto
classified as old Welsh or Breton, such as the Lament for Geraint, King
of Devon, generally attributed to Llywarch Hen, and certain glosses in
Latin MSS.

1.  _The Manumissions in the Bodmin Gospels_ (Add. MS. 9381, in the
British Museum).  The MS. is of the tenth century, and belonged to St.
Petrock’s Priory of Black Canons, originally Benedictine, at Bodmin.  At
the beginning and end are manumissions of serfs from whose names about
two hundred Cornish words may be gathered.  These have been printed in
the _Revue Celtique_ (vol. i. p. 332), with notes by Dr. Whitley Stokes.

2.  _The Cottonian Vocabulary_ (Cott. MS. Vesp. A. xiv., in the British
Museum).  This forms part of a MS. of the end of the twelfth century, and
consists of about seven pages, preceded by a calendar containing many
Celtic names, and followed by lives of Welsh and Cornish saints.  The
words are classified under various headings such as heaven and earth,
different parts of the human body, birds, beasts, fishes, trees, herbs,
ecclesiastical and liturgical terms, and at the end occur a number of
adjectives.  It has been printed by Zeuss in his _Grammatica Celtica_, by
Dr. Norris with the _Ordinalia_, and has been incorporated into Canon
Williams’s Cornish Lexicon.  Many of the words in it were incorporated by
Dr. John Davies in his Welsh Dictionary, as coming from what he calls the
_Liber Landavensis_, and a quotation from the Life of St. Cadoc in the
same MS. is spoken of in Camden’s _Britannia_ as coming from the Book of
Llandaff.  The MS. evidently bore that name for a time.  It is probable,
from certain mistakes in it, that the vocabulary is a copy of an earlier
one, in which the letters _Ƿ_ and þ of the Saxon alphabet were used.

Of about the same date as this manuscript was a composition in Cornish,
of which the original is lost, except a few words.  This was a _Prophecy
of Merlin_, which only exists in a translation into Latin hexameters by
John of Cornwall, who in his notes gives a few words of the original,
which are certainly Cornish.  Like many of the so-called Merlin
prophecies, this relates to the struggle between Stephen and the Empress
Matilda, but it contains local Cornish allusions of great interest.  The
only known MS. is one of the fourteenth century, in the Vatican.

3.  The single sentence, _In Polsethow ywhylyr anetkow_, in the Cartulary
of Glasney College.  If the writer of the history of the foundation of
the college is correct, this prophecy, “In Polsethow [the Pool of Arrows,
the old name of Glasney] shall be seen habitations,” is older than the
foundation in 1265.  It is therefore the oldest known complete sentence
of Cornish, and is interesting as containing the inflected passive
_whylyr_.  There is an abstract of the cartulary, by Mr. J. A. C.
Vincent, in the 1879 volume of the _Journal of the Royal Institution of
Cornwall_, and this sentence is given there, with an explanatory note by
the late Mr. W. C. Borlase.  The original belongs to Mr. Jonathan
Rashleigh of Menabilly.

4.  On the back of a charter in the British Museum (Add. Charter 19,491)
the present writer discovered in 1877 a fragment of forty-one lines of
Cornish verse.  The writing was very faint, indeed the MS. had passed
through other and by no means incompetent hands without this precious
endorsement being noticed, and the finder might have missed it too had he
not been deliberately looking for possible Cornish words on the backs of
a number of charters relating to St. Stephen-in-Brannel, after he had
finished the necessary revision of the cataloguing of these documents.
The date of the document is 1340, but the Cornish writing on the back is
somewhat later, perhaps about 1400.  The language and spelling agree with
those of the _Poem of the Passion_ and the _Ordinalia_, and the exact
metre is not found anywhere else.  The speaker (it may be a part in some
play) offers a lady to some other person as a wife, praises her virtues,
and then gives the lady some rather amusing advice as to her behaviour to
her future husband, and how to acquire the position attributed in Cornish
folklore to the influence of the Well of St. Keyne and St. Michael’s
Chair.  A copy of these verses was printed in the _Athenæum_ in 1877,
but, as the writer admits, his readings were not at all good, for the
writing was very faint.  Dr. Whitley Stokes, who had the advantage of
working on a photograph, which brought out many letters which were
invisible in the original, published an amended version in the _Revue

5.  _The Poem of Mount Calvary_, or _The Passion_.—There are five MSS. of
this in existence.  One is in the British Museum (Harl. 1782), and is
probably the original, said to have been found in the church of Sancreed.
It is a small quarto, on rough vellum, written very badly in a
mid-fifteenth-century hand, and embellished with very rude pictures.  Of
the other copies, two are in the Bodleian, an incomplete and much
“amended” one in the Gwavas collection of Cornish writings in the British
Museum, with an illiterate translation by William Hals, the Cornish
historian, and one is in private hands.  It has been twice printed, once
with a translation by John Keigwin of Mousehole, edited by Davies Gilbert
in 1826, and by Dr. Whitley Stokes for the Philological Society in 1862.
There is very little in this poem beyond a versified narrative of the
events of the Passion, from Palm Sunday to Easter morning, taken directly
from the four Gospels, with some legendary additions from the Gospel of
Nicodemus and elsewhere, preceded by an account of our Lord’s fasting and
temptation.  The metre consists of eight-lined stanzas (written as four
lines) of seven-syllabled lines.  There are two hundred and fifty-nine of
these stanzas.

6.  _The Ordinalia_.—These consist of three dramas collectively known
under this title.  The first play, called _Origo Mundi_, begins with the
Creation of the World, the Fall of Man, Cain and Abel, etc.; this being
followed by the building of the Ark and the Flood, the story of the
temptation of Abraham closing the first act.  The second act gives us the
history of Moses, and the third represents the story of David and of the
building of Solomon’s Temple, curiously ending with a description of the
martyrdom of St. Maximilla as a Christian (!) by the bishop placed in
charge of the temple by Solomon.  The second play, _Passio Domini_,
represents the Temptation of Christ, and the events from the entry into
Jerusalem to the Crucifixion; and this goes on without interruption into
the third play, _Resurrectio Domini_, which gives an account of the
Harrowing of Hell, the Resurrection, and the Ascension, with the Legend
of St. Veronica and Tiberius, and the death of Pilate.  As in the _Poem
of the Passion_, the pseudo-Gospel of Nicodemus and other legendary
sources are drawn upon.

But running through the whole and interwoven with the Scriptural
narrative comes the beautiful and curious Legend of the Cross.  The
legend, most of which is in the dramas, is this.  When Adam found himself
dying, he sent his son Seth to the Gates of Paradise to beg of the angel
that guarded them the oil of mercy, that his father might live.  The
angel let him look into Paradise, where he saw many strange and beautiful
foreshadowings of things that should be upon the earth; and the angel
gave him three seeds from the Tree of Life, and he departed.  When he
came to where his father was, he found that he was already dead, and he
laid the three seeds in his mouth, and buried him therewith on Mount
Moriah; and in process of time the three seeds grew into three small
trees, and Abraham took of the wood thereof for the sacrifice of Isaac
his son; and afterwards Moses’ rod, wherewith he smote the rock, was made
from one of their branches.  And soon the three trees grew together into
one tree, whereby was symbolised the mystery of the Trinity; and under
its branches sat King David when Nathan the Prophet came to him, and
there he bewailed his sin, and made the Miserere Psalm.  And Solomon,
when he would build the Temple on Mount Sion, cut down the tree, which
was then as one of the chiefest of the cedars of Lebanon, and bid men
make a beam thereof; but it would in no wise fit into its place,
howsoever much they cut it to its shape.  Therefore Solomon was wroth,
and bid them cast it over the brook Cedron as a bridge, so that all might
tread upon it that went that way.  But after a while he buried it, and
over where it lay there came the Pool Bethesda with its healing powers;
and when our Lord came on earth the beam floated up to the surface of the
pool, and the Jews found it, and made thereof the Cross whereon Christ
died on Calvary.

The metres of these plays are various arrangements of seven and
four-syllabled lines, of which more anon in the chapter on prosody.
There are three MSS. of this Trilogy in existence, 1. The Oxford MS. of
the fifteenth century, from which the others were copied, and from which
Dr. Edwin Norris edited the plays in 1859.  2. Another Oxford MS.,
presented to the Bodleian by Edwin Ley of Bosahan about 1859, with a
translation by John Keigwin.  The copy of the text is older by a century
than the translation.  3. A copy in the library of Sir John Williams,
Bart., of Llanstephan, Carmarthenshire, with an autograph translation by
Keigwin.  This was Lhuyd’s copy.

7.  _The Life of St. Meriasek_.—This play, the MS. of which was written
by “Dominus Hadton” in the year 1504, as appears by the colophon, was
discovered by Dr. Whitley Stokes some thirty-two years ago among the MSS.
of the Peniarth Library, near Towyn in Merioneth.  It represents the life
and death of Meriasek, called in Breton Meriadec, the son of a Duke of
Brittany, and interwoven with it is the legend of St. Sylvester the Pope
and the Emperor Constantine, quite regardless of the circumstance that
St. Sylvester lived in the fourth century, and St. Meriasek in the
seventh.  The play contains several references to Camborne, of which St.
Meriasek was patron, and to the Well of St. Meriasek there.  It is
probable that it was written for performance at that town.  The language
of the play is later than that of the _Ordinalia_, the admixture of
English being greater, while a few of the literal changes, such as the
more frequent substitution of _g_ (soft) for _s_, and in one instance
(_bednath_ for _bennath_) the change of _nn to dn_, begin to appear.  The
grammar has not changed much, but the use of the compound and impersonal
forms is more frequent, and the verb _menny_ has begun to be more
commonly used as a simple future auxiliary.  The metres are much the same
as those of the _Ordinalia_.  The spelling is rather more grotesque and
varied.  But, since this play (or combination of plays) is to a large
extent on local Cornish and Breton, rather than on conventional
Scriptural lines, it has an interest, full of mad anachronisms as it is,
which is not to be found in the Biblical plays.  Some passages are of
considerable literary merit, and a good deal of early Cornish and Breton
history is jumbled up in it, and yet remains to be worked out, for Dr.
Whitley Stokes’s excellent edition of 1872 does not go very much into
historical side questions.  It is unlucky that this play was not
discovered until after the publication of Canon Williams’s Lexicon, but
his own interleaved copy of the Lexicon, with words and quotations from
_St. Meriasek_, is in the possession of Mr. Quaritch of Piccadilly, and
Dr. Stokes has published forty pages of new words and forms from the same
play in _Archiv für Celtische Lexicographie_.

8.  The Cornish conversations in Andrew Borde’s _Booke of the
Introduction of Knowledge_, printed in 1542.—These consist of the
numerals and twenty-four sentences useful to travellers.  They were
evidently taken down by ear, and appear in a corrupted form.  Restored
texts, agreeing in almost every detail, were published by Dr. Whitley
Stokes in the _Revue Celtique_, vol. iv., and by Prof. Loth in the
_Archiv fur Celtische Lexicographie_ in 1898.

9.  In Carew’s _Survey of Cornwall_, 1602, are the numerals up to twenty,
with a hundred, a thousand, and what is meant for ten thousand, but is
really something else.  There are also ten words compared with Greek, a
dozen phrases, some more words, and the Cornish equivalents of twelve
common Christian names.

10.  _The Creation of the World_, _with Noah’s Flood_, by William Jordan
of Helston, A.D. 1611.  The construction of this play is very like that
of the first act of the _Origo Mundi_ (the metres are substantially the
same), and the author has borrowed whole passages from it; but as a whole
Jordan’s play possesses greater literary merit, and there are many
additions to the story in it, and much amplification of the ideas and
dialogue.  Occasionally sentences of several lines in English are
introduced, and it is curious to note that whenever this is the case,
they are given to Lucifer or one of his angels, and in such a manner as
to seem as if the author meant to imply that English was the natural
language of such beings, and that they only spoke Cornish when on their
good behaviour, relapsing into their own tongue whenever they became more
than ordinarily excited or vicious.  Five complete copies of this play
are known, two of which are in the Bodleian, one in the British Museum
(Harl. MS. 1867), and two are in private hands (one bound up with the MS.
of _The Passion_ already mentioned).  Besides these there is a fragment
in a similar hand to that of the complete Museum copy (certainly not that
of John Keigwin, who translated the play in 1693 at the request of Sir
Jonathan Trelawny, then Bishop of Exeter, though it has his translation
on the opposite pages to the text) in the Gwavas collection in the
British Museum.  In a list of books published in _Welsh_ (as it is
expressed), given in one of Bagford’s collections for a History of
Printing (Lansdowne MS. 808, in the British Museum), mention is made of
this play.  No date is given, but the names of the books are arranged
chronologically, and this comes between one of 1642 and one of 1662.  The
play has been printed (with Keigwin’s translation) by Davies Gilbert in
1827, and with a translation by Dr. Whitley Stokes in the Philological
Society’s volume for 1864.  Of William Jordan, the writer, nothing is
known whatever.  He may have been merely the transcriber, and it is
possible that the transcription may be connected with that revival of
Cornish patriotism which seems to have happened in the early seventeenth

11.  _Nebbaz Gerriau dro tho Carnoack_ (A few words about Cornish), by
John Boson of Newlyn.  The only known MS. of this little tract in Cornish
and English was formerly among the MSS. of Dr. William Borlase in the
possession of his descendant, Mr. W. C. Borlase.  The present writer had
it in his possession for a short time in 1877 or 1878, and copied about
half of it, but returned it to Mr. Borlase, who wanted it back, and it
was then printed in the 1879 volume of the _Journal of the Royal
Institution of Cornwall_.  At the time of the sale of Mr. Borlase’s
library, this tract, which when the present writer last saw it used to
live between the pages of Dr. Borlase’s MS. Collections on Cornish, did
not appear, and its present ownership is unknown.  It is in the
handwriting of the Rev. Henry Usticke, Vicar of Breage (died 1769), and
in the Gwavas MS. in the British Museum there are several pieces in the
same hand.  As a copy of Boson’s original it is rather inaccurate, but
Boson wrote by no means a clear hand.  It is of great interest as the
composition of one who, though he was brought up to speak English, as he
himself says, had acquired a thorough knowledge of Cornish as it was
spoken in his day, without having even looked at any of the literary
remains of the language.  He was also a man of general education, and in
this tract and in his letters is rather fond of airing his Latin.  Very
little is known of him except that he was the son of Nicholas Boson and
was born at Newlyn in 1655 and died some time between 1720, the date of
his last letter to Gwavas, and 1741, the date of the death of the latter,
who is recorded to have received a copy of verses in Cornish found among
Boson’s papers after his death.  The date of the _Nebbaz Gerriau_ is
unknown, but it mentions a little book called _The Duchess of Cornwall’s
Progress_, which the author says that he wrote “some years past” for his
children, refers (though not by name) to John Keigwin, who died in 1710,
as being still alive, and does not mention Lhuyd’s Grammar, published in
1707, so that we may infer that the date is somewhere about 1700.  _The
Duchess of Cornwall’s Progress_, which had at least thirty pages (for he
refers to the thirtieth page), was probably in English, with a few
passages in Cornish, which Dr. Borlase, who had seen two copies of it,
transcribed into his Cornish Collections.  Judging from his letters and
from this tract, John Boson was a man of considerable intelligence, and
one about whom one would like to know more, and his Cornish writings are
of more value than those of the somewhat pedantic Keigwin.

12.  _The Story of John of Chy-an-Hur_.—This is a popular tale of some
length, of a labouring man who lived at Chy-an-Hur, or the Ram’s House,
in St. Levan, and went east seeking work, and of what befell him.  It is
the _Tale of the Three Advices_, found in many forms.  It appears first
in Lhuyd’s Grammar, printed in 1707, where it has a Welsh translation.
Lhuyd says that it “was written about forty years since,” which dates it
_circ._ 1667.  Part of it, undated, but in the hand of John Boson, occurs
with an English translation in the Gwavas MS. (Brit. Mus., Add. MS.
28,554).  This, as appears by a note on the back of the first leaf, was
written out for Gwavas’s instruction in Cornish.  The spelling is
altogether different from Lhuyd’s.  Another copy in Cornish of Lhuyd’s
spelling, with an English translation, is in the Borlase MS., copied from
the lost MS. of Thomas Tonkin, with some corrections by Dr. Borlase.  It
was printed with Lhuyd’s Welsh and an English version, in Pryce’s
_Archæologia Cornu-Britannica_ in 1790, and by Davies Gilbert at the end
of his edition of Jordan’s _Creation_, 1827, in Cornish and English.  The
English versions of Borlase, Pryce, and Davies Gilbert are substantially
the same, and are probably Tonkin’s.  An English version, translated from
Lhuyd’s Welsh, but pretended to be from Cornish, was printed in
_Blackwood’s Magazine_ in 1818, and again in an abridged and expurgated
form in Mr. J. Jacob’s collection of Celtic Fairy Tales in 1891.  There
is a much amplified version of the story in English in William
Botterell’s _Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall_,
published at Penzance in 1870, and a short and rather foolish one in
Hunt’s _Popular Romances of the West of England_, 1865, 1871, 1881.  The
language is a good specimen of the latest Cornish.  The same story is
given as an Irish folk-tale in an early volume of _Chambers’s Journal_.

13.  The Preface to the Cornish Grammar in Lhuyd’s _Archæologia
Britannica_.  This consists of two and a quarter folio pages of close
print, and is written in the Cornish of his own day.  It is the work of a
foreigner, but is nevertheless very well done.  A not very good
translation, probably the work of Tonkin and Gwavas, is given by Pryce,
and reprinted by Polwhele in the fifth volume of his History.

14.  The rest of the remains of Cornish consist of a few songs, verses,
proverbs, epigrams, epitaphs, maxims, letters, conversations, mottoes,
and translations of chapters and passages of Scripture, the Lord’s
Prayer, the Creed, the Ten Commandments, King Charles’s Letter, etc.
They are found in the Gwavas MS. (Brit. Mus., Add. MS. 28,554), a
collection made by William Gwavas, barrister-at-law, and ranging in date
from 1709 to 1736; in the Borlase MS. of the date of about 1750, in the
handwriting of Dr. William Borlase, Rector of Ludgvan, formerly in the
possession of his descendant, the late W. C. Borlase, F.S.A., M.P., but
now belonging to Mr. J. D. Enys, of Enys; in Pryce’s _Archæologia
Cornu-Britannica_, 1790, and in Davies Gilbert’s editions of the _Poem of
the Passion_ and Jordan’s play of _The Creation_, published respectively
in 1826 and 1827.  Those in the Borlase MS. (except a few from a work of
John Boson), and those printed by Pryce and Davies Gilbert, were probably
taken from the Gwavas MS. and from Tonkin’s MSS.  There is also one
epitaph dated 1709 in Paul Church, an epitaph on Dolly Pentreath, which
does not appear ever to have been inscribed on her tomb, and the letter
of William Bodenor in 1776.

These fragments may be classified as follows:—

Songs and Poems.

1.  Lhuyd’s Elegy on William of Orange, 1702.  Sixty-three lines of verse
in rhyming triplets, in modern Cornish, with occasional archaic turns.  A
copy occurs in the Gwavas MS.; it was printed by Pryce, with a Latin
version, as part of a correspondence between Lhuyd and Tonkin, and by
Polwhele in his fifth volume, with the same correspondence.  There is a
copy with an English version by John Keigwin in the library of Sir John
Williams, Bart., of Llanstephan.

2.  A song beginning “_Ma leeas gwreage_, _lacka vel zeage_,” a series of
moral platitudes on married life and the bringing up of children, by
James Jenkins of Alverton, near Penzance (died 1710).  This consists of
five stanzas of five or six lines each.  There is a complete copy in the
Gwavas MS., and a copy wanting one line in the Borlase MS., and this in
complete version, with a translation, has been printed by Pryce and
Davies Gilbert.  A note in Pryce says that Tonkin had it from Lhuyd and
again from Gwavas, whose is the translation.  It is in idiomatic late
Cornish, in rather wild spelling.

3.  Song on James II. and William of Orange, by John Tonkin of St. Just,
a tailor, who appears to have been a solitary Whig in a nation of
Jacobites, as with very few exceptions the Cornish certainly were.  It
begins, “_Menja tiz Kernuak buz galowas_,” and consists of fourteen
four-lined stanzas of modern Cornish, probably composed in 1695, to judge
by the historical allusions.  It is in the Gwavas MS. only, and has never
been printed.

4.  A song of moral advice by the same writer, beginning “_Ni venja pea a
munna seer_,” and consisting of seven four-lined stanzas, only one of
which, beginning “_An Prounter ni ez en Plew East_,” has been printed
(from the Borlase MS.) in the _Journal of the Royal Institution of
Cornwall_ for 1866.  The complete song is in the Gwavas MS., and has
never been published.

5.  A song beginning “_Pelea era why moaz_, _moz_, _fettow_, _teag_”
(Where are you going, fair maid? he said).  This consists of six
four-lined stanzas, the second and fourth lines of each stanza being the

    “_Gen agaz bedgeth gwin_ (or according to Borlase, Tonkin, and
    Gwavas, _pedn du_) _ha agaz blew mellyn_”

    (With your white face, or black head, and your yellow hair)


    “_Rag delkiow sevi gwra muzi teag_”

    (For strawberry leaves make maidens fair).

The song was sung by one Edward Chirgwin or Chygwin, “brother-in-law to
Mr. John Groze of Penzance, at Carclew, in 1698,” as a note by T. Tonkin
says.  Whether it was translated from English or whether the Cornish is
the original does not appear.  The story is not quite the same (or quite
so scrupulously “proper”) as the English nursery version.  There is a
copy in the handwriting of Chirgwin in the Gwavas MS., and one copied
from Tonkin’s MS. in the Borlase MS.  It was printed by Pryce in an
amended form, and by Polwhele.

6.  A song on the curing of pilchards (not a very poetical subject) by
John Boson.  Twenty-six lines of rhyming couplets beginning “_Me canna ve
war hern gen cock ha ruz_” (I will sing, or my song is, of pilchards with
boat and net), and describing the process of bringing the fish ashore and
putting them into bulks and making “fairmaids” of them.  There is a copy
with a translation in the Borlase MS., which was printed in the _Journal
of the Royal Institution of Cornwall_ for 1866, and Davies Gilbert
printed it at the end of his edition of Jordan’s _Creation_ in 1827, but
without any translation.

Verses and Epigrams.

1.  Nine short sayings in verse, printed in Pryce and Davies Gilbert, and
copied by Borlase from Tonkin.  The first, “_An lavar goth ewe lavar
gwir_,” etc., occurs also in Lhuyd.

2.  Epigram on the verdict in the suit of Gwavas _v._ Kelynack,
respecting tithes of fish.  Eight lines by W. Gwavas.  It occurs in the
Gwavas and Borlase MSS., and in Pryce and Polwhele.

3.  “To Neighbour Nicholas Pentreath,” by Gwavas.  Six lines.  In the
Borlase MS., and in Pryce and Polwhele.

4.  “Advice from a friend in the country to his neighbour who went up to
receive £16,000 in London,” by John Boson.  In the Borlase MS., and in
Pryce and Polwhele.  Eight lines.

5.  “On a lazy, idle weaver.”  In the Gwavas and Borlase MSS., and in
Pryce and Polwhele.  Six lines.

6.  “Verses on the Marazion Bowling-Green.”  In the Gwavas and Borlase
MSS., and in Pryce and Polwhele.  Six lines by Gwavas.

7.  “Advice to Drunkards.”  Four lines, by Gwavas.  In the Gwavas and
Borlase MSS., and in Pryce and Polwhele.

8.  A Cornish riddle.  Five lines.  In the Gwavas and Borlase MSS., and
in Pryce, Gilbert, and Polwhele.

9.  “Advice to all men.”  Written by Gwavas to form part of his own
epitaph.  Four lines.

10.  “Another” [of the same sort], three lines, also by Gwavas.

11.  “A concluding one,” four lines, also by Gwavas.  These last three,
copied from the same page of the Gwavas MS., all occur also in the
Borlase MS., and in Pryce, Gilbert, and Polwhele.

12.  “A Fisherman’s Catch,” given by Capt. Noel Cator of St. Agnes to T.
Tonkin, 1698.  In the Borlase MS., and printed in the _R_. _I_. _C_.
_Journal_, 1866, and in Mr. Hobson Matthews’s History of St. Ives,
Lelant, Towednack, and Zennor.

13.  Six lines of moral advice, found among the papers of J. Boson after
his death, and given to Gwavas.  In the Borlase MS., and _R_. _I_. _C_.
_Journal_, 1866.

14.  Certificate of Banns from W. Drake, Rector of St. Just, to Thos.
Trethyll, Vicar of Sennen.  Two versions, one in the Gwavas MS. and one
in Pryce, the latter being also in the Borlase MS.  Drake died in 1636.

15.  Verses on a silver hurling ball given to W. Gwavas.  Seven lines by
Thos.  Boson, 1705.  In the Gwavas MS.  Unpublished.

16.  Three couplets of verse, and a short piece of prose from J. Boson’s
_Duchess of Cornwall’s Progress_.  In the Borlase MS.  Unpublished.

17.  Prophecy, attributed to Merlin, of the burning of Paul, Penzance,
and Newlyn.  Two lines.  In the Borlase MS., and often printed in Cornish
histories and guide-books.

18.  Elegy on the death of James Jenkin of Alverton.  Four verses of
three lines each, by John Boson, 17 Feb. 17 [11/12].  In the Gwavas MS.

Proverbs, Mottoes, and Maxims.

1.  From Scawen.  Fourteen proverbs.  In the Borlase MS.; printed in the
edition of Tonkin’s abridgment of Scawen’s _Antiquities
Cornu-Britannick_, 1777, and in Davies Gilbert’s History, and in his
edition of the _Poem of the Passion_.  Also in _R_. _I_. _C_. _Journal_,
1866, with sixteen others from the Borlase MS.

2.  Mottoes of the families of Gwavas, Harris of Hayne, {39} Glynne,
Tonkin, Godolphin, Boscawen, Polwhele, Noye, and Willyams of Carnanton.
All except those of Glynne, Noye, and Willyams are printed in Pryce.  All
but Glynne and Willyams occur in Davies Gilbert’s edition of Jordan’s
_Creation_, and the Willyams motto, though it occurs as a Cornish phrase
in Pryce’s preface and in the Gwavas and Tonkin MSS., is only found as a
motto in pedigree books and on the sign-board of the inn in Mawgan
Churchtown.  The Glynne motto, “_Dre weres agan Dew_” (Through the help
of our God), is given, with an incorrect translation, in Mr. Hobson
Matthews’s History.

3.  Mottoes for bowls, occurring in the Gwavas MS., and some in Davies
Gilbert’s edition of _The Creation_.

4.  Maxims, proverbs, etc., about thirty in number, in the Borlase MS.,
in Pryce, and in Davies Gilbert’s edition of _The Creation_, under the
title of “Sentences in vulgar Cornish.”  Some of them are also in the
Gwavas MS.

Conversations and Phrases.

1.  About seventy sentences, in the Borlase MS., in Pryce, and in Davies
Gilbert’s edition of _The Creation_, under the title of “Things occurring
in common discourse.”  There are some additional ones in the Borlase MS.

2.  About a hundred and fifty phrases, sentences, and idioms, copied by
Dr. Borlase from Lhuyd’s MSS.  Some, but by no means all, are in Lhuyd’s

3.  A considerable number of similar phrases scattered throughout
Borlase’s Cornish Vocabulary at the end of his History of Cornwall.
These are to be found, evidently copied from the Vocabulary, in a
manuscript which belonged in 1777 to Henry Brush of Carnaquidn Stamps (on
the road from Penzance to Zennor), which place belonged to William Veale
of Trevaylor, who married the daughter of Gwavas.  The MS. is now in the
possession of a descendant of Henry Brush.

4.  A few expressions and phrases scattered through the Gwavas MS., in
the letters of Boson, and in letters and notes of Gwavas.


1.  On James Jenkins, by John Boson, 17[11/12], in the Gwavas MS.  Four
lines.  The Borlase MS., quoting the very letter in which it occurs, says
that it is on John Keigwin, which is a mistake.

2.  On John Keigwin, by John Boson, 1715.  In the Gwavas MS.  Four lines.

3.  On Capt. Stephen Hutchens, in Paul Church, 1709.  The only Cornish
inscription in any church.  Probably by John Boson.  Two lines.
Frequently printed in guide-books, etc.

4.  On William Gwavas, by himself.  In the Gwavas MS., and in Pryce,
Polwhele, and Davies Gilbert.  Partly in English.

These four are also in the Borlase MS., and are printed in the _R_. _I_.
_C_. _Journal_, 1866.

5.  On Dolly Pentreath, by --- Tompson of Truro, engineer.  Printed by
Polwhele, and later in Blight’s _Week at the Land’s End_, and other
guide-books.  A variant occurs in John Skinner’s _Journal of a Tour in
Somerset_, _Devon_, _and Cornwall_, 1797, in Add. MS. 28,793, f. 62, in
the British Museum.


1.  William Gwavas to Oliver Pender, 11th August 1711.  Partly in

2.  Oliver Pender to W. Gwavas, 22nd August 1711.  Mostly in Cornish.

3.  John Boson to W. Gwavas, 5th April 1710.  Nearly all in Cornish.

4.  An unsigned letter, including a version of the “Old Hundredth.”
Partly in rhyme.

5.  Note, addressed apparently to one going to America, by William
Gwavas, 1710, on the back of a copy of the Creed in Cornish.

These five are in the Gwavas MS., and have never been printed.

6.  Letter of William Bodenor to the Honble. Daines Barrington, 3rd July
1776.  Printed in _Archæologia_ (vol. v., 1779), in “Uncle Jan
Treenoodle’s” _Specimens of Cornish Provincial Dialects_, 1846; in a
paper on the Cornish Language by the present writer in the _Transactions
of the Philological Society_, 1873, and in _Archiv für Celtische
Lexicographic_, with notes and emendations by Prof. Loth, in 1898.


Passages of Scripture.

_Genesis_ i.  Two versions, one by John Boson and one probably by John
Keigwin.  Both are in the Gwavas MS.  One, Boson’s, with his name to it,
is in the Borlase MS.  Boson’s was printed by D. Gilbert at the end of
his edition of the _Poem of the Passion_, and in a much revised form by
Canon Williams at the end of his Lexicon.  Keigwin’s version was printed
by D. Gilbert at the end of his edition of Jordan’s _Creation_.  There
are many verbal variations from the Gwavas copies in the printed

_Genesis_ iii., translated by William Kerew, in the Gwavas MS.  Published
by Prof. Loth in the _Revue Celtique_, April 1902.

_St. Matthew_ ii. 1-20, translated by W. Kerew, in the Gwavas MS.
Published in the _Revue Celtique_, April 1902.

_St. Matthew_ iv., also by W. Kerew, in the Gwavas MS.  Published in the
_Revue Celtique_, April 1902.

The last three were copied from a MS. of Matthew Rowe of Hendra in
Sancreed, by H. Usticke.

_Proverbs_ xxx. 5, 6.

_Psalms_ ii. 11; vii. 11; xxxv. 1, 2.

These are in the Gwavas MS., probably translated by W. Gwavas himself.

_The Hundredth Psalm_, of the Sternhold and Hopkins version, literally
translated line for line, followed by an unsigned letter partly in rhyme.
In the Gwavas MS.  Unpublished.

The Lord’s Prayer.

There are ten versions extant besides the modern one of Canon Williams.

1.  In John Davies’s _Llyfr y Resolusion_ (a translation of Robert
Parsons’s _Book of Christian Exercise_), printed in 1632, and again in
1684.  Translated from the Latin.

2.  In Scawen’s _Antiquities Cornu-Brittanick_, circ. 1680.  Printed in
Tonkin’s abridgment in 1777.  The same version is given in Bishop
Gibson’s additions to Camden’s _Britannia_ in 1695, and by Polwhele.

3, 4.  Two versions in John Chamberlayne’s _Oratio Dominica in diversas
linguas versa_, 1715, one of which is evidently meant for the version in
Scawen and Camden.

5, 6.  Two versions by John Keigwin, one said to be in Ancient Cornish
and the other in Modern.  Both are in the Gwavas and Borlase MSS., and
were printed by Pryce and D. Gilbert.

7, 8.  Two versions, one by John and one by Thomas Boson, in the Gwavas
MS.  Unpublished.

9, 10.  Two versions by W. Gwavas, in the Gwavas MS.  Unpublished.  One
of these, nearly identical with Keigwin’s Modern, is said in a note to
have been collected from J. Keigwin, Thomas Boson, Captain Thomas Tonkin,
Oliver Pender, James Schollar, and T. Tonkin.

The first four are without the εκφώνησις at the end.  All except the
first are from the English.

The Apostles’ Creed.

1.  In the _Llyfr y Resolusion_, 1632, 1684.

2.  In Scawen and in Gibson’s Camden.

3.  In Hals’s _History of Cornwall_.

4, 5.  By John Keigwin, one in the Gwavas MS. and both m the Borlase MS.,
and printed by Pryce and D. Gilbert.

6.  By Thomas Boson, in the Gwavas MS.  Unpublished.

7, 8.  By William Gwavas, in the Gwavas MS.  Unpublished.

There is a modern revised version in Williams’s Lexicon.

The Ten Commandments.

1, 2.  By John Keigwin, one in the Gwavas MS., and both in the Borlase
MS., and in Pryce and D. Gilbert.  One of these in a revised form is in
Williams’s Lexicon.

3.  In the Gwavas MS., but without name.  Unpublished.

4.  By John Boson, in the Gwavas MS.  Printed with notes by Prof. Loth in
vol. xxiv. of the _Revue Celtique_.

5.  By William Kerew, in the Gwavas MS.  Printed with the preceding.

6.  By T. Boson, in the Gwavas MS.  Unpublished.

7.  By W. Gwavas, in the Gwavas MS.  Unpublished.

The Words of Administration of Holy Communion.

These are stated to be the words used by William Jackman, Vicar of St.
Feock.  They occur in Hals’s History.

King Charles I.’s Letter to the People of Cornwall.

This is a translation by John Keigwin of the Letter of Thanks from the
Martyr King to the People of Cornwall for their loyalty in 1643, still to
be seen in many churches in the Duchy.  It occurs in the handwriting of
Keigwin in the Gwavas MS., and in Dr. Borlase’s hand in the Borlase MS.
It has been misprinted, with notes by the present writer (who had no
opportunity of revising the proofs), in the Rev. A. Cummings’s _History
of Cury and Gunwalloe_, 1875, and Mrs. Dent’s _Annals of Winchcombe and
Sudeley_ (the place from which the original Letter is dated), 1877.

                                * * * * *

The following grammatical and lexicographical pieces belong more or less
to the living period of Cornish:—

1.  Lhuyd’s _Cornish Grammar_, printed in his _Archæologia Britannica_ in
1707, and reprinted by Pryce in 1790.

2.  Lhuyd’s _Cornish Vocabulary_.  The unpublished MS. belongs to Sir
John Williams, Bart., of Llanstephan, Carmarthenshire.  Most of the words
in it are to be found in Borlase’s and Pryce’s Vocabularies (see below).
They were collected partly from the Dramas, partly from the Cottonian
Vocabulary, and partly from living people.

3.  _The Gwavas Vocabulary_.  This is a short vocabulary of the latest
Cornish (extending from A to O) in the Gwavas MS.  The words were
incorporated into Borlase’s Vocabulary.

4.  _The Hals Vocabulary_.  This is a fragment (A to C) in the Gwavas MS.
It is fantastic and of little value.

5.  _The Borlase Vocabulary_, compiled from the MSS. of Lhuyd, Gwavas,
and Tonkin, from Lhuyd’s _Archæologia_, from oral tradition, and from
other sources.  The original MS. is in the Borlase Collection, now
belonging to Mr. J. D. Enys, and it was printed at the end of Dr.
Borlase’s _Antiquities Historical and Monumental of Cornwall_ in 1754,
and again, revised, in 1769.  It is a copious vocabulary, but is rendered
rather less valuable by the inclusion of a large number of Welsh and
Breton words, gathered chiefly from other parts of Lhuyd’s _Archæologia_,
or from John Davies’s Welsh Dictionary.

6.  _Pryce’s Vocabulary_, or rather that of Gwavas, Tonkin, and Pryce.
Printed, with Pryce’s edition of Lhuyd’s Grammar, at Sherborne in 1790.
Some of this vocabulary was collected from the literary remains of
Cornish, but a very large part was compiled from living tradition, not
much by Pryce himself, but by Gwavas and Tonkin.

Though some of these have been used by Canon Williams in his _Lexicon
Cornu-Britannicum_, by Dr. Whitley Stokes in his Supplementary Cornish
Glossary (_Transactions of the Philological Society_, 1868-9), and still
more in Dr. Jago’s English-Cornish Dictionary, they have not been
thoroughly exhausted yet, and a good many more words may be collected
from them, as also from the attempted interpretations of place-names in
Pryce’s book and in the Gwavas MS.



The Cornish language divides very naturally into three periods, (1)
Ancient, (2) Middle, (3) Modern.

1.  The Ancient period is only represented by the Cottonian Vocabulary,
which, though a MS. of the twelfth century, is probably a copy of a much
earlier one, by perhaps a few glosses, and by the names in the Bodmin
Gospels.  It has no extant literature.

2.  The Middle period is that of the Add. Charter fragment, the
_Ordinalia_, the _Poem of the Passion_ (fifteenth century), the _Life of
St. Meriasek_ (1504), and to some extent of the play of _The Creation_
(1611), though the last is partly transitional.  Judging from the few
words preserved in John of Cornwall’s twelfth-century translation of a
prophecy of Merlin, the lost original of that was perhaps in an early
form of Middle Cornish.

3.  The Modern period begins with the few sentences in Andrew Borde’s
book (1542), and continues to the end.

As the whole of the extant literature of Middle Cornish is in verse, it
gives us little help as regards the colloquial Cornish even of its own
period, and judging from Andrew Borde’s sentences, only some forty years
later than the _St. Meriasek_ and seventy years earlier than Jordan’s
play, Middle and Modern Cornish must have overlapped one another a good
deal.  It is probable that those who wrote verse would continue to use
archaic forms long after they had been dropped in prose and in
conversation.  But the difference between Middle and Modern Cornish is
not really very great, and comes to very little more than a difference of
spelling, an uncertainty about the final letters of certain words, and a
tendency to contractions, elisions, and apocopations in words, which,
though recognised in their fuller form in the spelling of Middle Cornish
verse, may have been nearly as much contracted, elided, and apocopated in
Middle Cornish conversation.  Dr. Whitley Stokes points out in his
edition of Jordan’s _Creation_ certain changes, and though the language
of that play is substantially Middle Cornish, the spelling is largely of
the pre-Lhuydian popular Modern Cornish sort.  Among these changes are
the following:—

  1.  The final _e_ becomes _a_.  [This is perhaps only a question of
  spelling, and need not imply a difference of sound.  Probably a sound
  as of the German final _e_ is intended. {50}]

  2.  _th_ and _gh_ have become mute, and are often interchanged.  [In
  Modern Cornish _th_ is often omitted, or represented by _h_.]

  3.  _m_, _n_, become respectively _bm_, _dn_.  [Probably the sounds
  existed long before they were recognised in spelling.]

  4.  _s_ becomes frequently a soft _g_ (_j_).  [This _j_ sound also may
  have existed long before it was written as a _g_ or _j_.  The _s_ of
  the earlier MSS. was probably never intended to represent in these
  cases a true _s_.  Dr. Stokes might also have mentioned the similar
  cases of _she_ being used where the older MSS. write _sy_ for the
  second person singular.]

The apparent changes of vowel sounds in the still later Cornish, more
fully discussed further on, are mostly these:

  1.  _a_ long sometimes becomes _aw_, especially before _l_, _n_, or
  _r_, and occasionally as a final; _a_ short, under similar
  circumstances, becomes _o_ short.

  2.  _u_, with (approximately) the French sound of that letter, becomes
  _ee_ (_î_), or else _ew_, as in the English word _dew_.

  3.  _eu_, _ue_, with the French sound of _eu_, or the German _o_,
  becomes _ê_ (=_ay_ in _may_).

  4.  _y_ of Middle Cornish, perhaps pronounced as _ĭ_, but sometimes
  obscurely, like the primary sound of the Welsh _y_, often became short

  5.  An open long _y_, which may have been sounded _ee_ (_î_) in Middle
  Cornish, often later became _ei_ (or as _i_ in _mine_), though there
  are inconsistencies in this respect, showing that the change was not

  6.  In a considerable number of cases short _o_ became the “obscure
  vowel,” _o_ of _London_ or _u_ of _until_.

It does not follow that these were very distinct changes between Middle
and Modern Cornish.  Possibly the change in sound was a good deal less
than on paper, and consisted in intensifying earlier changes.  The Middle
Cornish system of spelling looks very like an inheritance from an earlier
time still.

The grammatical changes were few, and, except for a diminishing use of
pronominal suffixes, those, like the new preterite of _gwîl_, to do, were
chiefly false analogies, or else imitations of English.  But it is to be
remembered that a great proportion of the remains of Modern Cornish
consists of translations and a few original compositions by persons whose
own language was English, who had in some cases learnt Cornish very
imperfectly.  This would apply to most of the translations of passages of
Scripture, to Lhuyd’s Preface (though, of course, _his_ own language was
Welsh), and to Gwavas’s attempts.  The really valuable specimens are the
writings of Boson, Bodenor’s Letter to Daines Barrington, some of the
Gwavas MS. letters and songs, and the story of John of Chy-an-Hur.
These, written by men who spoke Cornish fluently and had no theories and
often no knowledge of philology, probably represent what people really
spoke in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.  That faintness and
even silence of final letters, which seems to have been a characteristic
of Cornish as it is of French, was the cause that, in writing as
phonetically as they knew how, these practical speakers of Cornish often
omitted the ends of words, and made it seem as though their verbs had
largely lost their inflections.  Words were spelt alike which should have
been differentiated—it was as though one should spell _avais_, _avait_,
_avez_, and _avaient_ all alike, and words were run together that should
have had at least apostrophes between them; but the grammar was not
always as broken-down as it looks, and by a comparison with the older
remains of Cornish it is not difficult to restore approximately the
proper spelling.  The Cornish represented in Lhuyd’s writings has tended
to confuse some things.  Lhuyd was a Welshman, and is constantly trying
to run off into Welsh, and he had for his teacher John Keigwin, who
thought that he understood the Cornish of the mediæval dramas, but was
often mistaken.  Probably had a resuscitated mediæval Cornishman read the
dramas aloud to Keigwin, he would have understood them quite as well as
the ordinary English board-school boy would understand St. Paul’s
Epistles in the Authorised Version, read by a revived Jacobean divine;
but the spelling and the mediæval handwriting, which he could not always
read, put him out terribly, and some very weird forms and words are the
result.  Also Keigwin had, or thought he had, a knowledge of Hebrew and
Greek, which he uses on occasions with dire results.  Far be it from any
Cornish student to undervalue the usefulness of Keigwin.  But for him,
and for Gwavas and Tonkin, the work of reconstruction would have been
much more difficult than it is, and these writers undoubtedly preserved a
great deal of most valuable matter that otherwise would have been lost,
but their work needs to be used with great caution, and the translations
and original compositions which they produced do not always represent
quite fairly the late forms of the language.


§ 1.  On the Pronunciation in general.

In simple Cornish words of more than one syllable the stress accent is
generally, though not universally, on the last but one. {54}  The vowel
of this syllable has usually its plain, clear _long_ or _short_ sound.
The vowels of the unaccented syllables are usually _obscure_ in the case
of two of the broad vowels (_a_, _o_), and _short_ in the case of the
thin vowels (_e_, _i_, _y_) and of _u_, unless they are combinations of
two vowels, in which case they are always long; but _e_ in a final
unaccented syllable is also generally _obscure_.  The _obscure_ vowel is
the sound of _u_ in the English word _until_, or _o_ in _London_, and
there is very little, if any, difference in sound between the obscure
_a_, _e_, _o_, and _u_.  When this sound occurs, as it occasionally does,
on an accented syllable, or anywhere where it might be mistaken for a
plain sound, it is written, according to the spelling of this book, _ă_,
_ŏ_, or _ŭ_.

In words of one syllable ending in a consonant the vowel is generally to
be taken as _short_, unless it is marked long (_â_, _ê_, _î_, _ô_, _û_,
_ŷ_), or is a combination of two vowels.  In monosyllables ending in a
vowel, that vowel usually has its _long_ sound, but as Cornish is largely
accented in ordinary conversation by _sentences_ (as is the case in
Gaelic, and to a considerable extent in English), many monosyllables are
slurred over with no accent (as _enclitics_ or _proclitics_, according to
whether they follow or precede the word on which they depend), and with
more or less of the _obscure_ vowel.  The modern Cornish intonation of
English is probably a very fair guide to the intonation of Cornish. {55}

The consonants, especially _f_, _v_, _dh_, _th_, are rather more lightly
sounded than in English.  Any peculiarities of sound will be given under
each consonant.

During the period in which the existing remains of Cornish literature
were written, that is, between the twelfth and the middle of the
eighteenth century, the spelling was very unsettled.  There were at least
six different systems, if no more.

  1.  That of the Cotton Vocabulary.

  2.  That of the _Ordinalia_, with a sub-variety in that of the _Poem of
  the Passion_.

  3.  That of the _St. Meriasek_.

  4.  That of Jordan’s _Creation_.

  5.  That of Boson, Keigwin, and other seventeenth and eighteenth
  century writers.

  6.  That of Lhuyd.

Not only did different writers differ from one another, but various ways
of representing the same sound were used by the same writer.  The earlier
spelling shows a certain amount of Welsh, old English, and old French
affinities; the latest is evidently modelled on modern English, which
does not suit it very well, and the transition from one to the other is
not very abrupt.  It is the object of the present book to represent the
probable pronunciation of Modern Cornish by a system fairly consistent in
itself, but not too startlingly divergent from those adopted by previous
writers (or from that of Breton, where coincidence occurs), and not too
much encumbered with diacritical signs.  It is to some extent a following
of Dr. Edward Lhuyd, whose system, though rather clumsy and unnecessarily
puzzling in places, was on the whole very good and of great value.

§ 2.  The Vowels.

Simple: _a_, _â_, _e_, _ê_, _i_, _î_, _o_, _ô_, _ŏ_, _u_, _û_, _ŭ_, _y_,

Compound: _aw_, _ei_, _ey_, _ew_, _oi_, _oy_, _ou_, _ow_.

a.  Simple vowels.

1.  _a_, short, as _a_ in _man_.  Before _l_ and _r_ it is generally
sounded as _o_ in _not_.

2.  _â_, long, the lengthened sound of _a_ short, _not_ as the English
broad _a_ in _father_, or long _a_ in _mane_, but as a broad _a_ is
commonly sounded in Cornish English.  Thus _bâ_ would have something
between the sound of the English word _bare_ (of course without the _r_
trilled at all) in the mouth of a correct speaker, and the actual sound
of the bleat of a sheep. {56}

In some words, and especially before a liquid followed by a consonant,
_a_ tends to be sounded as _aw_ or short _o_.  Thus _âls_, cliff,
_gwander_, weakness, _wartha_, upper, are sounded _awls_, _gwonder_,
_wortha_ or _worra_, and _brâs_, great, is sounded _brawz_.

In unaccented syllables _a_ represents nearly the sound of _u_ in
_until_, or, as a final, the English sound of _a_ at the end of proper
names, such as _Vienna_, _Maria_, etc., which is more or less the final
_e_ of German, _meine_, _deine_, etc., or perhaps the _e_ of the French
words _le_, _de_, _me_, etc.

3.  _e_, short, as _e_ in _men_, _pen_, etc.

4.  _ê_, long, as _ai_ in _main_, _ay_ in _say_. {57}

5.  _i_, short, as _i_ in _in_, _pin_, etc.

6.  _î_, long, as _ee_ in _seen_, etc.

7.  _o_, short, as _o_ in _on_.

8.  _ô_, long, as _aw_ in _dawn_, not as _o_ in _bone_.

9.  _ŏ_, obscure, as _o_ in _London_, _ton_, etc.

10.  _u_, short, as _u_ in _full_.

11.  _û_, long, as _oo_ in _fool_.

12.  _ǔ_, obscure, as _u_ in _until_.

13.  _ŷ_, long, as _i_ in _mine_.

14.  _y_, short, as _y_ in _carry_, _marry_, etc.  This is used chiefly
as an unaccented final in a word of more than one syllable.

In the case of the letter _y_, there is a variation of sound in such
monosyllables as _nŷ_, _whŷ_, _jŷ_, _hŷ_ under certain circumstances.  In
this system of spelling the circumflex is omitted when these words are

b.  Compound vowels.

Of these, _aw_, _ai_, _ei_, _ay_, _ey_, _ou_, are only repetitions of the
simple vowels _ô_, _û_, and _ŷ_.  The other four have sounds not
otherwise represented.

1.  _aw_ has the same sound as _ô_.  It is very rarely used.

2.  _ai_, _ay_, _ei_, _ey_, have nearly the same sound as _ŷ_, rather
more diphthongalised.

3.  _eu_, _ew_ have the sound of _ew_ in the English word _dew_, the
usual English long _u_.  This sound is also represented in Cornish by _y_
consonant followed by _u_, as in the word _yu_, is, which has exactly the
sound of the English personal pronoun _you_.

4.  _oi_, _oy_ have the sound of _oy_ in _boy_.

5.  _Ow_ has two sounds—(1) as an unaccented final, as _o_ in _bone_.
This is also its sound when it occurs without any consonant, in the
possessive pronoun _ow_, my, and the participle particle _ow_; (2) in
other cases it sounds as _ou_ in _you_, and rarely as _ow_ in _now_.

6.  _Ou_ has the same sound as _û_, and as the second sound of _ow_.  It
is the regular symbol for that sound in Breton, and very commonly in the
Cornish dramas, where, as in Breton, _u_ commonly represented,
approximately, the French _u_, which later became _î_ or _ew_.

General Remarks on the Vowels.

In the Middle Cornish manuscripts the vowels are represented in various
ways, and there is a special uncertainty about unaccented and obscure

Vowels were sometimes lengthened by doubling, or by adding a _y_, and
rarely, until Jordan’s _Creation_, by adding a mute _e_ after the closing
consonant; but often quantity was not indicated at all.

Long _î_ (_ee_ in _see_) was more often than not represented by _y_, but,
as in Welsh, _y_ not infrequently represented the obscure vowel (_u_ in
_until_), and often a sound which later became a short _e_, but in
unaccented syllables was, as is not unusually the case in English, more
of the nature of the obscure vowel, or perhaps something between that and
a short _i_.  Indeed all unaccented vowels tend to become obscure, very
much as they do in English, and hence are variously expressed.

The _u_ of the earlier MSS. probably once represented approximately the
French _u_ or the German _u_, the _u_ of Devon and East Cornwall English,
or the _ao_ of Scottish Gaelic, not exactly the same sounds, but very
near to each other.  As in Greek and Welsh, this sound approached nearer
and nearer to _î_ (_ee_ in _seen_), until in Cornish it ceased to be
recognised as having any _u_ sound in it at all.  In Welsh it is still
written as _u_, and in carefully spoken Welsh is quite distinguishable
from _î_.  In Breton the sound is still approximately that of the French
_u_.  In some words in Cornish this sound became _ew_ (as in the English
word _few_) and rarely _û_ (_oo_ in _moon_), but generally it became _î_
(English _ee_). {59a}

What was once the sound of the French and Breton _eu_ or the German _o_,
was represented in the MSS. by _u_, _eu_, _ue_.  Later this became _ê_
(_ay_ in _may_).  Thus, _dueth_ or _duth_, “came,” became _dêth_; _luen_,
_leun_, “full,” became _lên_; _due_, “comes,” became _dê_; _mur_, _meur_,
“great,” became _mêr_.  This change is found occasionally as early as the
_Poem of the Passion_.  The rhythm shows that _ue_ and _eu_ form only one
syllable.  In the case of _lues_ (=_luas_), many, which later became
_lîas_ (or _leeas_), the rhythm shows that the _u_ and _e_ did not form a
single vowel.  Occasionally, as in the second person plural of certain
tenses, _eu_ of the early MSS. became _ew_, which it was probably
intended to represent, but was often confused with _ou_ (=_û_ or _oo_).

The sound of _ô_ or _aw_, as it certainly became in later Cornish, was
represented by _e_, _o_, _oy_, _a_, _oa_, _ao_, _au_, _aw_.  The tendency
to pronounce _a_ as _aw_ or short _o_ before _l_, _n_, _r_, doubled or
followed by a consonant, and sometimes single, is very marked in the
spelling of late Cornish, and in the present pronunciation of
place-names.  There is no evidence of its age in Cornish; but it is very
common in English and Irish, though unknown in standard Welsh or Breton.

There seems no doubt, by the same evidence, that a long _y_ of older
Cornish often became _i_, as in the English word _mine_.  Vulgarly, as
with the English long i, it sometimes even became _oy_.  Boson writes
_choy_ for _chy_, house, but Lhuyd writes it _tshẏi_ or _tshei_, which
last is its usual modern sound in place-names.  _Nŷ_, we, _whŷ_, you,
_jŷ_, they, and _hŷ_, she, are written _nei_, _huei_, _dzhei_, _hei_, by
Lhuyd, and Jenkins of Alverton, using the earlier form of the third
person plural, written _y_ in the Dramas, spells it _eye_.  Yet there are
cases where the older pronunciation is retained, and probably this was
always the case when the words were enclitic.  Prof. Loth has pointed out
a similar change in the Quiberon sub-dialect of Vannetais Breton, and
that in some of the same words.

In the unscientific spelling of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries,
that is to say, in the system of every one except Lhuyd, and occasionally
of Gwavas and Tonkin when they followed Lhuyd, the English values of the
period were often given to the letters; but the following were vowel
symbols in general use:—

For _â_ of the          _a_, _aa_               Lhuyd _â_.
present system

,, _a_ ,,               _a_, _u_, _e_, _o_      ,, _a_.

,, _ê_ ,,               _ea_                    ,, _ê_.

,, _e_ ,,               _e_, _i_                ,, _e_.

,, _î_ ,,               _ee_                    ,, _î_, _ŷ_.

,, _i_ ,,               _i_                     ,, _i_.

,, _ô_, _aw_ ,,         _oa_, _o_, _aw_,        Lhuyd writes an inverted
                        _au_, _ao_              _a_ or _ô_.

,, _o_ ,,               _o_                     Lhuyd _o_.

,, _ŏ_, _ŭ_, _ă_ ,,     _o_, _u_, _a_, _e_      ,, _ẏ_.

,, _ŭ_, _ou_ ,,         _u_, _oo_, _ou_         ,, _ụ_, _û_.

,, _ow_ ,,              _ô_, _ow_, _ou_, _au_   ,, _oụ_, _o_, _ô_.

,, _u_ ,,               _u_, _oo_               ,, _u_.

,, _ew_, _yu_, _eu_     _ew_, _yu_, _yw_        ,, _iụ_, _yụ_, _eụ_.

,, _ŷ_, _ei_, _ay_ ,,   _y_, _ei_, _ay_         ,, _ei_, _y_, _ẏ_.

,, _y_ ,,               _y_, _i_, _e_           ,, _y_, _i_.

A final _e_ mute was often used to lengthen a vowel, as in English.  Many
names of places and persons retain this _e_ mute at the present day, and
when the preceding vowel is _a_, educated persons generally give it the
sound of the English long _a_ in _mane_, but that is a change analogous
to the modern vulgarism of pronouncing _clerk_ as _clurk_ instead of
_clark_.  The proper sound of the Cornish _â_ is still heard in such
words in the mouths of the peasantry.  Compare such a name as _Polglaze_
in the two pronunciations.

§ 3.  The Consonants.

Simple: _b_, _c_, _d_, _f_, _g_, _h_, _j_, _k_, _l_, _m_, _n_, _p_, _q_,
_r_, _s_, _t_, _v_, _w_, _y_, _z_.

Compound: _bm_, _ch_, _dh_, _dn_, _gw_, _gh_, _ng_, _qw_, _sh_, _th_,
_wh_, _zh_, _gwl_, _gwr_, _qwr_, _wl_, _wr_.

a.  Simple consonants.

1.  _b_ has the same sound as in English.

2.  _c_ is always hard, being used only before _a_, _o_, _u_.  The same
sound before _e_, _i_, _y_ is represented by _k_.

3.  _d_ before _a_, _o_, _u_ is usually hard, as in English, but, as in
Gaelic, before _e_, _i_, _y_ it has a sound approaching to _j_, or like
_di_ in _soldier_.  In the MSS. a soft _g_ was often written for _d_ in
such cases.  It is a common change in many languages.  Cf. the Italian
_oggi_, to-day, for the Latin _hodie_.

4.  _f_ has the same sound as in English.  In the MSS. it is often
confused with _v_.  As a final it is very lightly sounded.

5.  _g_ is always hard, as in _get_, _go_.  The soft _g_, as in _gin_, is
here represented by _j_, but in the MSS. _g_ was often used for it.

6.  _h_ has two degrees of sound.  As an initial it is rather more
lightly sounded than in English, except when it is a mutation of _c_ (see
Chapter II.), when it is more strongly sounded.  Then, and when it occurs
in the middle of a word, it represents in a lighter form the guttural
_c’h_ of Breton, the _ch_ of German, Welsh, and Gaelic, or the guttural
_gh_ of older English.  At the end of a word this is to be written _gh_.
It is a smooth guttural, as in Scottish Gaelic, without the rasping sound
which it has in colloquial Welsh or in German.

7.  _j_ is sounded as in English.  It generally represents what was once
written _s_.  Lhuyd writes _dzh_ for this sound, and the MSS. often
represent it by _g_.

8.  _k_ is generally only used before _e_, _i_, _y_, or as a final.  It
has the same sound as in English.  It often happens in grammatical
inflections that a broad root vowel is changed to a thin one.  In such
cases if the preceding letter is a _c_ it must be changed to _k_.

9.  _l_ has the ordinary English sound.  Sometimes a double _l_ of
earlier Cornish was written _lh_ (_telhar_, place, for _teller_).  This
may perhaps represent the aspirated _ll_ of Welsh, or (as in Portuguese)
the _l mouillé_ (as _li_ in _valiant_).

10.  _m_ has usually the same sound as in English.  When it follows a
_short_ vowel in an _accented syllable_ or a _monosyllable_, it has a
peculiar sound as though a _b_ were prefixed to it, or as though the
speaker had a slight cold in the head.  This _b_ was frequently written
in the later MSS., and in the mouths of less educated persons the _b_
supplanted the _m_ altogether.  Thus _lemmyn_, now, became successively
_lebman_ and _lebban_.  The vanishing of the _m_ altogether did not occur
in monosyllables, and it is undesirable to imitate it in other words.  In
the system of spelling adopted in this book, the _b_ will be written in
cases where it was habitually written in later Cornish, but even when it
is not written it is always to be sounded in the case of _short_ vowels
in _accented_ syllables or _monosyllables_.

11.  _n_ is usually sounded as in English.  When it follows a _short_
vowel in an _accented_ syllable or in a _monosyllable_, a _d_ sound
(analogous to the _b_ sound with _m_) precedes it.  This _d_ is often
written in the later MSS., and will be used in this book in cases where
it is regularly found in later Cornish, but it is to be pronounced even
where it is not written.  In words of more than one syllable {63} the _d_
often supplanted the _n_ (e.g. _henna_, that, became successively _hedna_
and _hedda_), and monosyllables were sometimes made into dissyllables by
it (e.g. _pen_, _pedn_, _pedden_); but both of these are vulgarisms not
to be imitated.

12.  _p_ is sounded as in English.

13.  _q_ is sounded as in English, and is always followed by _w_.  It is
generally used in an initial mutation (see Chapter II.) of _gw_, but
occurs occasionally, followed by _w_, as a radical sound.

14.  _r_ has the same sound as in correct English, that is to say, it is
very slightly heard when followed by a consonant or at the end of a word,
unless the next word begins with a vowel, but, as in English, it often
influences the preceding vowel.  Its full sound is trilled, not guttural.

15.  _s_ is the most puzzling of the consonants.  It had probably four or
five different values in the MSS., and might represent _s_, _z_, _sh_,
_zh,_ _j_ according to circumstances.  As an initial, or before _c_, _k_,
_f_, _l_, _m_, _n,_ _p_, _q_, _r_, _t_, _w_, it was generally _s_, as in
_so_; as a final, and before _b_, _d_, _g_, _j_, _v_, it was normally _z_
or as _s_ in _rose_.  But between two vowels in the same word, or coming
after another consonant and followed by a vowel, or as a final followed
by a word beginning with a vowel and closely connected grammatically with
its predecessor, it had commonly the sound of _j_, so much so that _g_
soft was often substituted for it, and there are cases where even an
initial _s_ must have meant _sh_ or _zh_.  Thus we find _cowsesow_,
speeches, written _cowgegyow_, _carensa_, love, _carenga_ (for
_carenja_), and in place-names, though we find _Nanskeval_, _Nanspean_,
_Nanswidn_ when the epithet begins with a consonant, when it begins with
a vowel we find _Nanjizel_ (=_Nans isal_, the lower valley).  Sometimes
in late Cornish the definite _j_ sound so completely superseded the _s_
or _z_, that it or its equivalent, _g_ soft or _dzh_, was always written
for it, and in such cases it is written _j_ in the present system of
spelling, but in other cases the best rules will be to pronounce _s_

  1.  As an initial; before _c_, _k_, _f_, _l_, _m_, _n_, _p_, _q_, _r_,
  _t_, _w_; or when doubled, as _s_ in _so_.

  2.  As a final, except when the next word, grammatically connected,
  begins with a vowel; or before _b_, _d_, _g,_ _j_, _v_, as _z_ or _s_
  in _rose_.

  3.  Between two vowels in the same word; after another consonant and
  followed by a vowel; or as a final followed by a grammatically
  connected word, such as an epithet, beginning with a vowel, as _j_.

For the last rule compare Mrs. Gamp’s pronunciation of English (in
_Martin Chuzzlewit_).  There seems to have been an inherent tendency to
the _j_, _sh_, or _zh_ sounds in every Cornish _s_, {64} but especially
in those which represent a _d_ or _t_ of Welsh and Breton.  The writer is
aware that this is a very inadequate discussion of the question, but he
does not wish to be unduly intricate, or to enter into a deep phonetic
explanation.  Those who would study the question more minutely are
referred to an article by Prof. J. Loth in vol. xviii. of the _Revue

16.  _t_ before _a_, _o_, _u_ is hard, as in English, but before _e_,
_i_, _y_ has a sound approaching to that of _ch_ in _church_, or to _ti_
in words ending in _tion_.  Sometimes _ch_ is written and fully
pronounced where a _t_ was formerly written.  Thus _chŷ_, house, was
formerly _ty_, and in the eighteenth century _tî_, thou, was pronounced
and often written _chee_.

17.  _v_ is sounded as in English, but is often nearly inaudible at the
end of a word, unless the next word begins with a vowel.  Thus _ev_, he,
is often written _e_ in later MSS.

18.  _w_, except in compound vowels, is always a consonant, and has the
same sound as in English.  For its sound before _l_ and _r_ see Compound

19.  _y_ consonant is sounded as _y_ consonant in English, or as _j_ in
German.  It is always consonant when it precedes a vowel, unless it is
written _ŷ_, when it is a vowel, as in such words as _crŷes_, _tŷak_,

20.  _z_ is only used as an initial, but it is seldom used at all.  The
sound is that of an English _z_.

b.  Compound consonants.

1.  _bm_, _dn_ represent respectively the sound of _m_ and _n_ after a
short vowel in an accented syllable or monosyllable (see _m_, _n_).
There is no vowel sound between the two letters.

2.  _ch_ is always sounded as in _church_.  It usually represents a
former _t_, or else occurs in borrowed English words.

3.  _dh_ is sounded as _th_ in _thy_, _the_, etc., the Welsh _dd_, the
Old English and Icelandic ð, the Modern Greek δ.  In the MSS. it is
represented by _th_ or [Picture: Letter].  Lhuyd writes it δ. {65}

4.  _th_ (written [Picture: Letter] by Lhuyd) is sounded as _th_ in
_thin_, _thick_, etc., the Welsh _th_, the Old English and Icelandic þ,
the Greek _θ_.  At the end of a syllable, especially after _r_, the
sounds of _dh_ and _th_ are very light and tend to become inaudible, and
are often represented by _h_, or omitted altogether.  Thus, _gwartha_,
_porth_, _barth_, _lowarth_, _gordhya_, _gortheb_, _kerdh_ often appear
as _gwarha_, _gwarra_, _por_, _barh_, _lowar_, _lowarh_, _gorria_,
_gorreb_, _kerr_.  Thus also, _Porthgwartha_ (in St. Levan), is now
written _Porthgwarrah_ and pronounced nearly _Pergworra_.

5.  _gh_ is used at the end of words for the strong or guttural _h_.
Lhuyd writes a Greek χ for this sound.

6.  _ng_ (written by Lhuyd with an inverted Irish _g_) has the sound of
_ng_ in _singer_, not as in _finger_ or _manger_.

7.  _sh_ has the same sound as in English.  It is only used in a few
words of English derivation.

8.  In _wh_ the _h_ is always sounded.  This combination represents the
Welsh _chw_.  Lhuyd writes it _hu_.

9.  _zh_ has the broader sound of _sh_, or that of the French _j_.

10.  In _gwl_, _gwr_, _qwr_, _wl_, _wr_ there is a very light but quite
audible sound of _w_ before the _l_ or _r_.  So light is the _w_ that it
was often omitted in the MSS.  Thus _gwlasketh_, kingdom, _gwrîg_, did,
and the mutation _wrîg_ were sometimes written _glasketh_, _grîg_, _rîg_.
But this was incorrect.

                                * * * * *

There must have been among Cornish speakers a tendency to a somewhat
blurred sound of certain letters, as though there were an obstruction of
some sort in their vocal organs, not altogether unlike that attributed on
the stage and in fiction, with some foundation in fact, to the Hebrew
race.  This is shown by the tendency to turn _s_ and _z_ into _sh_ and
_zh_, and to insert _b_ before _m_, and _d_ before _n_.  In the English
spoken in Cornwall at the present day this tendency has quite
disappeared, and the pronunciation, though not always the same as the
standard English, is remarkably crisp and clear.  Readers are solemnly
warned against attempting to base or support any theories of Jewish or
even of Phœnician influence in Cornwall on the above coincidence.

These directions for pronunciation must needs be only approximate.  The
exact phonetics are not attainable.  The pronunciation of Cornish
place-names forms something of a guide to the old sounds, only one must
be careful not to be misled by the modern tendency to pronounce words as
they are spelt according to the English values of letters, and one must
also remember that there is no settled system of place-name orthography.


In all the Celtic languages there are certain partly grammatical and
partly phonetic changes of the first letters of words, which are called
by various names, the most convenient of which is _initial mutations_.
These changes take place in Cornish when words beginning with the letters
_P_, _C_ or _K_, _T_ or _Ch_, _B_, _G_, _D_ or _J_, and _M_ are preceded
by certain adjectives, prepositions, pronouns, particles, etc., which
stand in some governing or qualifying relation to them.  Words beginning
with other letters, except occasionally _F_ and _S_, do not change their
initials.  Very similar changes are often made in the case of the second
halves of compound words.

The mutable letters, _P_, _C_ or _K_, _T_ or _Ch_; _B_, _G_, _D_ or _J_
form two classes, with mutual relations to one another.  A third class,
related to the other two, is formed of _F_ or _V_, _H_, _Dh_, and _Th_.
Of these last _F_ and _H_ are the only ones that can occur as primary or
unchanged initials.  Of these

  _P_, _C_ or _K_, and _T_ or _Ch_ are called _tenues_ or thin (or hard)

  _B_, _G_, and _D_ or _J_ are called _mediæ_ or middle (or soft).

  _F_ or _V_, _H_, _Dh_, and _Th_ are called _aspirates_.

One set of _tenuis_, _media_, and _aspirate_ is called _labial_ (or lip
letters), a second is called _guttural_ (or throat letters), a third is
called _dental_ (or teeth letters), from the parts of the mouth most used
in forming them.

  The _labials_ are:—

  _Tenuis_, _P_; _Media_, _B_; _Aspirate_, _F_ or _V_.

  The _gutturals_ are:—

  _Tenuis_, _C_ or _K_; _Media_, _G_; _Aspirate_, _H_.

  The _dentals_ are:—

  _Tenuis_, _T_ or _Ch_; _Media_, _D_ or _J_; _Aspirate_, _Th_ or _Dh_.

There is no difficulty in perceiving that the letters forming each of
these classes are closely related to one another; in most languages they
are interchangeable under certain conditions, and the changes in the
Celtic languages called _initial mutations_ are based upon these
relations, though the method, rules, and arrangement of these changes
differ in the six languages, as do also the names by which they are

In Cornish (as in Breton) the general principle is that (1) the _tenuis_
changes under some circumstances into the _media_, and under others into
a form of the _aspirate_; and that (2) the _media_ changes to a form of
the _aspirate_ under some circumstances, and into the _tenuis_ under
others; but that (3) the conditions which change the _tenuis_ into the
_media_ change the _media_ into the _aspirate_: while those which change
(4) the _tenuis_ into the _aspirate_ leave the _media_ unchanged; and
those which change (5) the _media_ to the _tenuis_ leave the _tenuis_

In this book we shall call the original or radical condition of a word

  Thus _Pen_, a head, _Car_, a friend, _Tâs_, a father, _Blew_, hair,
  _Gras_, grace, _Dên_, a man, _Mab_, a son, are in their first state.

The change of the _tenuis_ to the _media_, or a radical _media_ to an
_aspirate_, we call the SECOND STATE.

  Thus, the same words in their second state are _Ben_, _Gar_, _Dâs_,
  _Vlew_, ’_ras_, _Dhên_, _Vab_.

The change of the _tenuis_ to the _aspirate_ we call the THIRD STATE.

  Thus, for the first three words the third state is _Fen_, _Har_,

The other four, beginning with _mediæ_ or _m_, have no third state.

The change from the _media_ to the _tenuis_ we call the FOURTH STATE.  It
is commonly called _provection_.

  Thus, the fourth state of _Blew_, _Gras_, and _Dên_ (the words
  beginning with _tenues_ or _m_ having no fourth state) is _Plew_,
  _Cras_, _Tên_.

[It is to be noted, however, that none of these three words, being nouns,
would be likely to be subjected to this last change in any real
construction, for the fourth state is used almost exclusively with _ow_,
the particle of the present participle of verbs, with the conjunctions
_a_ and _mar_, if, and _maga_, as, sometimes with the verbal particle _y_
or _e_, and sometimes with the adverbial particle _en_, so that it is
generally applied to verbs and adjectives.]

The following is a table of changes:—

  _P_ has two changes, to _B_ (second state), and _F_ (third state).

  _C_ (or _K_) {70a} has two changes, to _G_ (second state) and _H_
  (third state).

  _T_ (or _Ch_) {70b} has two changes, to _D_ (or _J_) {70b} (second
  state) and _Th_ (third state).

  _B_ has two changes, to _V_ (second state) and _P_ (fourth state).

  _G_ has two changes, omitted or changed to _W_ (second state) and _C_
  {70a} or _K_ or _Q_ (fourth state).

  _D_ has two changes, _Dh_ (second state) and _T_ (fourth state).

  _M_ has one change, to _V_ (second state).

Occasionally in a few words _F_ changes in the second state to _V_, and
in one case to _H_.  _S_ rarely changes to _Z_.  There is one change of
_D_ to _N_ (like what is called the nasal mutation in Welsh).  This is in
the word _dôr_, earth, which after the article _an_ is _nôr_.

In the following tables cases of the use of mutations are shown.  It is
to be noted that _e_, his, is one of the words which govern the second
state, and _ow_, my, the third state, and _agan_, our, the first state,
while the particle _ow_ of the present participle governs the fourth

Examples of the use of the first, second, and third states:—

     First State.           Second State.              Third State.


_Agan Pen_, our head    _e ben_, his head       _ow fen_, my head

_Agan Car_, our         _e gar_, his friend     _ow har_, my friend
                        _e dâs_, his father     _ow thâs_, my father
_Agan Tâs_, our


_Agan Blew_, our hair   _e vlew_, his hair      _ow blew_, my hair (no
_Agan Gras_, our        _e ’ras_, his grace
grace                                           _ow gras_, my grace (no
                        _e wolow_, his light    change)
_Agan Golow_, our
light                   _e dhên_, his man       _ow golow_, my light (no
_Agan Dên_, our man     _e vab_, his son
                                                _ow dên_, my man (no
_Agan Mab_, our son                             change)

                                                _ow mab_, my son (no

Examples of the use of the fourth state:—

           First State.                         Fourth State.


_Palas_, to dig                     _ow palas_, digging (no change)

_Cara_, to love                     _ow cŏra_, loving (no change)

_Kelmy_, to bind                    _ow kelmy_, binding (no change)

_Terry_, to break                   _ow terry_, breaking (no change)


_Bewa_, to live                     _ow pewa_, living

_Gǒrra_, to put                     _ow cŏrra_, putting

_Gwelas_, to see                    _ow qwelas_, seeing

_Dôs_, to come                      _ow tôs_, coming

_Môs_, to go                        _ow môs_, going (no change)

There are a few irregular mutations.  Rarely a _B_ after the adverbial
particle _en_ changes to _F_ instead of _P_, e.g. _en fras_, greatly,
from _bras_, sometimes an _M_ after the same particle changes to _F_,
sometimes an initial _G_ becomes _Wh_, not _C_ or _K_, for the fourth
state, and in the MSS. there are other exceptional changes.  The
mutations are very irregularly written even in the best MSS.  Sometimes a
word is written in its first state when it ought to be in one of the
other states, and sometimes mutations are made when they ought not to be,
but probably the writers used them correctly enough in speaking, without
perhaps clearly recognising the changes as they made them.

The rules for the use of the initial mutations will be given, as occasion
occurs, throughout the book, and they will be tabulated at the end, where
they will require less explanation than they would if they were given
now.  But this chapter should be thoroughly learnt and understood before
going any further, as these changes are a very important part of Cornish
grammar, and a habit should be formed of making them correctly.


§ 1. The definite article _the_ is _an_, for all numbers and genders.
When the noun that follows is _feminine_ and _singular_, or _masculine_
and _plural_, its initial, if mutable, is in the second state.  If it is
_masculine_ and _singular_, or _feminine_ and _plural_, the initial is in
the first state. {73}

When the article _an_ is preceded by a preposition or conjunction, and
sometimes by other words, ending in a vowel, the article loses its vowel
and is written ’_n_.  Thus:—

  _Dên_, man, masc. sing.; _an dên_, the man.  _dhô’n dên_, to the man.

  _Benen_, woman, fem. sing.; _an venen_, the woman.  _dhô’n venen_, to
  the woman.

  _Tassow_, fathers, masc. plur.; _an dassow_, the fathers.  _dhô’n
  dassow_, to the fathers.

  _Benenes_, women, fem. plur.; _an benenes_, the women.  _dhô’n
  benenes_, to the women.

The apostrophe is not written for the elided _a_ of _an_ in the MSS., but
the preposition and article appear as one word, _dhôn_, _dren_, _han_,
etc., for _to the_, _by the_, _and the_, etc.  But it is better to write
it, to avoid confusion, especially between _a’n_, from the, and the
simple article, _an_.  There are certain cases of contraction which have
been accepted as single words, and in these the apostrophe is not used.
Thus _pandra_ (=_pa an dra_, “what (is) the thing?” _i.e._ “what is it?”)
is used for the interrogative “what?” but is never written _pa’n dra_.
There are occasional further compounds of _pandra_, e.g. _pandrus_ (or
_pendrus_)=_pa an dra es_, or _pandryu_=_pa an dra yu_, both meaning
“what thing is?” _pandrama_=_pa an dra a wrama_, “what shall I do?”
_pandrellen_=_pa an dra a wrellen_, “what should I do?”

As in the other Celtic languages, when a noun is followed by another noun
in the possessive appositional genitive, the first noun has no definite
article.  Thus _chŷ an dên_, the house of the man, not _an chŷ an dên_.
The same rule applies to a similar appositional genitive in Hebrew—a
curious coincidence between two quite unconnected languages.

§ 2.  The Indefinite Article.

As a rule a singular noun without any article expressed, except in the
case of a noun followed by the appositional genitive, is considered to be
in the indefinite state, and would be translated into English by a noun
preceded by the indefinite article _a_ or _an_.  But partly as a corrupt
following of English or French, and partly for emphasis, denoting _a
single one_ (like _yr un_ in Welsh), the word _a_ or _an_ is sometimes
represented by _idn_ (earlier _un_), one.  This is rare, especially in
late Cornish.  A similar indefinite article is common in Breton.
Occasionally _idn_ or _un_ was used, as in Breton, with a verbal noun (or
infinitive), to form what in English would be a present participle.  _Yn
un scolchye_, skulking, lit. in a skulking (_Passion_, 74, 2), _yn un
garme_, shouting, crying out, lit. in a shouting (_Passion_, 168, 1), _yn
un fystyne_, hastening, lit. in a hastening (_Passion_, 178, 1; 241, 4),
but this construction is not found in late Cornish.


§ 1.  The Formation of Nouns.

Nouns are either primitive or derived.  Primitive nouns have no special
terminations to distinguish them from other words.  Derived nouns,
chiefly abstract, are formed from adjectives, verbs, or other nouns.
There are also verbal nouns which have the form of the infinitive of

1.  Nouns are derived from adjectives and occasionally from nouns and
verbs, by adding _der_ or _ter_.  Thus:—

  _dader_, goodness, from _da_, good.

  _gwîrder_, truth, from _gwîr_, true.

  _gwander_, weakness, from _gwan_ or _gwadn_, weak.

  _golowder_, brightness, from _golow_, light.

  _tekter_, beauty, from _teg_, beautiful.

  _whekter_, sweetness, from _wheg_, sweet.

  _îthekter_, horror, from _îthek_, horrible.

  _melder_, sweetness (to taste), from _mel_, honey.

  _yender_, coldness, from _yên_ or _yein_, cold.

  _splander_, brightness, splendour, from _splan_, bright.

  _tewlder_, darkness, from _tewal_, dark.

  _tewder_, thickness, from _tew_, thick.

  _tanowder_, thinness, from _tanow_, thin.

  _powsder_, heaviness, from _pows_, heavy.

  _scavder_, lightness (of weight), from _scav_, light.

  _medhalder_, softness, from _medhal_, soft.

  _glanithder_, cleanness, from _glanith_, clean.

  _mǒgilder_, warmth, from _mǒgil_, warm.

  _tǒmder_, heat, from _tǒm_ (or _tǔbm_), hot.

  _downder_, depth, from _down_, deep.

  _sehter_ (or _zehar_), drought, from _segh_, dry.

  _ewhelder_, height, from _ewhel_, high.

  _crevder_, strength, from _crev_, strong.

Some adjectives ending in _s_ revert to an original _t_ in this
formation.  Thus:—

  _calletter_, hardness, from _cales_, hard.

  _goscotter_, shelter, from _goskes_, sheltering.

  _ponvotter_, trouble, from _ponvos_, trouble.

It will be seen that this _der_ or _ter_ answers to the English
termination _ness_, and may be added to almost any adjective to form the
corresponding abstract noun.

2.  Abstract nouns are derived from other nouns or adjectives by the
addition of _eth_ or _neth_.

  _gwiryoneth_, truth, from _gwiryon_, truthful.

  _cosoleth_, rest, peace, from _cǒsel_, quiet.

  _skîantoleth_, wisdom, from _skîantol_, wise.

  _folneth_, folly, from _fol_, a fool.

  _materneth_, royalty, from _matern_, a king.

  _gokeneth_, stupidity, from _goky_, a fool.

  _mescogneth_, {76} madness, from _mescok_, a madman.

  _gowegneth_, falsehood, from _gowek_, a liar.

  _roweth_, bounty, from _ro_, a gift.

This termination answers more or less to the Latin _itas_ or English

3.  Abstract nouns are derived from verbs by the addition of _ans_.

  _crejyans_, belief, from _cresy_ (or _crejy_), to believe.

  _givyans_, forgiveness, from _gava_, to forgive.

  _deskyans_, learning, from _desky_, to learn.

  _disqwedhyans_, discovery, from _disqwedhas_, to discover.

  _gordhyans_ (_gorryans_), glory, from _gordhya_ (_gorrya_), to worship.

  _bownans_, life, from _bewa_, to live.

  _marnans_, death, from _marwel_ or _merwel_, to die.

  _selwans_, salvation, from _selwel_, to save.

  _tristyans_, sadness, from _trist_, sad.

  _tibyans_, thought, from _tibya_, to think.

This termination answers to the Latin _antia_ or _entia_, and the English
_ance_ or _ence_.  It is generally added to the root of the verb.

4.  Nouns signifying agents or doers are derived from other nouns,
adjectives, and verbs by the addition of _or_, _er_, _ar_, or _yas_
(earlier _iad_ or _iat_).

  _tŷor_, a tiler, from _tŷ_, to cover.

  _pestrior_, a wizard, from _pestry_, magic.

  _pescajor_, a fisherman, from _pescas_, plur. of _pesk_, fish.

  _cosǒlyer_, a counsellor, from _cǒsǒl_, counsel.

  _revader_ or _revajor_, a rower, from _rev_, an oar.

  _trǒccyer_, a fuller.

  _lyuyar_, a dyer, from, _lyu_, colour.

  _gwîadar_, a weaver, from _gwîa_, to weave.

  _bǒnkyer_, a cooper, from _bǒnk_, a blow.

  _ǒmdowlar_, a wrestler, from _ǒmdowla_, to wrestle.

  _gǒnnador_ or _gonajor_, a sower, from _gǒnas_, to sow or plant.

  _mijar_, a reaper, from _mijy_, to reap.

  _stênor_, a tinner, from _stên_, tin.

  _selwyas_, a saviour, from _selwel_, to save.

  _gwithyas_ (also _gwithyor_), a guardian, from _gwithya_, to keep.

  _kernyas_, a trumpeter, from _corn_, a horn.

  _rennyas_, a carver, from _ranna_, to divide.

  _sewyas_, a tailor, from _sewy_, to sew.

  _pǔrkenyas_, an enchanter, from the intensive prefix _pur_ (lit. very)
  and _cana_, to sing.

  _helhyas_, a pursuer, from _helhya_, to hunt.

  _scrivinyas_, a writer, from _scrîfa_, to write.

  _offeryas_, a priest, from _offeren_, mass.

  _hǒmbrǒnkyas_, a leader, from _hǒmbrǒnkya_, to lead.

Many words in _yas_ occur only in the Cottonian Vocabulary, and appear
there as ending in _iad_ or _iat_, but since all the Cottonian words in
_iad_ and _iat_ which do appear in later MSS. are made in the latter to
end in _yas_ (or _ias_), and since it may be taken as an invariable rule
that all words ending in _t_ or _d_ in Welsh or Breton, if they occur at
all in Cornish, end in _s_, any Cottonian word in _iat_ or _iad_ may
fairly be taken for purposes of modern Cornish to end in _yas_.

§ 2.  The Gender of Nouns.

Nouns are of two genders, masculine and feminine.  There is no neuter.

There is no rule whereby to tell the gender of a word, except in the case
of animate objects, where the gender simply follows the sex.

There are only three grammatical cases in which gender matters at all.

1.  When a noun or an adjective preceding a noun is preceded by the
article _an_, the.  If the noun or adjective is masculine singular or the
noun feminine, or the adjective of either, plural, its initial remains in
the first state.  If the noun or adjective is feminine singular or the
noun is masculine plural, {78} it is changed to the second state.

When a qualifying adjective follows a noun in the masculine or in the
plural of either gender, the initial of the adjective remains in the
first state.  If the noun is feminine singular, the initial of the
adjective changes to the second state.

3.  The pronoun of the third person singular, used for a feminine noun,
even when it signifies an inanimate object, is _hŷ_, she, not _ev_, he.

  _tâs_, a father; _an tâs_, the father.

  _tassow_, fathers; _an dassow_, the fathers.

  _mergh_, a daughter; _an vergh_, the daughter.

  _merhes_, daughters; _an merhes_, the daughters.

  _tâs mas_, a good father; _mergh vas_, a good daughter; _an vergh vas_,
  the good daughter.

  _tassow mas_, good fathers; _merhes mas_, good daughters.

It will be evident, considering that a large number of nouns and
adjectives do not begin with mutable letters, that the question of gender
only applies to a limited number of nouns and adjectives, and therefore
presents but little difficulty.  Perhaps the best way to learn the
genders of nouns with mutable initials is to get accustomed to their
sound with the article prefixed.

The feminine equivalents of certain masculine nouns denoting animate
objects are represented, as in other languages, in one of two ways, by
the addition of a syllable or by different words.

1.  By the addition of _es_.  This is the regular form.

  _arledh_, lord; _arledhes_, lady.

  _pestrior_, a wizard; _pestriores_, a witch.

  _coweth_, a companion, masc.; _cowethes_, a companion, fem.

  _mow_, a boy; _mowes_, a girl.

  _sans_, a saint; _sanses_, a female saint.

  _eneval_, an animal, masc.; _enevales_, an animal, fem.

  _pehador_ or _pehajor_, a sinner, masc.; _pehadores_, a sinner, fem.

Except in the case of the other class of feminines, of which a list is
given below, it may be taken as a general rule that the corresponding
feminine of any noun denoting a masculine animate object is formed in
this way.

2.  By a different word.  These are mostly those which denote
relationships and familiar animals, and there are in some cases, as in
English, further words to denote the young of both sexes, or the neuter.

  _dên_, man; _benen_, woman; _flogh_, child.

  _gour_, husband; _gwrêg_, wife.

  _mab_, son; _mergh_, daughter.

  _ewiter_, uncle; _modreb_, aunt.

  _tâs_, father; _mam_, mother.

  _sîra_, father; _dama_, mother.

  _sîra widn_, {80} grandfather; _dama widn_, grandmother.

  _altrou_, godfather; _altrewan_, godmother.

  _broder_, brother; _hoer_, sister.

  _noy_, nephew; _noys_, niece.

  _tarow_, bull; _bewgh_, cow; _ǒjion_, ox; _lewgh_, calf; _lǒdn_,
  bullock; _lejek_, heifer.

  _hordh_ or _hûr_, ram; _davas_, sheep; _mowls_, wether; _ôn_, lamb.

  _margh_, horse; _caseg_, mare; _ebal_, colt.

  _bŏk_, he-goat; _gavar_, goat; _min_, kid.

  _baedh_, boar; _banew_, sow; _porhal_, little pig; _gwîs_, old sow;
  _ragomogh_, hog; _mohen_, pig (plur. _mogh_); _torgh_, hog.

  _kŷ_, dog; _gêst_, bitch.

  _gourgath_, tom-cat; _cath_, cat.

  _carow_, stag; _ewik_, hind; _lewgh-ewik_, fawn.

  _kǒtyorgh_, roe buck; _yorgh_, roe doe.

  _keliok_, cock; _yar_, hen; _mabyer_, chicken.

  _keliokwôdh_, gander; _gôdh_, goose.

  _keliokôs_, drake; _hôs_, duck.

§ 3.  The Cases of Nouns.

All cases except the genitive and accusative are formed by prepositions,
as in English.  Of these prepositions some govern one state of the
initial and some another, as will be seen in the chapter on prepositions,
but when the article _an_, the, comes between the preposition and the
noun, the initial is not changed by the preposition, but only, if at all
(in the case of a feminine singular or masculine plural), by the article.

The genitive, by which must here be understood (in its old-fashioned
sense) all those conditions under which a noun would in English be
preceded by _of_, or followed by ’_s_, is formed in four ways, each of
which has a different meaning.

1.  The genitive of possession is the appositional genitive.  This is
formed by placing the noun that is in the genitive immediately after the
noun which it qualifies, or, if the former has the definite article, or
is qualified by a possessive pronoun or prefixed adjective, with only
these intervening.  No change of initial is made, {81} except the usual
change of feminine singular or masculine plural nouns after _an_, or the
changes caused by possessive pronouns, etc.  The first of the two nouns
must have no article.  Thus:—

  _chŷ dên_, the house of a man, or a man’s house.

  _chŷ an dên_, the house of the man, or the man’s house.

  _chŷ benen_, the house of a woman.

  _chŷ an venen_, the house of the woman.

  But not _an chŷ an dên_ or _an chŷ an venen_.

If there is a succession of genitives, only the last noun can have an
article.  Thus:—

  _darras chŷ gour an venen_, the door of the house of the husband of the

2.  The inflected genitive.  This, which only exists, and that
doubtfully, in the case of a few words, is formed by the modification of
the root vowel.  It is one of the common genitives of the Gaelic
dialects, and as such is important, for it is not recognised in Welsh or
Breton.  Lhuyd gives five instances of it—_margh_, a horse, gen. _mergh_;
_mergh_, a daughter, gen. _myrgh_; _pen_, a head, gen. _pyn_ (used only
in the quasi-preposition _erbyn_, against); _whêl_, work, gen. _wheyl_;
_crês_, midst, gen. _creys_, but even these were very seldom used, and
only probably in a few expressions.  It would seem that the initial of
the genitive word should in this case be in the second state.  Thus:—

  _rên vergh_, a horse’s mane.

3.  The genitive of attribution, quality, origin, or quantity, denoted in
English by the preposition _of_, but not expressible also by the
possessive in ’_s_, though in many cases an adjective might be
substituted for it, is expressed in Cornish by the preposition _a_, which
puts the initial in the second state.  Thus:—

  _a_.  Quality.  _Arledh a ’ras_, Lord of grace; _an Matern a
  wordhyans_, the King of glory.

  _b_.  Origin.  _an Tâs an Nêv_, the Father of Heaven (cf. _Pater_ de
  cælis _Deus_, translated in the English Prayer-book, “O God, the Father
  of Heaven”); _dên a Gernow_, a man of Cornwall.

  _c_.  Quantity.  Words denoting number, quantity, etc., generally
  adjectives or numerals, may be followed by this form of genitive.

  _lên a ’ras_, full of grace.

  _lower a ŷs_, plenty of corn.

  _milyow a bensow_, thousands of pounds.

4.  The genitive of material is rather the use of a noun as an adjective.
It differs from the appositional genitive in that the first noun may have
the article before it, and the second does not, and that if the first
noun be feminine singular, the initial of the second noun is in the
second state.  Thus:—

  _tolyer predn_, a platter of wood.

  _tre bredn_, a town of wood.

The accusative or objective is usually the same as the nominative, but it
is to be remembered that there are a certain number of verbs which in
English are followed directly by an accusative, but in Cornish require
the intervention of a preposition.

The vocative is preceded by _a_, which signifies _O_, or by a personal
pronoun.  The initial after _a_ and sometimes after the pronoun changes
to the second state.  Thus:—

  _mab_, son; _a vab_, O son.

  _benen_, woman; _a venen_, O woman; _ti venen_, thou woman.

  _why princis_ (_Res_. _Dom_., iii. 124), ye princes.

§ 4.  The Plural of Nouns.

There are seven ways of forming the plural of nouns.

1.  In _ow_ or _yow_ (pronounced _o_ or _yo_).  This is the commonest
form, and would naturally be used for most new words.  It answers to the
Welsh _au_ or _iau_, and the Breton _ou_ or _iou_.

  _alwedh_, a key, _alwedhow_.

  _dorn_, a hand, _dornow_.

  _arv_, a weapon, _arvow_.

  _bedh_, a grave, _bedhow_.

  _ro_, a gift, _roow_.

  _scovorn_, an ear, _scouornow_.

  _dêdh_, a day, _dêdhyow_.

  _Dew_, God, _dewow_.

  _enev_, soul, _enevow_.

  _cledh_, ditch, _cledhyow_.

  _gwredh_, root, _gwredhyow_.

  _menedh_, mountain, _menedhyow_.

  _trev_, _tre_, town, _trevow_.

  _tîr_, land, _tiryow_,

Some which follow this form have peculiarities of their own.

_a_.  Some double the last consonant, which has the effect of shortening
the sound of the preceding vowel, and if the last consonant is an _s_,
giving it the sound of _s_ instead of _z_.  Thus:—

  _Tâs_, father, _tassow_.

  _fôs_, wall, _fossow_.

  _lêr_, floor, _lerryow_.

  _gêr_, word, _gerryow_.

  _garget_, garter, _gargettow_.

_b_.  Some, which end in _er_ or _ar_, drop the last vowel.  Thus:—

  _levar_, book, _levrow_.

  _dagar_, tear, _dagrow_.

  _kenter_, nail, _kentrow_.

_c_.  Some insert _g_ or _k_ after a final _l_.

  _cŏsŏl_, counsel, _cŏsŏlgow_.

  _tewal_, dark, _tewlgow_ or _tewalgow_.

  _del_, leaves (collectively), _delkyow_ (simple plural).

_d_.  Some modify the root vowel.  Thus:—

  _mâl_, a joint, _melyow_.

2.  In _yon_ or _on_.  This is also very common.

  _Cristiŏn_, a Christian, _Cristiŏnyon_.

  _sgwer_, esquire, _sgwerryon_.

  _caradow_, friend, _caradowyon_.

  _scŏlŏr_, scholar, _scŏlŏryon_.

  _deskibl_, disciple, _deskiblyon_.

  _Breth_, Briton, _Brethon_.

  _Sows_, Englishman, _Sowson_.

  _prev_, worm, _prevyon_.

When a word ends in _k_, and has this form of the plural (as most words
ending in _k_ have) the last letter becomes _g_.

  _bohajak_, poor, _bohajagyon_.

  _marrek_, knight, _marregyon_.

  _gowek_, liar, _gowegyon_.

Some modify the root vowel.

  _clav_, sick, _clevyon_.

  _mab_, son, _mebyon_.

  _gwas_, serving-man, _gwesyon_.

  _Yethow_, Jew, _Yethewon_.

  _Kernow_, Cornishman, _Kernewon_.

  _kîf_, dear, _kefyon_.

  _gwîr_, true, _gweryon_.

Those ending in _er_ and _ar_, after a mute, contract the last syllable
of the root.

  _lader_, thief, _laddron_.

This termination is the only one used for the plural of adjectives.
These are rarely inflected when in agreement with a plural noun, but when
used as nouns they make their plural in this way.  A large number of
adjectives and also some nouns end in _ek_ or _ak_.  It is also the
regular plural of words ending in _or_ denoting an agent.

3.  In _y_.  This termination is more common in Cornish than in Welsh or
Breton, though it is not uncommon in those languages also.  It is often
written _i_ in the MSS.

  _esel_, limb, _esely_.

  _mowes_, girl, _mowesy_.

  _Gwidhel_, Irishman, _Gwidhely_.

  _castell_, castle, _castelly_.

  _legast_, lobster, _legesty_ (with a change of vowel).

  _porhel_, pig, _porhelly_.

  _bîgel_, shepherd, _bîgely_.

  _profes_, prophet, _profesy_ or _profejy_.

  _servis_, servant, _servisy_ or _servijy_.

  _gwithes_, guardian, _gwithesy_.  _arledh_, lord, _arledhy_.

  _trahes_, cutter, _trahesy_ (e.g. _trahesy meyn_, stone cutters).

This plural is mostly used for words ending in _l_ and _s_, though not
exclusively, and it occurs occasionally with other words.  When a word
ends in _s_ preceded by a thin vowel, that letter is sometimes written
_j_ in the plural.

4.  In _es_ or _edh_.  This is the equivalent of the Welsh _edd_, _ydd_,
or _oedd_, and the Breton _ed_, though it is not necessarily used for the
same words.  Sometimes the vowel is modified.  Thus:—

  _mergh_, daughter, _merhes_. {86}

  _benen_, woman, _benenes_.

  _flogh_, child, _flehes_.

  _côl_, coal, _côles_.

  _rôm_, room, _rômes_.

  _laha_, law, _lahes_.

  _best_, beast, _bestes_.

  _silly_, eel, _sillyes_.

  _abostol_, apostle, _abesteledh_.

  _broder_, brother; _brederedh_, brethren.

  _el_, angel, _eledh_.

  _gwrêg_, wife, _gwrêgedh_.

A variant of this, written by Lhuyd _az_, _yz_, or _oz_, the vowel being
obscure, is best represented in this spelling by _as_.  It perhaps
answers to the Welsh _od_, and _iaid_.

  _canker_, crab, _kencras_.

  _pesk_, fish, _pescas_.

  _bes_, finger, _besyas_.

  _bat_, staff, _battas_.

  _fow_, den, _fowas_.

  _cap_, cap, _cappas_.

5.  By the modification of the vowel.

  _trôs_, foot, _treys_.

  _mên_, stone, _meyn_.

  _broder_, brother; _breder_, brothers.

  _davas_, sheep, _deves_, but also _devejyow_.

  _margh_, horse, _mergh_.

  _tol_, hole, _tel_.

  _ascorn_, bone, _escarn_.

  _sans_, saint, _sêns_, but also _sansow_.

  _dans_, tooth, _dêns_.

  _yar_, hen, _yer_.

  _mab_, son, _mêb_, but also _mebyon_.

  _manek_, glove, _menik_.

  _gavar_, goat, _gever_.

6.  By dropping the syllable _en_ or _an_ from the singular; or rather in
this case the singular is formed from a plural, usually more or less
collective, by adding the individualising suffix _an_ or _en_.  The words
to which this applies are mostly such as are more commonly used in the
plural, and the _en_ becomes, as Norris calls it, “an individualising
particle.”  Thus:—

  _dêl_, leaves, foliage; _dêlen_, a leaf.

  _gwrîhon_, sparks; _gwrîhonen_, a spark.

  _gwêdh_, trees; _gwêdhen_, a tree.

  _gwêl_, rods, twigs; _gwêlen_, a rod, a twig.

  _lûhas_, lightning; _lûhesen_, a flash of lightning.

  _scow_, elder trees; _scowen_, an elder tree.

  _eithin_, furze; _eithinen_, a furze bush.

  _loggas_, mice; _loggosan_ or _loggojan_, a mouse.

  _low_, lice; _lewen_, a louse.

  _redan_, fern; _redanen_, a single fern.

  _mor_, berries; _moren_, a berry.

  _hern_, pilchards; _hernen_, a pilchard.

  _mŭrryan_, ants; _murryanen_, an ant.

  _on_, ash trees; _onnen_, an ash.

  _enwedh_, ash trees; _enwedhen_, an ash, from _on_, ash, _gwêdh_,

  _glasten_, oaks; _glastenen_, an oak.

  _gwern_, alders; _gwernen_, an alder.

  _spern_, thorns; _spernen_, a thorn.

  _bannol_, broom (the plants collectively); _bannolen_, a broom (to
  sweep with).

And many others, chiefly names of plants and animals of a more or less
gregarious nature.  Some of these have other plurals, formed by adding
one of the plural terminations to the collective plural.  These would be
used when the collective idea was not required.  Thus:—

  _dêl_, leaves (collective); _delkyow_ or _delgyow_, leaves (not

Some singulars in _en_ form their modern plurals from a lost collective
plural, _i_._e_. by dropping the _en_ and adding one of the ordinary
plural terminations.  Thus:—

  _asen_, a rib; _asow_, ribs.

  _gwillen_, a sea-gull; _gwilles_, gulls.

7.  In _en_, with or without alteration of vowel and contraction.  Thus:—

  _kŷ_, dog; _kîen_.

  _hanow_, name; _henwen_ (formerly _hynwyn_).

There is no general definite rule for the formation of plurals; they must
be learnt by experience.  Some words are found with two plurals, but this
generally means a tendency in modern Cornish to consider _yow_ or _ow_ to
be the normal termination, and to discard other endings in favour of it,
just as the plural in _s_ in English has superseded all but a very few
other forms.  Thus:—

  _escop_ (or _epscop_), bishop; _escobyon_ or _escobow_.

  _Dew_, God; _dewon_ or _dewow_.

  _flogh_, child; _flehes_ or _flehesow_ (_flejow_).

  _dêlen_, leaf; _dêlyow_ or _delkyow_.

  _tîr_, land; _terros_ or _terryow_.

  _enes_, island; _eneses_ or _enesow_.

§ 5.  The so-called Dual.

Parts of the body which are double (ears, eyes, hands, arms, shoulders,
knees, etc.), when mentioned in reference to the two ears, eyes, etc. of
the same person, are expressed by a compound with the numeral _deu_, two,
prefixed to the singular.  The Welsh and Breton grammarians call this a
dual.  When eyes, ears, etc. are mentioned as belonging to more than one
person, the plural is formed in one of the usual ways.  Thus:—

  _lâv_, hand; dual _deulâv_.

  _lagas_, eye; dual _deulagas_; pl. _lagasow_.

  _scovorn_, ear; dual _deuscovorn_; pl. _scovornow_.

  _glîn_, knee; dual _deulin_.

  _elin_, elbow; _deulin_.

  _bregh_, arm; _deuvregh_.

  _bron_, breast; _deuvron_.

  _scoudh_, shoulder; _deuscoudh_.

For _hands_ in general the plural is formed from _dorn_ (which means more
exactly _fist_), _dornow_; there is, as in Welsh, no regular plural of
_lâv_.  A variant of _glîn_ is _penglin_ (lit. knee-end), with a dual
_pedndewlin_, cf. Welsh _penelin_, elbow.

                                * * * * *

Lastly, the plural of _dên_, man, is almost always _tîs_ (earlier _tus_),
folk, though Lhuyd gives _dynion_ as well.


Adjectives are primitive or derived.  Primitive adjectives have no
specially characteristic terminations.  Derived adjectives are mostly
formed by adding _ek_ to a noun or verb, which may be said to answer to
_ous_, _ful_, etc., in English.  Thus:—

  _gallos_, power; _gallosek_, powerful.

  _own_, fear; _ownek_, fearful.

  _lowena_, joy; _lowenek_, joyful.

  _marthes_, wonder; _marthesek_, marvellous.

  _moreth_, grief; _morethek_, mournful.

  _ponfos_, trouble; _ponfŏsek_, troubled.

  _anfês_, misfortune; _anfêsek_, unfortunate.

  _whans_, desire; _whansek_, desirous.

  _colon_, heart; _colonnek_, hearty.

The feminine of an adjective is formed in two ways.

1.  By changing the initial to the second state, if it is mutable.  This
only happens when the adjective _follows_ a feminine singular noun.  When
the adjective _precedes_ the noun, singular or plural, and when it
follows a masculine singular noun or a plural of either gender, the
initial of the adjective remains in its first state, unless by reason of
other circumstances than agreement, e.g. preceding prepositions,
pronouns, etc., or when the article _an_ precedes an adjective qualifying
a noun of feminine singular.  Unlike Breton, but like Welsh, an adjective
qualifying and following a masculine plural does not change.

2.  Rarely and irregularly, by the alteration of the root vowel as well
as by the change of initial.  This, however, though mentioned by Lhuyd
and occasionally found in MSS., was practically obsolete long before his

The plural of adjectives is formed by the addition of _yon_ or _on_.
Rarely, chiefly in poetry, this plural is found in agreement with a
plural noun, but usually qualifying adjectives are treated as
indeclinable, but for the initial mutation, and the plural form is only
used, as a general thing, when an adjective is used as a noun.

The normal position of the adjective is after the noun.  Sometimes it
precedes it, and in that case it changes the initial of the noun to the
second state, unless the adjective is in the comparative or superlative
degree, when the initial is unchanged.  The adjectives that most commonly
precede the noun are _drôg_, evil; _hen_, old; _lên_, full; _hager_,
ugly; _fals_, false; _cam_, crooked.  _Mer_, great, may come before or

The comparative degree is formed by adding _ah_ and the superlative by
adding _a_ to the positive, but as in English they can also be formed by
the use of _moy_, more, and _moyha_, most.  There are, of course, the
usual irregular comparisons.  The comparative or superlative adjective
usually precedes the noun which it qualifies, though for the sake of
verse or on account of emphasis it may follow it, sometimes with the
definite article intervening.  _Than_ after a comparative is _es_ (older
_ys_ or _ages_) or _vel_.

Examples of the use of adjectives:—

  _Dên gallosek_, a powerful man.

  _Benen deg_, a fair woman.

  _Mergh dewon_, or _mergh dew_, black horses.

  _Benenes teg_, fair women.

  _An hen dhên_, the old man.  (The more usual expression is _an den

  _An hen venen_, the old woman.  (More usually _an venen goth_).

  _An lowenegyon_, the joyful ones.

  _Brassah gallos_, greater power.

  _gwîn a’n gwella_ / _an gwella gwîn_ / _gwîn gwella_ } the best wine.

  _whekkah es mel_, sweeter than honey.

  _Bron Ewhella_, the highest hill (now Brown Willy).

The irregular comparisons are:—

  _Da_ (or _Mas_), good; _gwel_, better; _gwella_, best.

  _Drôg_, bad; _gwêth_, worse; _gwêtha_, worst; but generally _lakkah_,
  comparative of _lak_ (loose, remiss, lax), is used to signify _worse_.

  _Mêr_, great; _moy_, greater or more; _moyha_, greatest or most; but
  also _bras_, comp. _brassah_, super. _brassa_.

  _Bîan_, little; _leh_, less; _lŷha_, least; but there is also a comp.
  _behadnah_, and super, _behadna_, from an earlier form, _behan_.

  _Ogas_, near; _nes_, nearer; _nessa_, nearest.


             CARDINAL                              ORDINAL

1.  _idn_, or _ŏnen_ (older _un_,   1st.  _kensa_.
_onan_, _onon_). {94}

2.  _deu_ (older _dyw_, _dew_).     2nd.  _nessa_ or _secund_.

3.  _trŷ_, fem. _teir_ (older       3rd.  _trûja_ (older _tresse_,
_tyr_).                             _trege_).

4. _pajer_ (older, m. _peswar_,     4th.  _peswordha_ (older _peswere_,
f. _feder_).                        _pyswere_).

5.  _pemp_ (older _pymp_).          5th.  _pempes_ (older _pympes_).

6.  _wheh_ (or _whe_).              6th.  _whethes_ (older _whefes_).

7.  _seyth_.                        7th.  _seythes_ (older _seythves_).

8.  _eyth_.                         8th.  _eythes_.

9.  _now_ (pronounced as the        9th.  _nowes_.
English word _now_).

10.  deg (older _dek_).             10th.  _degves_.

11.  _idnak_.                       11th.  _idn-dhegves_.

12.  _dawdhak(_older _dewthak_).    12th.  _dawdhegves_.

13.  _tôrdhak_.                     13th.  _tôrdhegves_.

14.  _peswôrdhak_.                  14th.  _peswôrdhegves_.

15.  _pempthak_.                    15th.  _pempthegves_.

16.  _whedhak_.                     16th.  _whedhegves_.

17.  _seydhak_.                     17th.  _seydhegves_.

18.  _eydhak_.                      18th.  _eydhegves_.

19.  _nownjak_ (_ow_ as in          19th.  _nownjakves_.

20.  _igans_.                       20th.  _igansves_.

21.  _ǒnen war igans_.              21st.  _kensa war igans_.

22.  _deu war igans_, etc.          22nd.  _nessa war igans_, etc.

30.  _deg war igans_.               30th.  _degves war igans_.

31.  _idnak war igans_, _etc_.      31st.  _idn-dhegves war igans_, etc.

40.  _deugans_.                     40th.  _deugansves_.

50.  _deg war deugans_ (or          50th.  _degves war deugans_.
_hanter cans_).

60.  _trŷ igans_.                   60th.  _try-igansves_.

70.  _deg war trŷ igans_ or _trŷ    70th.  _degves war try-igans_ or _tri
igans ha deg_.                      igans ha degves_.

80.  _pajer igans_.                 80th.  _pajer-igansves_.

90.  _deg war pajer igans_ or       90th.  _degves war pajer-igansves_ or
_pajer igans ha deg_.               _pajer igans ha degves_.

100.  _cans_.                       100th.  _cansves_.

200.  _deu cans_.                   200th.  _deu cansves_.

300.  _tryhans_.                    300th.  _tryhansves_.

1000.  _mil_.                       1000th.  _milves_.

1,000,000.  _milvil_ or _milyon_.   millionth.  _milvilves_.

When compound numbers are used, the noun follows the first of them.

  _trŷ igans bledhan ha deg_, 70 years (threescore years and ten), or deg
  _bledhan war trŷ igans_.

Larger compounds are made somewhat as in English.  Thus A.D. 1904 is
_Bledhan agan Arledh nownjak cans ha pajer_.

The later lists of ordinal numbers usually have _vas_ for the
termination, but the practice of the older MSS., the analogy of Welsh and
Breton, and the very definite sound of the last syllable of _pempes_ and
_whethes_ in the traditional fragments collected by the present writer in
1875, all point to _e_ as the correct vowel.

_Nouns which follow numerals are put in the singular number_, {96} unless
they are preceded by the preposition _a_, of.  Thus:—

  _wheh dên_, six men, not _wheh denyon_ or _wheh tîs_.

  _trŷ mab_, three sons, not _trŷ mebyon_.

  _pajer paw_, not _pajer pawyow_, four feet (a name still used in the
  English of Cornwall for a newt).

But sometimes, in a collective sense:—

  _mil a bensow_, a thousand [of] pounds.

  _wheh a vebyon ha wheh a verhes_, six sons and six daughters.

The numerals, cardinal or ordinal, unlike certain of them in Welsh and
Breton, do not change the initials of the nouns which follow them.

It may be well to add here certain applications of the numerals.

Once, twice, three times, etc. are represented by the cardinal numbers
followed by _gweth_, time (in the above sense), with its initial in the
second state, _idnweth_, _deuweth_, _trŷweth_, etc.  Sometimes _plek_,
fold, is used, as _milblek_, a thousand-fold.

Proportional parts are: _qwartan_, a quarter, _hanter_, half, and for the
rest the ordinal numeral followed by _radn_, part, e.g. _trûja radn_, the
third part.

The divisions of time are: _secund_, a second; _minnis_, a minute; _êr_,
an hour; _dêdh_, a day; _seithan_, a week; _mîs_, a month; _bledhan_, a
year; _cansvledhan_, a century.  “O’clock” is expressed by _êr_; _trŷ
êr_, three o’clock.  “Half-past three” is _hanter êr woja
trŷ_=half-an-hour after three.  Midday and midnight are _hanter-dêdh_ and
_hanter-nos_.  Half-past twelve (noon) is _hanter êr woja hanter-dêdh_.

The names of coins are: _pevar_, a farthing; _demma_, or _hanter-denar_,
a halfpenny; _denar_, a penny; _whednar_ [=_wheh denar_], sixpence;
_sôls_, a shilling; _hanter-corŭn_, half-a-crown; _corŭn_, a crown;
_pens_, a pound.

Measurements of length are: _inch_; _trôs_, a foot; _gwêlan_, a yard;
_fadhom_; _mildir_, a mile.

Weights are: _ons_, ounce; _pens_, pound; _tŏn_, ton.


§ 1.  The Personal Pronouns.

There are four forms of the Personal pronouns.  These forms are used
under various circumstances, but they are mostly reducible to a single
letter with or without its vowel for each person, the variations
depending upon (_a_) the _state_ of that letter, and (_b_) whether the
vowel is placed before or after it.  The vowel is elided in some cases,
and coalesces with another vowel in others.

  1.  As the subject of a verb and preceding it.

  2.  As the subject or object of a verb and following it.  This is for
  some pronouns the same as the first form, for others the first form
  with its initial in the second state.

  3.  As the object of a verb, but placed between a particle ending in a
  vowel and the verb.  This form is used also for possessive pronouns of
  the first and second persons singular when they are preceded by the
  conjunction _ha_, and, or by a preposition ending in a vowel, or by
  _en_, in.

  4.  In composition with a preposition, and for forming the persons of
  an inflected tense of a verb.

In the first and second the consonant is followed by a vowel.  In the
third and fourth the consonant ends the word.

1.  The First Person Singular.  English, _I_ or _me_.  Letter _M_ (_V_).

1st form.         _mî_.            _mî a vedn_, I will.

2nd form.         _vî_.            _gwith vî_, keep me.

3rd form.         ’_m_.            _neb a’m gwrîg_, he who made me.

4th form.         ’_m_ or ’_v_.    _genev_, with me; _dhem_, to me;
                                   _carav_, I love.

The compounds of pronoun and preposition are written as one word, without
an apostrophe, as the form of the preposition also is often affected by
the composition.  A list of these will be found later on, as they present
some irregularities.

2.  The Second Person Singular.  English, _thou_ or _thee_.  Letter _T_

1st form.        _tî_ (pronounced nearly        _tî a vedn_, thou wilt.
                 _chee_, and sometimes so

2nd form.        _dî_ (often written _sy_ or    _menjes dî_, thou
                 _gy_ in the older MSS., and    wouldst.
                 pronounced _jee_, nearly).

3rd form.        ’_th_ (often ’_d_ in the       _mî a’th bes_, I pray
                 older MSS.).  This is          thee, _re’th tynerchys_,
                 followed by the second state   hath greeted thee
                 of the initial, or in the      (_Passion_, 115, 2).
                 case of _d_ by the fourth.

4th form.        ’_s_.                          _genes_, with thee.

3.  The Third Person Singular, masculine.  English, _he_ or _him_.
Letter _V_ or _N_, or a vowel.

1st form.               _ev_ (with the _v_      _ev a vedn_, he will.
                        very lightly sounded,
                        and often silent.
                        The older form is

2nd form.               _ev_ or _e_.            _menja ev_, he would.

3rd form.               ’_n_.                   _mî a’n pes_, I pray him.

This form is commonly
used in the earlier
MSS.  It represents
an accusative _en_ or
_hen_ which still
exists in Breton.  In
more recent Cornish,
with the frequent use
of the auxiliary form
of the verb, where
the pronominal object
precedes the
infinitive in its
possessive form, this
construction became

4th form.               ’_o_.                   _enno_, in him, _ganso_,
                                                with him.
In this form several
words have an
inserted _dh_ between
the preposition and
the pronoun.
_Ragdho_, for him,
_dhôdho_, to him, not
_rago_, _dhôo_.  A
similar euphonic _dh_
occurs in the case of
the third persons
feminine and plural.

4.  Third Person Singular, feminine.  English, _she_, _her_.  Letter _H_,
_S_, or a vowel.

1st form.                            _hŷ_.      _hŷ a vedn_, she will.

2nd form.                            _hŷ_.      _a medh hŷ_, said she.

3rd form.                            ’_s_.      _mî a’s henow_, I name
This form is rarely found in the
later MSS.  Either the possessive
_î_ or the form _hŷ_ (the latter
often put after the verb) was
used, in the rare cases of this

4th form.                            ’_î_.      _gensî_, with her;
                                                _dhedhî_, to her.

5.  First Person Plural.  English, _we_, _us_.  Letter _N_.

1st form.               _nŷ_.                   _nŷ a vedn_, we will.

2nd form.               _nŷ_.                   _na_, _blamyough nŷ_, do
                                                not blame us.

3rd form.               ’_n_.                   _ev a’n doro_, he will
                                                bring us.
This form, perhaps
owing to its being
the same as the 3rd
form of the third
person singular, is
rare even in the
older MSS.  The
possessive ’_gan_
(for _agan_) is
generally used
instead of it, _ev a_
’_gan doro_.

4th form.               ’_n_, preceded by       _ragon_, for us; _genen_,
                        almost any vowel.       with us; _dhen_, to us;
                                                _warnan_, on us.

6.  Second Person Singular.  English, _you_.  Letter, _Wh_, _Gh_, or _S_.

1st form.                          _whŷ_.       _whŷ a vedn_, you will.

2nd form.                          _whŷ_.       _nî wreugh whŷ_, you do

3rd form.                          ’_s_.        _ev a’s doro_, he will
                                                bring you.
This form is very rare even in
the older MSS.  The possessive
’_gas_ (for _agas_) is generally
used instead.

4th form:                          ’_ugh_.      _genough_, with you;
                                                _dheugh_, to you.

7.  Third Person Plural.  English, _they_, _them_.

1st form.                  _ŷ_, _jŷ_, _an       _ŷ a vedn_, _jŷ a vedn_,
                           jŷ_.                 or _an jŷ a vedn_, they
This last is the regular                        will.
form in the latest
Cornish.  In the earlier
MSS. _y_ only is used
for _they_; later _an
gy_ or _an dzhei_ (as
Lhuyd writes it) became
usual.  It is only found
in the MSS. of the end
of the seventeenth and
beginning of the
eighteenth century, and
probably originated in a
wrong division of words.
The third person plural
of most inflected tenses
of verbs ends in _ons_,
_ans_, _ens_.  If the
pronoun were added, this
would take the form of
_ons ŷ_, etc., as in
_carons ŷ_ (_amant
illi_), they love, and
the usual pronunciation
of _s_ would soon bring
this combination to
_caronjy_, which is
easily divided into _car
onjy_.  The compound
preposition form in
later Cornish often
ended in _ans_, followed
or not followed by the
1st or 2nd form of the
pronoun.  Thus in
Jordan’s _Creation_
(1611) we find _anodhans
y_ (from them) for an
older _anodhe_.  This
would give an additional
reason for the

2nd form.                  _ŷ_.                 _medhons ŷ_ (often
                                                written _medh an jy_),
                                                said they.

3rd form.                  ’_s_.                _mî a’s agor_, I will
                                                open them.

4th form.                  ’_ns_, _e_.          _dhodhans_, to them;
                                                _gensans_ or _genjans_,
                                                with them.

The form in _e_ is older (_dhethe_, _ganse_, etc.), but became obsolete
by the middle of the seventeenth century.  It will have been seen:—

1.  That the first and second persons singular are the only ones which
possess the four separate forms complete.

2.  That the second form of all but these two persons is usually the same
as the first form.

3.  That the third form is not much used in later Cornish except for the
same two persons.

It may also be noted that though the full and emphatic pronunciation of
_hŷ_, _nŷ_, _whŷ_, and _jŷ_ is that of the English words _high_, _nigh_,
_why_, and the first syllable of _jibe_, when, as is often the case,
there is no emphasis of any sort on them, the same thing happens to them
as commonly happens in rapid speech in English to the word _my_, and the
_y_ ceases to have the sound of _î_ English, but has the sound of a short
(not obscure) _e_ English.  Thus in the common Cornish “Thank you,” _mêr_
’_ras dhô whŷ_, which is sounded as one word, _merásdhawhy_, the _y_ has
the short sound which the same letter usually has at the end of a word.
But it might happen otherwise.  Thus the following sentences are within
the experience of most of us at the end of some simple commercial

Customer (carelessly, having received the article and paid the money),
“Thánk you.”

Shopkeeper (in a half-reproving tone), “Thank _you_, sir.”

In Cornish the customer would say “_Merásdkawhy_,” in the ordinary tone,
but the shopkeeper might answer “_Merasdha whý_, _sira_,” and would sound
the pronoun like the English word _why_, unless, being a good Cornish
speaker, he preferred to say “_Mêr_ ’_ras dhô_ ’_gas honan_” (Thanks to

The same principle applies to _hŷ_, _nŷ_, and _an jŷ_, but less with the
last, which is generally treated as a dissyllable with the accent on the
last syllable.

§ 2.  The Possessive Pronouns.

1.  First Person Singular.  English, _my_.

  _ow_, governing the third state.

When the initial of the noun has no third state, _ow_ governs the first

  _ow thâs_, my father; _ow gwlas_, my country.

After a preposition ending in a vowel, after _en_, in, changed to _e_, or
after the conjunction _ha_, and, _my_ is generally represented by ’_m_,
which governs the first state:—

  _dhô’m tâs_, to my father; _ha’m tâs_, and my father.

  _e’m corf_, in my body.

Sometimes in these cases the preposition or conjunction is combined with
_ow_.  This is especially common in Jordan’s play of _The Creation_.  The
initial, if possible, is then in the third state:—

  _me haw mab_, I and my son; _thow thas_, to my father.

2.  Second Person Singular.  English, _thy_.

  _dha_ (older form _dhe_, _dhy_), governing the second state:—

  _dha dâs_, thy father.

After a preposition ending in a vowel, after _en_, or after _ha_, _thy_
is represented by ’_th_, generally governing the second state, but
sometimes, when the initial following it is _d_, the fourth.

  _dhô’th dâs_, to thy father; _ha_ ’_th dâs_, and thy father.

  _e_ ’_th gorf_, in thy body; _a_ ’_th trôk_ (_R_._D_., 1730), from thy

Very often these mutations were not written in the Dramas.  In later
Cornish this form was not always used, but one often finds _dhô dha_, _ha
dha_, _en dha_, etc. instead.

3.  Third Person Singular, masculine.  English, _his_.

  _e_ (older form _y_), governing the second state.

This, altered to _y_, coalesces with a preposition ending in a vowel,
forming a diphthong, which is written with an apostrophe between the two
vowels.  It still governs the second state:—

  _e dâs_, his father; _dhô’y_ (pron. _dhoy_) _dâs_, to his father; _ha’y
  dâs_, and his father.

4.  Third Person Singular, feminine; English, _her_.

  _î_, governing the third state, or when there is no third state, the
  first.  It coalesces with prepositions ending in a vowel and with _ha_
  in the same way as the masculine:—

  _î thâs_, her father; _î gwlas_, her country; _ha’i thâs_, and her

In the earlier MSS. both these possessive pronouns were written _y_, the
only distinction being in the initial mutation which followed.  In the
later MSS. _î_ is often written _e_.

5.  First Person Plural.  English, _our_.

  _agan_, governing the first state:—

  _agan tâs_, our father.

6.  Second Person Plural.  English, _your_.

  _agas_, governing the first state:—

  _agas tâs_, your father.

7.  Third Person Plural.  English, _their_.

  _aga_, governing the third, or failing that, the first state:—

  _aga thâs_, their father; _aga gwlas_, their country.

When preceded by a preposition ending in a vowel or by _ha_, the three
plural possessive pronouns lose their initial _a_:—

  _dhô_ ’_gas_, _ha_ ’_gan_, etc.

The _a_ of the last syllable of _agan_, _agas_, _aga_ is obscure, and is
often found represented by _e_, _o_, or _u_ in the MSS.  Even when not
preceded by a vowel these words are often found as _gan_, _gas_, _ga_
(_gun_, _gen_, _gon_, _gus_, _guz_, _ges_, _go_).

When a pronoun is the object of a verb in the infinitive or of a verb
formed with the auxiliary verbs _gwîl_, to do, _menny_, to will, etc. and
an infinitive, the pronoun-object is represented by the possessive
pronoun preceding and governing (as to initial mutation) this

  _ev a wrîg ow tholla_, he did deceive me.

  _mî a vedn e grejy_, I will believe it.

  _mî a wrîg agas danvon_, I did send you.

The reason of this is that in Cornish, as in the other Celtic languages,
the infinitive is counted as a verbal noun, signifying _the act of
doing_.  This conception of the infinitive explains many Celtic
constructions.  The literal force of the above examples would be “he did
(or made) the deceiving of me,” “I will the believing of it,” “I did the
sending of you.”  Similarly, when the object is a noun, it really follows
the infinitive as an appositional genitive.

Frequently the second form of the corresponding personal pronoun follows
a noun preceded by a possessive pronoun.  This ought to be for emphasis,
and, when it is so, the sound of the personal pronoun would be its full
sound; but it is frequently merely redundant, and then it is enclitic,
forming as it were an unaccented additional syllable tacked on to the

  _agan Tâs ny_, Our Father (nearly ’_gun Tázny_).

  _dhô_ ’_m brodar vî_, to my brother.

  _agas levar why_, your book.

  _herlya yu_ ’_gan gwary ny_, hurling is our sport.

The last sentence is a good example of possible pronunciations.  If it is
an independent statement, the phrase emphasis being on _hurling_ and
_sport_, it would be accented _hérlya yugan guaryny_.  If, however, we
wish to say that hurling is _our_ sport but football is _yours_ (_herlya
yu_ ’_gan gwary nŷ_, _mes pella-drôs yu_ ’_gas gwary whŷ_), the second
phrase-emphasis would be on _nŷ_ and _whŷ_, and they would be sounded as
the English words _nigh_ and _why_.

Sometimes the personal pronoun as a genitive following the noun, with or
without the preposition _a_, of, was used instead of a possessive
pronoun, but in this case it was probably not enclitic.  Thus in a letter
in verse by John Boson, in the Gwavas MS., dated 1710, we find:—

  _Ma goz screfa compaz_, _den fir o_ (for _a_) _vî_, your writing is
  correct, my wise man, or, wise man of me.

And in a song by John Tonkin of St. Just in the same MS., the probable
date of which is about 1700, we find:—

    _An Prounter ni ez en Plew East_, our parson who is in the parish of
    St. Just.

Or perhaps more correctly in a copy of one verse of this song in the
Borlase MS.:—

    _Prounter nei (ez_) _en pleu Est_,

for the article _an_ before a noun followed by an appositional genitive
seems incorrect, though one finds in the earliest known version of the
Lord’s Prayer, given in John Davies’s Welsh translation of Robert
Parsons’ _Booke of Christian Exercise_ (1632), _An Tas ni_, though this
may be a mistake for _agan_.  In the song quoted above one finds also:—

_Dewe reffa sowia an eglez ni_, _Ha an prounterian da eze et an gy_, God
save our churches and the good parsons that are in them.  And in Boson’s
version of the Commandments we find _gwitha gerrio ve_ for “keep my

§ 3.  Pronominal Prepositions.

The prepositional form of the pronouns may be applied to almost any
preposition, but there are a certain number of common cases in which the
prepositions are modified by the composition, vowels being altered or
letters being inserted between the preposition and this fragmentary
pronoun, either for euphony or as survivals of archaic forms of the
preposition or pronoun.  The most usual of these modified forms occur in
the composition of the prepositions _a_, of or from, _dre_, through,
_gans_, with, _dhŏrt_ (earlier _dheworth_ and _adheworth_, Welsh
_oddiwrth_), from, _orth_ (or _worth_), at, to, _rag_, for, _dhô_, to,
_war_, upon, _en_ or _idn_, in.

_ahanav_, from me.          _dredhov_, through me.

_ahanas_, from thee.        _dredhos_, through thee.

_anodho_, from him.         _dredho_, through him.

_anedhi_, from her.         _dredhi_, through her.

_ahanan_, from us.          _dredhon_, through us.

_ahanough_, from you.       _dredhough_, through you.

_anodhans_, from them.      _dredhans_, through them.

Other instances are:—

  _genev_, _dhortam_, _orthev_, _ragov_, _dhem_, _warnav_.

  _genes_, _dhortas_, _orthes_, _ragos_, _dhes_, _warnas_.

  _ganso_, _dhorto_, _orto_, _ragdho_, _dhôdho_, _warnodho_.

  _gensi_, _dhorti_, _orti_, _ragdhi_, _dhedhi_, _warnedhi_.

  _genen_, _dhorten_, _orthen_, _ragon_, _dhen_, _warnan_.

  _genough_, _dhortough_, _orthough_, _ragough_, _dheugh_, _warnough_.

  _gensans_, _dhortans_, _ortans_, _ragdhans_, _dhodhans_, _warnodhans_.


  _ennov_ or _idnov_ or _ettov_.

  _ennos_ or _idnos_ or _ettos_.

  _enno_ or _idno_ or _etto_.

  _enni_ or _idni_ or _etti_.

  _ennon_ or _idnon_ or _etton_.

  _ennough_ or _idnough_ or _ettough_.

  _ennans_ or _idnans_ or _ettans_.

There are many various spellings of these words in the manuscripts, and
especially there is great uncertainty as to the vowel which precedes the
pronominal suffix.  As the accent is always on the preposition, the vowel
of the pronoun is usually obscure, and there is not so very much
difference of sound in the last syllables of _dredhov_, _genev_, and
_warnav_, but still there is a slight difference, and there must have
been even more in early days.

The older form of the third person plural ended in _e_ or _a_, _anedha_,
_dredha_, _ganse_, _orte_, _ragdha_, _dhedhe_, _warnedhe_, _ynna_; but
this form became obsolete by the middle of the seventeenth century, and
these pronominal prepositions were assimilated to the third person plural
of verbs.  In this the Cornish began by resembling Breton and ended by
approaching more nearly to Welsh.

The pronominal preposition form of _dhô_ has variants for the first and
second persons singular and first person plural, _dhemmo_, to me,
_dheso_, _dheso dî_, to thee, and _dhenny_, to us.  These are formed by
the addition of the personal pronoun in a fuller form.  In the cases of
the other prepositions it is not uncommon to add the personal pronouns at
the end of the pronominal compound, forming thereby a single word with
the accent on the last syllable.  Thus:—

  _genev vî_, with me, pronounced _genavî_.

  _genough whŷ_, with you, pronounced _genowhŷ_.

  _ragon nŷ_, for us, pronounced _ragonŷ_.

In later Cornish these pronominal prepositions compounds were often
neglected, and the prepositions were often used with the second form of
the personal pronoun, but this was only a corrupt following of English,
not to be imitated.

§ 4.  The Relative Pronoun.

1.  A simple relative, who or which, whether in the nominative or
accusative, is represented most frequently by the particle _a_, governing
the second state of the verb.  Thus:—

  _An Tâs a wrîg Nêv_, the Father who made heaven.

  _An Nêv a wrîg an Tâs e_, the Heaven which the Father made.

If the verb following the relative begins with a vowel, _a_ is often
omitted.  Thus:—

  _Ow thîs es genev_, my people who are with me.

If the relative sentence is negative, _ni_, not, coalesces with _a_,
producing _na_.  Thus:—

  _En le na vê dên bisqweth_, in a place in which man never was.

When the relative is the object of the verb, or is preceded in English by
a preposition, a redundant personal pronoun is added after the verb, with
or without a combined preposition, but a preposition is never placed
before the relative particle _a_ itself.  Thus:—

  _An dên a dhanvonas Dew e_, the man whom God sent (lit. whom God sent

  _An dên a vê an gêr cowses ganso_, the man by whom the word was spoken
  (lit. whom the word was spoken by him).

2.  _Neb_ (earlier _nep_, and in late Cornish sometimes _leb_) is also
used as a relative, with similar construction to that of _a_ in the
objective or prepositional condition.  Properly it includes the
antecedent, and should mean _he who_, _those who_, _that which_, _those
whom_, etc., but it is commonly used as a simple relative, especially in
late Cornish.  Thus:—

  _Agan Tâs ny neb es en Nêv_, Our Father who art in heaven, in one of
  the many extant versions of the Lord’s Prayer.

  Another version is _Agan Tâs ny leb es en Nêv_.

  _Dhe_ [_tî_] _nep yu ioy ow holon_, thou who art the joy of my heart
  (_Res. Dom._, 456).

  _An dên neb na’n gwrîg_, the man who did not do it.

  _Neb yu moyha_, he who is greatest.

  _An dên neb Dew a wrîg e dhanvon_, the man whom God did send.

  _An dên neb an gêr a rê cowses ganso_, the man by whom the word was

  _Neb mî e wrîg ragdho_, for whom I did it (lit. whom I did it for him).

But, unlike _a_, _neb_ can have a preposition before it on occasions,
with or without the redundant pronoun.  Thus:—

  _Chŷ en neb na vê dên vîth_ (_enno_), a house in which no man was.

§ 5.  The Demonstrative Pronouns.

1.  Absolute.  _Hem_, _hebma_ (orig. _hemma_), this, masculine; _hom_,
_hobma_ (_homma_), feminine.

  _Hen_, _hedna_ (ong. _henna_), that, masculine; _hon_, _hodna_
  (_honna_), feminine.

  _An remma_ (=_an re-ma_) is used also for the plural _these_, _an
  renna_ for _those_.

2.  In agreement.  _An_—_ma_, this, these, e.g. _an bês-ma_, this world.

  _An_—_na_, that, those, e.g. _an dên-na_, that man.

The noun is placed between _an_ and _ma_ or _na_, the latter being joined
to it by a hyphen.  In some cases when the noun ends in a vowel the _m_
of _ma_ is doubled, and the noun and demonstrative are written as one

  _an dremma_, this town (for _an dre-ma_); _an chymma_, this house (for
  _an chŷ-ma_); _alemma_, hence (for _a le-ma_), from this place.

The same applies to the _n_ of _na_.

When the noun is preceded by a preposition, _an_ is omitted: _war
venedh-ma_, on this mountain, not _war an menedh-ma_.

For emphasis, _keth_ (same) is added after _an_: _an keth dên-ma_, this
very man, this same man.

In very late Cornish, _hebma_, _hobma_, _hedna_, _hodna_ were often
corrupted into _hebba_, _hobba_, _hedda_, _hodda_.

In the _Life of St_._ Meriasek_, _helma_ and _holma_ are used for _this_,
and it is easy to imagine _helna_ and _holna_ for _that_.  The
explanation suggested in Dr. Whitley Stokes’s note is “_helma_=_hen
lemma_, this in this place.”  Cf. “this here” and “that there” of vulgar

§ 6.  The Interrogative Pronouns.

  _Pyu_ or _pyua_ (written also _pu_, _piwa_, _pew_), who?  A contraction
  of _pe yu_, who is? or, _pe yu a_, who is it who?

  _Pa_, what?

  _Pandra_ (i.e. _pa an dra_, what the thing), what? e g. _pandra
  vednough why gwîl_, what will you do?

  _Panin_ (i.e. _pa an in_, which the one), whether of them?

  _Penîl_ (i.e. _pa nîl_, which of the two), which one?

§ 7.  The Indefinite Pronouns.

_Nep_, _neb_, some or any.

_Neppeth_, somewhat (_neb peth_, some thing), anything.

_Nebin_ (_neb idn_), some one.

_Nebas_, somewhat, a little, a few; also used to signify little, few, or
hardly any.

_Pyupennak_ (sometimes _bennak_), whoever.

_Pa_ (or _pandra_) _pennak_, whatever.

_Papennak ŏl_, whatsoever.

_Ketep_, every.

_Kenifer_, each; _kenifer ŏl_, every one, as many as there are.  Lhuyd
gives a very emphatic form, _pebs kenifer ŏnen_, which would mean “every
single one.”

_Pŭb_ or _peb_, all, every.  Placed before the noun.  _Pŭb dên_, every

_Ŏl_ (or _ŭl_), all.  Placed before or after the noun.  When placed
before the noun the latter is preceded by _an_: _ŏl an dîs_, all the

_Bîth_ or _vîth_, any; _travîth_, anything; _dên vîth_, any man.  With
negatives it signifies _at all_; _ni wôr dên vîth_, no man at all
knoweth; _nynsyw travîth_, there is nothing at all.

_Mens_ (earlier _myns_), all, whatever; _ŏl mens o_, all that there was;
_cowsens dên mens a vedn_, let a man say all that he will.  It is
generally used as a relative combined with the antecedent “all,” but is
also used without an expressed verb to follow it, though in such case
probably the verb substantive is understood.

_Kemmes_, _kebmes_, as many as, whosoever; _kemmes a wrîg bodh ow Thas_,
as many as have done the will of my Father.

_Nîl_ or _an nîl_ and _e gîla_ (formerly _nyl_ and _y gyle_) signify “the
one” and “the other.”  _Nîl_, originally _an ail_, the second, a word
which, except in this case, has dropped out of Cornish in favour of
_secund_ and _nessa_ (=the next), though it remains in Welsh and Breton,
signifies “one of two”; _e gîla_ (once _y gyle_ or _y gele_) literally
signifies “his fellow,” from _e_, his, and _kîla_ (formerly _kyle_),
fellow, companion.  Thus:—

_Voz_ [_bes_] _an Frenkock feen parrez tho_ [_dhó_] _cummeraz telhar wara
niel_ [_war an nîl_] _ha an sousenack nobla war e gilla_, for the fine
French seems to take place upon the one [_i_._e_. on Breton] and the
nobler English on the other [_i_._e_. Cornish] (from _Nebbaz Gerriau dro
tho Carnoack_, by John Boson, _circ_. 1700).

The same expression occurs in the early Dramas, e.g. _an nyl a delle pymp
cans_, _ha hanter cans y gyle_, the one owed five hundred and half a
hundred the other.

_Aral_, other, plural _erel_, is sometimes used for _e gîla_.  It is the
usual word for _other_ or _another_: _dên aral_, another man.

Another form occasionally used in Cornish for either gender, though in
Breton it is only used for the regular feminine of _e gîla_ (_e gile_) is
_eben_, older form _yben_:—

  _Heys Crist a gemeras a’n neyll lêf bys yn yben_ (_Poem of Passion_,
  178), the length of Christ they took from one hand to the other.

  _Ken_ is also used for _another_:—

  _Dhe ken pow_, to another country; _yn ken lyu_, in another colour.

_Nanîl_, neither one, neither of two; it is _nîl_ with the negative, and
is sometimes written _noniel_.  Boson uses it in a peculiar way:—

  _Nanagu_ [_na nag yu_] _an pobel coth tho bose skoothez_, _war noniel_,
  nor are the old people to be depended upon neither.

_Panîl_, “which of two” (see above), is compounded with _pa_, which, and

_Lîas_, many, is used, like a numeral, with a substantive in the
singular: _lîas dôrn_, many hands.

_Re_, some (see § 5), “ones,” “things,” is used also as a noun: _an re
marow_, the dead; _an re bîan_, the little ones; _ma re a lavar_, there
are some who say.  Cf. Welsh _rhai_; Breton _re_.

_Radn_ or _ran_, part, is also used in the sense of “some.”

_Honan_, self, is used with possessive pronouns as in English: _ow
honan_, myself; _dha honan_, thyself, &c.


§ 1.  The nucleus of a Cornish verb is its root.  This is used without
any variation or addition for the third person singular of the present
tense, and for the second person singular of the imperative.

Other parts of the verb are formed on this root in three ways:—

1.  By the inflected form, that is to say by the addition of certain
syllables indicating person, tense, etc., with or without a modification
of the root vowel.  In older Cornish the word thus formed indicated
_person_ as well as _tense_ without the addition of a pronoun, though if
emphasis on the subject was intended the pronoun was used before or after
it.  In later Cornish the pronoun was almost always added after the verb,
and as the latter word often ended with the same consonant as the former
began with, the final consonant of the verb was often, but incorrectly,
omitted in writing, as it was in sound.  Thus:—

  Root _car_, love; first pers. sing. pres., _carav_, I love, with
  pronoun, _carav vî_, pronounced and often written _cara vî_; plur.,
  _caron_, we love, _caron nŷ_, often written _caro nŷ_.

The inflected form is common in early Cornish, but in the later stages of
the language it is hardly ever used, except _in negative_,
_interrogative_, _and dependent sentences_, and in certain tenses of the
verb _to be_.  Even when it is used, it is more frequently the inflected
form of an auxiliary verb with the infinitive or participle of the main

2.  By the impersonal form, as the Breton grammarians call it.  This has
inflections of tense but not of person, the latter being indicated by the
personal pronouns, placed before the verb, which, being immediately
preceded by the particle _a_, has its initial in the second state.  This
verb is the third person singular of the required tense.  Thus:—

  Root _car_, third pers. sing. past, _caras_.

  Impersonal form.  _Mî a garas_, _tî a garas_, _ev a garas_, etc.

This form is frequently used in early and late Cornish for a direct
affirmative sentence, beginning straight off with its nominative, or
preceded only by _and_ or _but_, etc.; but not so frequently in late
Cornish, as the impersonal form of an auxiliary verb, with the infinitive
of the main verb.

3.  By the auxiliary form, either inflected or impersonal, with the
infinitive or a participle of the main verb.  The auxiliaries are:—

  _Gîl_ or _gwîl_ (older forms _gwrthil_, _gwithil_, etc.), to do.

  _Menny_, to wish, to will.

  _Gally_, to be able.

  _Gŏthvos_, to know.

  _Bos_, to be.

(a).  _Gwîl_ is used to form several tenses, and is used (1) in its
impersonal form in principal affirmative sentences, (2) in its inflected
form in negative, interrogative, or dependent sentences, with the
infinitive of the main verb, more frequently than any other form, for the
present, preterite, conditional, and imperative.  Its use is similar to
that of _do_, in the Cornish manner of speaking English.  Thus:—

  _Mî a wra cara_, I love, lit. I do love.

  _Tî a wrîg cara_, thou didst love.

In these two sentences, _wra_ and _wrîg_ are _proclitics_, unaccented
syllables joined in sound to the word which follows.

  _Mar qwressa an dên cara_, if the man would love.

  _Gwra cara_, love thou (do thou love); _gwreugh why cara_, love ye.

  _Gwrens e bos_, let him be.

(b).  _Menny_ is used as an auxiliary of the future and conditional.  In
principal affirmative sentences it is usually in its impersonal form, in
negative, interrogative, or dependent sentences always in its inflected
form.  Thus:—

  _Mî a vedn môs_, I will go.

  _Mî a venja môs_, I would go.

  _A vednough why môs_? will you go?

(c).  _Gally_ is used, chiefly in the present and preterite, for “can”
and “could,” but also for “may” and “might.”  Thus:—

  _Mî a el môs_, I can (or may) go.

  _Mî a alja môs_, I could (or might) go.

(d).  _Gŏdhvos_ in the present is sometimes used for “can.”  Thus:—

  _Mî ôr mos_, I can go (lit. I know [how] to go).

These follow the same rule as the others with regard to the use of their
impersonal and inflected forms.

(e).  _Bos_, to be, as an auxiliary, is used, much as in English, with
the present or past participle, to form the continuous present, the
continuous past, and the passive.  It is generally used in the inflected
form in its present and imperfect in any sort of sentence, but in
principal affirmative sentences it is generally used in the impersonal
form for other tenses.  It can also be used with _gwîl_ or _menny_ and
_gally_ as an auxiliary to it, while it is itself an auxiliary to another
verb, but this is only what is done in English with such expressions as
“can be,” “will be,” “shall be,” etc.

The use of the various forms of the verb will be found more fully
explained in the chapter on the construction of sentences.

When the auxiliaries _gwîl_ and _gally_ are used to form a passive, it is
sometimes the auxiliary that takes the passive form.  Thus:—

  _Mar ny_ wrer _y wythe_, if he be not guarded (_Res. Dom._, 341), _mar
  _keller _y wythe_, if he can be kept (_Pass. Chr._, 3058).

But in modern Cornish this would be more likely to be formed with a
double auxiliary:—

  _Mar ni wrello bos gwithes_.

  _Mar callo bos gwithes_.

$ 2.  The Tenses Of The Inflected Verb.

The inflected verb is reducible to five tenses, with an imperative, two
participles, and a verbal noun or infinitive.  These are all formed on
the root by the addition of terminations, and sometimes by a modification
of the root vowel (indicated below by _m_).

The tenses and their terminations are:—

I.  Present or Future.

       Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _—av_ or _am_        _—on_ [earlier _—m—en_].

2.  _—m eth_ or _es_.    _—ough_.

3.  root alone.          _—ons_ or _ans_.

II.  Imperfect or Secondary Present.

   Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _—en_.       _—en_.

2.  _—es_.       _—eugh_.

3.  _—a_.        _—ens_.

III.  Preterite.

    Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _—m—ys_.       _—son_ [earlier_—m—sen_].

2.  _—m—ses_.      _—sough_.

3.  _—as_.         _—sons_ or _sans_.

_Re_ prefixed to this tense turned it into a preterperfect in middle
Cornish, but in the later form _re_ is only used for the optative. {119}

IV.  The Pluperfect or Secondary Perfect, largely used in late Cornish as
a Conditional.

       Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _—sen_ (or _jen_).    _—sen_ (or _jen_).

2.  _—ses_ (or _jes_)     _—seugh_ (or _jeugh_).

3. _—sa_ (or _ja_).       _—sens_ (or _jens_).

V.  The Subjunctive Present.

   Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _—m—ev_.      _—m—en_.

2.  _m—y_.        _—m—eugh_.

3.  _—o_.         _—ens_ or _ons_.

Extra tense to some verbs: Second Future.  Found in the early MSS. in the
impersonal form as a simple future.

          Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _—fym_, _vym_, _vyv_.      _—fan_, _von_.

2.  _—fyth_, _vyth_.           _—fough_, _vough_.

3.  _—iv fyth_, _vyth_,        _—fyns_, _vyns_, _vons_.

The Imperative.

      Singular.                              Plural.

1.  wanting.           _en_.

2.  root alone.        _eugh_.

3.  _—ens_ or _es_.    _ens_.

The Present Participle is formed by prefixing _ow_ to the infinitive, the
initial of which, if mutable in that manner, is changed to its fourth
state.  If a present participle governs a pronoun object, the latter in
its possessive form immediately precedes (and governs as to initial) the
infinitive, and is itself preceded by the preposition _worth_.  In late
Cornish _ow_ was often written _a_ or _o_.

Another participial form, common in Breton and occasionally found in
Cornish, has been already mentioned in Chap. III. § 2.  This is made by
placing the preposition _yn_, _en_, in, and the indefinite article _idn_,
_un_, before the infinitive or verbal noun.  Its use is chiefly
adverbial.  Thus, in the _Poem of the Passion_ we find, _yn un scolchye_,
skulking; _yn un garme_, crying out; _yn un fystyne_, hurrying.

The Infinitive or Verbal Noun is formed by adding _a_, _ya_, _y_, _as_ or
_es_, _al_ or _el_, to the root.  In some verbs the root itself, without
any addition, is the verbal noun.

The Past or Passive Participle is formed by adding _es_ to the root, with
or without modification of the root vowel.

The Passive termination is _er_ for the present and _es_ for the
preterite, but in Modern Cornish the Passive is almost always formed
after the English model by the auxiliary verb _bos_, to be, with the past

The terminations _ma_ and _ta_ are often added to the first and second
persons singular of various tenses in interrogative and subjunctive
sentences, and in the case of the first person even in ordinary
narration.  Norris maintains that these are not forms of _mî_ and _tî_,
but only an _a_ suffixed to the verb termination, which in the first
person reverts to a primary _m_ for _v_, and in the second person
reassumes a dropped _t_.  This theory is rather supported by our finding
_a_ occasionally added to the third persons of tenses of the verb _to
be_, but _va_ is also found.  Whether this is the explanation or not, we
find such forms as:—

  _Pandra venta_? what wilt thou?

  _A wresta_? dost thou?  _Mar menta_, if thou wilt.

  _Pandra wrama_? what shall I do?

There are some few differences between the inflected verb of the earlier
MSS. and that of modern Cornish, and among other changes the lighter
termination _en_ or _yn_ of the first person plural, and _ens_ or _yns_
of the third person plural, in some cases had changed by Lhuyd’s time to
_on_ or _an_, and _ons_ or _ans_, but probably really the vowel is
obscure.  There was also considerable uncertainty about the modification
of the vowel.  Even in the early MSS. the change of vowel is rather
vague, but the general rule seems to have been that when the termination
has a thin vowel (_e_, _i_, or _y_), a broad root vowel (_a_, _o_, _u_)
is changed to a thin vowel, usually in late Cornish to _e_ (cf. the
Gaelic rule of _leathan le leathan agus caol le caol_, broad with broad
and thin with thin).  But this is by no means universal, and in some
tenses, as in the imperfect and pluperfect, is not found at all.

There is some confusion in modern Cornish about the subjunctive or fifth
tense.  Norris considers that Lhuyd’s subjunctive is really, except for
the third person singular, the imperfect or second tense of the older
MSS.  But it seems to be more like a form of the present indicative,
except in the third person singular, which is the old subjunctive.
Lhuyd’s change of the first person singular to _am_ instead of _av_ is
not uncommon in certain verbs of late Cornish, when this tense is used in
a subjunctive clause.

The inflected verb at the beginning of a sentence is often preceded in
Middle Cornish by the verbal particle _y_ (or before a vowel _yth_),
which does not mean anything in particular.  _y_ causes the third state
in verbs whose radical is _p_, _c_, _t_, and the fourth state in those
whose radical is _d_, and changes _gw_ to _wh_.  In late Cornish it is
rarely used except with the present of _môs_, to go, and (in its
apocopated form _th_ or as _ăth_) with the present and imperfect of
_bos_, to be.

A reflexive verb may be formed from any transitive verb by prefixing _ŏm_
(older forms _ym_, as in Welsh, and _em_, as in Breton), changing the
initial to the second state.

  _cregy_, to hang; _ŏmgregy_, to hang oneself.

  _brêsy_, to judge; _ŏmvrêsy_, to judge oneself.

  _disqwedhas_, to show; _ŏmdhisqwedhas_, to show oneself.

  _gweras_, to help; _ŏmweras_, to help oneself.

Sometimes the prefix gives a mutual rather than a reflexive sense.

  _ŏmsewa_, to follow one another.

  _ŏmladha_, to fight, contend (cf. French _se battre_).


§ 1.  _Bos_, to be.

The verb _to be_ in Cornish, as in other Aryan languages, is made up of
more than one verb.  In Cornish it may be divided in two parts.  The
first of these consists of two tenses, a present and an imperfect, the
second of the usual five tenses, the imperative and the infinitive.

The first division, by means of reduplications and additions, takes a
variety of forms in the early literature, and there is a considerable
uncertainty about the exact force of these forms.  Some of them evidently
mean little more than elongations and contractions for the sake of metre.
The second division is formed with greater regularity on a root _b_,
changing under certain conditions to _v_ (often written _f_) and _p_.


Sing.        1.  _ov_ (old form _of_), _âthov_, _thov_, _oma_, _ăthoma_,

             2.  _os_, _ăthos_, _thos_, _osta_, _ăthosta_, _thosta_.

             3.  _yu_, _ăthyu_, _thyu_, _yua_, _ăthyua_, _thyua_.

Plur.        1.  _on_, _ăthon_, _thon_.

             2.  _ough_, _ăthough_, _though_.

             3.  _ens_, _ăthens_, _thens_.

There is little or no difference of meaning in these forms.  The
lengthened form _ăthov_, or its apocopated _thov_, is generally found at
the beginning of an assertion.  _Oma_, _osta_, _yua_ and their lengthened
forms are used interrogatively or after certain conjunctions.  In the
early literature the lengthened forms were written _ythof_, _assof_,
_ossof_, _esof_, and even, with double lengthening, _ythesaf_, _ythesef_,
_ythesof_.  The first vowel is probably the obscure vowel (as _u_ in
_until_), and the stress accent is on the syllable that follows the
verbal prefix, so that even the consonant of the prefix is a little
uncertain.  Williams makes it _dh_, but _th_ seems more probable.  In
late Cornish the vowel of the prefix was usually dropped.  The personal
pronouns are generally added after this tense, so that it practically

  _Thov vî_, _thos dî_, _yu ev_ (or _ev yu_), _thon ny_, _though why_,
  _thens y_ (pronounced _thenŷ_).

Occasionally the impersonal form of this verb is used, _mî yu_, _tî yu_,
_ev yu_, _nŷ yu_, _whŷ yu_, _ŷ yu_.  The negative is formed by adding
_nyns_ to the short form, _nynsov_ or _nynsoma_, _nynsos_ or _nynsosta_,
_nynsyu_, etc.  Similarly this tense may be compounded with _mar_, if,
_ken_, though, _may_, that, into _marsov_, _kensov_, _maythov_.  The _s_,
which is sometimes altered to _th_, is probably the _th_ of the verbal

There are two other forms of the third person present, _ema_ (or _ma_),
plural _emons_ (or _mons_), and _es_ (older _us_), or _esy_ or _ejy_
(older _usy_, _ugy_).

(a).  _ema_, _ma_, _emons_, _mons_ must, according to Lhuyd, always be
used narratively, never negatively, interrogatively (except after _ple_,
where), or with relatives.  They must always precede their subject.

  _Ema ’n levar en ow chŷ_, the book is in my house.

  _Ema levar en ow chŷ_, there is a book in my house.

  _Nynsyw levar en ow chŷ_, there is not a book in my house.

  _Ple yu ’n levar_? / _Ple ma ’n levar_? } where is the book?

  _’Yu ’n levar ŭbma_? is the book here?

(b).  _emons_ is only used when the pronoun _they_ is the subject.  When
a noun is the subject, whether singular or plural, a singular verb is

  _Emons ŷ en ow chŷ_, they are in my house.

  _Ema ’n levrow en ow chŷ_, the books are in my house.

(c).  _es_, _esy_, _ejy_, are chiefly used with relatives or
interrogatively in the sense of “is there,” “is there not.”

  _An levar es en ow chŷ_, the book which is in my house (in this case
  _es_=_a es_, which is).

  _’Es levar en ow chŷ_?  Is there a book in my house?

  _Nag es levar en ow chŷ_?  Is there not a book in my house?

In the first of these two interrogations the interrogative particle _a_
coalesces with _es_, in the second _nag_=_ni ag_, _ag_ being the same
interrogative particle, with a _g_ added before a vowel.

The ordinary interrogative of this tense is merely the form _’oma_,
_’osta_, _’yua_, _’on nŷ_, _’ough whŷ_, _’ens ŷ_ (pron. _enjŷ_), which
should be preceded by an apostrophe to show that the interrogative
particle _a_ is elided.  The negative interrogative is the same preceded
by _nag_.

The difference between the use of _ema_, _yu_, and _es_ is not quite so
distinct in Cornish as between the corresponding _y mae_, _yw_, and _oes_
in Welsh, but if there is any difference in meaning between _ema_ and
_yu_, it is that _ema_ has more often the sense of _there is_, _it is_,
and _yu_ more commonly that of _is_ only; also _yu_ can be used
interrogatively and negatively, while _ema_, except after _ple_, where,
should not be used interrogatively, and is never used negatively at all.
Its negative and interrogative equivalent is _es_.


                               _Old form_.

         Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _esen_, _ythesen_,        1.  _esen_, _ythesen_.

2.  _eses_, _ytheses_,        2.  _eseugh_, _ytheseugh_.

3.  _esa_, _ytheses_.         3.  _esens_, _ythesens_.

                               _Late form_.

                Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _erav_, _eram_, _erama_, _therav_,     1.  _eron_, _theron_.

2.  _eras_, _erasta_, _theras_.            2.  _erough_, _therough_.

3.  _era_, _thera_.                        3.  _erons_, _therons_.

The change from _s_ to _r_ in this tense, and the assimilation of the
inflections to the present, does not occur in the written language until
the middle of the seventeenth century.  The personal pronouns were always
used with this tense in its late form, and the final consonants of the
personal inflections generally coalesced with the pronouns, and so were
omitted in writing, thus _therav vî_, _theron nŷ_, _therough whŷ_, were
written, though incorrectly, _thera vî_, _thera nŷ_, _thero whŷ_.

An alternative third person singular is _o_.  It is used with relatives
as an equivalent of _a o_, who was, and with negatives as _nynso_=there
was not.  It is in fact the past equivalent of _es_, but it is often used
in a simple assertion also.  The simple interrogative is _’erama_, was I?
the negative interrogative is _nag erama_, was I not? and the simple
negative _nynseram_, I was not.

SECOND DIVISION.  INFINITIVE, _bos_, to be, older form, used chiefly when
an extra syllable was required for a verse, _bones_.

I.  FUTURE TENSE, _I shall be_.

           Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _bedhav_ (older _bydhaf_).    1.  _bedhon_.

2.  _bedheth_ (_bydhith_).        2.  _bedhough_.

3.  _bedh_ (_bydh_).              3.  _bedhons_ (_bedhens_).

This tense is used more commonly in the impersonal form, _mî a vedh_, _tî
a vedh_, etc.  Another common future is _mî a vedn bos_, formed with
_menny_, to will.


          Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _bedhen_, _ben_.           1.  _bedhen_, _ben_.

2.  _bedhes_, _bes_,           2.  _bedheugh_, _beugh_.

3.  _bedha_, _be_, _beva_.     3.  _bedhens_, _bens_.

This tense is used rather as a conditional, _I should be_, or a
subjunctive after _pan_, when, _mar_, if, etc.

II.  PRETERITE, _I was_, _I have been_.

                Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _bêv_ (older _buf_, _buef_).           1.  _bên_ (older _buen_).

2.  _bês_ (older _bus_, _bues_) _besta_.   2.  _beugh_.

3.  _bê_ (older _bue_).                    3.  _bons_.

This tense is more frequently used in the impersonal, _mî a vê_, _tî a
vê_, etc.

IV.  PLUPERFECT, _I had been_.

            Singular.                              Plural.

    1.  _bîen_ (older written       1.  _bîen_ (_byen_).

2.  _bîes_ (_byes_).                2.  _bîeugh_ (_byeugh_).

3.  _bîa_ (_bye_).                  3.  _bîens_ (_byens_).

Lhuyd gives a pluperfect _beazen_, _beazes_, etc. corresponding with the
Welsh _buaswn_, but it does not appear to be used.

V.  SUBJUNCTIVE, _I may be_.

           Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _bev_ (older _byf_,           1.  _ben_.

2.  _by_.                         2.  _beugh_.

3.  _bo_.                         3.  _bons_.

This and the second tense are not very clearly distinguished.


              Singular.                              Plural.

1.  wanting.                           1.  _bedhon_, let us be.

2.  _bedh_, be thou.                   2.  _bedhough_, be ye.

3.  _bedhens_ (_bedhes_, _boes_,       3.  _bedhens_, let them be.
_bes_), let him be.

A common variant of the imperative is formed with the auxiliary _gwîl_,
to do.

       Singular.                              Plural.

1.  wanting.             1.  _gwren ny bos_.

2.  _gwra bos_.          2.  _gwreugh bos_.

3.  _gwrens e bos_.      3.  _gwrens y bos_.

§ 2.  _Gwîl_ (older _guthil_, _gruthil_, _guil_, _gul_), to do.

I.  PRESENT OR FUTURE TENSE, _I do_, or _I shall do_.

(a).  Inflected.

            Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _gwrav_, _gwrama_.             1.  _gwren_, _gwron_.

2.  _gwreth_, _gwrês_,             2.  _gwreugh_, _gwrough_.

3.  _gwra_.                        3.  _gwrons_.

_Gwrama_, _gwresta_, in the second mutation _wrama_, _wresta_, are used
in interrogative and negative sentences, and after _mar_, if, in the
fourth mutation _qwrama_, _qwresta_.  The older form of _gwresta_ was
_gwreta_.  Occasionally in late Cornish a form of this present is found
exactly like the imperfect of _bos_; _therama_, _thera_, etc.  This is
probably _wrama_, _wra_, with the verbal particle _ăth_ (_yth_) prefixed.
It occurs in cases where it cannot possibly be the imperfect of _bos_.
Lhuyd (pp. 246, 253) was rather puzzled by it, but with his usual
clearness of sight was able to find out the real facts.

(b).  Impersonal.

  _Mî a wra_, _tî a wra_, _ev a wra_, etc.

II.  THE IMPERFECT TENSE, _I was doing_.

(a).  Inflected.

        Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _gwrellen_, _gwren_.    1.  _gwrellen_, _gwren_.

2.  _gwrelles_, _gwres_.    2.  _gwrelleugh_.

3.  _gwrella_, _gwre_.      3.  _gwrellens_.

(b).  Impersonal.

  _Mî a wrella_, _tî a wrella_, etc.

This tense is seldom used as an auxiliary, and is often confused with the


(a).  Inflected.

                               _Old form_.

        Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _gwrugaf_, _gwruge_.    1.  _gwrussyn_.

2.  _gwrussys_.             2.  _gwrussough_.

3.  _gwruk_.                3.  _gwrussons_.

                        _Later form of old form_.

        Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _gwrîgaf_, _gwrîga_.    1.  _gwressen_, _gwreithen_.

2.  _gwresses_.             2.  _gwressough_, _gwreithough_.

3.  _gwrîg_.                3.  _gwressons_, _gwreithons_.

                              _Modern form_.

            Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _gwrîgav vi_.                   1.  _gwrîgon ny_.

2.  _gwrîs_, _gwrîsta_, _gwrîges    2.  _gwrîgough why_.

3.  _gwrîg_, _gwrîga_, _gwrês_.     3.  _gwrîgans y_.

The last form seems to have completely superseded the other in late
Cornish.  It seems to be formed by taking the irregular third person
singular as a root, and forming the rest of the persons from it on the
analogy of the present tense.  Where it is found—and the first person
occurs as early as Jordan’s Drama of _The Creation_ (e.g. _ny wrugaf_, 1.
1662)—it is generally written without the final consonants of the verb,
which, as in the imperfect tense of the verb _to be_, seem to coalesce
with the initials of the pronouns.  One finds the forms _rig a vee_,
_rigga vee_, _rigon ny_, _rigo why_, _rig an jy_, these being preceded by
adverbs, conjunctions, etc., such as _na_, _pan_, etc., which put the
initial in the second state, and the _w_ being almost silent is omitted.
The form _wruge_ (=_wrîga_), occurs in _Origo Mundi_, 2250, and _Passio
Christi_, 930, for the first person singular, preceded by _pan_, when.
The same word occurs for the third person in _O_. _M_. 423, and in the
form _wrega_ in Jordan’s _Creation_, 2216.  This is _wrîg_ with the added
_a_ (see p. 120).  A form of the third person singular of this tense,
_ros_ (for _wros_, second state of _gwros_), may possibly be found in the
_Ordinalia_ and in _St. Meriasek_, in the expression, _re Thu am ros_, by
God who made me.  But it is more probably the preterite of _ry_, to give,
as it occurs also in the phrase _re’n arluth dhen beys am ros_, by the
Lord who gave me to the world.  _Wraze_ (=_wrês_, cf. Breton, _greaz_)
occurs in Gen. iii. 7.

(b).  Impersonal.

  _Mî a wrîg_, _tî a wrîg_, etc.

IV.  THE PLUPERFECT OR CONDITIONAL TENSE, _I had or would have done_.

(a).  Inflected.

                   Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _gwressen_ (older form _gwrussen_).          1.  _gwressen_.

2.  _gwresses_.                                  2.  _gwresseugh_.

3.  _gwressa_.                                   3.  _gwressens_.

(b).  Impersonal.

  _Mî a wressa_, _tî a wressa_, etc.

V.  THE SUBJUNCTIVE, _I may do_.

(a).  Inflected.

            Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _gwrellev_ (older               1.  _gwrellon_, _gwrellen_.

2.  _gwrelly_, _gwrelles_.          2.  _gwrellough_, _gwrelleugh_.

3.  _gwrello_, _gwreffa_.           3.  _gwrellens_, _gwrons_.

There is rather a confusion of the subjunctive and imperfect, and the two
are used rather indiscriminately.  The third person plural, _gwrons_, is
borrowed from the imperative.

(b).  The Impersonal.

  _Mî a wrello_, _tî a wrello_, etc.

  _Mî a wreffa_, _tî a wreffa_, etc.


          Singular.                              Plural.

1.  wanting.                   1.  _gwren_, let us do.

2.  _gwra_, do thou.           2.  _gwreugh_, do ye.

3.  _gwrens_, let him do.      3.  _gwrens_, _gwrons_, let them do.

INFINITIVE, _gîl_, _gwîl_, to do.



When this verb is used otherwise than as an auxiliary, the future is _mî
a vedn gwîl_, I will do, etc.  It means, as a principal verb, to do or to
make, and tenses may be formed with its own tenses as auxiliaries to its
infinitive.  Thus:—

  _Mî a wra gwîl_, I do or I make.

  _Tî a wrîg gwîl_, thou hast made.

  _Mar qwressa ’n den e wîl_, if the man would make it.

§ 3.  _Gally_, to be able.

I.  PRESENT OR FUTURE, _I can_ or _I may_.

(a).  Inflected.

            Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _gellam_, _gallam_,            1.  _gellen_.

2.  _gallos_, _gelleth_.           2.  _gellough_, _gallough_.

3.  _gel_.                         3.  _gellons_.

(b).  Impersonal.

  _Mî a el_ or _mî el_, etc.

II.  PAST (mixed preterite and pluperfect), _I could_ or _I might_.

(a).  Inflected.

        Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _galjen_, _gelles_.    1.  _galjen_, _gelsen_.

2.  _galjes_.              2.  _galjeugh_, _gelseugh_.

3.  _galja_, _gallas_.     3.  _galjens_, _gellens_.

(b).  Impersonal.  _Mî alja_, etc.

III.  SUBJUNCTIVE, _I may be able_.

(a).  Inflected.

        Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _gellev_, _gallen_.    1.  _gellen_.

2.  _gelly_.               2.  _gelleugh_, _gallough_.

3.  _gallo_, _gelly_.      3.  _gallons_.

This verb is chiefly used (as has been said) as an auxiliary in the
present and past tenses, in the sense of _can_, _could_, or _may_,
_might_.  In direct sentences the impersonal form is most usual, in
negative, interrogative, and dependent sentences the inflected form in
the second state of the initial, which is influenced by the particle _a_,
generally, however, not expressed, or by _na_, not.  When the inflected
form has been used in the question, the inflected form is often used
also, preceded by the personal pronoun, in affirmative answers.  Thus:—

  _’Ellough why clappya Kernûak_?  Can you speak Cornish?

  _Mî ellam_ (not _mî a el_).  I can.

  _’Aljesta scrifa a Sowsnak_?  Couldst thou write English?

  _Mî aljen_.  I could.

  _’Allosta môs dhô’n chŷ_?  Canst thou go to the house?

  _Mî ellam_.  I can.

  _Na orama dr ’el an Kembrîan gwîl rag dhô witha ’ga thavas_. {133}  I
  know not what the Welsh may do to preserve their language.  (Boson’s
  _Nebbaz Gerriau_.)

  _Radn alja bos parres dhô lavarel_. {133}  Some might be prepared to
  say.  (Boson’s _Nebbaz Gerriau_).

Sometimes the verb _gŏthvos_, to know (for which see Chapter XI.), is
used to express _can_, especially when mental capability is more or less
intended.  _Mî ôr_ (or _mî wôr_) _cowsa Sowsnak_, I can speak English.
Compare a similar use of _savoir_ in French.

§ 4.  _Menny_, to will, to wish.

I.  PRESENT, _I will_.

(a).  Inflected.

            Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _mennav_, _mednav_,             1.  _mennon_, _mednon_.

2.  _menneth_, _medneth_,           2.  _mennough_, _mednough_.

3.  _medn_.                         3.  _mennons_, _mednons_.

(b).  Impersonal.

  _Mî a vedn_, _tî a vedn_, etc.

II.  PAST, _I would_.  This is really the pluperfect.

(a).  Inflected.

              Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _menjon_, _menjam_ (older           1. _menjon_ (_mensen_).

2.  _menjes_ (_menses_).                2.  _menjough_ (_menseugh_).

3.  _menja_ (_mensa_).                  3.  _menjons_ (_mensens_).

(b).  Impersonal.

  _Mî a venja_, _tî a venja_, etc.

These are the only two tenses in common use as auxiliaries.  Lhuyd gives
another of mixed imperfect and preterite, _mennen_, _mennyz_, _mennaz_,
_mennen_, _menneh_, _mennenz_.


The following is a complete paradigm of a regular verb, showing the
various forms.  Most tenses have at least two forms, the simple verb,
whether in the inflected or impersonal conjugation, and the compound, or
verb with auxiliaries.  In late Cornish the compound is by far the more
usual in almost every tense.  The general principal on which the
different forms are used is:—

_Affirmative Sentences_.  Simple Impersonal or Auxiliary Impersonal,
generally the latter.

_Negative_, _Interrogative_, _or Dependent Sentences_.  Inflected Simple
or Inflected Auxiliary, generally the latter, but the Simple Inflected is
more common in these than the Simple Impersonal is in affirmative

  ROOT.  _Car_, love.

  VERBAL NOUN OR INFINITIVE.  _Cara_, the act of loving, to love.

  PRESENT PARTICIPLE.  _Ow cara_, loving.

  Past or Passive Participle.  _Keres_, loved.

I.  PRESENT, originally used also as future.

(a).  Inflected form.

            Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _carav_ (_vî_), {135} I love.   1.  _caron_ (_nŷ_), older _keryn_, we

2.  _keres_, or _kereth_ (_dî_),    2.  _carough_ (_whŷ_), you love.
thou lovest.

3.  _car_ (_ev_), he loves.         3.  _carons_ (_ŷ_), or _carans_, they

As this form, except occasionally in verse, is only used in negative,
interrogative, or dependent sentences, the initial is generally changed
to the second state by some preceding particle, such as _a_, _ni_, _pan_,

(b).  Impersonal form.

  _Mî_, _tî_, _ev_, _nŷ_, _whŷ_, _ŷ_ (late form often _anjŷ_ or _jŷ_) _a

(c).  Inflected Auxiliary.

  _Gwrav vî cara_.

For the rest of the tense see the present of _gwîl_, to do.

(d).  Impersonal Auxiliary.

  _Mî_, _tî_, _ev_, _nŷ_, _whŷ_, _ŷ_ (or _anjŷ_ or _jŷ_) _a wra cara_.

The forms _wrama_, _wresta_ are generally used for the inflected
auxiliary first and second persons singular in interrogative and
dependent sentences, _a wrama cara_, do I love? _pan wresta cara_, when
thou dost love.  The particle _a_ of the impersonal form is not
infrequently omitted, especially when the pronouns ending in vowels
immediately precede it. {136}


  _Thov vi ow cara_, I am loving.

The rest as in the present tense of _bos_, to be, followed by the present
participle.  The negative form of this is:—

  _Nynsoma_ or _nynsov ow cara_, etc.


  _Dhov vî keres_, I am loved.

The rest as the present of _bos_, followed by the past participle.

Or the older passive:—

  _Mî_, _tî_, _ev_, _nŷ_, _whŷ_, _ŷ_ (or _anjŷ_ or _jŷ_) _a gerer_.

Or the auxiliary form of the older passive:—

  _Mî_, _tî_, etc., _a wrer cara_.

In this case _wrer_ is for _gwrer_, the passive of _gwîl_, to do.

II.  THE IMPERFECT, used also more or less as a Subjunctive.

(a).  Inflected form.

            Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _caren_, I was loving.          1.  _caren_, we were loving.

2.  _cares_, thou wert loving.      2.  _careugh_, you were loving.

3.  _cara_, he was loving.          3.  _carens_, they were loving.

(b).  Impersonal form.

  _Mî_, _tî_, etc., _a gara_.

(c).  Auxiliary form.

  _Therav vî ow cara_.

The rest as the imperfect of _bos_, to be, with the present participle.

The negative form of this tense is either:—

  _nî garen_, etc., or

  _nynseram ow cara_, etc.

The interrogative is either:—

  _a garen_? etc., or

  _’erama_, etc., _ow cara_?


(a).  Inflected.

           Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _kerŷs_, I loved.            1.  _carson_, or _kersen_, we loved.

2.  _kerses_, thou lovedst.      2.  _carsough_, you loved.

3.  _caras_, he loved.           3.  _carsons_, or _carsans_, they loved.

(b).  Impersonal.

  _Mî_, _tî_, etc., _a garas_.

(c).  Inflected auxiliary.

  _Gwrîgav vî cara_.

The rest as the past tense of _gwîl_, to do, followed by the infinitive.

(d).  Impersonal auxiliary.

  _Mî_, _tî_, etc., _a wrîg cara_.

Sometimes _re_ is prefixed to this tense, as:—

  _mî re garas_, _mî re wrîg cara_.

This turns it into a preterperfect, “I have loved,” but in late Cornish
there is usually no distinction between preterite and perfect, except
that the latter is seldom expressed by anything except the auxiliary
form, while either may be used for the former.

The passive of this tense is either:—

  _mî_, _tî_, etc., _a gares_, or

  _mî_, _tî_, etc., _a vê keres_.

The latter is the more usual.


(a).  Inflected.

            Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _carsen_, I had loved, or I     1.  _carsen_, we had loved.
would love.

2.  _carses_, thou hadst loved.     2.  _carseugh_, you had loved.

3.  _carsa_, he had loved.          3.  _carsens_, they had loved.

Pronounced and sometimes written _carjen_ (or _cargen_ with soft _g_ in
MSS.), etc.

(b).  Impersonal.

  _Mî_, _tî_, etc., _a garsa_.

(c).  Inflected auxiliary.

  _Gwressen cara_, etc., or _menjam cara_, etc.

The rest as the pluperfect of _gwîl_, or of _menny_, to will, with the

(d).  Impersonal auxiliary.

  _Mî_, _tî_, etc., _a wressa cara_, or _a venja cara_.

The passive of this tense is formed by the pluperfect of _bos_, to be,
followed by the past participle.


(a).  Inflected.

            Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _kerev_, or _carev_, I may      1.  _keren_, or _caren_, we may love.

2.  _kery_, or _cary_, thou         2.  _kereugh_, or _careugh_, you may
mayest love.                        love.

3.  _caro_, he may love.            3.  _carens_, or _carons_, they may

(b).  Impersonal form.

  _Mî_, _tî_, etc., _a garo_.

(c).  Inflected auxiliary.

  _Gwrellev vî_ (or _gwrellen_) _cara_.

And the rest as the subjunctive or imperfect of _gwîl_ with the

(d).  Impersonal auxiliary.

  _Mî_, _tî_, etc., _a wrello_ (or _wreffa_) _cara_.

The passive of this tense is formed by the present tense of _gally_, to
be able, followed by the infinitive _bos_, to be, and the past participle
of the main verb:—

  _Mî_, _tî_, etc., _a el bos keres_, I, thou, etc., may be loved.

This tense is not necessarily used after conjunctions which in other
languages (Latin, for example) govern a subjunctive, but rather when
uncertainty, expectation, or contingency is signified, in fact, when in
English one would use _may_ as an auxiliary.  There is a good deal of
confusion between this tense and the imperfect.

  _Re_ prefixed to the inflected or inflected auxiliary form of this
  tense makes it an optative:—

  _Re wrellen cara_, would that I might love, etc.


In older Cornish the present, whether in its inflected, impersonal, or
auxiliary form, was commonly used to express a future, and sometimes the
subjunctive was used as a future.  Some verbs have an extra tense which
is a specially inflected future, resembling one form of the Breton
conditional, as follows:—

        Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _carvym_, _carvyv_.    1.  _carvon_.

2.  _carvyth_.             2.  _carvough_.

3.  _carvyth_, _carvo_.    3.  _carvons_.

This is more commonly found in the impersonal form, _mî_, _tî_, etc., _a
garvyth_.  It is formed, as may be clearly seen, by suffixing the future
or subjunctive of _bos_, to be (perhaps in its sense of “to have” {140}),
to the root of the verb.  (Cf. the suffixing of the present of _avoir_ to
an infinitive to form a future in French, _je parler-ai_, and its
unamalgamated prototype, the future form, _resurgere habent_, in the very
low Latin of the antepenultimate verse of the Athanasian Creed.) But in
late Cornish the regular future was formed by the auxiliary verb _menny_,
to will:—

  _Mednav vî cara_, etc.

  _Mî_, _tî_, etc., _a vedn cara_, etc.

The forms _mednama_, _menta_, usually in the second state of the initial,
are used for interrogative and dependent sentences:—

  _A vednama cara_? shall I love?

  _Mar menta cara_, if thou wilt love.

The negative is either _nî vednav vî cara _or _mî ni vednav cara_.

The latter form, with the _v_ of the termination omitted as being nearly
inaudible, is used in Carew’s phrase, _meea navidua cowzasawzneck_, I
will speak no English, for _mî na vednav cowsa Sowsnak_.

The passive is formed by the present of _menny_, the infinitive of _bos_,
and the past participle:—

  _Mî_, _tî_, etc., _a vedn bos keres_.


(a).  Inflected.

             Singular.                              Plural.

1.  wanting.                          1.  _caren_, let us love.

2.  _car_, love thou.                 2.  _careugh_, love ye.

3.  _cares_ (or _carens_), let him    3.  _carens_, let them love.

(b).  The auxiliary.

                 Singular.                              Plural.

1.  wanting.                                  1.  _gwren cara_.

2.  _gwra cara_.                              2.  _gwreugh cara_.

3.  _gwrens cara_ or _gwrens e cara_.         3.  _gwrens ŷ cara_.


The irregular verbs are:—

  _môs_ (earlier _mones_), to go.

  _dôs_ (earlier _dones_), to come.

  _dôn_, to bear or carry.

  _drŷ_, to bring.

  _rŷ_, to give.

  _gǒdhvos_, to know.

Of these, _môs_ and _dôn_ are each made up of two different verbs.  The
irregularities of _dôs_, _drŷ_, and _rŷ_ are due to contractions, and
those of _gŏdhvas_ chiefly to its being compounded with _bos_, to be.

There are irregularities also in the auxiliary verbs _gwîl_, to do, and
_gally_, to be able, but these have been already given in Chapter IX.

In earlier Cornish the inflected forms of the irregular verbs were freely
used, but later these are comparatively rare, and the impersonal and
auxiliary forms became so much commoner that the full inflected form can
only be gathered from the early writings and from the rather imperfect
paradigms given by Lhuyd.

It is not necessary to give anything more than the inflected verbs here,
for the impersonal and auxiliary tenses can easily be worked out from
these on the model of the regular verb.  These are given without
pronouns, though of course pronouns are used, as with other verbs.

In the latest Cornish the infinitives of _môs_, _dôs_, _drŷ_, _rŷ_, were
often used colloquially to express the imperative, without much
discrimination between singular and plural.  These verbs, especially
_môs_ and _dôs_, are generally found in late Cornish in the auxiliary
form with _gwîl_ and _menny_, but rarely in the simple inflected.

§ 1.  _Môs_, to go.


            Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _av_ or _ăthov_ (older         1.  _en_ or _ăthen_.

2.  _eth_ or _ătheth_.             2.  _eugh_ or _ătheugh_.

3.  _a_ or _ătha_.                 3.  _ans_ or _ăthans_.


   Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _ellen_.      1.  _ellen_.

2.  _elles_.      2.  _elleugh_.

3.  _ella_.       3.  _ellens_.


      Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _êthen_.           1.  _êthen_.

2.  _êthes_.           2.  _êtheugh_.

3.  _êth_, _ellas_.    3.  _êthons_.

IV.  PLUPERFECT OR CONDITIONAL (probable, but not found).

   Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _elsen_.      1.  _elsen_.

2.  _elses_.      2.  _elseugh_.

3.  _elsa_.       3.  _elsens_.


   Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _ellev_.      1.  _ellen_.

2.  _elly_.       2.  _elleugh_.

3.  _ello_.       3.  _ellons_.


          Singular.                              Plural.

1.  —                          1.  _en_.

2.  _kê_, _kejy_, _kehejy_.    2.  _eugh_.

3.  _ens_.                     3.  _ens_.

  INFINITIVE, _môs_.


  PAST PARTICIPLE, _gilles_ (supplied from _gylly_ or _gelly_, to go).

In the impersonal form of the preterite, the verbal particle _a_ often
takes an _s_ or _j_ at the end of it, _mî aj êth_, I went, but generally
in this form _a_ is omitted, _mî â_, I go; _mî eth_, I went; _mî ello_, I
may go, etc.  In the _Ordinalia_ and other Dramas the forms _reseth_ and
_regeth_ (_rejeth_) are found for the perfect.  This is the preterite
_êth_ with the particle _re_ and _s_ (_j_), for _th_, prefixed.

§ 2.  _Dôs_ (earlier _devonos_, _donos_, _devos_), to come.


        Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _dov_ (older _duf_).    1.  _down_ (_duen_, _dun_).

2.  _dêth_ (_dueth_).       2.  _dough_, _deugh_.

3.  _dê_ (_due_).           3.  _dons_, _desons_.


    Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _deffen_.      1.  _deffen_.

2.  _deffes_.      2.  _deffeugh_.

3.  _deffa_.       3.  _deffens_.


            Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _dêtha_, _dêth_ (older          1.  _dêthon_ (_duthon_).
_duth_, _dueyth_).

2.  _dêthes_, _dês_ (older          2.  _dêtheugh_ (_dutheugh_).
_duthys_, _dues_).

3.  _dêth_ (older _dueth_,          3.  _dêthons_, _desons_ (_duthens_).

IV.  PLUPERFECT not found, except third person singular, _dothye_ or
_dethye_, and third pl. _dothyans_.

         Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _dothyen_, _dethyen_.    1.  _dothyen_, _dethyen_.

2.  _dothyes_, _dethyes_.    2.  _dothy eugh_, _dethyeugh_.

3.  _dothya_, _dethya_.      3.  _dothyens_, _dethyens_.


    Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _deffev_.      1.  _deffen_.

2.  _deffy_.       2.  _deffeugh_.

3.  _deffo_.       3.  _deffens_.


        Singular.                              Plural.

1.  wanting.                1.  _dewn_ (_dun_, _duen_).

2.  _dês_ (_dues_,          2.  _deugh_ (_dugh_).

3.  _dêns_.                 3.  _dêns_.

  INFINITIVE, _dôs_.

  PARTICIPLES.  PRESENT, _ow tôs_; PAST, _devedhes_.

  “I am come” is _devedhes ov_.

The root vowels of this verb vary a good deal in the MSS.  The _ue_ is
evidently a single syllable according to the rhythm, and so is the _ye_
or _ya_.

§ 3.  _Dôn_, to bear or carry (earlier also _doen_, _doyn_).


     Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _degav_.         1.  _degon_.

2.  _deges_.         2.  _degough_.

3.  _deg_, _dog_.    3.  _degons_.

II.  IMPERFECT, not found.


          Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _dîges_ (older _duges_).    1.  _dîgon_.

2.  _dîges_ (_duges_).          2.  _dîgough_.

3.  _dîg_ (_dug_, _duk_).       3.  _dîgons_.

IV.  PLUPERFECT, not found.


      Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _dogev_.           1.  _dogen_.

2.  _dogy_.            2.  _dogeugh_.

3.  _dogo_, _doga_.    3.  _dogens_.


     Singular.                              Plural.

1.  wanting.          1.  _dogen_.

2.  _dog_, _doga_.    2.  _degeugh_.

3.  _degens_.         3.  _degens_.

INFINITIVE, _dôn_, _doga_, or _degy_.

  PARTICIPLE.  PRESENT, _ow tôn_ or _ow tegy_; PAST, _deges_.

§ 4.  _Rŷ_, to give.


   Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _rov_.       1.  _ren_.

2.  _reth_.      2.  _reugh_.

3.  _re_.        3.  _rens_.


   Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _ren_.       1.  _ren_.

2.  _res_.       2.  _reugh_.

3.  _re_.        3.  _rens_.


    Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _rês_.         1.  _resen_.

2.  _resses_.      2.  _rosough_.

3.  _ros_.         3.  _rosons_.


   Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _rosen_.      1.  _rosen_.

2.  _roses_.      2.  _roseugh_.

3.  _rosa_.       3.  _rosens_.


    Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _rollen_.      1.  _rollen_.

2.  _rolly_.       2.  _rolleugh_.

3.  _rollo_.       3.  _dollens_, _rollons_.


    Singular.                              Plural.

1.  wanting.        1.  _ren_.

2.  _ro_.           2.  _reugh_.

3.  _roy_.          3.  _rens_.




§ 5.  _Dry_, to bring.

Except that the present is:—

        Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _dorov_ or _drov_.      1.  _doren_ or _dren_.

2.  _doreth_ or _dreth_.    2.  _dorough_ or _dreugh_.

3.  _dore_ or _dre_.        3.  _dorens_ or _drens_.

the second person singular of the imperative is _doro_ or _dro_, and the
preterite third person singular is _dres_ or _dros_, this verb is _rŷ_
with a _d_ prefixed.  The present participle is _ow trŷ_.

§ 6.  _Gŏdhvos_, or _gŏdhvas_, to know, compounded of _godh_ or
_gŭdh_=knowledge, and _bos_, to be.


                    Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _gôn_ or _goram_.                              1.  _gŏdhon_.

2.  _gŏdhas_.                                      2.  _gŏdhough_.

3.  _gôr_ (second state _wôr_ or ’_ôr_).           3.  _gŏdhons_.

II.  IMPERFECT, used also as Perfect.

        Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _gŏdhen_, _gŏdhyen_.    1.  _gŏdhen_, _gŏdhyen_.

2.  _gŏdhes_, _gŏdhyes_.    2.  _gŏdheugh_, _gŏdhyeugh_.

3.  _gŏdha_, _gŏdhya_.      3.  _gŏdhens_, _gŏdhyens_.

III.  PRETERITE.  The second form, given by Lhuyd, is a rather improbable
tense, and is not found elsewhere.

         Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _gŏdhvên_, _gwedhun_.     1.  _gŏdhvên_, _gwedhyn_.

2.  _gŏdhvês_, _gwedhys_.     2.  _gŏdhveugh_, _gwedheugh_.

3.  _gŏdhvê_, _gwedhewys_.    3.  _gŏdhvons_, _gwedhans_, _gweians_.


     Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _gŏdhvîen_.      1.  _gŏdhvîen_.

2.  _gŏdhvîes_.      2.  _gŏdhvîeugh_.

3.  _gŏdhvîa_.       3.  _gŏdhvîens_.


         Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _gŏdhevav_, _gŏdhav_.    1.  _gŏdhven_.

2.  _gŏdhvy_, _gŏdhy_.       2.  _gŏdhveugh_.

3.  _gŏdhvo_.                3.  _gŏdhvens_ or _gŏdhans_.


           Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _gŏdhvedhav_, _gŏffedhav_.    1.  _gŏdhvedhen_, _gŏffedhen_.

2.  _gŏdhvedhes_, _gŏffedhes_.    2.  _gŏdhvedheugh_, _goffedheugh_.

3.  _gŏdhvedh_, _gŏffedh_.        3.  _gŏdhvedhens_, _gŏffedhens_.


     Singular.                              Plural.

1.  _re wŏffen_.      1.  _re wŏffen_.

2.  _re wŏffas_.      2.  _re wŏffeugh_.

3.  _re wŏffa_.       3.  _re wŏffens_.


      Singular.                              Plural.

1.  wanting.            1.  _gŏdhvedhen_.

2.  _gŏdhvedh_.         2.  _gŏdhvedheugh_.

3.  _gŏdhvedhens_.      3.  _gŏdhvedhens_.

  INFINITIVE, gŏdhvos, gŏdhvas, gŏvos.

  PRESENT PARTICIPLE, _ow cŏdhvos_.

  PAST PARTICIPLE, _gŏdhvedhes_.


In the impersonal form and elsewhere, when this verb has its initial in
the second state, _w_ is substituted for _g_.

The Optative _re wŏffen_, etc. seems to be formed on the imperfect mixed
up with the subjunctive.


§ 1.  Prepositions are of two kinds, simple and compound.  Simple
prepositions govern various states of the initial.  Compound
prepositions, when, as is generally the case, they are made up of a
simple preposition and a noun, govern the first state, for the noun which
follows is really in the appositional genitive.  If a compound
preposition govern a personal pronoun, the latter is often placed, in its
possessive form, between the two component parts of the preposition,
governing the initial of the noun-half of it.  Sometimes, however, the
second part of a compound preposition is a simple preposition, and in
that case the government is that of the last preposition of the compound.


  _a_, of, from, governs second state.

  _avel_, _vel_, like, as.

  _bis_, up to, as far as (_usque ad_).

  _dadn_ or _en dadn_, under.

  _der_, _dre_, by, through, governs second state.

  _dres_, over, beyond, above.

  _dhô_, to, governs second state.

  _en_, _edn_, _et_, in. {149}

  _er_, see _war_.

  _gan_, _gans_, with, by.

  _heb_, without, governs second state.

  _kens_, before (of time).

  _lebmen_, _lemmen_, except, but.

  _ŏja_, _wŏja_, after (older form, _wose_).

  _rag_, for, because of.

  _re_, by (in swearing), governs second state.

  _reb_, by, near, beside.

  _saw_, save, except, but.

  _treba_, _tereba_, until.

  _troha_, towards.

  _tewa_ (_tewaha_, _tyha_, _tîgh_), towards.

  _war_, on, upon (also _er_), governs second state.

  _worth_, _orth_, at, to, against.


  _adres_, across, beyond.

  _adro dhô_, _drodho_, about, concerning, govern second state.

  _abarth_, _abarh_, beside, on the side of.

  _aberth_, _aberh_, within, inside of.

  _adheller dhô_, _dheller dhô_ (originally _a dhellergh_), behind,
  governs second state.

  _a dhirag_, _dhirag_, before, in the presence of.

  _adheworth_, _dheworth_, _dhŏrt_, from.

  _ajŷ_, ’_jŷ_, within (_a_+_chy_, house), generally followed by _dhô_,
  governing the second state.

  _a eugh_, above, over.

  _a mes_, _a ves_, _mes_, _en mes_, out of.

  _a mesk_, _mesk_, _en mesk_, among.

  _a wos_, because of, for the sake of.

  _entre_, among.

  _erbidn_ or _erbyn_, _warbidn_, against.

  _herwedh_, according to.

  _marnas_, except, but.

  _rag carenja_, for the sake of.

  _warlergh_, after.

  _ogastî dhô_, near to (_ogastî ogas_, near, _tî_=_tew_, side).

Of these _abarth_, _a mesk_ or _en mesk_, _erbidn_, _rag carenja_, and
_warlergh_, are separable when they govern pronouns.  Thus:—

  _a_ ’_gan parth_, beside us.

  _en agas mesk_, among you.

  _er ow fyn_, against me.

  _rag dha garenja_, for thy sake.

  _war e lergh_, after him.

§ 2.  Conjunctions.

  _ha_, and.  Before a vowel, _hag_, except when followed by the article
  _an_, or by a pronoun beginning with a vowel, in which case the vowel
  of the second word is elided.

  _bes_, _mes_, but.

  _saw_, but, except.

  _ma_, _may_, that, in order that.

  _dre_, _dro_, that.

  _erna_, until.

  _bis pan_, until.

  _treba_, _tereba_, until.

  _ken_, though, although.

  _awos_, although, notwithstanding.

  _pan_, _pa_, _pur_, or _pêr_ (=_pa-êr_) when, govern second state.

  _hedre_, whilst.

  _spas_, whilst.

  _perag_, _prag_, _fraga_, why, wherefore.

  _po_, or.  _po—po_—=either—or—

  _mar_, _mara_, _a_, if.  govern fourth state.

  _marnas_ (_mar_+_na_+_es_), unless.

  _ponî_, _ponag_, unless.

  _aban_, since, because.

  _dreven_, since, because.

  _rag_, for.

  _rag own_, lest, for fear.

  _vel_, than.

  _ages_, _es_, than.

  _na_, nor.

  _maga_, so, as much as.

§ 3.  Adverbs.

Adverbs may be formed from adjectives by prefixing _en_, which generally
changes the initial to the second state.  Thus _glan_, pure, _en ’lan_,
purely.  There are some exceptions to this change, _b_ and _m_ sometimes
change to _f_, not _v_, _bras_, great, _en fras_, greatly; _mas_, good,
_en fas_, well; _d_ sometimes changes to the fourth state, _da_, good,
_en ta_, well; and _t_ sometimes remains unchanged, _tin_, sharp, _en
tin_, sharply.  But we find also _en dhiugel_, certainly, from _diugel_,


  _en êrma_, now (in this hour).

  _lemman_, _lebman_, now.

  _en tor-ma_, now (in this turn).

  _nam_, _nana_, _nanna_, _nans_, now.

  _agensow_, just now.

  _hedhew_, to-day.

  _avorow_, to-morrow.

  _trenzha_, the day after to-morrow.

  _jedreva_=_dedreja_=_dedh trûja_, the third day hence.

  _an journa-ma war seithan_, this day week.

  _de_, yesterday.

  _genzhete_ (_kens de dedh_), the day before yesterday.

  _ternos_, the next day.

  _en kenzhoha_ / _boregweth_ } in the morning.

  _dohajedh_, in the afternoon.

  _gorthewer_, in the evening.

  _zîlgweth_, o’ Sundays.

  _fast_, presently.

  _prest_, _scon_ / _dewháns_, _eskes_ / _defry_, _dhesempes_ } soon,
  quicky, immediately.

  _whath_, still, yet.

  _kens_, before (of time).

  _kensemman_, ere now.

  _kensenna_, ere that.

  _ŏja_, _wŏja_, _ŏj’ henna_, _wŏja hedna_, afterwards.

  _nenna_, _nana_, _en êrna_, then.

  _ŏj’ hemma_, _wŏja hebma_, henceforth.

  _warlergh_, afterwards.

  _esos_, already.

  _avar_, early.

  _dewedhes_, late.

  _arta_, again.

  _kettoth_, _kettoth ha_, as soon as.

  _nevra_, ever.

  _rag nevra_, for ever.

  _benary_, for ever.

  _biken_, ever, _bis viken_, for ever.

  _besca_, _besqweth_, ever.

  _benethy_, _dho venethy_, for ever.

  _bepprês_, always.

  _hedre_, _spas_, whilst.

  _pols_, a while.


  _ple_, where (either interrogative or not).

  _a pele_, _a ble_, whence (either interrogative or not).

  _ŭbma_, _ŭmma_, here, hither.

  _enna_, there.

  _lemma_, _lebma_, here (in this place).

  _alemma_, _alebma_, hence.

  _alenna_, _en mes alenna_, thence.

  _aban_, _avan_, up, above, on high.

  _aman_, up, upwards.

  _awartha_, above, over.

  _awollas_, _warwollas_, below.

  _warban_, on high, up above.

  _warnans_, down below.

  _en hans_, _en nans_, down.

  _lĕr_, _lŏr_ (_luer_), down.

  _aberth_, _aberh_, within.

  _ajŷ_, _jŷ_, within.

  _aves_, _ames_, outside.

  _tre_, at home.

  _adre_, homewards.

  _ales_, abroad (_scattya ales_, to “scat” abroad).

  _dhô ves_, away.

  _kerh_ (formerly _kerdh_), away (_môs kerh_, to go away).

  _pel_, far.

  _enogas_, _ogas_, near, _ogastî_, near by.

  _a rag_, in front.

  _en rag_, forward.

  _dirag_, forth, before (of place).

  _dheller_ (_dellergh_), behind.

  _war dheller_, backwards.

  _adro_, around.

  _adres_, athwart.

  _a hes_, along.


  _mêr_, much.

  _îthek_, hugely.

  _îthek tra_, ever so much.

  _vîth mar_, ever so.

  _nepeth_, _nebas_, a little.

  _lour_, _lŭk lour_, _lŭk_, enough.

  _re_, too much.

  _kemmes_, _kebmes_, as much.

  _vîth_, at all.

  _hanter_, half.


  _mar_, so, as.

  _ky_—_mal_ / _ky_—_vel_ } as—as (_ky gwerdh velgwels_, as green as

  _del_, as.

  _della_, _en della_, _en delna_, so, in such manner.

  _cara_, _pocara_, _kepara_, _kepar del_, like as, even as, likewise.

  _maga_ (governing fourth state), as: _maga ta_, as well, likewise.

  _keffres_, _kekeffres_, likewise, also.

  _hagŏl_, _hagensŏl_, also.

  _a wedh_, _enwedh_, also.

  _gwell_, better.

  _lakkah_, worse.

  _moy_, more.

  _leh_, less.

  _kens vel_, rather than.


  _cowal_, _cowl_, quite.

  _namna_, almost.

  _ken_, else.

  _martesan_, perhaps.

  _betegens_, nevertheless.

  _moghya_, mostly.

  _ketel_, _ketella_, so.

  _pŭr_ (governing second state), very.

  _brâs_ / _fest_ } (placed after an adjective), very.

  _ogastî_, nearly, almost.

  _warbarth_, _warbarh_, together.

  _ni_, _nyns_, _nig_, _na_, _nag_, not. {153}

  _hepmar_, doubtless.

  _perag_, _prag_, _fraga_, why.

  _patla_, _fatel_, _fatla_, how.

  _pelta_, much, _pelta gwel_, much better.

  _otta_, _welta_, behold.

  _nahen_, otherwise.


Cornish is a disappointing language in respect of swearwords, for it is
by no means rich in those “ornaments to conversation.”  Except for a few
very distressing expressions, now better forgotten, which are put into
the mouths of the evil characters in the Dramas, the swears are mostly
quite harmless, and even pious.  It is not at all difficult or morally
dangerous to learn to swear in Cornish.

Surprise is generally expressed by _Re Varîa_!  By Mary!  By Our Lady!
shortened at times to _Arîa_! and _Rîa_!  This is used as an Englishman
might say “By Jove!” or “By George!” or a Frenchman “_Dame_!”

If there is an element of annoyance mingled with the surprise, _An Jowl_!
The Devil, may be mentioned with effect, perhaps by those to whom _Re
Varîa_! savours too much of Popery; but _Re Varîa_! is in better taste.
_An Jowl_ may be used, as in English, after words signifying _where_,
_what_, _why_, _when_, to strengthen a question.

An assertion is strengthened by the use of the name of a saint,
preferably the patron of one’s own parish (though any Cornishman may
swear by St. Michael {154}), with or without the particle _re_, which
puts the initial in the second state, prefixed.  The title “saint” is
usually omitted.  Thus:—

  _Re Yêst_! By St. Just!  _Re Gŏlom_! By St. Columb!  _Re Îa_! By St. Ia
  [Ives].  _Re Vihal_! or _Mîhal_! By St. Michael.

A little stronger, for those whose principles will allow them to mention
it, is _Re’n Offeren_! By the Mass! and some bold, bad persons have been
known under great pressure to say _Re Dhew_!  In the Dramas, _Re thu am
ros_ (_Re Dhew a’m ros_), By God who made me! (or who gave me) is a more
elaborate form of this swear.  One also finds _Abarth Dew_, On God’s
part=In God’s name, and in the mouths of pagans, _Abarth Malan_ (a Celtic
goddess) and even _Abarth Satnas_.

Ill-temper is generally expressed by variations on _mollath_, pl.
_mollathow_, curse.  A moderate amount of anger may be indicated by
_Mollath_! or _Mollathow_! alone, or _Mollathow dheugh_! Curses to you!
or _Mollath warnough_! A curse upon you!  A little more is expressed by
specifying the number, generally large, of these curses, _Mil mollath
warnough_! or even _Cans mil mollath warnough_!

Some, moved by very great indignation, have been known to say _Mollath
Dew warnas_! God’s curse upon thee! and Carew in his Survey of Cornwall
of 1602 gives a by no means nice phrase (which he spells all anyhow and
translates wrong), _Mollath Dew en dha ’las_! The curse of God in thy
belly!  Another serio-comic but rather cryptic expletive, peculiar to
Camborne, or at any rate to the Drama of _St. Meriasek_, is _Mollath Dew
en gegin_! God’s curse in the kitchen!  It does not seem to mean anything
in particular, except perhaps that one’s food may not agree with one,
though it makes quite as much sense as the “universal adjective” of
English swearing, and is a good deal less offensive.  _Venjens_, a
borrowed English word, may be substituted for _Mollath_. {156}  One finds
_Mil venjens warnas_! and even _Venjens en dha ’las_!  But all these last
expressions represent unusually violent states of mind, and cannot be
recommended for general use; for if one were to use up such expletives as
these on matters of little moment, there would be nothing left for state

The expressions _Malbe_, _Malbew_, _Malbew dam_, _Malbe dam_, found in
_The Creation_ and in _St. Meriasek_, are considered by Prof. Loth to be
maledictions referring to the French expression _Mal beau or Beau mal_, a
euphonism for epilepsy, so that _Malbe dam_ has no connection with the
similar sound of part of it in English, but only means “Epilepsy to me!”

The seventeenth and eighteenth century speakers of Cornish sometimes
wished to express contempt or dislike by abusive terms.  These often take
the form of epithets added to the word _pedn_, head.  Thus, _Pedn brâs_,
literally “great head,” is equivalent to the impolite English “fat-head”;
_Pedn Jowl_, devil’s head; _Pedn mousak_, stinking head; these three are
given as common terms of abuse by Carew.  When the late Mrs. Dolly
Pentreath was at all put out, she is reported to have used the term
_Cronak an hagar deu_ (The ugly black toad), and there are several
equally uncomplimentary epithets scattered up and down among the Dramas.
But these words do not accord with the polite manners of those who belong
to the most gentlemanlike race, except the Scottish Highlanders, in all
Christendom, and those Cornishmen who require that their conversation
should be a little more forcible than “yea” and “nay” (for which, by the
way, there is no real Cornish) are recommended not to go beyond _Re
Varîa_, _Re’n Offeren_, and an invocation of St. Michael of the Mount, or
of the patron saints of their own parishes.  What would happen if one
were to swear by the patron of some other parish does not appear, but
probably, if a St. Ives man were to strengthen his assertion by an appeal
to St. Meriasek of Camborne, instead of his own St. Ia, he might be
suspected of a wilful economy of truth.  The more forcible expressions
may be left to the “Anglo-Saxon,” for Cornishmen and Celts generally,
even of the lowest position, are not, and never have been, foul-mouthed.

The usual interjections, Oh! Ah! Alas! are borrowed from English.  Woe!
is expressed by _Trew_!  Woe is me! is _Govî_!  Woe to him!  _Goev_!
compounds of _gew_, woe, with pronouns.

Lo, Behold (the _voila_, _voici_ of French) is expressed by _otta_ (older
forms _awatta_, _awatte_, _wette_, _otte_=perhaps _a wel dî_? dost thou
see?).  This combines with pronouns, e.g. _ottavî_, “me voici,” _ottadî_,
_ottavê_ or _ottensa_, _ottany_, _ottawhy_, _ottanjy_.  These compounds
are often followed by a participle, e.g. _ottavî pares_, behold me
prepared.  The distinction of _voila_ and _voici_ is expressed by
_ottama_ and _ottana_.


§ 1. In later Cornish there was a strong tendency to assimilate the order
of words and the construction of sentences to those of English, but
nevertheless certain idioms persisted throughout.

In English the normal order of words in a simple sentence is:—

  Subject—Verb—Complement of Predicate (Object, etc.).

This order is used in Cornish also when the impersonal form of the main
verb or of the auxiliary is used, and the object is not a personal
pronoun.  Thus:—

  _Dew a gar an bês_, God loveth the world.

  _Dew a wra cara an bês_, God doth love the world.

One of these two forms is the most usual in a direct affirmative
principal sentence when the object is not a pronoun.

If the object is a pronoun, the order is:—



  _Dew a’th gar_, God loveth thee.


  Subject—Particle—Auxiliary—Pronoun in the Possessive Form—Infinitive of
  Main Verb.


  _Dew a wra dha gara_, God doth love thee.

If the auxiliary verb is _bos_, to be, it often happens that the
inflected form of it is used in an affirmative sentence when the tense is
the continuous present or imperfect.  In these cases the order is:—

  Auxiliary Verb—Subject—Participle of Main Verb—Complement.


  _Thov vî ow môs dhô Loundres_, I am going to London.

  _Therough why ow tôs adre_, you were coming home.

But with the preterite tense the simple impersonal form is more usual.

  _Mî a vê gennes en Kernow_, I was born in Cornwall.

The same applies to the present and imperfect of _bos_ when it is not an
auxiliary.  Thus:—

  _Thov vî lowen dhô ’gas gwelas_, I am glad to see you.

The inflected form of the verb is rare in simple direct affirmative
sentences, except when it is used as a Celtic substitute for “yes.”  It
may be used in verse, but it is rather affected in prose.  In negative,
interrogative, and dependent sentences it is the only form to use, but
even then it is the inflected auxiliaries, parts of _gwîl_, to do,
_menny_, to will, _gally_, to be able, etc., with the infinitive of the
main verb that are more commonly used, rather than the inflected form of
the main verb itself.  In the third person singular it is of course only
distinguishable from the impersonal form by the position of the subject,
which in the inflected form would follow the verb.  The inflectional form
of the third person plural is only used when the pronoun “they” is the
subject.  When the subject is a plural noun the verb is always in the
singular.  The inflected form, either of the auxiliary _gwîl_ with the
infinitive of the main verb, or of the main verb itself, is always used
for the imperative.  In late Cornish, except in the case of answers for
“yes” and “no,” and of the peculiar forms of the first, second, and third
persons singular in _ma_, _ta_, and _va_, the subject personal pronoun is
almost always expressed, except, of course, when the subject is a noun.

§ 2.  Negative and Interrogative Sentences.

For a negative sentence it is never correct to use the impersonal, but
always the inflected form of the verb or of the auxiliary, preceded by
the negative particle _ni_ (older, _ny_) or _nyns_.  The order is:—

  1.  Negative Particle—Verb—Subject—Complement of Predicate.


  2.  Negative Particle—Auxiliary (inflected)—Subject—Infinitive of Main

If the object is a pronoun, in the first case it follows the negative
particle in its third form, in the second case it precedes the infinitive
in the possessive form.  Thus:—

  1.  _Ni welav vî an dên_, I do not see the man.

  _Ni wôr dên vîth an êr_, no man knoweth the hour.

  2.  _Ni wrígav vî gwelas an dên_, I did not see the man.

  1.  _Ni’th welav vî_, I do not see thee.

  2.  _Ni wrigav vî dha welas_, I did not see thee.

In the case of the present and imperfect of _bos_, to be, the particle
_nyns_ is often used, and it is sometimes found with other words
beginning with vowels, but its use is rare in late Cornish, and _ni_, or
less correctly _na_ (or _nag_ before a vowel) is more usual.

It is allowable to use the inflected form with the subject-pronoun
preceding the negative particle, but it should only be used for emphasis
on the subject, and is better avoided.

Interrogative sentences are formed with the interrogative particle _a_,
or by the use of some interrogative pronoun or adverb.  In all cases the
inflected form of the main verb or auxiliary (usually the latter) follows
the particle, pronoun, or adverb, and usually with its initial in the
second state.  Thus:—

  _A wrîgough why besca gwelas_?  Did you ever see?

  _A wreugh why agan gwelas_?  Do you see us?

  _Fatla wreugh why crŷa hedna_?  How do you call that?

  _Fraga wreugh why gwîl hebma_?  Why do you do this?

  _A vednough why môs genev vî_?  Will you go with me?

The particle _a_ is often omitted colloquially, but its effect is
perceptible in the change of the initial of the verb.  If the verb begins
with a vowel, _a_ is always omitted.

With interrogative sentences should come the answers to them.  It must be
understood that by nature no Celt can ever say a plain “yes” or “no.”
There are “dictionary words” for “yes” and “no” in Welsh and Cornish, and
they are used a very little in translations from other languages; but
they do not “belong” to be used in speaking or writing Welsh or Cornish.
In Gaelic there are not even “dictionary words” for them.  In Breton _ia_
and _nan_ are used freely for “yes” and “no,” as in French, but that is
probably quite modern French influence.  The Celtic practice is to repeat
the inflected verb of the question, affirmatively or negatively, in the
necessary person.  Thus:—

  _’Ellough why cowsa Kernûak_?  Can you speak Cornish?

  _Gellam_ or _mî ellam_.  I can (yes).  _Ni ellam_, or (less correctly)
  _nag ellam_, I cannot (no).

  _A vednough why dôs genev vî_?  Will you come with me?

  _Mednav_.  I will (yes).  _Ni vednav_.  I will not (no).

  _A wrîg ev môs dhô Benzans_?  Did he go to Penzance?

  _Gwrîg_.  He did.  _Ni wrîg_.  He did not.

  _’Esta ajŷ_?  Art thou at home?

  _Thoma_.  I am.  _Nynsov_, or _nynsoma_, or (less correctly), _nag ov_.
  I am not.

In the case of a negative interrogative sentence the verb is immediately
preceded by _na_=_nî_ + _a_, whether it begins the sentence or is itself
preceded by an interrogative conjunction.  Thus:—

  _Na wrîsta gwelas_?  Didst thou not see?

  _Fraga na wrîsta crejy_?  Why didst thou not believe?

§ 3.  Dependent Sentences or Subordinate Clauses.

These are of three kinds:—

  1.  Those introduced by conjunctions, such as _if_, _that_, _as_, etc.,
  or by a relative pronoun.

  2.  Those analogous to the “accusative with the infinitive” of Latin.

  3.  The absolute clause.

1.  The ordinary dependent clause introduced by a conjunction has its
verb in the indicative, unless the so-called subjunctive is required to
express uncertainty or contingency, without reference to any preceding
conjunction.  The verb is always in the simple inflected or inflected
auxiliary form.  The verb which follows the conjunction _mar_ or _mara_,
if, has its initial in the fourth state, and _tre_, _tro_, or _dro_,
that, governs the second state.

A dependent sentence may sometimes precede its principal sentence, as in
English.  A very good instance of two sorts of dependent clauses may be
seen in the following sentence from Boson’s _Nebbaz Gerriau_.  The
English is:—

    “If that learned wise man [John Keigwin] should see this [i.e. this
    essay], he would find reason to correct it in orthography, etc.”

Boson’s Cornish, the spelling and division of words assimilated to that
of the present grammar, is:—

    _Mar qwressa an dên deskes fîr-na gwelas hemma_,
    If should [do] that man learned wise see this,
    _ev a venja cavos fraga e ewna en scrîfa-composter_.
    he would find why it to amend in writing-correctness.

In this sentence _qwressa_ is for _gwressa_ (third person singular of the
conditional or pluperfect of the auxiliary _gwîl_, to do), with the
initial in its fourth state after _mar_.  Boson writes it _markressa_,
all in one word.  _Fraga e ewna_ is an example of a variant of the second
form of dependent sentence.  The principal verb _ev a venja cavos_ is in
the impersonal auxiliary form, and of the two dependent clause verbs,
one, _qwressa an dên deskes fîr-na gwelas_, is in the inflected auxiliary
form, and the other, _ewna_, is infinitive.

In a relative sentence, if the relative pronoun is the subject, the verb
appears to be in the impersonal form.  That is to say, it is always in
the form of the third person singular, and does not show any agreement
with its antecedent, whatever person or number that may be in.  The other
peculiarities of relative sentences are given in Chapter VII. §4.

2.  “Instead of using the conjunction _that_ with another verb in the
indicative mood, as in most European languages, it is usual to put the
second verb in the infinitive preceded by the personal pronoun, as is
common in Latin.”  Thus says Norris, speaking in a manner perhaps rather
less clear than usual, of an idiom found in the Dramas.  This idiom,
analogous to the “accusative with the infinitive” of Latin, is found down
to the latest period of Cornish literature, though not to the complete
exclusion of a finite clause beginning with _that_.  The instances given
by Norris are:—

  _Ha cous ef dhe dhasserhy_, and say that he is risen.

  _Marth a’m bues ty dhe leverel folneth_, I have wonder that thou
  shouldst speak folly.

  _Nyns a y’m colon why dhe gewsel_, it goes not into my heart (i.e. I do
  not believe) that you have spoken.

  _Del won dhe bos_, as I know thee to be.

Here are some later instances:—

  _Ny a wel an tîs younk dho e clappya leh ha leh_, {164} we see that the
  young people speak it less and less (_Nebbaz Gerriau_).

  _Dre wrama crejy hedna dho bos gwîr yu serîfes enna_, {164} that I do
  believe that that is true that is written therein (_Nebbaz Gerriau_).

Nevertheless, one finds in the same piece:—

  _Ev a lavarras drova gever ǒl_, {164} he said that it was Goats All.

  _Bes mî a or hemma_, _dhort e hoer an Kernuak_, _drova talves bes
  nebbas_, {164} but I know this, by her sister the Cornish, that it is
  worth but little.

And in Keigwin’s translation of _Genesis_ i.:—

  _Ha Dew a wellas trova da_, {164} and God saw that it was good.

A somewhat similar construction is sometimes used after _dreven_,
because, and _treba_, until:—

  _Dreven tî dhô wîl hemma_, {164} because thou hast done this (Kerew’s
  _Genesis_, iii. 14).

  _Dreven tî dhô wolsowas dhô dalla dha wrêg_, {165} because thou didst
  listen to the voice of thy wife (_Gen_. iii. 17).

  _Treba tî dhô draylya dhô’n nôr_, {165} until thou turn again to the
  earth (_Gen_. iii. 19).

Yet even there one finds

  _Dreven o hy dama a ŏl bewa_, {165} because she was the mother of all
  living (_Gen_. iii. 20).

Lhuyd mentions a similar construction after _rag own_, for fear, lest:—

  _Rag own whŷ dho gôdha po an rew dho derry ha whŷ dho vos bidhes_,
  {165} lest you fall or the ice break and you be drowned (literally, for
  fear you to fall or the ice to break and you to be drowned).

With _fraga_, why, one finds a similar form:—

  _Ev a venja cavos fraga e ewna_, he would find why to amend it.

But when _fraga_ introduces an interrogative sentence, an ordinary finite
verb is used:—

  _Fraga_ (or _rag fraga_, “for why,”) _na grejeth dhô’ m lavarow_?  Why
  dost thou not believe my words?

When “that” signifies “in order that,” the ordinary finite verb is used
after it.

There is a peculiar construction, found chiefly in Jordan’s _Creation_,
but also in the _Ordinalia_ (e.g. _Pass. Chr._ 1120), for expressing
“that I am.”  It consists of the infinitive _bos_, to be, preceded by a
possessive pronoun and followed by a pronominal suffix:—

  _Me a vyn mav fo gwellys_ ow bosaf _Dew heb parow_, I will that it may
  be seen, that I am God without equals.

And a still more confused one of the second person with the verbal
particle _y_ before _bos_, the pronominal suffix _ta_ and the pronoun

  _Me ny allaf convethas_, y bosta ge _ow hendas_, I cannot understand
  that thou art my ancestor.

The first is analogous to the Welsh “infinitive construction,” as Rowland
calls it, e.g. _gwyr_ fy mod i _yn dyfod_, he knows that I am coming
(lit. he knows my being in coming), only the Cornish form uses the
pronominal suffix instead of the redundant personal pronoun.

3.  The Absolute Clause.  This construction, which answers more or less
to the ablative absolute of Latin, and the genitive absolute of Greek, is
common to all the Celtic languages.  It is translated into English by a
sentence introduced by _when_, _while_, _whilst_, or _though_, with a
verb generally in the continuous form of the present or past tense, or by
a participle.  In the Celtic languages the absolute clause has two forms.

_a_.  The affirmative, generally consisting of the conjunction _and_, a
subject, noun or pronoun, and generally a participle.  Rowland calls the
conjunction, _a_, _ac_, of the Welsh form “the absolute particle,” and
Professor Anwyl identifies it with _a_, _ag_, with, in an archaic form.
But in Cornish _ha_ or _hag_ is used, and in Gaelic _agus_, and, in
exactly the same way.  The following are examples in Cornish, Welsh, and

  Cornish.  _An jy a ve gwarnes gan Dew_, _ha ’n jy ow cusca_, {166} they
  were warned by God, and they sleeping, or, while they slept (Kerew’s
  translation of _St. Matth._ ii. 12, Gwav. MS.).

  _El a’n leverys dethy haneth_, _ha hy yn gwely pur thyfun_, an angel
  said it to her this night, and she in her bed quite awake (_Pass. Chr._

  Welsh.  _Pa ham_, _a mi yn disgwyl iddi dwyn grawn-win_, _y dug hi rawn
  gwylltlon_?  Wherefore, and I looking to it to bring forth grapes
  [Auth. Vers., when I looked that it should bring forth grapes], brought
  it forth wild grapes?  (_Isaiah_ v. 4).

  Gaelic.  _Do chonnaic Seaghán an duine_, _agus é ag teacht a-bhaile_,
  John saw the man, and he coming home, i.e. when he was coming home.

_b_.  The negative, in which _not_ is expressed in Welsh and Cornish by
_heb_, and in Gaelic by _gan_, both meaning _without_, followed by an

  _An delna ema stel ow tegy warnodha_, _heb wara dhodha teller vîth_,
  {167} so it is still closing in upon it without leaving it any place
  (Boson’s _Nebbaz Gerriau_).

In many such cases this negative clause can be translated literally into
English, and it is the usual form of negation with an infinitive or
present participle.

A somewhat similar absolute clause of a descriptive character occurs

  _An golom_, _glas hy lagas_, _yn mes gura hy delyfre_, the dove, blue
  her eyes, do set her free (_Origo Mundi_, 1105-6).

  _Un flogh yonk_, _gwyn y dhyllas_, a young child, white his raiment
  (_Passion_, 254, 3).

In a similar construction in Welsh the adjective here agrees with the
first noun, and the translation would be rather “The dove blue [as to]
her eyes,” but in Cornish this is not so, for in this sentence _golom_
(second state of _colom_) is feminine, so that the adjective would be
_las_, not _glas_, if it agreed with it.

§ 4.  The Infinitive or Verbal Noun.

The infinitive of a verb is treated almost exactly like a noun.  If its
object is a pronoun, this precedes the infinitive in the possessive form
and governs its initial as it would that of a noun.  If the object is not
a pronoun, it follows the infinitive without change of initial, after the
manner of an appositional genitive.

Very often the infinitive is governed by _dhô_, to, as in English, and
under much the same circumstances, except that it is not so governed when
it comes as the subject of another verb, and of course _dhô_ is not used
after auxiliary verbs.  It is especially used after verbs implying

  _Mî a vedn môs dhô ’gas gwelas_, I will go to see you.

  _Mî eth dhô vetya an trên_, I went to meet the train.

  _Lowen on ny dhô ’gas gwelas why_, we are glad to see you.

When the sense of “to” is “in order to,” or the preceding verb implies an
intention, the infinitive is generally preceded by _rag_ or _rag dhô_,
“for to,” or by _a dhô_, “of to.”

§ 5.  Some Idioms and Expressions.

1.  _To have_ is expressed in three ways.

_a_.  By the verb _bos_, to be, with the thing possessed as subject and
the possessor in the dative form, i.e. preceded by _dhô_, to; cf. _est
mihi_ in Latin.

  Affirmative.  _Ema levar dhem_, there is a book to me.

  Negative.  _Nynsyu levar dhem_, there is not a book to me.

  Interrog.  _’Es levar dhem_?  Is there a book to me?

This is the common form in late Cornish.

_b_.  By the verb _cafos_ or _cavos_, to find, to obtain, used as an
ordinary transitive verb with the possessor as subject and the thing
possessed as object.  This is not used for the present tense.  Lhuyd
gives a past tense, _mî a gavaz_ or _mî ’rig gavaz_, I had, and a future,
_mî ven gavaz_, I will have, but he, Norris, and Williams are all
inclined to confuse this with the third form.

_c_.  By a peculiar idiom compounded of a form of the verb _bos_, to be,
and the third form of the personal (or else the possessive) pronouns.
The explanation, as far as it goes, of this verb is to be found in
Breton.  Even there it has been confused a good deal, though its use is
plain enough.  Legonidec calls it “le verbe _kaout_ [=Cornish _cavos_],
avoir,” which he distinguishes from _kavout_ or _kaout_, trouver;
Maunoir, whose Breton, according to a picture in Quimper Cathedral, was
received miraculously from an angel, wisely does not commit himself, but
calls the verb, Latin fashion, after the first person singular of the
present.  Prof. Loth rightly speaks of it as “le verbe dit avoir,” and M.
Ernault calls it “Verbe _beza_ [to be] au sens de ‘avoir,’” and he
explains it to be the verb _to be_, combined with the “pronoms régimes,”
which is just what it is.  In Breton it is not only used as the ordinary
verb _to have_=to possess, but also as an auxiliary verb in the same
manner as _avoir_, _have_, _haben_, are used in French, English, and
German.  This verb came to be used in Breton with or without the
nominative pronoun being expressed.  In Cornish the expressed nominative
pronoun is less usual, except in the second person singular, where it is
the rule.  That it should be used at all in either language is a sign
that in practice the original formation of the verb has been forgotten.
Occasionally in Cornish this oblivion has resulted even in the
application of pronominal inflections to the verb.

This form is found frequently in the _Ordinalia_ and in the _Poem of the
Passion_; it is fairly common in the _Life of St. Meriasek_, it is rarer
in the _Creation_, and is not found at all in Cornish of the latest
period (except in a doubtful and muddled form in Keigwin’s version of the
Commandments), though Lhuyd gives a fragment of it in his Grammar,
evidently taken from the earlier Dramas and not from oral tradition, for
he takes the _g_ of _geffi_ and _gefyth_ to be a hard _g_, whereas it is
plainly a soft _g_ for a _d_, as the analogy of _tevyth_, and of the
Breton _deveuz_, _devez_, etc., shows.  Moreover, it is sometimes written
_ieves_, which is intended to represent _jeves_.

It will be well, by way of making this form clearer, to give not only the
Cornish but also the corresponding Breton.

The tenses that are found are as follows:—



               CORNISH.                              BRETON.

1.  [_mî_] _am bes_ [_bus_, _bues_,     [_me_] _em euz_.

2.  [_tî_] _ath ĕs_ (_thues_).          [_te_] _ec’h euz_.

3.  m.  [_ev_] _an jeves_ (for          [_hen_] _en deuz_ or _deveuz_.

3.  f.  [_hy_] _as teves_.              [_he_] _e deuz_.


1.  [_ny_] _an bes_.     [_nî_] _hon euz_.

2.  [_why_] _as bes_.    [_c’houi_] _hoch euz_.

3.  [_y_] _as teves_.    [_hî_] _ho deuz_ or _deveuz_.

This tense is formed on _us_, _eus_, _es_ (Breton _euz_), one of the
forms of the third person singular of the verb substantive.  To this is
prefixed the verbal particle _a_, with the letter which is the third form
of the personal pronoun, _’m_, _’th_, _’n_, _’s_, _’n_, _’s_, _’s_, with
the peculiar addition of _jev_ and _tev_ to the third persons and _b_ to
the others.  The _’th_ of the second person singular is found written in
this but not always in the other tenses, for it was probably often silent
before _f_ by a sort of assimilation.  Its effect is observable in the
initial mutation.  Of this tense the first, second, and third persons
singular and the second person plural are found.  But for the existence
of the form _as bes_ [_bues_] for the last, one might suppose, with
Williams, that the _b_ of _am bes_ was only the addition of a cognate
letter to the _m_.  But cf. the addition of _b_ to _oa_ and _oe_ of the
same verb in Breton.



                 CORNISH.                              BRETON.

1.  [_mî_] _am bedh_ (_byth_, _beth_).      [_me_] _em_ (or _am_) _bez_.

2.  _tî a_ [_th_] _fedh_ (_fyth_).          [_te_] _ez_ (or _az_) _pez_.

3.  m.  [_ev_] _an jevedh_ (for             [_hen_] _en devez_.

3.  f.  [_hy_] _as tevedh_.                 [_he_] _e devez_.


1.  [_ny_] _an_ (or _agan_)         [_ni_] _hor bez_.

2.  [_why_] _as_ (or _agas_)        [_c’houi_] _ho pez_.

3.  [_y_] _as tevedh_.              [_hî_] _o devez_.

It will be seen here and in the other tenses that the pronouns in Breton
do not produce exactly the same mutations as in Cornish.  The _dh_ of
Cornish is always written _z_ in Breton, though that is pronounced _dh_
in some dialects.  The whole of this tense is found in the MSS.



         CORNISH.                               BRETON.

1.  [_mî_] _am bê_           [_me_] _em_ (or _am_) _boe_.

2.  _tî ath fê_.             [_te_] _ez_ (or _az_) _poe_.

3.  m.  [_ev_] _an jeve_.    [_hen_] _en devoe_.

3.  f.  [_hy_] _as teve_.    [_he_] _e devoe_.


1.  [_ny_] _an_ (or _agan_)       [_ni_] _hor boe_.

2.  [_why_] _as_ (or _agas_)      [_c’houi_] _ho poe_.

3.  [_y_] _as teve_.              [_hî_] _o aevoe_.

Only part of this tense is found in the MSS., but the rest is easily
formed by analogy.



                 CORNISH.                               BRETON.

1.  [_mî_] _am bo_.                          _r’ am bezo_, _bo_.

2.  _tî ath fo_, _fetho_.                    _r’ az pezo_, _po_.

3.  m.  [_ev_] _an jevo_ (for _devo_,        _r’ en devezo_, _devo_.
written _gefo_ or _geffo_).

3.  f.  [_hy_] _as tevo_.                    _r’ e devezo_, _devo_.


1.  [_ny_] _an_ (or _agan_) _bo_.             _r’ hor bezo_, _bo_.

2.  [_why_] _as_ (or _agas_) _bo_.            _r’ ho pezo_, _po_.

3.  [_y_] _as tevo_ (written _teffo_,         _r’ o devezo_, _devo_.

In this tense the Breton does not use the nominative personal pronoun,
except when it is a form of the future, but prefixes _r’_ (_ra_).  In
Cornish _re_ is used to make the optative and perfect, and in this case
the _’th_ of the second person singular is not omitted, for _re’ th fo_
and _re ’th fê_ are the forms found.

A rather doubtful second tense (secondary present or imperfect),
equivalent to the Breton _am boa_, may be conjectured in _am beua_ (_St.
Mer._ 47, 1686), _am bethe_ may be the equivalent of the Breton imperfect
subjunctive, _am bize_, _bije_, _befe_, and the third person singular of
this may be the _an geffa_ of _St. Mer._ 20, 159.  Dr. Whitley Stokes
gives both these forms as secondary presents.  There is also a possible
pluperfect _te ny vea_, and _nyn gyfye_, found in the second and third
persons singular.

One finds such forms as _am buef_, _as bethough_, _may ’stefons_, etc.,
as instances of pronominal inflections added to this verb, showing how
completely its derivation was forgotten, and it is further confused by
being perhaps mixed up with the verb _pewa_ (Welsh _piau_, Breton
_piaoua_), to possess, a verb which in all three languages requires
rather more disentangling than it has as yet received.

There are very full examples of this verb in Zeuss’s _Grammatica Celtica_
(ed. 1871, p. 565).

2.  Besides _to have_, certain other verbs are expressed with _bos_ and
the preposition _dhô_.  Thus:—

  _Ma cov dhem_ [pron. _ma códhem_], I remember, lit. there is
  remembrance to me.

  _Ma whans dhem_, I want, lit. there is want to me.

  _Ma whêr dhem_, I am sorry, lit. there is grief to me.

  _Ma own dhem_, I fear, lit. there is fear to me.

  _Ma dout dhem_, I doubt, lit. there is doubt to me.

  _Ma reys dhem_, or _reys yw dhem_, I must, lit. there is need to me.

Another expression for “to remember” is _perthy cov_, to bear memory.
The imperative was sometimes written _perco_ in one word.  _Perthy_ is
used similarly with other nouns: _na berth medh_, be not ashamed, _na
berth own_, be not afraid, _na berth whêr_, be not sorry, _an vuscogyon
orto a borthas avy_, the fools hated him (_Passion_, 26, 3), _na berth
dout_, do not doubt.  The literal meaning is to bear shame, fear, sorrow,
envy, doubt, etc.

Similarly nouns and adjectives are used with _gan_, with, as in Welsh, to
represent states of mind.  Thus:—

  _Da yu genev_, I like, lit. it is good with me.

  _Drôg yu genev_, I am sorry, lit. it is bad with me.

  _Gwell yu genev_, I prefer, lit. it is better with me.

  _Marth yu genev_, I am astonished, lit. wonder is with me.

  _Cas yu genev_, I hate, lit. hate is with me.

The verbs _dal_ and _goth_, signifying _ought_, _it behoves_, are used
either impersonally or, though this is a late corruption, as ordinary

  _Ni dal dhen ny_ / _Ni goth dhen ny_ } we ought not.


  _Mî a dal_ / _Mî a goth_ } I ought.

3.  _Gwyn an bês_.  This poetical expression is common to Cornish, Welsh,
and Breton.  It signifies, “fair the world,” i.e. happy, and is used with
possessive pronouns and appositional genitives.

  _Gwyn ow bês_, fair my world, happy I.

  _Gwyn dha vês_, happy thou.

  _Gwyn e vês_, happy he.

  _Gwyn bês an den na wrîg cerdhes en cŏsŏl an gamhin-segyon_, blessed is
  the man who hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly.

In Welsh, when the possessor of this “fair world” is expressed by a noun,
there is a redundant possessive pronoun before _byd_ (_bês_).  Thus Psalm
i. begins _Gwyn ei fyd y gwr_, fair his world of the man.  But this is
not the Cornish form, which uses the simple appositional genitive in such
cases.  There is a contrary expression, _drôg pês_, found in the
_Ordinalia_ (_Passio Christi_, 3089), _drok pys of_, unhappy am I.  In
this case _drôg_ seems to put the initial of _bês_ in its fourth state.

4.  The following phrases are in common use, and are generally run into
one or two words in pronunciation.

  _Mêr ’ras dhô Dhew_ (pron. _merásthadew_).  Great thanks be to God.

  _Mêr ’ras dheugh why_ (pron. _merásdhawhy_).  Great thanks to you.

  _Dew re dala dheugh why_ (pron. _Durdladhawhy_).  God repay to you.

  _Dew re sona dheugh why_ (pron. _Dursónadhawhy_).  God sain you.

  _Bennath Dew genough why_ (pron. _Bénatew génawhy_).  The blessing of
  God be with you.

  _Dew genough why_ (pron. _Dew génawhy_).  God be with you.

  _Pandráma_ (i.e. _pa’n dra wrama_).  What shall I do?

  _Pandréllen_ (i.e. _pa’n dra wrellen_).  What should I do?

  _Pándres_ (i.e. _pa’n dra es_).  What is there?

  _Pandryu_ (i.e. _pa’n dra yu_).  What is?

  _Pandresses_ (i.e. _pa’n dra wresses_).  What shouldst thou do?

  _Fatla genough why_ (pron. _fatla génawhy_).  How are you?

  _Trova_ (i.e. _tre o-va_), that he was.

§ 6.  Rules for Initial Mutations.

1.  _The Second State_.

  _a_.  _A feminine singular_ or _masculine plural_ noun (or adjective
  used as a noun) preceded by the definite article _an_, the, or the
  numeral _idn_, one, has its initial in the second state.

  _b_.  An adjective which follows and qualifies a _feminine singular_
  noun, has its initial in the second state.

  _c_.  A noun preceded by an adjective qualifying it, of whatever gender
  or number, has its initial in the second state.

  _d_.  If the adjective preceding and qualifying a _feminine singular_
  noun follows the article _an_, the, the initial of the adjective is
  also in the second state.

  _e_.  A noun in the vocative preceded by the particle _a_, O (expressed
  or omitted for the sake of verse), has its initial in the second state.

  _f_.  The possessive pronouns _dha_, thy, and _e_, his, are followed by
  words, whether nouns, adjectives, or verbal nouns (infinitives) in the
  second state.  The form _’th_, thee or thy, generally puts the word
  which follows in the second state, but sometimes in the fourth, or
  changes _b_ to _f_, not _v_.

  _g_.  The verbal prefix _ă_ (older _y_, _yth_), is generally followed
  by a verb in the second state.

  _h_.  The verbal particles _a_ and _re_ and the interrogative particle
  _a_ are followed by a verb in the second state.

  _i_.  The prepositions _a_, _der_ or _dre_, _dhô_, _heb_, _re_, and
  _war_, and compound prepositions ending in any of them, are followed by
  words in the second state.

  _k_.  The conjunctions _tre_, _tro_, that, _pan_, when, _erna_, until,
  _hedre_, whilst, are followed by the second state.

  _l_.  The adverbial particle _en_ is followed generally by an adjective
  in the second state.

  _m_.  The adverbs _pŭr_, very, _ni_, _na_, not, _fraga_, why, _fatla_,
  how, are followed by initials in the second state.

2.  _The Third State_.

  _a_.  The possessive pronouns _ow_, my, _î_, her, and _aga_, their, are
  followed by words in the third state.

  _b_.  _Ma_, _may_, that, are sometimes followed by verbs in the third
  state, and sometimes by a variant, _g_ becoming _h_, and _gw_ becoming

3.  _The Fourth State_.

  _a_.  The particle _ow_, which forms the present participle, is
  followed by a verbal noun (or infinitive) in the fourth state.

  _b_.  The conjunctions _a_, _mar_, _mara_, if, are followed by verbs in
  the fourth state.

  _c_.  The adverb _maga_, as (in “as well,” etc.) is followed by an
  adjective in the fourth state.

  _d_.  Sometimes an adjective beginning with _d_, when preceded by the
  adverbial particle _en_, has its initial in the fourth state, and
  rarely a noun beginning with _d_, when it follows in the appositional
  genitive a word ending in _th_.

  _e_.  The verbal prefix _ă_ (_y_), when followed by verbs whose radical
  initial is _d_, often changes that initial to the fourth state, and in
  the case of those beginning with _gw_ to _wh_.  The conjunction _ken_,
  though, does the same.

  _f_.  The third form of the second personal pronoun singular _’th_ not
  infrequently changes the initial of a verb beginning with _d_ to the
  fourth state, and that of one beginning with _g_ or _gw_ to _wh_.  It
  also sometimes changes _b_ to _f_.

The exact usage of the mutations is not very clear, for even the older
writers used them rather wildly, but the above rules are the general
principles of them.  There are valuable notes on their phonetic
principles in Dr. Whitley Stokes’s notes to _St. Meriasek_, and in a
paper of additional notes which he published later.  In the latest
Cornish there was a tendency to use the second state after nearly
anything, especially prepositions, except the few words which govern the
other two mutations.


The prosody of the Celtic languages is often very elaborate, but the more
modern tendency has generally been in the direction of assimilating it to
the prosody of English, or, in the case of Breton, to that of French.  In
Welsh two systems exist at the present day, and the rules of them are
known respectively as _y Rheolau Caethion_ and _y Rheolau Rhyddion_, the
bond or strict rules and the free rules.  The former are founded on
elaborate rules of _Cynghanedd_ or consonance, which term includes
alliteration and rhyme, and every imaginable correspondence of consonant
and vowel sounds, reduced to a system which Welsh-speaking Welshmen
profess to be able to appreciate, and no doubt really can, though it is
not easily understood by the rest of the world.  The rules of
_Cynghanedd_ are applied in various ways to the four-and-twenty metres of
the Venedotian (Gwynedd or North Wales) school, and to the metres of the
Dimetian (Dyfed or South-West Wales) and the Glamorgan schools.  Modern
Welsh bards, however, though they often use the strict rules as
_tours-de-force_ for Eisteddfod purposes, as often compose poetry
according to the free rules, which are mostly the ordinary
go-as-you-please metres of the Saxon.  The Bretons follow the ordinary
French rules as to the strict number of syllables, the cæsura, and the
rhyming, taking very little account of the stress accent either of words
or sentences.

The prosody of the older Cornish literature has little in common with the
strict system of Welsh.  Though one does find alliterations and
“internal” rhyming and correspondence of consonants, they do not seem to
be at all systematic, but are only either introduced as casual ornaments
or purely accidentally.  The rules of the older Cornish prosody have more
in common with those of Breton, except that, but for one case in the
Dramas of a five-syllabled couplet, and the rather irregular Add. Charter
fragment in the British Museum, there are only two lengths of lines,
seven or four syllables, and the cæsura is not very definite.

The seven-syllabled lines are the more common.  The whole of the _Poem of
the Passion_ is in stanzas of eight seven-syllabled lines, rhyming
alternately, but written as fourteen-syllabled lines; and the greater
part of the Dramas is in lines of the same length, though with varying
arrangements of rhymes.  Sometimes whole passages of four-syllabled lines
occur, and frequently four-syllabled lines occur in the same stanza with
those of seven syllables.  The rhythmic accent seems to be trochaic, and
the heptasyllabic line to consist of three trochees and a long syllable,
but as the stress accent of words is absolutely disregarded, and the
strong beats of the rhythm sometimes fall on monosyllables which out of
poetry would probably be enclitic or proclitic, or at any rate very
slightly accented, one can only be sure of the fact that the poet of the
_Ordinalia_ was careful to count his syllables exactly, and to make the
last syllable of every line rhyme with the last syllable of some other
line.  The author of the _Poem of the Passion_ was not quite so careful,
and Jordan was still less so.  Diphthongs, as in Breton, are occasionally
counted as two syllables, a _y_ followed by another vowel is sometimes a
vowel and sometimes a consonant, and there are occasional elisions and
perhaps contractions, understood but not expressed, {180a} but with these
few exceptions the number of syllables to a line is strictly accurate,
and in the _Ordinalia_ is never varied by the unaccented and uncounted
syllables that often occur in English verse.  The rhymes are quite strict
to the eye, but that is no doubt because in the days when one could spell
as one pleased, the writer might arrange his spelling to suit, but there
appear to be cases where the _dh_ and _th_, both written _th_, as final
consonants are made to rhyme together, and the three sounds of _u_ (_oo_
and the French _u_ and _eu_) are sometimes confused.  Though the rhymes
are always “masculine” (i.e. of one syllable), there are occasionally
cases where, unless one counts the rhymes as “feminine” (i.e. of two
syllables), they would not be rhymes at all, and yet feminine rhymes
would throw out the rhythm. {180b}

The metres of late Cornish were usually rather more assimilated to
English, but apparently some memory of Celtic prosody lingered on.  Lhuyd
quotes a proverb, of which he gives two versions, in the old three-lined
metre known in Welsh as the _Triban Milwr_, or Warrior’s Triplets, which
is found as early as Llywarch Hen’s Laments for Geraint ap Erbyn and for
the Death of Cynddylan, in the sixth century.  Lhuyd himself wrote a
Cornish Lament for William of Orange in what he claimed as the same
metre, a singularly inappropriate subject for the language of a nation of
loyal Jacobites, as the Cornish certainly were as late as 1715.  Boson
(Gwavas MS., f. 7) wrote a short elegy on James Jenkins of Alverton, also
in rhyming triplets.  The curious little song, which is all that remains
of Jenkins’s poetry, seems to show indications of a feeling for internal
rhymes and something like a rudimentary _Cynghanedd_, but there is not
enough of it to reduce to any definite rules.  Even in Boson’s verses and
in those of Gwavas and Tonkin of St. Just (not the historian), in the
Gwavas MS., the old system of counting syllables and taking very little
account of the stress accents of words, is occasionally found, but
generally in the later verse the extra unaccented syllables freely
introduced show that a sense of accent and beats of rhythm had come in.


I.  Five- (or four) syllabled lines, with occasional six-syllabled,
rhyming A A B C C B.  From the fragment on the back of Additional Charter
19,491 in the British Museum, late fourteenth century.

_Golsow ty cowedh_, (5)             Hearken, thou comrade,
_Byth na borth medh_, (4)           Never be ashamed,
   _Dyyskyn ha powes_ (6)              Alight and rest
_Ha dhymo dus nes_. (5)             And to me come near.
_Mar codhes dhe les_; (5)           If thou knowest thy advantage;
   _Ha dhys y rof mowes_, (6)          And to thee I will give a girl,
_Ha fest unan dek_ (5)              And truly a fair one
_Genes mar a plek_. (5)             To thee if she is pleasing.
   _Ha tanha y_; (4)                   Go take her now;
_Kemmerr y dhoth wrek_, (5)         Take her to thy wife,
_Sconye dhys ny vek_ (5)            Refuse thee she will not
   _Ha ty a vydh hy_. (5) {181}        And thou shalt have her.

It is probable that this metre is intended to be five-syllabled
throughout, except that a “feminine” or double rhyme is occasionally
allowable (e.g. _powes-mowes_), and that the light first syllable of a
line may be omitted.  This accounts for the two six-syllabled and two
four-syllabled lines respectively.  In the rest of the poem there are
lines of four, five, seven, eight, and even nine syllables.  The whole
fragment of forty-one lines, though not much earlier than the
_Ordinalia_, is much less regular in rhythm, and is much less syllabic.

II.  One of the commonest metres of the Dramas, and indeed of much
mediæval verse in other languages, consists of seven-syllabled lines
rhyming A A B C C B, or A A B A A B.

From the _Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi_, the second of the
_Ordinalia_, fifteenth century.  (Our Lord’s speech to the _Pueri

_Ow benneth ol ragas bo_            My blessing be all upon you
_Ow tos yn onor thymmo_             Coming in honour to me
   _Gans branchis flowrys              With branches and flowers
kefrys_.                            likewise.
_Un deyth a thue yredy_             A day shall soon come
_Ma’n talvethaf ol thywhy_          When I shall repay it all to you
   _Kemmys enor thym yu gwrys_.        As much honour as is done to me.

This is the metre of the well-known Whitsunday Sequence, _Veni Sancte
Spiritus_ (Come, thou Holy Spirit, come).

Note that _gwrys_ (_gwres_ in Modern Cornish) is a monosyllable, and that
the _ue_ of _dhue_ is a single vowel=_eu_.  This metre is varied by being
made into eight-lined stanzas, rhyming A A A B C C C B.

III.  Another very common metre in the Dramas consists of stanzas of
eight lines of seven syllables, rhyming alternately.  Usually the stanza
only contains two rhymes, but sometimes, especially if four lines of the
eight are given to one character and four to another, the rhymes of the
two quatrains are independent of one another.

From the _Ordinale de Origine Mundi_, fifteenth century.  (Eve’s speech
to Adam after gathering the apple.)

_My pan esen ou quandre_            I when I was wandering
   _Clewys a’n nyl tenewen_            Heard on the one side
_Un el ou talleth cane_             An angel beginning to sing
   _A ughaf war an wethen_.            Above me on the tree.
_Ef a wruk ow husullye_             He did counsel me
   _Frut annethy may torren_           Fruit from it that I should break;
_Moy es Deu ny a vye_               More than God we should be
   _Bys venytha na sorren_.            Nor be troubled for ever.

Note the apparent “feminine” rhymes, _torren-sorren_, which are really
_rimes riches_ in the French style.

The whole _Poem of the Passion_ is in this metre, but is written in lines
of fourteen syllables.

IV.  Four-syllabled lines, often written as eight-syllabled, rhyming
alternately.  Thus (_Passio D. N. J. C._ in the _Ordinalia_, 1. 35):—

_A mester whek·  gorthys re by_     O sweet master, glorified be thou,
_Pan wreth mar tek·  agan dysky_.   When thou dost so sweetly teach us.
_Asson whansek·  ol the pysy_,      How we desire all to pray,
_Lettrys na lek·  war Thu mercy_!   Learned and lay, to God for mercy!

The same two rhymes run through a stanza of eight (written as four)

V.  Four-syllabled lines in six-lined stanzas, rhyming A A B A A B
(_Passio D. N. J. C._, 169).

_Gorthyans ha gras_                 Glory and thanks
_The Dew ow thas_                   To God my Father,
   _Luen a verci_,                     Full of mercy,
_Pan danvonas_                      When he sent
_Yn onor bras_                      In great honour
   _Thym servysi_.                     Servants to me.

VI.  Sometimes a mixture of the last two forms of stanza is found
extended to ten lines.  Thus (_Origo Mundi_, 1271):—

_Dyvythys of_                       Come am I
_The’th volungeth_,                 To thy will.
_Arluth porth cof_                  Lord remember
_Yn deyth dyweth_                   In the last day
   _A’m enef vy_.                      My soul.
_Lavar thymmo_                      Tell me
_Pandra wrama_;                     What I shall do;
_Y’n gwraf ytho_                    I will do it now
_Scon yn tor-ma_                    Soon in this turn
_Yn pur deffry_.                       Very seriously.

VII.  Mixed seven and four syllabled lines.  Sometimes these are only the
metre of II., with the third and sixth lines four-syllabled instead of

Thus in _Origo Mundi_, 911, we find:—

_Ou banneth theughwhy pub prys_,    My blessing to you always,
_Mar tha y wreugh ou nygys_         So well you do my business
   _Prest yn pub le_.                  Quickly everywhere.
_Gorreugh an fals nygethys_         Put the false flier
_Gans Abel a desempys_              With Abel immediately
   _The yssethe_.                      To sit.

VIII.  Sometimes alternations of stanzas of four and seven-syllabled
lines are found.  A very remarkable and effective set opens the Drama of
_The Passion_.  It is in stanzas of thirteen lines, eight lines of four
syllables (written as four of eight syllables), rhyming A B A B A B A B,
one line of seven syllables with rhyme C, three lines of seven syllables
with rhyme D, and a seven-syllabled line with rhyme C.

_Thyugh lavara·  Ow dyskyblyon_,    To you I say, my disciples,
_Pyseygh toythda·  Ol kescolon_     Pray quickly, all of one heart
_Deu dreys pup tra·  Eus a huhon_   God above everything, who is on high
_Theygh yn bys-ma·  Ygrath          To you in this world His grace to
danvon_                             send
   _Yn dyweth may feugh sylwys_.       In the end that ye may be saved.
_Gans an eleth yu golow_,           With the angels there is light,
_Yn nef agas enefow_                In heaven your souls
_Neffre a tryg hep ponow_           Ever shall dwell without pains
   _Yn joy na vyth dywythys_.          In joy that shall not be ended.

IX.  In the Drama of _St. Meriasek_ there are no less than ten classes of
stanza, counting by the number of lines to the stanza, and these may be
considerably multiplied by alternating or mixing seven-syllabled with
four-syllabled lines in various orders, and by varying the number of sets
of rhymes to a stanza and the order of those rhymes.  Perhaps one of the
most elaborated (1. 168-180) will serve as a specimen.  It is a
thirteen-lined stanza of twelve seven-syllabled lines, and one (the
ninth) four-syllabled line, with four sets of rhymes, rhyming A B A B A B
A B C [four syllables] D D D C.

_Gelwys ydhof Conany_,              Called am I Conan,
   _Mytern yn Bryton Vyan_;            King in Little Britain;
_Han gulascor pur yredy_            And the kingdom very readily
   _Me a beu ol yn tyan_.              I own all entirely.
_Der avys ou arlydhy_               Through the advice of my lords
   _Mones y fannaf lemman_             I will go now
_The Duk pen a chevalry_,           To the Duke the chief of knighthood.
   _Nesse dhymmo yn certan_            Second to me certainly
      _Par del yu ef_                     Like as he is.
_Yma maryag galosek_                There is a mighty marriage
_Cowsys dhyn rag Meryasek_          Spoken to us for Meriasek
_Mergh dhe vyghtern gallosek_,      Of the daughter to a mighty king,
   _Nynses brassa yn dan nef_.      There is not a greater under heaven.

It is evident that by varying the number of lines and rhymes to a stanza,
varying the distribution of the rhymes, and mixing lines of different
length, an almost infinite variety may be obtained, even with only two
forms of line.

X.  The metres of Jordan’s Drama of _The Creation_ (1611) do not differ
materially in intention from those of the _Ordinalia_, on which they are
evidently modelled.  But in this play one begins to find signs of a
tendency to a less accurate ear for exact syllabic rhythm.  About eighty
lines out of the 2548 of which the play consists have eight syllables,
about twenty have only six, and in each case these ought to be
seven-syllabled.  Also there are two cases of three and six of five
syllables in what ought to be four-syllabled lines, and there are several
cases of nine syllables in a line, and one case of ten.  No doubt some of
these discrepancies may be accounted for by elisions and contractions not
expressed in writing (as is often the case in Latin), and some of the
short lines contain diphthongs which may be meant to count as two
syllables, but by no means all are explainable by anything but the
influence of English, or, as is less probable, a reversion to some such
archaic idea of rhythm as that of the Add. Charter fragment.

After this we come to the verses of late Cornish.  These are few, poor,
corrupt, and illiterate, and for the most part without value for metrical
purposes.  The strictly syllabic metres of the older Cornish have nearly
disappeared, and though the tonic accent is still disregarded when
convenient, extra unaccented syllables, as often in inferior, and
sometimes in good English verse, are freely introduced by way of
anacrusis, etc., in a manner that shows that accent was considered in a
sort of way, and that the accents of a line rather than the syllables
were counted.  John Boson wrote a few lines in three-lined stanzas
somewhat after the fashion of the Welsh _Triban Milwr_, and Lhuyd’s
artificial elegy on William of Orange is another instance of the same.
The only poem remaining of James Jenkins of Alverton (printed by Pryce
and Davies Gilbert) is a sort of irregular ode, which refuses to be
satisfactorily analysed.  The lines are all sorts of lengths, they may
begin with an accent or they may have one or two light syllables before
the first strong beat, the rhymes may be single or double.  The principle
of the first part seems to be little lines of two beats, varying from
three to seven syllables rhyming in couplets.  Thus:—

_Ma léeaz gwréag_                   There are many wives

_Lácka vel zéag_,                   Worse than grains [i.e. brewers’

_Gwéll gerrés_ (or _gwéll           Better left

_Vel kommeres_ (or _vél             Than taken,

_Ha ma léeaz bénnen_                And there are man women

_Pókar an gwénen_                   Like the bees,

_Ey vedn gwérraz de go tées_        They will help their men

_Dendle péath an béaz_.             To earn the goods of the world.

_Fléhaz heb skéeans_                Children without knowledge

_Vedn guíl go séeanz_;              Will do [according to] their sense;

_Buz mar crówngy predery_           But if they do consider

_Pan dél go gwáry_                  What their play is like,

_Ha mádra tá_                       And consider well

_Pandrig séera ha dámma_,           What did father and mother,

_Na ra hens_ [_wrans_?] _móaz dan   They will not go to the wood

_Do kúntle go bóoz_. {188}          To gather their food.

The latter part has lines of four beats, with a very variable number of
unaccented syllables, which in reading were probably hurried over rather
vaguely.  This rhythm may be compared with the “new principle” (as the
author calls it in his preface) of Coleridge’s _Christabel_. {189a}

Boson’s triplets are mostly of ten-syllabled lines, Lhuyd’s are generally
of eight syllables, but sometimes of nine or even ten and eleven.

Tonkin of St. Just, a tailor, wrote two songs, which are in the Gwavas
MS.  They are in four-lined stanzas generally of seven-syllabled lines,
though as often as not having an extra light syllable to begin with.

_Pa wrîg ev gŏrra trâz war tîr_     When he [i.e. William of Orange] did
                                    put foot on land
_Ev vê welcombes me ôr gwîr_.
                                    He was welcomed I know well.
_Ha devethes dhô Caresk_
                                    And having come [came] to Exeter
_Maga saw besca vê pesk_. {189b}
                                    As safe as ever was fish.

The epigrams printed by Pryce and Davies Gilbert were mostly composed by
Boson and Gwavas.  Eight-syllabled lines are frequent among them, but
they are of little or no value, and are altogether on English models, and
not very good models at that.

Should any one wish to attempt verse-writing in Cornish, it would be best
either to use one of the seven or four syllabled (or mixed) metres of the
Dramas, using their purely syllabic methods, which undoubtedly work all
right in modern Breton, or to extend the same principles, as the Bretons
do, to lines of other lengths.  The triplets of old Welsh and perhaps of
very old Cornish are effective metres, but are not so easy as they look,
for it is not enough merely to write rhyming triplets.  Lhuyd in his one
attempt has produced a peculiar though allowable metre, with lines of all
sorts of lengths, and the old specimens, Llywarch Hen’s _Marwnad Geraint
ap Erbin_, and the Englynion called _Eiry Mynydd_, are largely in lines
of seven syllables, and some of them, such as the Song of the Death of
Cynddylan, and the curious ninth-century poem in the Cambridge
_Juvencus_, seem to have also the _gair cyrch_, that strange little tag
to the first line of the triplet, outside of the rhyme but not outside of
the assonance or alliteration, which is so marked a characteristic of the
four-lined Englyn, while in most of them there are alliterations, vowel
correspondences, and internal rhymes, which are not so haphazard as they
look.  It is well not to attempt to force a Celtic language into a
Teutonic mould.  Some of the most beautiful metres that the world has
ever known are to be found among the works of English poets, but they are
no more suitable to Cornish than hexameters, sapphics, and alcaics on
strict quantity lines would be to English.  It is possible, however, to
write ten-syllabled blank verse in Cornish, provided a fair amount of
alliteration is used.

One word about inversions of the order of words in poetry.  This should
be done very sparingly, and it is not easy to lay down very definite
rules as to what is allowable and what not.  It is best not to deviate
from the usual order of words unless one can find a precedent in one of
the Dramas.  Some inversions, however, are quite allowable.  Thus one may
put the complement of a predicate, e.g. an infinitive, an accusative, or
a participle, at the beginning of a phrase:—

  _bewa ythesaf pub eare_ (_Creation_, 1667), living I am always.

  _banna ny allaf gwelas_ (_Creation_, 1622), a drop I cannot see.

  _defalebys os ha cabm_ (_Creation_, 1603), deformed thou art, and

  _yn bushes ow crowetha_ (_Creation_, 1606), in bushes lying.

  _gans dean pen vo convethys_ (_Creation_, 1618), by man when it is

  _worthaf ve sertan ny dale_ (_Creation_, 1619), with me, certainly,
  ought not.

  _determys ove dha un dra_ (_Creation_, 236), determined I am of one

  _mos then menythe me a vyn_ (_Creation_, 1082), go to the mountain I

These are all taken from Jordan’s _Creation_, and mostly at random from
the same page.  Still, the less one inverts the normal order of words the


One of the practical interests in the study of Cornish is in the
interpretation of place-names.  As quite ninety per cent. of the
place-names of Cornwall are Celtic, and as a very large proportion of
these are descriptive names, usually in a fairly uncorrupted state, this
gives much opportunity of research.  There are, however, certain
considerations, grammatical and topographical, which should be kept
carefully in mind in attempting to discover the meanings of these names,
and it is a disregard of these considerations that has made most of the
published works on the subject so singularly valueless.  The great
majority of Cornish names are composed of epithets suffixed to certain
nouns, such as _tre_, _trev_, a town; _pol_, a pool; _pen_ or _pedn_,
head or top; _rôs_, often written _rose_, a heath; _car_, a fort or camp;
_lan_, an enclosure, or a church; _eglos_, a church; _bal_, a mine;
_whêl_ or _wheal_, a work (_i.e._ a mine); _chy_, _ty_, a house; _park_,
a field; _forth_, a creek or harbour; _nans_, a valley; _carn_, a cairn
or heap of rocks; _hal_, a moor; _gûn_, _goon_, a down; _gwêl_, _gweal_,
a field; _bod_, _bos_, _be_, a dwelling; _les_, a court, a palace;
_carrack_, a rock; _creeg_, a tumulus; _crows_, a cross; _din_, _dun_, a
hill-fort; _fenton_ or _venton_, a spring; _kelly_, _killy_, a grove;
_cos_, _coose_, a wood; _mên_, a stone; _tol_, a hole; _triga_, _trigva_,
a dwelling-place; _melan_, _mellan_, _vellan_, a mill; _zawn_, _zawns_, a
cove; _bron_, _bryn_, a hill; _bar_, _bor_, _bur_, a summit; _tor_, a
hill.  These are the commonest of the nouns.  The epithets may be:—

  1.  Adjectives, signifying size, colour, position, etc., e.g. _mêr_,
  _mear_, _vcar_, great; _bîan_, _bean_, _vean_, little; _glas_, blue;
  _dew_, black; _gwin_, _gwidu_, _widn_, white; _gwartha_, _wartha_,
  _gwarra_, upper; _gollas_, _gullas_, _wollas_, lower, etc., in
  agreement with the noun.

  2.  Other nouns in the appositional genitive.

  3.  Proper names.

  4.  Adjectives or nouns preceded by the article _an_, the, or by a
  preposition such as _war_, on.

The following points should be considered:—

1.  The gender of the noun.  Of the nouns mentioned above, _tre_, _ros_,
_car_, _lan_, _whêl_, _hal_, _goon_, _carrack_, _crows_, _fenton_,
_kelly_, _trigva_, _mellan_, _bron_, _tor_, are feminine, so that the
initial of the adjective epithet is changed to the second state.  This
may often, more or less, determine whether the epithet is an adjective or
a noun in the genitive.  Thus, in the name _Tremaine_, we may be sure
that the second syllable is not an adjective or it would be _Trevaine_,
so the meaning is not, as one would think, “the stone house,” not a very
distinguishing epithet in Cornwall, but probably the “house of the
stones,” i.e. of some stone circle or other prehistoric remains.
Sometimes, however, the initial of an appositional genitive, and
sometimes that of an epithet of a masculine noun is irregularly changed
in composition.

2.  The stress accent of the compound.  This is of great importance,
especially in determining whether an article or preposition intervenes
between the noun and its epithet, and also, in the rare cases in which it
occurs, in deciding whether the epithet may not precede the noun.  _The
stress accent is almost invariably on the epithet_, and it is astonishing
to see how even in East Cornwall, where the language has been dead for
three centuries, this accentuation is still preserved.  If the epithet
suffix is a monosyllable, the accent of the compounded word is on the
last syllable; if not, the accent is usually on the last but one, but the
intervening article or preposition is always a proclitic, and is
disregarded as to accent.  The same sort of thing happens in English.
Thus, even if it were the custom to write _Stratfordonavon_ all in one
word, we should know by the accent that it meant _Stratford-on-Avon_; but
one, say some German philologist, who had never heard it pronounced, and
knew nothing of British topography and the distribution of surnames,
might conjecture that it was _Stratfor Dónavon_, might compare it with
_Lydiard Tregoze_, _Stoke Dabernon_, _Sutton Valence_, or _Compton
Wyniates_, and might build thereon a beautiful theory of an Irish
settlement in Warwickshire.  Things every whit as absurd as this have
been done with Cornish names.

3.  The position and general features of the place.  Thus when we find
that a rather important town is situated at the innermost point of a bay
called in Cornish (cf. Boson’s Pilchard Song) _Zans Garrak Loos en Kûz_,
we may doubt whether its name signifies “the holy head or headland,” and
not “the head of the bay.”  In this case there is a slight complication,
because there is actually something of a headland about the Battery
Rocks, and the town arms are St. John Baptist’s head in a charger; but
when we find that _Tremaine_ is some ten miles, as the crow flies, from
the nearest point of the coast, we may be quite justified in doubting
whether Pryce is right in calling it “the town on shore or sea coast.”

The following specimens of names about whose meaning there can be no
doubt, will serve as examples of the construction of Cornish

1.  Epithet following noun.

  _a_.  Masculine.  _Porthmear_ (in Zennor), the great porth or creek.
  (Murray’s Handbook says that it means the “sea-port,” but Murray’s
  interpretations are intricately and ingeniously wrong-headed).

  _b_.  Feminine.  _Trevean_, the little town.  _Tre_ signifies _town_ in
  the modern Cornish and old English sense, a farmhouse with its
  out-buildings.  It is the commonest of these generic prefixes.  In
  Brittany, though it is occasionally found, its place is usually taken
  by _Ker_ (Cornish _Car_, Welsh _Caer_), probably the Latin _castrum_, a
  fortified town or camp, a difference which has its historical

2.  Epithet preceding noun.

  _Hendrea_, the old town (in Sancreed).  Note that this is _Héndrea_,
  not _Hendréa_.  Note also the change of initial in _tre_.

3.  Intervening particles.

  _a_.  The definite article.  _Crows-an-wra_, the witch’s cross.
  (Murray says that it means “the wayside cross,” but _gwragh_, _gwrah_,
  _gwra_, Breton _gwrac’h_, certainly means a hag or witch, and the
  change of initial after the article shows that the noun is feminine.)
  _Chy-an-dowr_, the house of the water.

  _b_.  Preposition.  _Tywardreath_, the house on the sands;
  _Tywarnhaile_ (=_Ty war an hayle_), the house on the tidal river.  Note
  that the syllable _war_ in these words is unaccented.  In _Trewartha_,
  the upper house, the accent is on _war_, so that even if we were not
  accustomed to the epithet _wartha_ we should know that _war_ is here
  not a preposition.

4.  Appositional genitive without article.

  _Chytan_, the house of fire; _Chypons_, the bridge house; _Pentreath_,
  the head of the sands; _Portreath_ (=_Porth-treath_), the creek of the

  _Nancemelling_ (=_Nans-mellan_), the valley of the mill.

5.  Proper names as appositional genitives:—

  _Trejago_, the house of Jago (or James).

  _Chykembra_, the Welshman’s house.

  _Gûn-an-Guidal_ (or _Anguidal Downs_), the down of the Irishman.

In West Cornwall, especially in Penwith, where the spoken language
lingered latest, there is a greater tendency to the use of the article
_an_ than in the more eastern part of the Duchy.  Sometimes the article
is prefixed to the noun itself.  Thus, _Andrewartha_ (=_an dre wartha_),
the upper town, in Gwithian, now called _Upton_, but inhabited by a
family of the older name; _Angarrack_, the rock, between Hayle and
Gwinear Road; _Angove_, the smith, and _Angwin_, the white, family names;
_Angrouse_, the cross, in Mullion; _Angear_, the castle; _Annear_ or
_Ennor_, the earth; _Angilley_ or _Anguilly_, the grove. {196}

Generally when the article comes between the generic noun and some other
word the latter is a noun also, an appositional genitive, but
occasionally it is an adjective, as in _Ponsanooth_ (in Perran Arworthal
and Gluvias), which is probably _Pons-an-nowedh_, the new bridge.  The
generic prefix _Pleu_ or _Plou_, parish, so common in Brittany, is
altogether unknown in Cornish place-names of to-day, unless, as some
hold, _Bleu Bridge_ in Madron means “the parish bridge,” and is a partial
translation of _Pons-an-bleu_, but the word is common enough in Cornish,
and the names of parishes called after saints frequently began in Cornish
writings with _Pleu_ (_plu_, _plui_)—_Pleu East_, St. Just; _Pleu Paul_,
St. Paul; _Pleu Vudhick_, St. Budock.  Though the word occurs in the
expression _tîz pleu_, people of [his] parish, in the tale of _John of
Chy-an-Hur_, the three parishes mentioned there, St. Levan, St. Hillary,
and Buryan, are called by their ordinary English names.  The prefix
_lan_, originally an enclosure (cf. the English _lawn_), but later used
to signify a church with its churchyard, is still frequently found, with
occasional variants of _la_, _lam_, and _land_, but it is nothing like so
frequent as the Welsh equivalent _llan_.  In earlier days it was more
common in Cornwall than it is now, and a number of parishes which now
have the prefix “Saint” appear in the Domesday Survey with _Lan_.

                                * * * * *

The family names of Cornwall, omitting those of the few great Norman
houses, Granvilles, Bevilles, Fortescues, Bassets, St. Aubyns,
Glanvilles, etc., which do not concern us at present, fall into at least
four classes.

1.  Names derived from places.

    “By Tre, Pol, and Pen,
    Ye shall know Cornishmen.”

or as Camden more correctly expands it at the expense of metre:—

    “By Tre, Ros, Pol, Lan, Car, and Pen,
    Ye shall know the most Cornishmen.”

And he might have added many more prefixes.  It is probable that many of
these names originated in the possession of the estates of the same

Of this class are such names as _Trelawny_, _Rosevear_, _Polwhele_,
_Lanyon_, _Carlyon_, and _Penrose_.  To the ordinary Saxon they sound
highly aristocratic, and are introduced into modern “up country” novels
in a way that is often amusing to a Cornishman, and no doubt many of them
do represent the names of families of past or present gentility, for in
Cornwall, as in the Scottish Highlands, armigerous gentry were and are
very thick on the ground, and a very large number of Cornishmen of every
class and occupation might write themselves down “gentlemen” in the
strict heraldic sense if they only knew it.  But some names of this class
are derived from very small landed possessions, and some probably, as
similar names in England, from mere residence, not possession.

2.  Patronymics.  These are the equivalents of the English names ending
in _son_ or _s_, of the Welsh names beginning with _ap_ (=_mab_, son),
and the Irish and Scottish beginning with _mac_ or _O’_.  They fall into
five classes.

  _a_.  The Christian name used as a surname without alteration, as
  _Harry_, _Peter_, _John_, _Rawle_, _Rawe_ or _Rowe_ (for _Ralph_ or
  _Raoul_), _Gilbart_ and _Gilbert_, _Thomas_ or _Thom_, _Davy_,
  _Bennet_, _Harvey_, _Tangye_, etc.

  _b_.  The diminutive of the Christian name, as _Jenkin_, _Hodgkin_,
  _Rawlin_, _Tonkin_, _Eddyvean_ (=Little Eddy), _Hockin_ (—_Hawkin_,
  i.e. _Harrykin_), etc.

  _c_.  The Christian name or its diminutive in its English possessive
  form, as _Peters_, _Johns_, _Rogers_, _Jenkins_, _Rawlings_, _Roberts_,

  _d_.  Patronymics formed as in English, German, Dutch, and the
  Scandinavian languages by adding _son_, as _Johnson_, _Jackson_,
  _Wilson_, etc.  When these occur in Cornwall they are probably often of
  English origin.

  _e_.  Patronymics formed with the prefix _ap_ (for _mab_, son),
  apocopated (as in the Welsh names _Probert_, _Pritchard_, _Price_,
  _Bevan_, _Bowen_) to a _p_ or _b_.  It is possible that to this class
  may belong _Prowse_, _Prawle_ (_Ap Rowse_, _Ap Rawle_), _Bown_ (_Ap
  Owen_?), _Budge_ (_Ap Hodge_?), _Pezzack_ (_Ap Isaac_).

The Christian names from which patronymics are formed are not as a rule
very peculiar.  There are the usual names of the well-known saints,
_Peter_, _Paul_, _Mitchell_ (_Michael_), _John_, _James_ (or in its
Cornish form, _Jago_), _Thomas_, _Matthew_, _Francis_, _Dunstan_,
_Bennet_, _Andrew_, _Martin_, and the rest, the common general Christian
names, _Harry_, _William_, _Robert_, _Roger_, etc., and some less common
ones, such as _Julyan_, _Vivian_, _Nicholas_ (_Nicol_, _Nicholl_, etc.),
_Colin_, _Jeffry_, _Jasper_, _Gilbert_, etc., and names of Cornish
saints, _Keverne_, _Key_, _Gluyas_, _Ustick_ (probably adjectival form
from _Just_).  Besides these there are a few from old British, or of
Breton or Norman introduction, _Harvey_ (_Hervé_), _Dennis_, _Rawle_,
_and Rawlin_ (_Raoul_, _Raoulin_, _Rivallen_), _Tangye_ (_Tanguy_, a
quite common name in Brittany, from St. Tanguy, one of the entourage of
St. Pol of Leon), _Arthur_, _David_ or _Davy_ (as representing the Welsh
saint, not the King of Israel), _Sampson_ (representing the Bishop of
Dol, not the Israelite hero), _Jewell_ (Breton _Judicael_ or _Juhel_).
Some names take a variety of forms.  Thus _Clement_ is found as
_Clemens_, _Clemments_, _Clements_, _Clemo_ or _Clemmow_, _Climo_,
_Climance_, etc., _Ralph_ (_Radulphus_, _Rudolph_, _Randolph_, _Rollo_)
is found as _Ralph_, _Rapson_, _Rawe_, _Rawle_, _Rawlin_, _Rawling_,
_Rawlings_, _Rabling_, _Randall_, _Rowe_, _Rowling_, _Rowse_, etc.  There
are also certain names which have a resemblance to Spanish names,
_Pascoe_, _Varcoe_, _Jago_, _Crago_, _Manuel_, etc., but no theory of
Spanish influence is necessarily to be built upon them, as they are
otherwise explainable.  As the Cornish had got beyond the matriarchal
stage of culture before historic times, we do not find family names
derived from names of women, but no chapter on Cornish nomenclature can
omit that very remarkable and peculiarly Cornish name _Jennifer_, which
is beyond any doubt a local form of the name of Guenivere, the wife of
Arthur.  A more Frenchified form is still found in Brittany, and the
Cornish form goes back to time immemorial.  At one time the name of an
equally celebrated Queen of Cornwall was used as a Cornish Christian
name, for _Ysolt_ de Cardinham possessed the advowson of the church of
Colan in the thirteenth century, but except as a modern revival, of which
the present writer knows only one case connected with Cornwall, this name
is no longer found.  Another not infrequent Christian name is _Hannibal_,
from which possibly may come the surnames _Hambly_, _Hamley_, and
_Hamblyn_.  The name is too old in Cornwall to have originated in any
theory about the Phœnicians and the tin trade of the Cassiterides, for it
is found in times when no one troubled himself about either, but its
origin is decidedly a puzzle.

3.  Names derived from trades or occupations.  Some of these are only
English, _Smith_, _Wright_, _Carpenter_, _Brewer_, _Paynter_, etc., but
others are real Cornish, as _Marrack_, knight; _Angove_, the smith;
_Drew_, druid, magician (and perhaps _An-drew_, the druid, when it is not
merely a patronymic); _Tyacke_, farmer; _Sayer_ and _Sara_, possibly
_Saer_, carpenter; _Hellyar_, hunter; _Cauntor_ (Lat. _Cantor_), singer.

4.  Nicknames or names derived from personal peculiarities, such as
_Black_, _White_, _Brown_, _Grey_, _Green_, which are mostly found in
English, though one finds _Angwin_, the white, and _Winn_, white; _Glass_
and _Glaze_, blue; _Couch_, red; _Floyd_ (cf. Welsh _Lloyd_), grey;
_Glubb_, moist, wet; _Coath_, _Coad_, and its English _Olde_ or _Ould_;
_Baragwaneth_, wheat-bread, etc.  Also names derived from names of
animals, _Bullock_, _Cock_, _Fox_, or its Cornish _Lewarne_ (unless that
is _Le-warne_, the place of alders), _Mutton_ (though this may be a
place-name also), etc.  One does not see why a man should have been
called _Curnow_, the Cornishman, in a country in which such an epithet
could not have been very distinguishing, but that name is not at all
uncommon, nor is _Andain_ or _Endean_, the man, which is still less

This is only a slight sketch of a considerable range of investigation,
but the subject would require a book to itself, so that it is impossible
here to do more than indicate the direction in which students of Cornish
nomenclature should work.  But in the investigation of place-names in any
language one must always allow for corruption and alteration in the
course of centuries, and in a Celtic country for the Celticising of names
of non-Celtic derivation.  Thus the well-known Welsh name _Bettws_ is
probably the old English bede-house (prayer-house), _Gattws_, less
common, is gatehouse.  The terminations _aig_, _sgor_, _bhal_, _dail_,
_ort_, so common in the Hebrides and West Highlands, are Gaelic forms of
the Norse _vik_, _skjœr_, _val_, _dal_, _fjord_, and many names in those
parts are altogether Norse, spelt Gaelic fashion, and have no meaning
whatever in Gaelic.  Probably the Cornish place-name _Bereppa_,
_Barrepper_, _Brepper_, _Borripper_, of which instances occur in
Gunwalloe, Penponds, Mawnan, and elsewhere, is only the French
_Beau-Repaire_, and there are probably many other names of French
derivation.  Dr. Bannister’s Glossary of Cornish Names is of so eminently
uncritical a character as to be of little use.  Though he had a wide
knowledge of separate Cornish words, he was no philologist, and did not
seem to understand how to put his words together.  Had he only given the
situation of the places—the name of the parish would have been something
towards it—he would have left a basis for future work.  As it is, the
whole work needs to be done over again.  Of course one need hardly say
that out of such a large collection of names a considerable number of the
derivations are quite correctly stated, but those are mostly the easy and
obvious ones, and even easy ones are often wrong, and it was quite
useless to encumber the glossary with the hopeless derivations of
eighteenth-century writers.  But the interpretation of place-names is not
so simple as it looks, and it is easier to criticise other people’s
derivations than to find better ones, so that one may admire Dr.
Bannister’s industry while one deprecates the recklessness of many of his



§ 1.  The Days of the Week, _Dedhyow an Seithan_.

Sunday           _Dê Zîl_.

Monday           _Dê Lín_.

Tuesday          _Dê Mergh_.

Wednesday        _Dê Marhar_.

Thursday         _Dê Yew_.

Friday           _Dê Gwener_.

Saturday         _Dê Sadarn_.

It will be seen that, like the Welsh and Bretons as well as the Latin
nations, the Cornish derived the names of the days directly from Latin,
and did not, like the Teutonic nations, translate them in accordance with
primitive ideas of comparative mythology.

§ 2.  The Months of the Year, _Mîsyow an Vledhan_.

January          _Mîs Genver_.

February         _Mîs Whevral_.

March            _Mîs Mergh_.

April            _Mîs Ebral_.

May              _Mîs Mê_.

June             _Mîs Efan_.

July             _Mîs Gorefan_.

August           _Mîs Êst_.

September        _Mîs Gwengala_.

October          _Mîs Hedra_.

November         _Mîs Deu_.

December         _Mîs Kevardheu_.

§ 3.  The Four Seasons of the Year, _Pajer Termen an Vledhan_.

Spring        _Gwainten_.

Summer        _Hav_.

Autumn        _Kidniav_.

Winter        _Gwav_.

§ 4.  Festivals and Holy Days, _Dêdh Goilyow ha Dedhyow Sans_.

Christmas                           _Nadelik_.

New Year’s Day                      _Bledhan Nowedh_.

Epiphany / Twelfth Day              _Degl an Stêl_ / _An Dawdhegvas

Easter                              _Pask_.

Low Sunday                          _Pask Bîan_.

Ascension Day                       _An Askenyans_.

Whitsunday / Pentecost              _Zîlgwidn_ / _Pencast_.

Palm Sunday                         _Dê Zîl Blejyow_.

Ash Wednesday                       _Dê Marhar an Losow_.

Maundy Thursday                     _Dê Yew Hamblys_.

Good Friday                         _Dê Gwener an Grows_.

Holy Week                           _Seithan Sans_ / _Seithan Mêr_.

Purification / Candlemas            _Degl Marîa an Golow_.

Annunciation / Lady Day             _Degl agan Arledhes_ / _Degl Marîa en
                                    Mîs Mergh_.

Visitation                          _Degl Marîa en Gorefan_.

Assumption                          _Degl Marîa en Hanter-Êst_ /
                                    _Ewhelyans Marîa_.

Nativity of B.V.M                   _Genesegeth Marîa_.

Midsummer Day / Nativity of St.     _Golowan_ (i.e. The Lights or
John                                Midsummer Fires) / _Genesegeth Jûan

Lammas Day / Harvest Home           _Degoledh ŷs_ (pron. _dêgŭldŷz_
                                    meaning, “Corn Feast”).

All Saints Day                      _Halan Gwav_ (i.e. the Kalends of

All Souls Day                       _Dêdh an Enevow_.

Ember Days                          _An Pajer Termen_.

Whit Monday                         _Dê Lîn Pencast_.

Trinity Sunday                      _Dê Zîl an Drinjes_.

Corpus Christi Day                  _Degl Corf Crîst_.

Michaelmas Day                      _Degl Sans Myhal hag ŏl an Eleth_.


1.  The Ancient Cornish Drama.  Edited and translated by Mr. Edwin
Norris.  Oxford, University Press, 1859.  2 vols. 8vo.  [This contains
the Trilogy known as the _Ordinalia_ (see p. 27), followed by notes and a
most valuable “Sketch of Cornish Grammar,” and the Cottonian Vocabulary,
arranged alphabetically].

2.  _Pascon agan Arluth_: the Poem of the Passion (see p. 26).  [With a
translation and notes by Dr. Whitley Stokes.]  _Philological Society’s
Transactions_, 1860-1.  8vo.

3.  _Gwreans an Bys_: the Creation of the World, a Cornish Mystery.
Edited, with a translation and notes, by Whitley Stokes.  _Philological
Society’s Transactions_, 1864.  8vo.

4.  _Lexicon Cornu-Britannicum_: a Dictionary of the ancient Celtic
language of Cornwall, in which the words are elucidated by copious
examples from the Cornish works now remaining; with translations in
English.  The synonyms are also given in the cognate dialects of Welsh,
Armoric, Irish, Gaelic, and Manx, showing at one view the connection
between them.  By the Rev. Robert Williams.  Roderic, Llandovery, 1865.

5.  A Collection of hitherto unpublished Proverbs and Rhymes in the
ancient Cornish Language: from the MSS. of Dr. Borlase.  By William
Copeland Borlase.  _Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall_, 1866.

6.  A Cornish Glossary.  By Whitley Stokes.  [Additions of about 2000
words to Williams’s _Lexicon_, with some corrections].  _Transactions of
the Philological Society_, 1868-9.

7.  _Beunans Meriasek_: the Life of St. Meriasek, Bishop and Confessor.
A Cornish Drama.  Edited, with a translation and notes, by Whitley
Stokes.  Trübner & Co., London, 1872.  8vo.

8.  The Cornish Language.  A Paper read before the Philological Society,
March 21st, 1873.  By Henry Jenner.  _Philological Society’s
Transactions_, 1893.

9.  Traditional Relics of the Cornish Language in Mount’s Bay in 1875.
By Henry Jenner.  _Philological Society’s Transactions_, 1876.  8vo.

10.  The History and Literature of the Ancient Cornish Language.  By
Henry Jenner.  A Paper read before the British Archæological Association
at Penzance, August 19th, 1876.  _British Archæological Journal_, 1877.

11.  Copy of a MS. in Cornish and English from the MSS. of Dr. Borlase.
_Nebbaz Gerriau dro tho Carnoack_.  By John Boson.  Edited by W. C.
Borlase.  _Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall_, Nov. 1879.

12.  An English-Cornish Dictionary.  Compiled from the best sources.  By
Fred. W. P. Jago.  Luke, Plymouth; Simpkin, Marshall, & Co., London,
1887.  4to.

13.  A Glossary of Cornish Names: ancient and modern, local, family,
personal, etc.  2000 Celtic and other names, now or formerly in use in
Cornwall. . . By the Rev. John Bannister.  Williams & Norgate, London; J.
B. Netherton, Truro, 1871.  8vo.

14.  Articles in the _Revue Celtique_.

Vol. i. p. 332.  “The Bodmin Manumissions.”  By Dr. Whitley Stokes.

Vol. iii. p. 85.  “Cornica.”  _Durdala_, _Dursona_; Cornish in the
Vatican [John of Cornwall’s _Merlin_]; Cornish Life of St. Columba
[mention of a letter from Nicholas Roscarrock to Camden, referring to
such a work].  By Dr. Whitley Stokes.

Vol. iii. p. 239.  “Le dernier écho de la Langue Cornique.”  By the Rev.
W. S. Lach-Szyrma.  [An account of the present writer’s Paper on
“Traditional Relics of Cornish in Mount’s Bay,” with additions.]

Vol. iv. p. 258.  “Cornica.”  Fragments of a Drama.  [Text and
translation of the Add. Charter fragment (see p. 25)].  Cornish Phrases.
[From Andrew Borde (see p. 30)].  By Dr. Whitley Stokes.

Vol. xiv. p. 70.  “Les Glosses de l’_Oxoniensis posterior_ sont elles
Corniques?” p. 301.  “Les mots _Druic_, _Nader_, dans le Vocabulaire
Cornique.”  By Prof. J. Loth.

Vol. xviii. p. 401.  “Études Corniques I.”  [On the pronunciation of _d_,
_t_, _s_, _z_, _j_, etc.].  By Prof. Loth.

Vol. xxiii. p. 173.  “Études Corniques II.  Textes inédits en Cornique
moderne.”  [_Genesis_ iii., _St. Matth_. iv., ii.  From the Gwavas MS.,
with a French translation and notes].  By Prof. Loth.

Vol. xxiii. p. 236.  “Études Corniques IV.  Remarques et corrections au
_Lexicon Cornu-Britannica_ de Williams.”  By Prof. Loth.

Vol. xxiv. p. 1.  “Études Corniques V.  Les Dix Commandements de Dieu.”
[The versions of Boson and Kerew in the Gwavas MS., with a French
translation and notes].  By Prof. Loth.

Vol. xxiv. p. 155.  “Notes aux textes inédits en Cornique moderne.”
[Notes, in English, on Prof. Loth’s edition of _Genesis_ iii., _St.
Matth._ iv., ii., in vol. xxiii.].  By Henry Jenner.

Vol. xxiv. p. 300.  “Some Rough Notes on the present Pronunciation of
Cornish names.”  By Henry Jenner.

15.  Articles in _Archiv fur Celtische Lexicographie_.

Bd. i. p. 101.  “Glossary to _Beunans Meriasek_.”  By Dr. Whitley Stokes.

p. 161.  “Collation of Norris’s Cornish Drama.”  By Dr. Whitley Stokes.

p. 224.  “Cornique Moderne.”  [The dialogues of Andrew Borde, and William
Bodenor’s Letter; with restored texts, translations, and notes.]  By
Prof. Loth.

16.  Grammatica Celtica e monumentis vetustis tam Hibernicae linguae quam
Britannicarum dialectorum Cambricae Cornicae Aremoricae comparatis
Gallicae priscae reliquiis.  Construxit I. C. Zeuss.  Editio altera.
Curavit H. Ebel.  Berolini, 1871.  4to.


{0a}  Cf. “Ista sunt nomina corrodiorum et pensionum _in Anglia et
Cornubia_ quæ sunt in dono Regis Angliæ.”  Harl. MS. 433, f. 335, temp.
Ric. iii.

{0b}  The Bretons of to-day habitually speak of Brittany as “notre petite
patrie,” and France as “notre grande patrie,” and none have fought and
died for France more bravely than these.  As soldiers (and still more as
sailors) they are to France what the Highlanders are to Britain, and
avenge the atrocities of 1793 in the same noble fashion as that in which
the Gaels have avenged the horrors of Culloden and its sequel.  Loyalty
is in the blood of Celts, whether to clan, or to great or little

{0c}  “If that learned wise man should see this, he would find reason to
correct it in orthography, etc.”—_Nebbaz Gerriau_.

{6}  The Britons of the Kingdom of the North (Cumberland and Strathclyde)
probably spoke the progenitor of Welsh, which they perhaps brought south
with them, displacing the South British in Gwynedd and Powys, and later
in South Wales, when they also drove out the Goidelic intruders.

{7}  In September 1903, at the end of the Congress of the _Union
Régionaliste Bretonne_ at Lesneven in Finistère, the present writer made
a speech in Cornish, perhaps the first that had been made for two hundred
years, and rather to his astonishment he was fairly well understood by
the Bretons.  It is true that all were educated men, but only one of them
had studied Cornish.

{10a}  _Descript. Cambr._, vi.

{10b}  _Cf._ “Where the great vision of the guarded mount
Looks toward Namancos and Bayona’s hold.”

{12}  Clarendon’s account of the Cornish troops in the Great Rebellion
gives the impression that there was no lack of piety among them at that

{17}  Probably the well-known Sir John Maynard, whose MSS. are now in
Lincoln’s Inn Library.  He represented a Devon constituency at one time.

{19}  In Tonkin’s notes to Carew’s _Survey_ (Lord de Dunstanville’s
edition) passages which occur in Pryce are referred to pages of “my
_Archæologia Cornu-Britannica_.”

{39}  The motto of Harris of Hayne, “_Car Dew dres pub tra_,” is
mentioned in Boson’s _Nebbaz Gerriau_, and is part of stanza 23 of the
_Poem of the Passion_.

{50}  The remarks added here in brackets are those of the present writer.

{54}  In compound words the accent is always on the qualifying part, and
if that is a monosyllable and comes last, the accent is therefore on the
last syllable.  This is common in place-names.

{55}  It seems likely that in the very peculiar intonation of Zennor,
Morvah, Towednack, and the country part of St. Ives the true intonation
of Cornish may be best preserved.  But this is mere conjecture.

{56}  The modern Cornish pronunciation of the word “trade,” in its local
and rather contemptuous sense of “ropes’ ends, dead mice, and other
combustibles” (as Cornishman once denned it), shows the sound of this
vowel fairly well.

{57}  Care must be taken in this case to avoid that _ŷ_ sound given to
the English _a_ in London twang (_e.g._ lȳdy for lady).

{59a}  The combination _ao_ in Irish is pronounced _t_.  Thus _caol_,
narrow, is _cul_ in the Highlands and _kîl_ in Ireland.

{59b}  The word _bewnans_, life, formed from the root _bew_, was often
written _bownans_ in late Cornish and probably pronounced _boonans_.
Similarly _bowjy_ (=_bewgh-chŷ_), cow-house, must have been _bewjy_.
This last, which is one of the surviving Cornish words, has its _ow_ at
present sounded as in _now_.  This change has happened not infrequently
in place-names.

{63}  The word _en_, in, in quite late Cornish, was apparently sounded
_et_, which is a solitary case of the disappearance of _n_ in a

{64}  _Cf._ the _s_ or _z_ of _azure_, _treasure_, _sure_, _pleasure_,
_sugar_, in English.

{65}  Dr. Whitley Stokes, in a paper of additions to Williams’s Cornish
Lexicon (Philol. Soc. 1868), gives it as his opinion that the _th_ of the
MSS. should not be written _dh_ at the _end_ of a word, and that
Williams, in doing so, was wrongly following Welsh analogy.  But there is
an evident tendency in _late_ Cornish to end words in _z_ for _s_, _v_
for _f_, _g_ for _k_, and a considerable number of words which Williams
ends in _dh_ end in the corresponding z in Breton, so that one is more
inclined to follow Williams in this matter, though there is a good deal
to be said both ways.

{70a}  _C_ before a broad vowel, _k_ before a thin vowel, and _q_ before
a _w_.

{70b}  The _ch_ and _j_ are used for an earlier _t_ and _d_ in a few
words, through intensification of the thin sounds of the latter.  See
Chap. I. § 2.

{73}  See Chap. IV. § 2.

{76}  There is also a doubtful form _mescatter_, from _mescat_.

{78}  The change of initial of the masculine plural is by no means
universal in the MSS., but it is not infrequent, and is the rule in
Breton (with a few exceptions), so it seems fair to conjecture that it
was the Cornish rule also.

{80}  Note how a masculine ending in _a_ affects the initial of the
adjective as if it were a feminine.

{81}  It sometimes happens (as Dr. Stokes points out) that if the first
noun is feminine, the noun in the genitive has its initial in the second
state, in fact it is treated as an adjective qualifying the preceding
noun, e.g. _bennath Varya_, the blessing of Mary; _carek Veryasek_, the
rock of Meriasek; _fynten woys_, a well of blood, but as this also
happens at times when the first noun is masculine (e.g. _cledha dan_, Cr.
964), it probably only means that mutations were rather loosely used.
The last two are “genitives of material.”

{86}  Note that when a syllable is added to a word ending in _gh_, the
_g_ is omitted.

{94}  _Idn_, to qualify a noun; _omen_, used by itself.  Thus, _idn dên_,
one man; _Ŏnen hag Ol_, One and All.  _Wǒnnen_ is an alternative form of
the latter.

{96}  It has been held that this apparent singular, which is used after
numerals in Welsh and Breton also, is really a genitive plural.  In the
Gaelic languages, in which the case-inflections of nouns still exist, the
genitive plural is usually (though not universally) the same as the
nominative singular, except in Manx, where it is only distinguishable
from the nominative plural by its article, but except in the cases of
_da_, two, _fichead_, twenty, _ceud_, a hundred, and _mile_, a thousand,
which precede nouns in the singular, the plural follows numerals in those

{119}  There is, however, some blight confusion in late Cornish MSS.
between this use of _re_, and the auxiliary form with _wrîg_.  The
difference of sound in cases of verbs beginning with _g_ or _c_ would be
very slight.

{133}  Spelling assimilated to that of this grammar.

{135}  It will not be necessary to add the pronouns to every tense.

{136}  The remarks on the use of the different forms of this tense apply
_mutatis mutandis_ to the other tenses.  See also Chapter XIV. § I.

{140}  See Chapter XIV.

{144}  _Kegy_, _kehegy_ (in _St. Meriasek_), are _ke_, _kehe_, with _jy_
or _gy_ (=_dî_), the personal pronoun added.

{149}  Older _yn_.  When this is followed by a possessive pronoun of the
first or second person the _n_ is dropped, and the possessive pronoun
takes the form which follows a preposition ending in a vowel, _e’m_,
_e’th_.  When the definite article would follow the two coalesce and
_en_=_en an_.

{153}  _na_=_ni_ + a (_nag_ before a vowel), ought only to be used with
interrogatives, but the later writers of Cornish did not always do as
they ought.

{154}  In Jordan’s _Creation_, 1. 599, “_Myhall sera thewgh gramercy_,”
though Keigwin and Dr. Stokes both read _my hall_=I may, one is inclined
to find this form of swear, and to translate it “Michael! sir, grammercy
to you!”  Compare the English use of “Marry!” (for Mary!) or “Gad!” (for
God!) without _by_ before them.  It is written all in one word and spelt
the same as the name of St. Michael in the same play.  It is no more of
an anachronism to make Eve swear by St. Michael than (in _Res. Dom._,
1387) to make St. Thomas swear by St. Mary.

{156}  _Vengeans y’th glas_! is used by the wife of the smith who makes
the nails for the Cross in the Drama of _The Passion_ (1. 2716).

{164}  The spelling and mutations corrected.

{165}  The spelling and mutations corrected.

{166}  The spelling and mutations corrected.

{167}  The spelling and mutations corrected.

{180a}  Probably the apparent eight syllables in line 6 of the _Poem of
the Passion_ may be accounted for in this way, and one should read
_levarow_ as _larow_; cf. in the Breton of Treguier, _laret_ for
_lavarout_, and the late Cornish _lawle_ for _lavarel_.  In English the
first would be no rhyme.

{180b}  It may be that the Cornish ear for rhymes was like the French,
and that the explanation is to be sought in a theory like that of the
_rimes riches_ and the _consonne d’appui_ of modern French.  In French
_chercher_—_rocher_ is a better rhyme than _aimer_—_rocher_ (in each case
with the accent on the last syllable).

{181}  The numerals denote the number of syllables to each line.  In the
original a long _z_ is used for _dh_ and _th_.

{188}  The spelling of one of the original MSS. has been preserved here,
except that, in order to avoid confusion as to the number of syllables,
the final mute _e_ is omitted.  In this _ee_—_î_, _ea_=_ê_, _oo_=_ô_.

{189a}  “I have only to add that the metre of _Christabel_ is not
properly speaking irregular, though it may seem so through its being
founded on a new principle, namely, that of counting in each line the
accents, not the syllables.”  (Preface to 1816 edition of _Christabel_.)

{189b}  Spelling adapted to that of this grammar.

{196}  Cf. the Arabic article _al_ prefixed to place-names in Southern
Spain, and to nouns of Arabic derivation in Spanish.

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