After the Cornish Course

Just finished the Kernewek course and it was really great! I like the format and the style. Thanks SSi for those.

I was wondering where people go from here? If anyone has any advice on the best way to improve online (listening, speaking, reading and writing) that’d be much appreciated. I enjoyed the vocab notes/audio combination, but something that goes a little deeper would be great.

Also while I’m here, the course has two variations for “I am”:

Yth eson vy
Ov vy

And in other places Ive seen:

My yw

Can anyone help me understand the differences?

Meur ras bras :slight_smile:

1 Like

https://gocornish.org/ is probably the best place to ask questions and also to find out what else is available - we are planning to build more material for the Cornish course, but it’s going to be after we’ve finished what we’re doing with languages with LLMs at the moment :slight_smile:

Perhaps you could have a word with Daniel - Cornish Pronunciation - and see what else he offers?

1 Like

Here’s a link to a list of resources of what is available now.

https://www.celtic-languages.org/Cornish/Resources

What I’m currently putting together is an audio-course very similar in method to SSi and/or Pimsleur.

Cornish, as you probably all know, is a revived language and Modern Revived Cornish is based on two time periods in history for which we have written records, one based on the Middle Cornish period (ca. 1300-1550) and the Late Cornish period (ca. 1550-1800) where the 16th century can be viewed as a broad transitional time period between the two. In its extremes these two time periods may give the impression that they are two very different ‘dialects’ of the language, but most fluent speakers today tend to be on a spectrum between the two, incorporating features from both. I view them a little like the difference between literary Welsh based on the earlier literary traditions (e.g. the first Welsh Bible, ca. 16th c.) and the modern colloquial dialects.
The Cornish I offer in my audio-course is a little different from the material used in SSiC (which is mainly based on Middle Cornish) in that I firmly base my stuff on the Late Cornish material and the reconstructed pronunciation for that period. Not to worry though, once a certain degree of fluency has been achieved in either variety, the other is readily understandable.
Originally I wrote in to those who were responsible for doing the SSiC course and offered to provide a Late Cornish based version, similar to the way SSiW is offered in a northern and southern version, but I was told there was no wish to do that, so I went off and did my own thing. If anyone wants access to my course, which now has 23 half-hour lessons and will eventually go up to 100 lessons, they can contact my through the contact form of my website Tava - Contact.

As far as my pronunciation sessions go, I want to help learners achieve the pronunciation they’re aiming for, and I offer all Cornish pronunciation variants, which I am well familiar with … just so you don’t get the impression that I’m just ‘pushing’ my variety of Cornish.

4 Likes

The verb ‹bos› ‘to be/being’ is the most complex verb in the Cornish language. It has more tenses and moods than most other Cornish verbs (present, present-future, imperfect, habitual imperfect, conditional, present-future subjunctive, imperfect subjunctive, and imperative).
Now, in addition, the present and imperfect have two different sets of forms per person, the so-called “short form“ and “long form” - sometimes also called “descriptive” and “locative”, and they are used in different situations. For the explanation I’ll just stick to the 1st person singular, “I“:

basic short form/descriptive
ov ‘I am’

basic long form/locative
esov ‘I am’

The short form/descriptive is used to describe what/who something/-one is like, e.g.:

yth ov vy skwith ‘I’m tired’

The long form/locative is used to express where something is, e.g.:

yth esov vy omma ‘I’m here’

To ask the question, you drop the statement-particle ‹yth› and would replace it with the question-particle ‹a›, but since these tenses start with a vowel, the question particle drops:

Ov vy skwith? ‘Am I tired?’
Esov vy omma? ‘Am I here?’

The negation is formed with the negative particle ‹nyns›:

Nyns ov vy skwith. ‘I’m not tired’
Nyns esov vy omma. ‘I’m not here.’

The form **eson vy doesn’t exist, you probably mean ‹esen vy› - this is the long/locative imperfect: ‹yth esen vy omma› “I’ve been here (for an extended period of time until the present)”.

To stress, or emphasise, that you are tired, or when answering the question “How do you feel?” - you want to place ‹skwith› ‘tired’ at the beginning of the sentence: ‹Skwith ov.› “I’m tired(!!!)” - Cornish expresses emphasis by word order, the more important the information contained in a word is, the further front in the sentence it ‘wants’ to go. English does this by tone alone.

Now, if you want to stress that it is “I” who is tired, you have to move “I” to the front of the sentence… simple enough, but why does the verb form change from ‹ov› to ‹yw›? When you put the pronoun before the verb, you are essentially making a relative clause, that means you are saying something like “(It is) I (who) is tired”, and this is why (in Cornish) ‹ov› ‘am’ changes to ‹yw› ‘is’ (3rd person singular). ‹My yw skwith› would be the answer to the question “Who is tired?”

In such sentences where the subject is stressed, the verb form is always in the 3rd person singular, for all persons and numbers (e.g. ‹Ni yw skwith› ‘We(!!!) are tired’, ‹An fleghes yw skwith› ‘The children(!!!) are tired’).

To express ‘I’m tired’ neutrally you say: ‹Yth ov skwith.› ‘I’m tired’. You can add ‹my› > ‹vy› for clarity and a little emphasis on “I”: ‹Yth ov vy skwith.› ‘I’m(!) tired’.

The long form works a little differently, so stick to the syntax ‹yth esov vy omma› for now, until you delve deeper into the forms (it has different relative and definite/indefinite forms).

The long form is also used to make the continuous form:

‹Yth esov vy ow mos tre.› “I’m going home.”
‹Yth esov vy ow tyski Kernowek.› “I’m learning Cornish.”

5 Likes

Well, you can’t ask for a more helpful answer than that! I learned a lot reading that. Thanks for taking the time to answer.

Oh you’re right that was a typo, I meant “esov vy”.

3 Likes

Wow! That’s a very comprehensive explanation. Thanks @danielprohaska !