Some help with SSiC lesson 5 please

At 20:19 in the download, we are asked to say "To speak about a woman." But the responses softens benyn to venyn. This has been explained when talking about "The woman", but this situation has not been explained. At 25:28, we are asked to say, “About an important matter.” Again the response seems to soften Mater to Vater.

At 24:34 we are asked to say “I need to speak with you about something.” But the response is “I need to speak about something with you.” Obviously the two are synonymous. I’m assuming that this is not a mistake and in Cornish, the response that was given is what you would always say. It’s actually a more precise way of saying it in English too. I suspect that when the Penzance Cornish lessons restart, this sort of grammar question is something that I could have easily explained. That’s if things ever do get back to normal. I’m more than a bit doubtful about that.

I do realise that “Say something in Cornish” is that, and that not everything is covered. with the expectation that you learn organically. This was brought home to me with the booklet that came with my new council tax statement. One section was “You can get a new qualification” And underneath “Hwi a yll kavos kwalifians nowydh”. Having seen nowydh below a New Lane on a road sign, and not having to guess too hard at kwalifians, I was really chuffed that I could almost manage this. The only thing that puzzled me was Hwi. The Cornish dictionary explained this to me though.

Also, I think the vocabulary list might be wrong for lesson 5. About is shown as a-dro, but in this context it should be a-dro dhe.

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Tagging @Courtenay

If it comes after “a-dro dhe”, there’s always a second state mutation (b --> v or m --> v, in these cases) after “dhe”. You’re right that the lesson doesn’t explain it very well. I suppose it’s almost impossible not to introduce mutations, since they happen all the time in Celtic languages, but they can be a bit confusing until you get more of a grasp on which sounds mutate and how and under which circumstances. It’s not just that “some” sounds “soften” after some words — there are very specific grammatical rules about it and they take time to learn. Textbooks are better for that than audio courses on their own, I think, really.

“A-dro” does literally mean “about” or “around”— it’s just that it’s always followed by the preposition “dhe” (“to”) when you’re talking “about” something, which doesn’t happen in English. It does come up on its own sometimes — “oll a-dro” meaning “all around”, for example.

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Thanks once again. If they ever start again, then at the lessons in Penzance beginners start following the book Cornish This Way - Holyewgh An Lergh by Graham Sandercock, but also with additional notes and materials from the teacher. I’m guessing some of the grammar would be explained in there.

For clarification of this case, is the softening of “benyn” after “an”, part of the same set of rules as after “a-dro dhe” ? In other words would any noun following “an” mutate b -> v or m -> v?

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No, only feminine singular nouns and masculine plurals of persons. Told you the rules regarding mutation are complicated and take time to learn!! (And it’s not always obvious which nouns are masculine and which are feminine, since all nouns in Cornish are gendered even if they don’t literally refer to a male or female being.)

Also, those are only second state (soft) mutations — there are several others, including in some cases more than one possible mutation of the same sound. Best to cross that bridge when you come to it, though…

I’ve got Holyewgh an Lergh and it’s a very good and well-regarded textbook, so you’ll definitely learn a lot from that. If you already have a copy, you could always try making a start on it yourself — you’ve got an idea of what spoken Cornish sounds like from SSi and most of the spelling systems (you may have noticed there are several in use!!) are very much phonetic. Holyewgh an Lergh uses Kernewek Kemmyn, which has been the most popular system for a while now. It’s starting to be overtaken by the Standard Written Form (SWF), but that is very close to Kemmyn — there are only a few differences and if you can read one, you can read the other.

I’m sure classes will start again once the pandemic situation is over, no matter how long that takes. Most of the Cornish language teachers I know are deeply enthusiastic about the language and have been doing this for years, so they’re not going to throw in the towel just because public gatherings are banned for some time! Hope you do get some study done on your own in the meantime. Kowsva, the Cornish language bookshop and resource centre in the Heartlands heritage park in Pool, just sent an email around today to encourage people to buy from them online while the shop has to be closed — here’s their website.

There’s also KDL, the correspondence course, which I’ve been doing for a couple of years now — you do the lessons at your own pace and email them to a tutor, who’ll mark them and give you any advice and explanations you need as you go. Really helpful if you can’t get to classes in person, which is the case for all of us at the moment! I’m aware there are other online Cornish courses available, but that’s the one I’m familiar with and can recommend.

Happy studying! :slight_smile:

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Many many thanks.

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Thank you, that is very helpful. I think my plan will be, carry on with SSiC (I’ll be ready for lesson six soon) and when I finish all ten, start the KDL lessons. If I can pick your brains on any grammar queries that are thrown up by the subsequent SSiC lessons I’d be really grateful. I’ll wait on buying a book for now.

There is one more thing I noticed in lesson five; At 23:14 we are asked to say “I want to speak about the woman with you.” In both the responses, the “dhe” and the “an” seem to merge together. Though this does sound easier to say. Is this just pronunciation, or would this actually be spelt differently?

I’m wondering why I am the first person here asking these questions. has every one else done SSiC alongside other educational material do you think?

They do merge — it’s spelled “dhe’n”.

I have a feeling there aren’t many other people doing SSiC and participating in these forums!! :wink: There have been a few others who’ve come and gone, but I guess because the course as it stands is so short, most people who do it probably have quickly latched onto other resources as well. I wish the SSiC course was better known AND that it had more levels!! We’ve been told repeatedly for years that new lessons are “in the pipeline” or “just being recorded”, but nothing ever actually happens… :neutral_face: (It doesn’t help that all government funding for the Cornish language was cut off a few years ago — I think that had a lot to do with why the SSiC course has never gone any further.)

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However, in lesson six (yes I made it there) at 09:57 we are asked to say “You would like to speak with me about an interesting matter tonight.” and the response in this case has the words in that order, and not “You would like to speak about an interesting matter with me tonight.”

So was the response in lesson five just an alternative?

Hi Steve,

There are quite a few little anomalies and occasional outright mistakes in the SSiCornish course as it stands — I picked up on most of them too when I did it (a few years ago now — it’s been a while since I last went over it). But like with almost any other language, including English, the word order in Cornish can be quite flexible and still make perfect sense either way.

“I need to speak with you about something” / “Res yw dhymm kewsel genes a-dro dhe neppyth” and “I need to speak about something with you” / “Res yw dhymm kewsel a-dro dhe neppyth genes” are both equally acceptable in Cornish as they are in English. I assume Pol and Julia made a slight slip with the word order of the Cornish vs the English when they recorded that particular line in Lesson 5. But that’s all it is — both possible word orders make sense in both languages. I honestly wouldn’t stress about it too much. :wink:

Thanks again :+1: I just wanted to make sure.

Thankfully, lesson six has much less to be confused over. There are a couple of minor things:

@14:34 we are asked to say “How you do that.” But this is four minutes before we are introduced to “wre’ta”. Also it’s never covered anywhere in this lesson in this context.

@15:59 there are some phrases containing “na hwath” but you explained that in lesson four.

However, @23:52 we are asked to say “Why don’t you have to ask the woman?” but the response contains “orth an venin”. Any explanation would be helpful; it’s not present in the responses to the next phrase “Why don’t you have to see the woman?”

Hi again Steve,

As I said, basically there are a lot of little mistakes and glitches throughout the lessons that obviously weren’t picked up during the recording process and are still there. I think sometimes one just has to shrug them off and go with what you hear most often (if it’s a one-off “different” answer from the pattern you’ve already learned, then it’s probably a mistake). The introduction of “wre’ta” in the wrong place, before it’s been explained, might be something to do with a mistake in the scripting for all I know.

Quirk of Cornish that’s not found in English — the verb “to ask” (govyn) uses a preposition in Cornish where it doesn’t in English. You “govyn orth nebonan” — “ask at someone” — just as you “kewsel orth nebonan” (“speak at someone”). Whereas “to see” doesn’t take a preposition in either language. There are quite a few things that could have been explained better or done better in the SSiC lessons, but I think sometimes it’s implied that you’re just meant to pick them up from hearing them without an explanation! I’ve only done a little of the Welsh course, so I don’t know if it has similar issues.

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Thanks a million.

I did hear our Tech Developer talking about new Cornish lessons VERY recently, so hopefully they will be available before too long.


This is explained in lesson 8, lol.

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Or “Rag a-dro mis” in lesson 9.