Notianjow Kernuak rag Dallathorian
Cornish Notes for Beginners

Sections 4
Other Sections

Pandr’era why a kîl ? What are you doing? What do you do?

4.2 Actions and locations with the verb boaz.
4.3 Verbs:  Examples of the present participle.
4.4 Peleah?   Where?  (Also spelt peleha)
4.5 Where things are: Prepositions
4.6 Cowz bear:  A short conversation
4.7 Pandr’idgeva 'kîl?: What is he doing?   Pandr’idge hy kîl?: What is she doing?   Pandr'iggans 'kîl?: What are they doing?
4.8 Ea ha Na. Yes and No:
4.9 Ez?  (questions)  

4.1  Pandr’era why a kîl ?   What are you doing?  or What do you do?.........back

thera ve or theram: I am    This is part of the verb BOAZ used for actions and locations.

thera ve 'cones: I’m working (gones = to work ; cones = working  g>c )

thera ve 'tebry: I’m eating (debry = to eat ; tebry  eating  d > t )

thera ve 'kazowas: I’m listening (gazowas = to listen ; kazowas = listening g > k)

thera ve 'pedhy: I’m drowning (bedhy = to drown ; pedhy = drowning  b > p)

In the above examples the first letter of the verb changes. This is called hard mutation and only affects a few letters:

b becomes p    d becomes t    g becomes c or k

e.g. downsia: to dance becomes townsia: dancing
In practice this change of d to t is often ignored.

Other letters are not affected by  hard mutation. Examples of no change:

perna: to buy     thera ve 'perna bara: I’m buying bread

(the sound of p in perna cannot get any harder than it is already, so no hard mutation can take place)

meras: to look  thera ve 'meras ort an moar: I’m looking at the sea

(It is not possible to harden the m of meras)

lavaral: to say  thera ve lavaral nepeth en Kernuak: I’m saying something in Cornish

(It is not possible to harden the l of lavaral)

What causes the hardening?:
Between thera ve and the following 'verb noun' we often write a (e.g. thera ve a predery: I’m thinking). It is this a (known as a verbal particle) which causes the following letter to harden.  The a is normally left out but even when it is unseen and unheard the hardening still takes place.  This initial harding is like adding -ing in English (singing, talking). It tells us we are using the present-continuous tense.

[ If you've learnt Unified or Kemmyn, note that this  a  = particle  ow and that there are exceptions to the general rule of hard mutation.]

Usage: Remember that this tense in Late Cornish translates two English tenses:

e.g. Thera ve screffa   means either    I am writing  or I write.

Use thera ve (variations theram or therama) to describe what you are doing, where you are or what your permanent occupation is.

Do not use thera to describe how you are (unless you do so with the use of another verb, as in I’m feeling ill). Remember to use tho ve or o ve when describing your self:
e.g. clav o ve: I’m ill.


4.2 Actions and locations with the verb (boaz)..........back

You know how to say I am when saying what you're doing.  Now look at the other parts of the verb.  These are used for talking about what is happening or where things are but not for describing things with adjectives.

thera ve (or theram): I am     thesta: thou art     ma e (or mava): he is    ma hei: she is

thera nei : we are     thera whei: you are     mowns (or ma angei): they are

Note that parts of the verb start with m.  When talking about locations and actions, use ma instead of ew and use  mowns instead of thens.


Questions about actions and locations:

In thera  the  th  is the same as we encountered in thew.  It stops the statement from being a question.  To ask a question just knock the th off.
In the case of ma e & ma hei, replace with idgeva & idge hei respectively.

idge is pronounced ijy:

era ve / eram: am I     esta: art thou      idgeva: is he    idge hy: is she

era nei:are we     era whei: are you     idgans / idgan'gei: are they

 Some Questions: In the case of thera, knock off the th to leave era:
(Here the particle a is represented by an apostrophe but that isn't normal practice.  It's just to help you understand how the phrases are constructed.)

era ve 'merwal? : am I dying? 
era whei 'moaz dha'n drea? : are you going to the town?
era nei 'tesky an tavas? : are we learning the language?
idgeva 'moaz? : is he going? 
idge hei 'tebry? :is she eating?:

To form negatives use nag (as previously used with ew):

nag era ve 'cara  leath: I do not like milk (literally: I am not liking milk)

nag era ve a kerras dho'm wheal: I do not walk to my work (literally: I am not walking...)

nag era nei 'cowz an Sowznak: we dont speak (literally: We are not speaking) English.

nag era whei a cones pecarra nei : you are not working like us (or you do not work like us).

nag era whei 'moaz da moar: you are not going to sea.

nag era nei a pallas an looar: we are not digging the garden.


4.3  Verbs:  Examples of the present participle..........back

Here are some more verbs to use.  Hard mutation is shown in brackets where appropriate.

moaz: go;  doaz: come (d > t);  kerras: walk;  punnia/poonia: run;  neidga: fly;    gurtas: wait (g;k);  lebmal: jump;  sewia: follow;  saval: rise, stand, get up; powas: rest;  cusca: sleep;  eva: drink;  gwary: play;  debry: eat (d > t)  cowz or clappia: speak;  lavaral: say;  gazowas: listen (g > k);  goofen: ask(g > k);    clowas: hear, taste, sense;  gwellas: see;  meras ort: look at;  cara: like, love;  kelly: lose;  whilas: look for;  cowas: have, get, find, contain, win;  gurra: put(g > c);  danen: send(d > t);  comeras: take;  rei: give;  drei: bring (d > t);  doan: carry(d > t);  perna: buy;  gwerha: sell;  marhazno: go shopping;   gulhy: wash;     glanhe: clean(g > c);  gwîl or gîl: do, make (g > k);   gones: work (g > c);  gweras: help;  screffa: write;  redia: read;  desky: learn (d > t);  nakevy: forget;  dallath: begin, start(d > t);  dowedha: end, finnish (d > t);  tedna: pull, draw;  predery/pedery: think;  gudhvas: know, understand (g > c);  agery: open;  keas: close;  gweskal: hit;  pallas: dig;  serry: become angry;   
parra: prepare;  terry or squatchia: break;  trehy: cut;  owna: repair.

The list above gives you enough verbs to make up sentences using thera and ma. Refer back to it when working on following sections.


4.4 Peleah?   Where?  (Also spelt peleha).........back

We can use peleah / peleha with the forms of boaz in section

peleah era ve?  where am I?     peleah era ve 'moaz? where am I going?

peleah esta? where art thou?    peleah esta 'redia? where art thou reading?
(forms which I translate with thou are for very informal use & prayers. It is best to concentrate on forms translated as you)

peleah ma e? (or peleah mava?) where is he/it?  peleah mava 'cones? where is he working?

peleah ma hei? where is she/it?  peleah ma hei 'tesky? where is she learning?

peleah era nei? where are we?  peleah era nei 'kerras? where are we walking?

peleah era whei? where are you?  peleah era whei 'pesgetsha? where are you fishing

peleah mownz? where are they?  peleah mownz 'pallas? where are they digging?


4.5  Where things are: Prepositions.........back

To answer the above questions we need these words (prepositions):

en: in   war: on   dadn: under   derâg: in front of   adheller dha: behind        en creas: in the middle of   reb: beside   ogas dha: near   treeth / ter: between   obma: here   enna: there   hans: over there   bedn: against

Peleah ma an eglos?  > Ma an eglos war an vrea
Where is the church? > The church is on the hill

Peleah ma an dean? > Ma an dean dadn a bord
Where is the man?  > The man is under the table

Peleah ma an bara? > Ma an bara war a bord
Where is the bread? > The bread is on the table

Peleah ma an gâth? > Ma an gath en gistan
Where is the cat? > The cat is in the box

Peleah ma an kei? > Ma an ky derage an tân
Where is the dog? > The dog is in front of the fire

Peleah ma an dyogian? > Ma an dyogian adheller dha'n kea
Where are the farmers? > The farmers are behind the hedge

Peleah ma an poscader? > Ma an poscader en cok
Where is the fisherman? > The fisherman is in the fishing boat

Note: ma an  may become  ma'n   e.g. Ma'n bara en gegen: the bread is in the kitchen.
The apostrophe is optional.

Remember that there is no word in Cornish for it. All things are either masculine or feminine and therefore he or she.  Cornish for he is either e or ev but sometimes we put va on the end of a verb to mean he, e.g. we can say either peleah ma e? or peleah mava?   Cornish for she is hy.


lever (book) is masculine: peleah mava? > mava dadn an gader: it’s under the chair

tezan: cake is feminine: peleah ma hei? > ma hei en gistan: it’s in the box.


4.6  Cowz bear:  A short conversation.........back

Floh: Tâz, Tâz! Peleah era why?

Tâz: Otta ve Thera ve en chomber.

Floh: Pandr'era why 'kîl en chomber, Tâz?

Tâz: Thera ve 'whilas nepeth.

Floh: Pandr’era whei 'whilas?....Era whei 'whilas goz alwhedhow?

Tâz: Na, nag era ve 'whilas hedna, colan. Mowns et a fokkat. Thera ve 'whilas an papar-nawodhow. Oresta nepeth et e gever?

Floh: Ea, ea, Thera ve 'sedha warnodha Tâz.

Gerriow: en chomber: in the bedroom;   whilas nepeth: looking for something;   alwhedhow: keys; et a fokkat: in my pocket;   papar-nawodhow: news paper;   et e gever: about it;   sedha warnodha: sitting on it;   Taz: Daddy;    floh: child

Note: There are several parts of the verb boaz: to be in the conversation:
thera ve: I am;  nag era ve: I’m not;  era why: are you;  mowns: they are.


4.7  Pandr’idgeva 'kîl?: What is he doing?   Pandr’idge hy kîl?: What is she doing?   Pandr'iggans 'kîl?: What are they doing? .........back

Remember: idge is pronounced ijy

Pandr’idgeva 'kîl? > mava 'gwary gen an pelle.
What is he doing? > He is playing with the ball.

Pandr’idge hei 'kîl? > ma hy 'tebry coffan kîg
What is she doing? She is eating a pasty

Pandr’iggans 'kîl? > mowns 'pesgetsha
What are they doing? > They are fishing

Note: Cornish has four words for is/are. We already know ew and ma. The examples above use   idge.  Like ma, idge is used in expressions to do with action and location.  So, what is the difference?

ma is used for affirmative expressions e.g. the horse in eating; the man is laughing.

idge  is used for asking where specified people or things are and for asking what they are doing. It is also used with  nag  to say what they are not doing and where they are not.

idge hei 'poonia? >na, nag idge hy 'poonia
Is she running? > No, she isn’t running

Pandr’idge hei 'kîl dhan? > ma hei 'redia lever
What’s she doing then? > She’s reading a book

idgeva 'palas en looar? > na, nag idgeva 'pallas
Is he digging in the garden? > No, he isn’t digging

Pandr’idgeva kîl dhan? > mava fittia booz
What’s he doing then? > He’s preparing food

Iggans 'cones? > na, nag iggans 'cones....Mowns 'cana
Are they working? > No, they are not working...They are singing

idge an bara en chomber? > Na, nag idge an bara en chomber. Mava en gegen
Is the bread in the bedroom? > No, the bread isn’t in the bedroom. It’s in the kitchen.

idge an badal en gegen? > ea, ma hei en gegen, war an pedntane.
Is the saucepan in the kitchen > Yes, it is in the kitchen, on the ring.

Note: Instead of saying idgeva you can say  idge e or idge evIggans is a special form of idge meaning are they.  Compare it with thens & mowns. All three refer to they and have the ending -ns. You will notice that same ending in other places where the meaning, they, is required.


4.8  Ea ha Na. Yes and No:........back

In the examples above you will have seen ea: yes & na: no.
Late Cornish makes great use of ea and na but there are other ways to answer.  For example, to answer no in the examples above it is sufficent to say nag idge or nag iggans as appropriate.


4.9  Ez, questions (Older books use the spelling eze).........back

The fourth and final word for is/are is ez.  It is used instead of idge when the thing being spoken of is not specified or definite.  In other words:

If we talk about the something, or if we name somebody, then we use idge.
If we talk about a something or some of something we use ez.

Like idge, ez is used in questions and negatives with nag.

e.g. idge an gath enna? Is the cat there?  i.e. the specific cat, this cat, that cat, Tiddles.

ez câth enna? Is there a cat there?  i.e. a cat, any old moggy, not a specific puss.

idge an leath en paddik? Is the milk in the jug? i.e. the specified milk, that particular milk.

ez leath en paddik? Is there any milk in the jug?  i.e. any milk, some milk.

Here are some more examples:

ez cor en tavarn? Is there any beer in the pub?  Nag ez badna vîth There isn’t a drop

ez dowr tubm rag an lisstry? Is there any hot water for the dishes? Nag ez, soweth There isn’t unfortunately
ez aval rag an maw? Is there an apple for the boy?  Nag ez booz vîth obma. There isn’t any food at all here.
Nag ez medhak en drea. There isn’t a doctor in  the town.
Nag ez dowr en crean. There isn’t any water in the reservoir.

Note: from these examples that we do not normally have  words for a, any or some. These meanings are simply understood.


Get your tavas(tongue) around this old tongue-twister:

ez keaz, ez po nag ez? Mars ez keaz, dro keaz. Po nag ez keaz, dro peath ez
Is there any cheese, is there or isn’t there? If there is some cheese, bring cheese. If there isn’t any cheese bring what there is.


Cowz ber:

Jack: Ez muna lowar dha whei rag an cinema?

Jill: Nag ez moy vel pager penz dhem. Nag ez dha whei goz gubber?

Jack: Na. Mava en trozor, soweth ma bes deaw benz ha pemthack dinar dhem.

Jill: Ma hedna 'kîl weeh pens ha pemthack dinar dhan. Nei alga moaz dhan tavarn!