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Deskanz Deaw - 2

Naming what you see, a, the and gender

Pandreu hebma? or Dreu hebma? what is it What is this?
Pandreu hedda? or Dreu hedda? What is that?
Cathe eu It is a cat.

In Cornish there is no word for "a". Hence "a cat" is translated as "cathe" and the word "a" is not translated. notice also that here "eu" means "it is" and the word "it" is not translated. Elsewhere you will find that it simply means "is".


Every Cornish noun must belong to one of two genders, masculine... guraw or feminine benaw. If we arrange guraw to the left and benaw to the right it will help you remember which gender applies. It is important to know the gender of each word for several reasons. Here is the first:.

The definite article

the = an (A may also be used, specially before a v- ). If an/a is placed before a feminine word beginning with any of the letters shown below the first letter of the word must be softened. The list of words used is arranged with guraw to the left and benaw to the right. You will see how an/a does not affect the guraw words, but does affect the benaw words. This is called mutation.

Guraw Benaw
B bord a table B -> V benen a woman
an bord the table an venen, a venen the woman
C cok a fishing boat C -> G cathe a cat
an cok the fishing boat an gathe the cat
D darraz a door D -> ŢH davaz a sheep, an ewe
an darraz the door an thavaz the sheep, the ewe
GL glaun wool GL -> L gladn a bank
an glaun the wool an ladn the bank
GO gove a smith GO -> W(O) gooth a goose
an gove the smith an wooth or an ooth the goose
GW gwille a bed GW -> W gwethan a tree
an gwille the bed an / a wethan the tree
K ky a dog K -> G kilhi a grove
an ky the dog an gilhi the grove
M maw a boy M -> V moaz a girl
an maw the boy an voaz the girl
P pedn a head P -> B powz a dress
an pedn the head an bowz the dress
T tane a fire T -> D tezan a cake
an tane the fire an dezan the cake

All nouns that begin with the letters listed above must be treated as shown. Only the feminine nouns are affected by the softening (mutation) rule and this is only when they are singular. The plural is not affected. Masculine nouns are not affected if singluar. The plural of nouns and further rules will be introduced in lesson 6.

If any noun begins with a letter not listed above it will not be affected by the rules.

Copyright Teer ha Tavaz 2003, Based on the book Practical Modern Cornish by Richard Gendall (ISBN 0-9537710-5-9)