Trystan, gwra fystena


A story for use with Skeul an Tavas Lesson 15

© 2019 Ray Chubb and Ian Jackson

2nd edition July 2020

This story appears on page 66 of Skeul an Tavas © 2010 Ray Chubb.

 

(At home:)

MABM

Trystan, gwra fystena ha gwysca dha gôta. (Getting Trystan into his coat:) Dha gôta a vydn dha witha yn tobm.

TRYSTAN

An ky a wra dos genen yn lowen.

(In the park:)

TRYSTAN

(To Bolster, the dog:) Gwra dos yn uskys, Bolster. (Throwing stick:) Gwra y gerhes, Bolster! (When Bolster fetches:) Gwra y ry dhybm. Ev a yll ponya yn tâ.


Trystan throws a stick, which is gwelen, a feminine noun. Strictly, therefore, he should say Gwra hy herhes and Gwra hy ry dhybm. There is however a tendency in colloquial Cornish for masculine possessive pronoun to be substituted loosely for feminine possessive pronoun hy as the object of a verb-noun. Here it might be justified in strict grammar if the stick is considered to be a predn ‘[piece of] wood’, which is a masculine noun. But the real reason for using y is historical – Cornish once had a neuter gender and was both the masculine and the neuter pronoun. And there is one old neuter noun, nowadays treated as feminine, for which y (not hy) is always used, even today: namely tra ‘thing’.

Trystan is the traditional spelling of the name. Tristan is an alternative spelling because of the ancient word-play with adjective trist ‘sad’. But there is no etymological link between Trystan and trist – the name is Celtic, the adjective is a loan-word from Latin.


KEY

(At home:)

MOTHER

Trystan, hurry up and put on your coat. (Getting Trystan into his coat:) Your coat will keep you warm.

TRYSTAN

The dog’s pleased to be coming with us. (Literally, The dog will come with us happily.)

(In the park:)

TRYSTAN

(To Bolster, the dog:) Come on (literally, quickly), Bolster. (Throwing stick:) Fetch [it], Bolster! (When Bolster fetches:) Give it to me. He can run well.