Songs from Cornwall

Cornwall is the southwesternmost part of England -- nowadays. But it wasn't always so; once it was a separate culture with its own language, Cornish, closely related to Welsh. Cornish died out sometime in the 18th century, and has been revived in our day, as Hebrew was, but less successfully. Still, there are about 3500 fluent speakers nowadays of the three different revived versions.

Here's a familiar nursery rhyme in English, Cornish, and Kerno. What's Kerno? A constructed language invented by Padraic Brown, based on the constructed language Brithenig. Both of them are Brito-Romance languages, a subfamily of languages that doesn't really exist, but are their creators' best efforts to figure out what would have happened if the Vulgar Latin that was spoken in parts of Britain until the 5th century hadn't gone extinct and been replaced by Welsh (and later by Scots Gaelic and English).

Baa, baa, black sheep
Have you any wool?
Yes, sir, yes, sir,
Three bags full.

One for my master
And one for my dame,
And one for the little boy
Who lives down the lane.

Brȳf, Brȳf, te dhavas dhu
ues genes gwlān?
Ues, syrra, lenwys yw
try sagh a'm ran

Onen ues dhe'm mēster lōs
ün aral ues dh'em dama
saw nyns ues man dhe'n meppyk plos
y'n vownder ues ow carma!

A charcat dhuv en dhuv; a charcat dhuv!
tens ty cholles le laine le laine; tens ty laine?
A vaysteor, vaysteor dhack; a vaysteoran,
trew sackes y vowghes traw; di laine llen.
Yen per li don li don; ce vowgga 'ci;
Yen per li dam li dam; il sackis 'ca;
Yen per li map li map; il l' ystrathe!

A charcat dhuv en dhuv; a charcat dhuv!
A cant commeck-commeck; a charcat dhuv!

Padraic comments:

That's Vorriseor Yowenck's moderny take on the old nursery rhyme. While they're more known for fusing Celtic and Cajun; they have at times turned their attentions to the truly weird.

This song is kind of slow, but not drudgy; kind of quiet and soothing. Think of "Donal agus Morag" and you'll not be far off the mark. It does feature the yspatha musical and the cornet, along with the expected tambeor, croutha and various background instruments.

Here's another song in the three languages, this one with a specifically Cornish theme, based on a historical event of 1688. The song, though, was written in the 19th century by Robert Stephen Hawker; some have called it the national anthem of Cornwall. Of course, in Ill Bethisad, the universe where Kerno and Brithenig are spoken, the historical event was a bit different.

A good sword and a trusty hand,
A merry heart and true!
King James's men shall understand
What Cornish men can do.
And have they fixed the where and when?
And shall Trelawny die?
Then twenty thousand Cornish men
Will know the reason why!

Dorn ues dh'y drestya, cledha da!
Lēl hudhyk an golon!
Tüs Mytern Jamys aswon a wrā
Gallus an Gernowyon
Yw ordnys lē ha prȳs dhodho?
A verow Trelawny brās?
Otomma ügans mȳl Kernow
a woffyth oll an cās!

Yn clathimoris dack, et yn lams vere!
Yn cor yoieos et vere;
compruindruront y varren le Jeamon
que pothont facer y vap Kernow
Ach fiskateor il couand' et jeond'?
Ach morris-s' il Drewlaunis?
Aci ce Kernow le ouygaint mil;
et savuront y pher-que!

You can read and hear the full anthem (this is just the first verse) in English and a different revived version of Cornish.

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