Friday, 6 February 2015
Ha me o moas... A Cornish riddle c.1698
This riddle, sometimes referred to as 'The Fisherman's Catch", has been set to music and arranged by several musicians, including Richard Gendall. A version was recorded by the group Sowena. It was communicated by Capt. Noel Carter c. 1698 and versions were written down by both Borlase and Tonkin, neither of whom spoke Cornish themselves, despite studying it. See OC Vol I. You will see that the mutations are not written, although we know that contemporary writers observed them. The <h> of ha is dropped, as in Bodinar's letter. The article <an> is reduced to <a> throughout. This also occurs in about 8% of cases in William Rowe's translations and in the writings of the Boson family. There is no preocclusion (dn) in the article ün ~ üdn. The plural of lost (tail) is losia, showing expected loss of t. The ow plurals are often written a, au or aw in later texts. This riddle provides the only examples of the verbs (SWF) trouvya 'to find' and gansynjy 'to get hold of'.
The manuscipt version.
A Mi a moaz, a mi a moaz in Goon Glaze,
Mi a clouaz, a clouaz, a clouaz, a troz, a troz, a troz, an pysgaz miniz.
Bez mi a trouviaz un pysg brawze, Naw Losia,
Olla Boble en Porthia ha Marazjowan
Ne mi ôr Dho Gan Zingy.(Bor.MS: Nevra ni ôr dho ganzingy.)
Ha me o moas, ha me o moas e’n woon las,
Me a glowas, a glowas, a glowas, a tros, a tros, a tros, a'n puscas münys,
Bes me a drouvyas ün pesk broas, naw y losyow,
Oll a bobel en Porthia ha Marhas Jôwan
Na me or dhe gansynjy. (Nevra na or dhe gansyngy.)
As I was going... in the blue down, I heard the noise... of the little fishes, but I found a big fish with nine tails. All the folk in St. Ives and Marazion nor me knew how to get hold of it.