Say Yes in Cornish
Some people wonder why I'm interested in words and sounds and variety of things. I don't know why. But I am. Last Christmas, I watched a Cornish Christmas Carol Choir on the television. The program was "California's Gold" from Grass Valley hosted by Huell Howser. I knew only Cornish hen, but I was intrigued by their story. I wondered why a group of British people came all the way from England to Grass Valley in California. The reply was because of the coal mine, but still, I was fascinated about them. How have they been keeping up with their almost extinct culture and language?
Then, last Saturday, I read the headline in the Los Angeles Times: Keeping ancient words alive. My antennae went up. I smelled a treasure. It said, "The Cornish language has been around for far, far longer than ever English was. It's a direct descendant of the language spoken at the time of the Romans..." Hmm.
Then I listened to their spoken words which only about 300 people in the world can speak. http://www.nowodhow.mypodcast.com/
The Cornish language seems to have many consonants like the Thai language. Long ago, I tried to learn Thai, but Thai has fourteen or so variable sounds to just one Japanese sound "ka." I'm not talented in learning to speak foreign languages. And I was very disappointed that I was told that my pronunciation seemed worse than horrible. So I gave up on learning Thai. But I'm still curious.
Getting back to the L.A. Times, the reporter says, "Like the Welsh and the Scots, the Cornish trace their origins to the Celtic tribes that settled in Britain several millenniums ago." Wow. "They maintain some distinctive customs, such as step dances and tartans, their own flag, a white cross on a black field; their own dishes including saffron cakes and pastries."
I'm also surprised that the sound of Cornish is completely different from English. For instance,
What is the time? -- Py eur jw hi?
The reporter also says, "Like Welsh and its more distant relative, Irish," Mary! "Cornish is a lilting language easily set to music. Unlike in English, the letters Y and W crop up everywhere. There's also the unusual consonant blend "dn," which can be a bit hard for Anglophones to pronounce...." And the reporter quoted what a Cornish person said, "There is an old saying in Cornish: A man without his language has lost his land. Without the language we are nothing-we just become chaff driven by the wind." This is the spirit kept those 300 people from making the Cornish language disappear. Good for them.
Then, of course, I couldn't help scooping up my diamond. In one of the web sites above, I found that Yes in Cornish is Gonn. In Sanskrit, Gaun was G + OM. I imagined that Gonn sounds so much like Gaun. And the word Yes is so accepting. Doesn't yes sound a wisdom and almighty, too? I think in our very very primitive brain, we react to sounds in certain ways. I'm fascinated to those instincts.