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  • Ann Parry Owen

Môr-gathod, morgwn ac esgidiau brain

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Pan oedd John Jones o Gellilyfdy, yr ysgrifydd o sir y Fflint, yn garcharor yn y Fflyd yn Llundain tua 1630, ac yn disgwyl derbyn llawysgrifau gan gyfeillion i’w copïo, aeth ati i roi trefn ar restrau o eiriau y bu’n eu casglu ers troad y ganrif. Mewn cwta dwy flynedd llanwodd dri llyfr gyda geiriau dan amrywiol benawdau, ac yn y trydydd un ceir rhestrau’n ymwneud â byd natur. Rhestrodd enwau coed a phlanhigion o bob math, adar gwyllt a dof, anifeiliaid, pryfed mân (sef anifeiliaid bychan fel llyffantod, nadroedd, malwod ac ati) yna pryfed ehedawl, dyfrawl neu ymlusgawl (sef yr hyn y byddem ni’n eu galw’n bryfed heddiw).


O dan y pennawd Pysg eu henwau a physgota casglodd dros gant a hanner o enwau pysgod a physgod chregyn, gan ychwanegu disgrifiad difyr o sawl un ohonynt. Mae nifer o’r enwau bellach yn anhysbys, ond mae eraill yn gyfarwydd, er na ellir bod yn gwbl sicr bob tro mai’r un yw’r pysgodyn dan sylw â’r pysgodyn rydym ni’n ei adnabod gyda’r un enw heddiw.


Soniwyd y tro diwethaf am yr abad, sef math o forgi neu siarc, y Rhina squatina. Mae John Jones yn rhoi cryn sylw i’r morgwn: cŵn coegion yw ei enw amdanynt. ‘Ffals’ neu ‘gwag’ yw ystyr arferol coegcneuen goeg ydi cneuen wag, fel yn y dywediad cneuen goeg sy galetaf. Yn yr Oesoedd Canol gallai coeg hefyd ddisgrifio person ‘dall’ neu un a chanddo ryw fath o nam ar ei lygad: Maredudd Goeg, er enghraifft, oedd enw mab dall yr Arglwydd Rhys o Ddeheubarth. Tybed ai cyfeirio at ryw nodwedd ar lygaid y morgwn a wna’r elfen coeg yn y cyfuniad ci coeg? Gwelaf o rai ffynonellau fod trydydd amrant pŵl gan nifer ohonynt, a allai beri iddynt edrych fel pe baent yn ddall.


Meddai John Jones:


Cŵn coegion yw yr henw cyffredin ar yr holl gŵn bysgod sydd yn magu yn y môr, ac y maent yn bwrw oddi wrthynt ac ohonynt beth a elwir esgid y frân, o’r hon y mae yr holl gŵn yn dyfod.


Mae’n rhaid mai’r mermaid’s purse yw esgid y frân, sef y cwdyn du caled yn dal wyau’r morgwn a’r môr-gathod a welir wedi sychu ar hyd y traethau yn y gaeaf. Ni lwyddais i ddod o hyd i unrhyw enghraifft arall o’r ffurf esgid y frân am y cwdyn hwn – pwrs y fôr-forwyn, term diweddar wedi ei gyfieithu o’r Saesneg, a geir yng Ngeiriadur Prifysgol Cymru ac yng Ngeiriadur yr Academi. O 1700 y daw’r dystiolaeth gynharaf am mermaid’s purse yn Saesneg, ond o tua’r un cyfnod (1688) ceir enw arall amdano, sef y crow-purse – a’r elfen crow, fel yr elfen brân yn yr enw Cymraeg, yn cyfeirio at liw du’r cwdyn wyau pan fydd wedi sychu ar y traeth.

O ran y mathau o gŵn coegion mae John Jones yn enwi’r cadell fantach fel y banw o’r cwn coegion (sef y pysgodyn benyw, a mantach yn cyfleu’r ffaith ei bod yn ddiddanned neu ag ychydig iawn o ddannedd); a’r gwryw, meddai, yw’r ci pigog. Yna rhestrir y ci brych, y penci brych a’r ci glas i gyd fel aelodau o rywogaeth y cŵn coegion.


Disgrifia’r morgath fel a thornback, gan esbonio:


pedwar rhywogaeth morcath y sydd, sef cath felen, bila gwyn, clwt y torddu, cath bigog – a honno yw’r iawn thornback.


Tybed ai’r thornback ray (Raja clavata) yw’r gath bigog (cf. GPC morcath bigog), ac ai’r blonde ray yw’r gath felen? Byddai’n braf cael rhagor o wybodaeth am glwt y torddu (?pysgodyn sy’n edrych fel clwtyn ac iddo fol tywyll) a’r bila gwyn.


Nodiadau


Cats, dogs and crows


When John Jones of Gellilyfdy, the scribe from Flintshire, was incarcerated in the Fleet, London, in around 1630, and awaiting the arrival of manuscripts from friends to copy, he resumed work on wordlists that he had been collecting since the turn of the century. In just two years he filled three books with words under various headings, the third of which contains lists relating to the natural world. For example, he listed the names of trees, various kinds of plants, wild and domesticated birds, small animals such as lizards, snakes and snails, etc., and ‘flying’, ‘aquatic’ and ‘crawling’ insects.


Under the heading ‘Fish, their names and fishing’, he collected over a hundred and fifty names of fish and shellfish, adding short and interesting definitions to many entries. Many of the names are unidentifiable, others are known, but still we cannot be completely sure in each instance that the name we know today corresponds to the fish John Jones had in mind.


In the last post I discussed the abad ‘abbot’, probably the angel shark, Rhina squatina. John Jones pays particular attention to the dogfish or small sharks: he calls them cŵn coegion. Coeg usually means ‘false’ or ‘empty’ – for example cneuen goeg refers to an empty nut, as in the old saying cneuen goeg sy galetaf ‘the empty nut is the hardest’. In the Middle Ages coeg could also describe a blind person, or one with some sort of deformity in his eye: for instance the blind son of the Lord Rhys of Deheubarth was known as Maredudd Goeg. Is it possible, therefore, that coeg in the name ci coeg refers to a feature of the dogfish’s eyes? I see from some sources that dogfish have a third translucent eyelid which could give them the appearance of being blind.


John Jones says:


Cŵn coegion yw yr henw cyffredin ar yr holl gŵn bysgod sydd yn magu yn y môr, ac y maent yn bwrw oddi wrthynt ac ohonynt beth a elwir esgid y frân, o’r hon y mae yr holl gŵn yn dyfod.


Cŵn coegion is the general name for all dogfish that are reared in the sea, and they cast from them, and from within them, something that is called esgid y frân, from which all the dogs come.


From the description we can infer that esgid y frân ‘crow’s shoe’ refers to the mermaid’s purse, the tough, black, dried egg cases of sharks and rays that are often found washed up on our beaches in winter. I have been unable to find any other instances of the name esgid y frân – the modern term pwrs y fôr-forwyn, given in the University of Wales Dictionary and Geiriadur yr Academi, is a direct translation of the English mermaid’s purse. The Oxford English Dictionary gives 1700 as the date of the earliest evidence for mermaid’s purse, and interestingly, from about the same period (1688) comes another name for it, the crow-purse – with the element crow, like the Welsh brân, referring to the blackness of the dried pouches.

John Jones names the cadell fantach as the female of the dogfish (y banw o’r cwn coegion, with the element mantach meaning ‘toothless’ or ‘with very few teeth’), and the male, he says, is the ci pigog (‘spiny dog’). The ci brych (‘spotted dog’), penci brych (probably ‘spotted nursehound’) and ci glas (‘blue’ or ‘grey dog’) are also ‘of the species of dogfish’ (o rywogaeth y cŵn coegion).


He further describes the morcath (‘skate’ or ‘ray’, lit. sea cat) as a thornback, explaining:


pedwar rhywogaeth morcath y sydd, sef cath felen, bila gwyn, clwt y torddu, cath bigog – a honno yw’r iawn thornback.


there are four species of rays, namely cath felen, bila gwyn, clwt y torddu, cath bigog – and the last one is the correct thornback.


Can the cath bigog be identified with the thornback ray (Raja clavata, GPC morcath bigog), and the cath felen with the blonde ray? But what about clwt y torddu (?a black-bellied fish shaped like a piece of cloth), and the bila gwyn, which is presumably of a light colour?

Notes

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