Native Welsh speaker using Dwi'n eisiau


Ah yes, I’ve tracked it down now: it’s Llywarch Hen’s Llym Awel, in the Black Book of Carmarthen:

Gwen y gath
Hen y ci
Rhy seiw gwr ar un conyn

“White the cat; old the dog; a man might stand on a single stem.” :grin:


Yes - different stage of the language, of course, and an abnormal word order which nullifies the mutation effect of the feminine singular noun. :slight_smile:


I’m pretty sure this isn’t the case. The prioblem with gwyn is that it pluralises as well, so it would be cathod gwynion. Although you can say cŵn gwyn or cŵn gwynion, I’ve never heard anyone saying cathod gwen, and a quick check of David A Thorne tells me that the plural adjective is made from the male version - thus gwynion not gwenion. It is unclear on what adjective is used in the case of a plural feminine noun followed by a singular adjective, but my guess is that because the “rules” are being broken to simplify things, there’s never (aaagh, I’ve said the n word. Now I will definitely be proved wrong!) going to be a feminine / masculine differentiation.


Ah so that’s the plural rule! I knew there was a difference, but I wan’t sure what exactly.


I did know about lilis gwynion from ‘Ar Lan y Mor’, but hoped the plural wasn’t essential!


No, its not essential, though neither is feminising the adjective in modern Welsh.


And just to muddy the waters further, the grammar that I have mentions pobl being able to take a plural adjective, because it’s a collective, and giving as an example pobl wynion :slight_smile:


Well, I have to admit that the lines about @aran’s hen gi and @Hendrik’s imaginary cat date back only to… errm… yesterday, when I made them up (rather than to the days of the Hen Ogledd), but I take your point :slight_smile:

On the other hand, my grammar (of written/literary) Welsh gives a few more examples, although it says they are “mostly proverbial”, so could easily be somewhat archaic in the way that phrases like “Woe betide you!” are in English (or my mum saying “Hark at that wind!” when it’s stormy). A couple of examples given are:

Hir pob aros.
Llawer gwir, gwell ei gelu.

I was thinking about the examples we have of the same sort of structure in English – the obvious ones are things like “Happy the man who…” or “Unhappy the head that wears the crown”, which clearly sound proverbial (and bit odd for normal conversation); I wondered briefly if it owed anything to the Welsh construction, but off the top of my head I’m guessing it’s more likely to be a classical thing along the lines of “Felix homo qui…”
So then I was wondering if this kind of sentence is more or less common or weird in Welsh than in English, and my brain supplied Braf eich cyfarfod chi, which of course doesn’t have a finite verb – and, of course, translates perfectly well into English as “Lovely to meet you”, without any need for “It was…” or “It has been…” to make it sound like a sentence.
And so now that’s got me thinking that there’s probably something in David Crystal or on Language Log about optional deletion of the copula in colloquial speech – but neither Crystal nor Language Log are necessarily likely to tell us whether or not it’s any more common in Welsh…


Actually, in modern Welsh we would say ‘Cathod gwyn’. Any variation of that I’ve seen here doesn’t sound right to my ears.


You’re on to something there. If you want to make it sound natural, better say ‘Braf i gyfrarfod chi’. The usage of ‘eich’ in this way sounds cluncky for everyday speech. You’ll be understood, but if you want to sound natural, you need to drop ‘eich’ especially. I should probably make a seperate thread on that topic at some point.


Personally, I’m rather taken with “Hir pob aros” – I’m just not sure whether I should quote it to my children when they seem unable to summon even the slightest shred of patience, or to myself to remind myself why they can’t!


I forgot to add - keep in mind that ‘i’ cannot be used with every infinitive verb like in English. I’m a bit tired this morning so might give you some good examples later if I remember!


IIRC I saw somewhere the suggestion that it’s only where the English means “in order to” – in other words, it depends more on what goes before it, than what comes after. It’s the ‘to’ of ‘looking forward to (meeting you)’ rather than that of ‘(I’d like) to have a pint’.


I think - if you want to be as helpful as possible to our learners - maybe you need to be a little less sweeping, and perhaps talk more about what you personally would say?

After all, if Iestyn would say ‘cathod gwynion’, then it sounds fine to him (and presumably to other people in Llandysul or Maesycwmmer).

It’s true, of course, that pluralised adjectives are often skipped (in speech and in writing) - but it’s a little premature to suggest that they’re dead everywhere in Wales…:wink:


It is noteworthy that googling ‘cathod gwen’ yields no relevant results at all.


All the corrections have been noted. thank you.


Which is why I took care to say it ‘doesn’t sound right to my ears’, as in personally, to me, and in other posts I have used ‘Personally, I tend to use’.

If someone were to reply, ‘That’s because you’re from Llyn and we do say that in ‘x’ county’, that’s ok too because I will absorb that info with interest.


Yes, and that’s fine. I’m trying to steer you away from statements like ‘Actually, in modern Welsh we would say…’, which give an entirely different impression.


Diolch @garethrking, so never gwen as an adjective, always wen.


Whilst on the subject of gwens and gwyns, why is Hedd Wyn not Hedd Gwyn?