Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

crazy Celtic collective nouns

Date:Wednesday, May 23, 2001, 22:13
On Wed, May 23, 2001 at 12:27:36AM -0400, R. Eamon Graham wrote:
> First thing: I tried finding the Brithenig page, but got a 404 > error. I think I have an old URL. Please tell me yes!
> > Okay the third thing concerns collective nouns, namely, the Celtic > trait of forming the singular of a collective noun from the plural > (which often times looks like a singular rather than a plural) > rather than the other way around... I read something about this > when I was like 12 and I was as confused about it then as I am now, > and something said about a Brithenig word reminded me of it: > > Keith wrote: > > > With the plural "pyrch" maybe? Or then again you could copy W. and make > > porch the plural "swine" and use a derivative like porchen to mean a > > single piggy. > > And an example in Welsh I can think of is "stars" sêr (se^r) with > singular seren; and isn't "bird" done the same way? > > Anyway, can someone with a more systematic linguistic knowledge than > myself tell me about this phenomenon (and perhaps its history) and > then - next part of my question - does Brithenig in fact do this > like Welsh? Does it do it to Latin nouns or only nouns of Welsh > origin? How do our other Celticonlangs handle this?
It's found in Welsh, Cornish and Breton, but not in Irish so I imagine the system arose in late British. It's not really difficult. You start with a word that has collective or plural meaning eg. plant - children or gwydd - trees/woodland and add an ending (-yn masculine, -en feminine) to get "a single one of" whatever it is : Plentyn - child, gwydden - tree. In Breton at least you can have even more fun by then adding a plural ending to get "several individuals of ..." e.g. geot - grass; geotenn - a blade of grass; geotennou - blades of grass. Also in Welsh (and Cornish) llygoden = mouse, from llygod - mice, but this is clearly itself a plural in -od from an obsolete *lly^g !
> > Is this phenomenon found in other languages?
I think Arabic does something similar.
> Eamon >


Eric Christopherson <rakko@...>