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CHAT Welsh periphrasis (was Re: Ergative)

From:Raymond A. Brown <raybrown@...>
Date:Thursday, October 22, 1998, 19:43
At 4:35 pm -0400 21/10/98, Sally Caves wrote:
>On Wed, 21 Oct 1998, Raymond A. Brown wrote:
>> South Walian: fe aethon nhw >> WENT THEY [initial 'fe' is a "positive" marker] >> >> North Walian: ddaru iddyn nhw fynd >> HAPPENED TO THEM A-GOING >> >> (Preposition 'i' conjugates and, of course, 'mynd' mutates after the >> 'dative subject' :) >> >> It also means BTW colloquial north Walian can express all 'tenses' which >> are concerned with time only by means of auxiliary verbs. > >Well, they certainly can do that in the south, too, Ray...I was taught >Swansea Welsh, and you do make heavy use of periphrastic constructions >like Wy wedy mynd, "I am after going" instead of using the conjugated >verb.
Yes, literary Welsh has 'yr wyf wedi myned' which in "standard colloquial" is 'rydw i wedi mynd' = I am after going. But this is taught as the equivalent of the English present perfect 'I have gone' as opposed to the simple past 'I went' which is supposed to be the conjugated tense - and is 'Fe es i' in parts of the south. BUT - I was under the impression that modern colloquial forms were following, so to speak, the Latin & Romance models and using 'rydw i wedi...' (i.e. Swansea 'wy wedi...') as _both_ present perfect & the simple past. It's nice to have confirmation of this, at least from the Swansea area. I believe the Gogs still distinguish between 'rwy wedi...' (present perfect) and 'ddaru i mi....' (simple past) [Note in the north it's 'i mi', not the southern 'i fi' :) ] But the original observation was not so much the undoubted insular Celtic preference for auxiliary verbs & periphrastic tense formation, but an instance where the 'logical subject' is expressed by a dative construnction. Now there's a challenge for the Hwntas :) Ray.