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Middle Welsh (was Cein)

Date:Wednesday, May 30, 2001, 21:00
On Tue, 29 May 200,1 daniel andreasson <daniel.andreasson@...> wrote :

> I'm just reading an article on Middle Welsh which has > some *very* interesting features, especially for marking the > A of transitive and intransitive verbal nominal clauses. It's > actually an active language! (At least partly.) Who would've > known? :)
I never quite thought of it like that, but it's certainly worth looking into.
> Anyway. The A is marked with the preposition _o_ which has > the meaning 'from, of'. Example:
> kymryt o Arthur y daryan eureit > take from Arthur the shield golden > 'Arthur took the golden shield.'
"kymryt" is a verbal noun lit. "taking". If you wanted to say "A. took it" it would be "ygymryt o Arthur" lit. "its taking by A." The "o" construction seems to be a middle Welsh speciality. What seems to have happened is first, probably for variety or to emphasise the action, the verb "to do" was used as a auxillary in narrative passages. So instead of "he went" you got "he did go" but in Welsh this is expressed as "going he did" "mynet a oruc" where <mynet> [m@ned] (Mod. W. mynd) is a verbal noun. (This construction isn't much used in Modern W. but is very common in Cornish and Breton, also it's equivalent in Manx). When a series of actions needed to be described only the first (if that!) was given the auxillary or a finite verb, the rest were expressed by a series of verbal nouns. So "he arose, and went out and looked and saw ... " would be "arising he did, and going out, and looking and seeing ..." This gives a very fluid narrative effect when for example one event leads to another. Objects to verbal nouns are expressed by possessive pronouns so "saw it" becomes "its seeing", "saw the dog" "the dog's seeing" in Welsh "y welet", "gwelet y ki". Usually the subject is established at the beginning of the sequence, but if it needs to be expressed later the o-construction can be used with a verbal noun. The nearest translation would be "by" as in "its taking by Arthur". Normally "o" is the preposition "from". A couple of examples where o is used to mark a change of actor : From "The Seven Sages of Rome" : ... y deffroes sarff ... (a serpent awoke)[finite verb to start the chain off] a chyrchu neuad ... (and making for the hall) Ac arganuot y mab ... (And perceiving the child) a dwyn ruthur idaw. (and making a rush at him) A chynn ymgael ac ef, bwrw o'r milgi ... neit idi (And before coming to grips with him [the child], taking by the hound a leap at her [the snake]). That is "[then] a serpent awoke and made for the hall and perceived the child and made a rush at him. And [but] before it could get to him the hound took a leap at it". From "Pwyll" where he get Gwawl in the bag : Kyuodaf yn llawen heb ef (I'll get up gladly he [Gwawl] said)[finite verbs] A chyuodi y uynyd (And rising up) a dodi y deudroet yn y got, (and putting his two feet into the bag) [now Pwyll becomes the agent ...] a throi o Pwyll y got yny uyd Guawl dros y penn yn y got, (and turning by Pwyll the bag until G. will be over his head in the bag) ac yn gyflym caeu y got ... (and quickly closing the bag) a dodi llef ar y gorn. (and giving a blast on his horn). Middle Welsh narratives often alternate between such "action sequences" and passages of dialogue, the effect is not unlike a movie script. Keith
> ||| daniel


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