Medieval Welsh

A Self-Instruction Course created by Heather Rose Jones

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Unit: 2h

"And" and the Aspirate Mutation


The simplest of the three types of mutation is aspiration. It applies to only three sounds.

Radical Aspirated
p ph
t th
c ch

("Radical" is what we call the original, unmutated sound.)

One of the easiest things about dealing with aspiration is that the sounds caused by this mutation (ph, th, ch) are usually instantly identifiable as being the result of aspiration. "Ph" is the same sound as "ff", but is normally only spelled "ph" when it is an aspirated "p". (When dealing with original texts, you may occasionally run into a borrowed word of Greek origin that uses "ph".) "Th" appears as a radical at the beginning of some borrowed words, but otherwise will always represent an aspirated "t" in this position. "Ch" appears as a radical at the beginnings of words in the combination "chw-", but otherwise will always represent an aspirated "c" in this position.

The most common place that aspiration occurs is after the conjunction "and". (Other causes of aspiration will be given later.) Like the definite article, "and" has different forms depending on whether it is followed by a consonant or a vowel. It is "a" before consonants and "ac" before vowels. (This is one of the very rare occasions when Welsh spelling is not phonetic. The latter is pronounced as if it were spelled "ag", however it is _never_ spelled this way, in Medieval or Modern Welsh, so despite the phonetic anomaly it would be misleading to suggest otherwise.)

ci a chath cat and dog
mam a thad mother and father
troed a phen foot and head
brenhin a brenhines king and queen
carw ac ewig stag and hind


Translate the following phrases.

Key to the Exercise

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