Medieval Welsh

A Self-Instruction Course created by Heather Rose Jones

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Unit: 3c

Another Emphatic Order and Negative Sentences


Emphasizing the Subject

In the previous lesson, you saw how to make a "normal" sentence and one that puts emphasis on the predicate by moving it to the front of the sentence. Another possibility is to put emphasis on the subject of the sentence by moving it to the front. As you saw, when the predicate moves to the front, the "neutral" pre-verbal particle generally disappears. But when you move the subject up before the verb, we instead use a different pre-verbal particle: "a". (You will discover that there are several completely different words that appear as a. Be aware of this so you don't get confused.) This particle causes the following word (i.e., the verb) to lenite.

This makes it easy to tell this a apart from the one that means "and" -- they cause different mutations.

One special thing you need to know about the first person singular is that it has a slightly different form when it stands independently like this.

Emphasizing the Object

The exact same process is used to emphasize a noun that is the object of the sentence. (There are a lot more complications to noun objects which we will get into later. The examples and exercises have been carefully chosen to avoid these complications.) We move the object to the front of the sentence, then use the pre-verbal particle a.

Although this is called an emphatic word order, in fact it is the most common sentence order you will find in Medieval Welsh literature, and often does not seem to convey any emphasis there. To distinguish them, the emphatic order is sometimes called the "mixed order" and the non-emphatic use of the same word order is called the "abnormal order". The only place where you can really tell them apart is in the negative (see below).

Exercise 1

Don't worry that you haven't been given these verbs yet (and don't add them to your vocabulary yet). Put the following sentences into the subject-emphasis/mixed-order form.

  1. Ydd oedd y ci yn wynn. "The dog was white."
  2. Y gwelei ef y coed. "He saw the wood."
  3. Y barnav i y gwyr. "I will judge the men."
  4. Y daethant wynt. "They came."
  5. Y meddylywys ef. "He was thinking."
  6. Y cymerth ef y march. "He took the horse."
  7. Ydd adawav i y llys. "I will leave the court."

Negative Sentences

Sentences are made negative by using a special pre-verbal particle. When the sentence uses the "normal" word order, simply replace the existing pre-verbal particle with ny(d). As you might be able to predict by this time, whether you use ny or nyd depends on whether the following word (i.e., the verb) begins with a consonant or a vowel respectively. But in fact it only alternates before verbs. In the emphatic examples below, the word is always nyd before nouns and adjectives.

The rule of thumb in negative sentences that don't have the "normal" word order is that the negative particle comes directly before the thing you are negating. Ringing the changes on the above example, we get:

In that last example, you may have noticed that mawr lenited after nyd. Ny(d) causes both aspiration and lenition. (I.e., it aspirates the three affected letters -- p, t, c -- and lenites the rest of the lenitable letters.) For example:

Exercise 2

Take the sentences from Exercise 1, emphasize all the possible aspects of them, and make all the possible negatives that you have learned. Give idiomatic English translations that show the emphasis. (The answer key will use italics, but feel free to be more longwinded.)

Key to the Exercise

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