Medieval Welsh

A Self-Instruction Course created by Heather Rose Jones

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Unit: 4e

Objects of Inflected Verbs


In previous examples and exercises (e.g., Unit 3 Lesson C) I have avoided dealing with one feature of direct objects which I will now introduce. In a sentence with an inflected verb (by which I mean, something other than a periphrastic sentence using "bod ... yn <verbal-noun>") the direct object of the verb lenites. This direct object can be a noun:

It can also be a verbal-noun:

The destination of motion is most often marked with a preposition (as in English and as we will see in the next lesson), but this can be omitted and the destination also treated as a direct object which lenites.

As a general rule, if anything appears before the noun as part of a noun phrase, then the noun will _not_ lenite because of being an object (although it may be mutated for other reasons because of what comes before it).

This lenition of direct objects is not a particularly invariable rule in medieval texts. In adjacent sentences you can find:

In the exercises, assume that the lenition is obligatory, but when reading texts, don't depend on it too heavily.

A similar lenition occurs irregularly in bare nouns and adjectives used as predicates of "bod" (to be) without the predicative "yn".

However this is very inconsistant and may be tied to particular tenses of the verb, so it is difficult to present a clear "rule". There is, however, a useful generalization that applies.

Note: If something "non-normal" is going on in a sentence, don't be surprised to see a relevant element lenite.

Here the expected predicative yn is missing, and we find something leniting. When the subject or object of the verb is moved to the beginning of the sentence, we find the verb leniting. When we find (for various reasons that will be introduced later) the standard order of noun-adjective violated, the noun will lenite. In none of these cases is the "non-normal" structure the direct reason for the lenition, but association of the two is too useful a generalization to ignore.


Using the structures you have seen in this lesson (e.g., treating destinations as ordinary direct objects) translate the following into Medieval Welsh. Use the "normal" sentence order of <particle> <verb> <subject> <object> and keep in mind that you have learned four available tenses for simple verbs, plus two periphrastic tenses with "bod".

For the three sentences marked with an asterisk, explain in excruciating detail everything that is going on in the sentence.

  1. *They had neared the land of the Scots.
  2. We are nearing the king's bridge.
  3. The women neared the mound.
  4. I wore a red cloak.
  5. The servants wear new clothes (pl.).
  6. *Will you (sg.) wear black?
  7. We were sitting here.
  8. Will you (pl.) sit?
  9. He had seen a stag.
  10. She saw horses. (hint: "seeing" is considered by its nature to be an imperfective process)
  11. *The girl is not able to see the ship.
  12. They could sing.

Key to the Exercise

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