Medieval Welsh

A Self-Instruction Course created by Heather Rose Jones

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Unit: 4g

Personal Forms of Prepositions


In the last lesson, you were introduced to the use of some of the common prepositions with common nouns. They may also be used with pronouns (to him, from her, around them), but here Welsh (among other Celtic languages) takes the unusual path of "inflecting" the prepositions, just as if they were verbs. In fact, some of the endings used for prepositions should remind you of verbal endings.

There are three main groups of conjugated prepositions, based on what vowel is used in the ending, but the general shape is more important to remember than the precise vowel. The stem that takes the personal suffixes may be different from the independent preposition. The first group uses an "a" and looks like this:

Person Suffix ar (on) at (to)
arn- att-
1s -af arnaf attaf
2s -at arnat attat
3sm -aw arnaw attaw
3sf -ei arnei attei
1p -am arnam attam
2p -awch arnawch attawch
3p -(add)unt* arn(add)unt att(add)unt

*The third person plural has a number of possible variations. The ending can be either "-udd" or "-un(t)" and the additional syllable of "-add-" may or may not be added before the ending. So you might hypothetically find any of the following (although not all are attested):

-un(t) arnun(t) attun(t)
-udd arnudd attudd
-addun(t) arnaddun(t) attaddun(t)
-addudd arnaddudd attaddudd

Eventually, the "-unt" ending took over in this group.

Other prepositions that belong to this group (with the conjugational stem in parantheses) are: am "about" (amdan-), o "from" (ohon-), tan "under" (tan-).

The second group of prepositions mostly has "o" in the suffix. This group originally had the same set of options for the third person plural, but ended up opting for "-ddun(t)".

rwng (between) rag (before)
ryng- rag-
1s -of ryngof ragof
2s -ot rynghot ragot
3sm -ddaw ryngthaw racddaw
3sf -ddei ryngthi racddei
1p -om rynghom ragom
2p -och rynghoch ragoch
3p -ddunt ryngthunt racddunt

Note that we have some weird things going on: "h"s appearing, consonants loosing their voice (g>c, dd>th). Don't worry about being able to predict these effects, concentrate on recognizing and remembering the general shape of the words. Other prepositions in this group are: heb "without" (heb-), tros "over" (tros-), trwy "through" (trwy-), yn "in" (yn-), yr "for" (yr-), uch "above" (uch-), is "below" (is-), and an alternate form for rwng "between" with a stem of "r(y)-" (the "y" appears in the third person forms).

The third group of prepositions tends to have "y" in the suffix and also settled on including the "-dd-" in the third person forms. There are only two prepositions in this group. Pay close attention to the vowel changes in "gan"; they show up when you have "y" or "i" in the ending.

gan (with) wrth (by)
gan(h)- wrth-
1s -yf genhyf wrthyf
2s -yt genhyt wrthyt
3sm -ddaw ganthaw wrthaw (wrth-ddaw)
3sf -ddi genthi wrthi
1p -ym genhym wrthym
2p -(y)wch genh(y)wch wrthywch
3p -ddunt ganddunt wrthunt

The preposition "i" (to) is simply irregular.

1s im(i)
2s itt(i)
3sm iddaw
3sf iddi
1p in(ni)
2p iwch
3p uddunt

The prepositional endings originally derive from a pronoun becoming "permanently attached" to the end of the preposition. By the Medieval Welsh period, this origin had been forgotten and an independent pronoun could again be placed after the conjugated preposition. (The exception to this is "i". The parts in parentheses _are_ the added pronoun and don't get another on top of it. The forms with no parentheses may have an added pronoun.)



Taking the results of the exercise in the last lesson (with a few additions to make use of all the persons) substitute the appropriate conjugated preposition (if it exists) for the prepositional phrase. Nouns are treated as "he" or "she" depending on their grammatical gender. Try to remember or work out what the sentences mean without looking things up.


Starting Sentences

First do this as written, then pretend in turn that _you_ are Bran, then that you are talking to Bran, and substitute accordingly.

Let's make this next one plural. Then pretend in turn that you are one of the group of men and then that you are talking to the group of men, substituting "we" and "you (plural)" appropriately.

Let's make this next one plural, too.

Do this next one as written first, then pretend you are talking to the horse, and substitute "you" instead.

Key to the Exercise

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