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Welsh

The Welsh alphabet, as now popularly used, contains twenty-eight letters: a, b, c, ch, d, dd, e,f,ff, g, ng, h, i, I, U, m, h, o, p, ph, rh, r, s, i, tk, u, w, y.

J, q, X, and z, are not properly Welsh letters, nor are they wanted in words purely Welsh.

K and v occur frequently in old Welsh, but are now generally disused; the place of the former is supplied by c, which always has the hard sound, and that of the latter by f.

In addition to the common accented letters, the Welsh requires ŵ and ŷ to be accented likewise; as, gŵr, a man; tŷ, a house.

Of the twenty-one Welsh consonants twelve are immutable, namely, ch, dd, f, ff, ng, h, l, n, ph, r, s, th; the remaining nine, b, c, d, g, ll, m, p, rh, t, are mutable. These are divisible into three classes of three letters each. The first, containing c, t, p, is susceptible of three kinds of modification, viz. the obtuse, the liquid, and the aspirate; the second class, comprising g, d, b, is affected by two kinds, the obtuse and the liquid; and the third, comprising ll, m, rh, is susceptible of the obtuse form only.

The following table will show at one view the various changes of the mutable initial consonants: —

Primitive Letters Obtuse Liquid Aspirate
Class I c g ngh ch
t d nh th
p b mh ph
Class II g Initial omitted ng
d dd or dh n
b f m
Class III ll l
m f
rh r

The following examples may be given to show more clearly the nature of these mutations: — 1. Câr, a kinsman; 2. Gwâs, a servant.

  • Primitive. Câr agos, a near kinsman.
  • Obtuse. Ei gâr, his kinsman.
  • Liquid. Fy nghâr, my kinsman.
  • Aspirate. Ei châr, her kinsman.
  • Gwâs ffyddlon, a faithful servant.
  • Ei wâs, his servant.
  • Fy ngwâs, my servant.

The obtuse sound is assumed after —

  1. All verbs, except of the infinitive mood, and interjections.
  2. All personal pronouns; the possessives DY, thy; MAU, mine; TAU, thine; and EI (masc.) his; but not when fem.; the relatives PA, which; PWY, who; and À, that.
  3. Adjectives and formative adverbs, and interjections.
  4. The duals DAU and DWY, two.
  5. All prepositions, except YN, in, and TUA, towards.
  6. Pronominal prepositions.
  7. The article Y, the, if the object be feminine.
  8. The participial sign YN.
  9. The disjunctive sign NEU, or.

The liquid sound is assumed after —

  1. The possessive pronoun MY or FY, my.
  2. The word YN when used as the English preposition in.

The aspirate sound is assumed after —

  1. The possessive pronoun EI (fem.) her.
  2. The adverbs TRA, over; and NI, and NA, not.
  3. The conjunctions A, and; NO, than; NEU, or; and ONI, unless.
  4. The preposition Â, with.
  5. The numerals TRI, three; and CHWE, six.

All vowel initials take h before them, after EI (fem.) her; EIN, our; and EU, their.

Welsh substantives do not vary in their terminations, but the cases are distinguished by prepositions changing their initial letters, if mutable, according to their dependance on the preceding word; as, N. tŷ, a house; G. dodrefn fy nhŷ, the furniture of my house; A. prynodd dŷ, he bought a house; Ab. allan o'i thŷ, out of her house.

DEG, ten, and PYMTHEG, fifteen, before BLYNEDD, years, not only change the initial of the following word into its corresponding liquid, but likewise suffer a variation themselves; thus, for DEG BLYNEDD and PYMTHEG BLYNEDD We find DENG MLYNEDD and PYMTHEG MLYNEDD; and for PUMP BLYNEDD we read PUM MLYNEDD, five years. Authorities. — Dr. Pughe's Welsh Grammar, 2d edit. Denbigh, 1832. — Rev. W. Gambold's Welsh Grammar, 3d edit. Bala, 1833 Dr. Prichard on the Celtic Languages, London, 1831.

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