How close are the Brythonic languages?

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How close are the Brythonic languages?

Postby Ciarán12 » 2012-11-09, 9:08

I am more or less completely ignorant of the Brythonic languages, and I was wondering if there is as much mutual comprehension (or more even?) amongst them as there is between the Goidelic languages. I know Cornish is closer to Breton then either are to Welsh, but over all, how much mutual comprehension is there?

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Re: How close are the Brythonic languages?

Postby morlader » 2012-11-09, 22:15

If I'm right in thinking Irish and Scottish Gaelic are mostly mutually comprehensible, and the only barrier to Manx is its different spelling system, then the Goidelic languages are definitely much closer than the Brythonic languages. My Cornish is approaching fluency but I still don't understand a lot of Welsh or Breton, certainly not spoken.

Welsh got separated from Cornish/Breton relatively early, and has had plenty of time to evolve independently. Cornish and Breton were mutually comprehensible in the 1500s but since London and Paris were usually at war after that, the strong links between Cornwall and Brittany were lost, and they both received 500 years of influence by their bigger language to the east. Add to that the loss of Cornish and the fact that both languages have been revived/revitalised by non-native activists means the gap has widened.

But I think it's largely a case of a little education goes a long way, all I have done is read through a Breton grammar book but already I can now understand the jist of written Breton, simply thanks to understanding how they put their sentences together. So in reality the two language are not that dissimilar, it just takes a bit of study to be able to understand each other. If we can decode the French-accented Breton of most new speakers (and they can decode our English-accented Cornish) then we should be back on track!
An lavar coth yw lavar gwir:
Na vedn nevra dos vas a davas re hir;
Bes den heb tavas a gollas y dir.
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Re: How close are the Brythonic languages?

Postby Zviezda » 2012-11-09, 23:05

In my experience, Breton and (medieval) Cornish grammars are very similar, almost the same, but what makes the different is vocabulary. Several common words are different, and Cornish has many English loanwords while Breton has many French loanwords.
Welsh is very different from Breton, in grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary. Of course there are many words that are similar, but not enough to even understand what a Welsh speaker is talking about, most of the time. You have to be lucky to hear Welsh sentences whose all words have a close equivalent in Breton :)

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Re: How close are the Brythonic languages?

Postby Llawygath » 2012-11-09, 23:35

Ciarán12 wrote:I know Cornish is closer to Breton then either are to Welsh
Really. I've never heard that.
Ciarán12 wrote:but over all, how much mutual comprehension is there?
I wish I could tell you, but as someone living in an area where one of the inevitable questions I am asked is "why are you learning Welsh if you're not from Wales?" I really haven't enough of the right experience. However, I can testify that I will often look at something in Breton (haven't seen a lot of Cornish text, but the same would probably be true there) and be able to recognize quite a few words simply because I know their Welsh cognates. So, I don't know...

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Re: How close are the Brythonic languages?

Postby Ciarán12 » 2012-11-10, 9:05

Thanks for your responses guys, they're all very interesting. What about the spelling systems? On first glance, Cornish and Welsh look somewhat similar, but that's just an impression based on very cursory reading. It's mainly because of all the "y"s. Where as the Breton spelling system (or systems) there seems to be less "y"s (they don't seem to use it as a vowel, as seems to be the case with Kernowek and Cymraeg). Is there a common system from which some or all of the Brythonic languages get their writing (as with Irish and Scottish Gaeilc, but not Manx), or did they each develop their systems separately?

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Re: How close are the Brythonic languages?

Postby Zviezda » 2012-11-10, 11:23

Thanks for your responses guys, they're all very interesting. What about the spelling systems? On first glance, Cornish and Welsh look somewhat similar, but that's just an impression based on very cursory reading. It's mainly because of all the "y"s. Where as the Breton spelling system (or systems) there seems to be less "y"s (they don't seem to use it as a vowel, as seems to be the case with Kernowek and Cymraeg).


that's right, we only use the y as a consonant in the modern spellings of Breton. The "i" sound is always written with an i.

Is there a common system from which some or all of the Brythonic languages get their writing (as with Irish and Scottish Gaeilc, but not Manx), or did they each develop their systems separately?


Old Welsh, Old Cornish and Old Breton had a more or less similar spelling, based on Latin (as it was pronounced by Welsh, Cornish and Breton scribes then). After that they all evolved in different ways. Middle Breton was mainly based on French spelling + some new things to transcribe the sounds that don't exist in French. And the modern spellings of Breton are based on several things, French and some specific things and also on Provençal (for the "ilh" letter, but it's not used in all modern spellings).
Welsh spelling developed on its own, I think. Cornish too but it includes stuff from medieval English, if I remember well.

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Re: How close are the Brythonic languages?

Postby morlader » 2012-11-10, 15:18

Breton and Cornish have both modified their spelling, but at different times, but the result is that they are now more similar than they've ever been. Breton used to use French spelling conventions but in the 1830s Jean-Francois le Gonidec made the orthography more phonetic, for example replacing French c and qu all with k. Similarly Cornish used to use English spelling conventions but in the 1980s a new system was introduced that also turned c and qu into k. The two spelling systems are quite similar but I think that's down to the underlying similarity of the languages rather than any attempt to make them closer together.

Here's a Breton song I translated into Cornish which is a good example of the similarities. Most of the time the two languages aren't this similar:

E Kastell-Paol ez on-me ganet
O Kêr Santel a Vro-Leon
O parrez va c'hentadoù karet
Te zo Rouanez va c'halon!

Yn Kastel Pol y feuv vy genys
A Dre sansek a Vro Leon
A bluw ow hentasow kerys
Ty yw Myternes ow holon!
An lavar coth yw lavar gwir:
Na vedn nevra dos vas a davas re hir;
Bes den heb tavas a gollas y dir.
[flag=]kw[/flag]

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Re: How close are the Brythonic languages?

Postby morlader » 2012-11-10, 16:03

Something I always find interesting:

If you compared verb tables for the Breton and Cornish verb 'to write' (C skrifa B skrivañ) you might think the two are almost dialects:

Present:
(C) skrifav, skrifydh, skrif, skrifyn, skrifowgh, skrifons
(B) skrivan, skrivez, skriv, skrivom, skrivit, skrivont

Imperfect:
(C) skrifen, skrifes, skrifa, skrifen, skrifewgh, skrifens
(B) skriven, skrives, skrifve, skrivem, skrivec'h, skrivent

Preterite:
(C) skrifiv, skrifsys, skrifas, skrifsyn, skrifsowgh, skrifsons
(B) skrivis, skrivjout, skrivas, skrivjom, skrivjoc'h, skrivjont

Conditional (Breton Conditional I):
(C) skrifsen, skrifses, skrifsa, skrifsen, skrifsewgh, skrifsens
(B) skrivfen, skrivfes, skrivfe, skrivfem, skrivfec'h, skrivfent

They seem even closer when you learn that the dh sound in Cornish became z in Breton, and that the sound difference between C skrifons and B skrivont is the same as C tas and B tad (father). Also, Breton c'h is the same sound as Cornish gh, and the -j- sound in Breton's preterite was a z or s sound in Middle Breton, the same as Cornish.

If you look at actual usage though, the differences become more apparent.

Both Cornish and Breton have two ways of saying 'to have' - 'I have a cat' can be 'Yma kath dhymm' or 'Kath a'm beus' in Cornish, and 'Ur c'hazh zo din' or 'Kazh 'm eus' in Breton. However in Cornish the 'yma... dhymm' way is more common, and in Breton the ''m eus' way is more common. Both of them also have a preterite tense like above, so "I saw a cat" can be 'My a welas kath' and 'Me a welat ur c'hazh'. But Breton no longer uses its preterite tense, it prefers to use a construction based on 'to have' like French does with 'j'ai', and not distinguish between preterite and perfect: 'Gwelet 'm eus ur c'hazh' means both 'I saw a cat' and 'I have seen a cat'. Cornish makes a perfect tense using a particle 're': 'My re welas kath', 'I have seen a cat', but it can also use 'to have' to do the same thing, only it uses the more common 'yma... dhymm' structure but with a different preposition: 'yma gwelys genev kath'. Since the Cornish 'a'm beus' structure can replace the 'yma dhymm/genev' structure, there's no reason why 'Gwelys a'm beus kath' wouldn't work, but it's a very rare turn of phrase unfamiliar to most. The links between all this are quite obscure but despite differences in usage that have evolved, the underlying base of Cornish and Breton means they are very similar.
An lavar coth yw lavar gwir:
Na vedn nevra dos vas a davas re hir;
Bes den heb tavas a gollas y dir.
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Re: How close are the Brythonic languages?

Postby Ciarán12 » 2012-11-10, 16:26

Okay, I think I have a bit of a better idea about what it's like in the Brythonosphere :). So Cornish and Breton diverged in the 1600s or so? That seems to be about when Scottish Gaelic and Irish diverged, though there was probably greater contact between Scotland and Ireland (for the reasons you mentioned (Britain and France at war etc...)). By the way, I wouldn't say Scottish Gaelic and Irish are "mostly mutually comprehensible". When spoken, I for one find it impossible to get more than a word or two hear and there. Written, because they have similar spelling systems, it's a lot easier. That said, it's a stretch to understand a Scottish Gaelic text, and I usually just get the gist. So am I right in thinking that a Cornish speaker wouldn't readily understand a Breton text (without some study of the language)? (and presumably, they would understand a Welsh text even less readily). I can tell myself that there is no mutual comprehension between Gaelic and Brythonic (looking at it an listening to it, I might as well be trying to understand Polish...), but I did the first lesson of Colloquial Breton, and I could already see grammatical similarities that would definitely help me get used to the language (quicker than someone who hadn't studied a Celtic language).

For example:

[flag]br[/flag] [flag]ga[/flag] [flag]en[/flag]
ganin liom with me
ganeoc'h leat with you

etc...

Basically, the idea of conjugating prepositions for person. I assume this is common to Cornish and Welsh too?


morlader wrote:E Kastell-Paol ez on-me ganet
O Kêr Santel a Vro-Leon
O parrez va c'hentadoù karet
Te zo Rouanez va c'halon!

Yn Kastel Pol y feuv vy genys
A Dre sansek a Vro Leon
A bluw ow hentasow kerys
Ty yw Myternes ow holon!


Cool! I can see some a few similarities (O = A, santel = sansek, in general there seems to be "s" in Cornish where there is "t" in Breton). Could you translate it into English?

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Re: How close are the Brythonic languages?

Postby Ciarán12 » 2012-11-10, 16:37

morlader wrote:Something I always find interesting:

If you compared verb tables for the Breton and Cornish verb 'to write' (C skrifa B skrivañ) you might think the two are almost dialects:

Present:
(C) skrifav, skrifydh, skrif, skrifyn, skrifowgh, skrifons
(B) skrivan, skrivez, skriv, skrivom, skrivit, skrivont

Imperfect:
(C) skrifen, skrifes, skrifa, skrifen, skrifewgh, skrifens
(B) skriven, skrives, skrifve, skrivem, skrivec'h, skrivent

Preterite:
(C) skrifiv, skrifsys, skrifas, skrifsyn, skrifsowgh, skrifsons
(B) skrivis, skrivjout, skrivas, skrivjom, skrivjoc'h, skrivjont

Conditional (Breton Conditional I):
(C) skrifsen, skrifses, skrifsa, skrifsen, skrifsewgh, skrifsens
(B) skrivfen, skrivfes, skrivfe, skrivfem, skrivfec'h, skrivfent

They seem even closer when you learn that the dh sound in Cornish became z in Breton, and that the sound difference between C skrifons and B skrivont is the same as C tas and B tad (father). Also, Breton c'h is the same sound as Cornish gh, and the -j- sound in Breton's preterite was a z or s sound in Middle Breton, the same as Cornish.


They do seem very similar. Again, I'm seeing a Cornish "s" becoming a Breton "t" in a few places. Incidentally, in Irish it's based off the form "scríobh" pronounced /ʃkriəv/, so even Irish isn't that far off (but the conjugations look totally unfamiliar to me).

morlader wrote:If you look at actual usage though, the differences become more apparent.

Both Cornish and Breton have two ways of saying 'to have' - 'I have a cat' can be 'Yma kath dhymm' or 'Kath a'm beus' in Cornish, and 'Ur c'hazh zo din' or 'Kazh 'm eus' in Breton. However in Cornish the 'yma... dhymm' way is more common, and in Breton the ''m eus' way is more common. Both of them also have a preterite tense like above, so "I saw a cat" can be 'My a welas kath' and 'Me a welat ur c'hazh'. But Breton no longer uses its preterite tense, it prefers to use a construction based on 'to have' like French does with 'j'ai', and not distinguish between preterite and perfect: 'Gwelet 'm eus ur c'hazh' means both 'I saw a cat' and 'I have seen a cat'. Cornish makes a perfect tense using a particle 're': 'My re welas kath', 'I have seen a cat', but it can also use 'to have' to do the same thing, only it uses the more common 'yma... dhymm' structure but with a different preposition: 'yma gwelys genev kath'. Since the Cornish 'a'm beus' structure can replace the 'yma dhymm/genev' structure, there's no reason why 'Gwelys a'm beus kath' wouldn't work, but it's a very rare turn of phrase unfamiliar to most. The links between all this are quite obscure but despite differences in usage that have evolved, the underlying base of Cornish and Breton means they are very similar.


Interesting. How would you translate that "Yma ... dhymm" structure into English literally, by the way?

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Re: How close are the Brythonic languages?

Postby Zviezda » 2012-11-10, 17:49

Breton and Cornish have both modified their spelling, but at different times, but the result is that they are now more similar than they've ever been.


not surprising: Ken George's spelling is directly inspired by the peurunvan spelling of Breton...

Breton used to use French spelling conventions but in the 1830s Jean-Francois le Gonidec made the orthography more phonetic, for example replacing French c and qu all with k.


but it also used strange special characters, that have been simplified later, thank God. But there's no fully satisfying spelling for Breton. The most scientific one is the "interdialectale" one, because it's based on historical phonology, unlike all the others.

Similarly Cornish used to use English spelling conventions but in the 1980s a new system was introduced that also turned c and qu into k. The two spelling systems are quite similar but I think that's down to the underlying similarity of the languages rather than any attempt to make them closer together.


I read many criticisms about George's spelling...

Here's a Breton song I translated into Cornish which is a good example of the similarities. Most of the time the two languages aren't this similar:

E Kastell-Paol ez on-me ganet
O Kêr Santel a Vro-Leon
O parrez va c'hentadoù karet
Te zo Rouanez va c'halon!

Yn Kastel Pol y feuv vy genys


the Cornish cognate of "ez on-me" is "yth of vy" in Cornish, if I remember well.
I don't know "kentadoù" in Breton, either there's a spelling mistake, or it's a newly created word that nobody uses :(
Ancestors is hendadoù or gourdadoù in literary Breton.

They seem even closer when you learn that the dh sound in Cornish became z in Breton,


actually the Cornish dh became z in Leon Breton, ie. the northwestern dialect that's spoken by about 15% of the Breton speakers, but everywhere else these z's aren't pronounced...

Both Cornish and Breton have two ways of saying 'to have' - 'I have a cat' can be 'Yma kath dhymm' or 'Kath a'm beus' in Cornish, and 'Ur c'hazh zo din' or 'Kazh 'm eus' in Breton.


"ur c'hazh zo din" isn't proper Breton. You could say "ar c'hazh zo din" (the cat is mine).
and "I have a cat is "Ur c'hazh am eus" or "me am eus ur c'hazh".

So Cornish and Breton diverged in the 1600s or so?


centuries before that...

So am I right in thinking that a Cornish speaker wouldn't readily understand a Breton text (without some study of the language)? (and presumably, they would understand a Welsh text even less readily).


yeah that's right

I can tell myself that there is no mutual comprehension between Gaelic and Brythonic (looking at it an listening to it, I might as well be trying to understand Polish...), but I did the first lesson of Colloquial Breton, and I could already see grammatical similarities that would definitely help me get used to the language (quicker than someone who hadn't studied a Celtic language).


aye there are a few similarities in grammar but really it doesn't help to understand anything. Just a few words (very few actually)

Basically, the idea of conjugating prepositions for person. I assume this is common to Cornish and Welsh too?


in all the modern and mediaeval celtic languages :)

morlader wrote:E Kastell-Paol ez on-me ganet
O Kêr Santel a Vro-Leon
O parrez va c'hentadoù karet
Te zo Rouanez va c'halon!

Yn Kastel Pol y feuv vy genys
A Dre sansek a Vro Leon
A bluw ow hentasow kerys
Ty yw Myternes ow holon!



Cool! I can see some a few similarities (O = A, santel = sansek, in general there seems to be "s" in Cornish where there is "t" in Breton). Could you translate it into English?


"I was born in St-Pol de Léon
O holy town of Léon country
O parish of my dear ancestors
You are the queen of my heart





They do seem very similar. Again, I'm seeing a Cornish "s" becoming a Breton "t" in a few places. Incidentally, in Irish it's based off the form "scríobh" pronounced /ʃkriəv/, so even Irish isn't that far off (but the conjugations look totally unfamiliar to me).


all these words come from Latin "scribere", that's why they look alike :)

Interesting. How would you translate that "Yma ... dhymm" structure into English literally, by the way?


yma = is
dhymm = to-me

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Re: How close are the Brythonic languages?

Postby morlader » 2012-11-10, 22:51

Ciarán12 wrote:Interesting. How would you translate that "Yma ... dhymm" structure into English literally, by the way?


'Yma pluven dhymm' literally means 'There is a pen to me', i.e. I own a pen, but it may or may not be on me

'Yma pluven genev' literally means 'There is a pen with me', i.e. I have a pen on me, but it may or may not be mine.

Gans (the root preposition of genev) means both 'with' and 'by', so a phrase like Yma gwelys genev literally means 'There is seen by me'.
An lavar coth yw lavar gwir:
Na vedn nevra dos vas a davas re hir;
Bes den heb tavas a gollas y dir.
[flag=]kw[/flag]

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Re: How close are the Brythonic languages?

Postby morlader » 2012-11-10, 23:21

Ciarán12 wrote:They do seem very similar. Again, I'm seeing a Cornish "s" becoming a Breton "t" in a few places.


Yes the change of t > s is one of the most prominent distinguishing features between Cornish and Welsh/Breton, and it happened very early on, around 1100 ~ 1200.
An lavar coth yw lavar gwir:
Na vedn nevra dos vas a davas re hir;
Bes den heb tavas a gollas y dir.
[flag=]kw[/flag]

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Re: How close are the Brythonic languages?

Postby morlader » 2012-11-10, 23:23

Zviezda wrote:
Breton and Cornish have both modified their spelling, but at different times, but the result is that they are now more similar than they've ever been.


not surprising: Ken George's spelling is directly inspired by the peurunvan spelling of Breton...


I've no doubt he took his inspiration from Breton. But there are also practical uses for them:

k instead of k/c/qu because it keeps the root intact: deski 'to learn' > deskas 'did learn' (not descas) and deskador 'teacher' (not descador), also because of vowel affection: kara 'to love' (not cara) and karons 'they love' but kerydh 'you love' and kerys 'loved'. It also cleans up the mutation table, instead of gw > qu, there is now gw > kw.

hw instead of wh because of words like dehweles, which can be misread as dew-heles if using wh. Also mutation table now reads gw > hw instead of gw > wh

Final -i instead of final -y, to keep y and i separate sounds. Also because of words like gweli 'bed', which become gweliow in the plural. It can't be like the old spelling of gwely > gwelyow, because the y would then be a consonant, gwel-yow.

So yes Ken George introduced those spellings in the 80s and yes he was influenced by Breton, but the reason they were kept when the Standard Written Form was agreed is because they are practical and assist learners. There are also instances of all of them in the later traditional texts, Edward Lhuyd's spelling for Cornish in 1707 used universal k.

I read many criticisms about George's spelling...


Many people didn't like it. But many others did, and it's now part of the SWF. It was mostly the phonology of Kemmyn that was criticised on academic grounds.

the Cornish cognate of "ez on-me" is "yth of vy" in Cornish, if I remember well.
I don't know "kentadoù" in Breton, either there's a spelling mistake, or it's a newly created word that nobody uses :(
Ancestors is hendadoù or gourdadoù in literary Breton.


Yes, but to say 'I was born' we say 'my a veu genys'. I believe 'ganet ez on-me' is a result of French influence 'je suis né'? Or maybe 'my a veu genys' is down to English influence, I don't know.

Kentadoù is probably a spelling mistake, I copy-and-pasted the Breton words from the Internet.

"ur c'hazh zo din" isn't proper Breton. You could say "ar c'hazh zo din" (the cat is mine).
and "I have a cat is "Ur c'hazh am eus" or "me am eus ur c'hazh".


I thought it was correct, from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Dieub ha par en o dellezegezh hag o gwirioù eo ganet an holl dud. Poell ha skiant zo dezho ha dleout a reont bevañ an eil gant egile en ur spered a genvreudeuriezh.

Or is it just indefinite nouns with ur?
An lavar coth yw lavar gwir:
Na vedn nevra dos vas a davas re hir;
Bes den heb tavas a gollas y dir.
[flag=]kw[/flag]

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Re: How close are the Brythonic languages?

Postby Zviezda » 2012-11-10, 23:43

k instead of k/c/qu because it keeps the root intact: deski 'to learn' > deskas 'did learn' (not descas) and deskador 'teacher' (not descador), also because of vowel affection: kara 'to love' (not cara) and karons 'they love' but kerydh 'you love' and kerys 'loved'. It also cleans up the mutation table, instead of gw > qu, there is now gw > kw.


yes, but the spellings with c and qu (ie. Unified Cornish) look cool :) Those with k and i etc all the time look more Breton and less linked with native Cornish -- that's my own opinion. Using c and y all the time is more typically Cornish to my eyes :D
The alternance in the spelling of the sound /k/ isn't a big problem, many languages (English, French, Spanish) havre several graphemes for it and it's not that difficult...

Many people didn't like it. But many others did, and it's now part of the SWF. It was mostly the phonology of Kemmyn that was criticised on academic grounds.


but isn't the Kemmyn spelling based on the Kemmyn phonology?

Yes, but to say 'I was born' we say 'my a veu genys'. I believe 'ganet ez on-me' is a result of French influence 'je suis né'?


I think people would say that even at the time almost all Bretons speakers were monoglots

Kentadoù is probably a spelling mistake, I copy-and-pasted the Breton words from the Internet.


ok. One should be careful with Breton stuff on the internet...

I thought it was correct, from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Dieub ha par en o dellezegezh hag o gwirioù eo ganet an holl dud. Poell ha skiant zo dezho ha dleout a reont bevañ an eil gant egile en ur spered a genvreudeuriezh.


I wonder who would understand such sentences, except learners who have learnt from certain books rather than from native speakers. That's what we call here "brezhoneg chimik" (chemical Breton, ie. artificial Breton, with many coined words that no native speaker would ever say nor understand because they are based on unproductive affixes or words or even on Welsh stuff).
Btw, "poell ha skiant zo dezho" is understandable and not as unnatural as "ur c'hazh zo din", but it's not the way people would say it, in my opinion. They'd rather use the verb "to have".

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Re: How close are the Brythonic languages?

Postby Llawygath » 2012-11-13, 15:28

Zviezda wrote:They'd rather use the verb "to have".
What verb "to have"? I thought none of the Celtic languages had any. :? This is getting really confusing.

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Re: How close are the Brythonic languages?

Postby Zviezda » 2012-11-13, 20:37

What verb "to have"? I thought none of the Celtic languages had any. :? This is getting really confusing.


yes, Breton has a verb "to have", but historically it's formed by infixed pronouns and forms of the verb "to be", and the infinitive, in most dialects, is a form of the verb "to get". But it's an independent verb now.
I have = 'm eus
thou hast = 'teus
he has = 'neus
she has = (he) deus
we have = hon eus, 'meump
you have = 'peus
they have = o deus, 'neuint

Cornish has a similar verb...

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ceid donn
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Re: How close are the Brythonic languages?

Postby ceid donn » 2012-11-14, 1:36

morlader wrote:If I'm right in thinking Irish and Scottish Gaelic are mostly mutually comprehensible, and the only barrier to Manx is its different spelling system, then the Goidelic languages are definitely much closer than the Brythonic languages.


Not to get off topic here, but this is a common misconception. There are Gaelic speakers who are skilled at understanding other Gaelic languages, who have been exposed to another Gaelic languages and have learned the differences to some extent, but the languages themselves do not qualify as mutually intelligible languages. For example, if a Scottish Gaelic speaker, like one from Cape Breton, has never really been exposed to Irish, he or she will probably not understand more than a word here or there. And as a Scottish Gaelic speaker-learner myself, I've noticed Irish speakers/learners often presume they understand Scottish Gaelic far more than they actually do, and fail to appreciate that Scottish Gaelic is in fact a distinct language and not just an inferior form of Irish (as evident in Irish speakers/learners trying to "correct" me for things that are differences and not errors). There are genuine differences among these languages, because they each have evolved differently.

From my studied of Breton, I'd said that the differences among the languages in both branches are roughly the same.

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Ciarán12
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Re: How close are the Brythonic languages?

Postby Ciarán12 » 2012-11-14, 8:48

ceid donn wrote:
morlader wrote:If I'm right in thinking Irish and Scottish Gaelic are mostly mutually comprehensible, and the only barrier to Manx is its different spelling system, then the Goidelic languages are definitely much closer than the Brythonic languages.


Not to get off topic here, but this is a common misconception. There are Gaelic speakers who are skilled at understanding other Gaelic languages, who have been exposed to another Gaelic languages and have learned the differences to some extent, but the languages themselves do not qualify as mutually intelligible languages. For example, if a Scottish Gaelic speaker, like one from Cape Breton, has never really been exposed to Irish, he or she will probably not understand more than a word here or there. And as a Scottish Gaelic speaker-learner myself, I've noticed Irish speakers/learners often presume they understand Scottish Gaelic far more than they actually do, and fail to appreciate that Scottish Gaelic is in fact a distinct language and not just an inferior form of Irish (as evident in Irish speakers/learners trying to "correct" me for things that are differences and not errors). There are genuine differences among these languages, because they each have evolved differently.


I certainly don't think they are one language, and I don't think anyone I've ever met has said that Scottish Gaelic is an "inferior form of Irish" or even a form of Irish at all (surely if one was to conflate the two, wouldn't it be to say that both are forms of a common Gaelic language, rather than one being a form of the other?). I, and all the Irish speakers I have ever met (which is quite a few, more than you have I'm willing to bet), have always assumed them to be mutually unintelligible languages (they wouldn't have had much exposure to Scottish Gaelic, so would assume they not intelligible because they had been told they were different languages), and are in fact surprised by how close they are. My comparing them and saying they are similar is based on a prevailing opinion that they are not that similar, not that they are the same (like I said, no-one I know has ever said they were the same). They are different languages, but as languages go they are pretty close. I would have expected to understand nothing of a different language when first reading it, which makes it surprising that I could understand as much as I could. I've definitely never hear of anyone correcting someone else's Gàidhlig to Gaeilge, seems silly. Maybe if the person thought the other one was trying to speak Gaeilge, or maybe in a light-hearted 'Oh you folks over the water there say things weirdly!' kind of thing (which I do with my American friends, and vice versa).

ceid donn wrote:From my studied of Breton, I'd said that the differences among the languages in both branches are roughly the same.


Okay, that's interesting. I suppose the only way for me to really find out is to learn a Brythonic language and try reading other Brythonic languages and compare the difficulty to reading Scots Gaelic or Manx.

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morlader
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Re: How close are the Brythonic languages?

Postby morlader » 2012-11-14, 10:31

Llawygath wrote:
Zviezda wrote:They'd rather use the verb "to have".
What verb "to have"? I thought none of the Celtic languages had any. :? This is getting really confusing.


Cornish also has a periphrastic form based on 'bos' to be: a'm beus, a'th eus, a'n jeves, a's teves, a'gan beus, a'gas beus, a's teves in addition to the usual form with 'bos' and a preposition.

ceid donn wrote:
morlader wrote:If I'm right in thinking Irish and Scottish Gaelic are mostly mutually comprehensible, and the only barrier to Manx is its different spelling system, then the Goidelic languages are definitely much closer than the Brythonic languages.


Not to get off topic here, but this is a common misconception. There are Gaelic speakers who are skilled at understanding other Gaelic languages, who have been exposed to another Gaelic languages and have learned the differences to some extent, but the languages themselves do not qualify as mutually intelligible languages. For example, if a Scottish Gaelic speaker, like one from Cape Breton, has never really been exposed to Irish, he or she will probably not understand more than a word here or there. And as a Scottish Gaelic speaker-learner myself, I've noticed Irish speakers/learners often presume they understand Scottish Gaelic far more than they actually do, and fail to appreciate that Scottish Gaelic is in fact a distinct language and not just an inferior form of Irish (as evident in Irish speakers/learners trying to "correct" me for things that are differences and not errors). There are genuine differences among these languages, because they each have evolved differently.

From my studied of Breton, I'd said that the differences among the languages in both branches are roughly the same.


From what I've read online the situation seems to be unclear. Some Irish speakers for example say they can understand much Scottish Gaelic, and others say they can't. Perhaps its a case of dialects? Of language-learners seeing less mutual intelligibility than natives? I don't know.

There is a video of an Irish speaker and a Manx speaker talking together on YouTube, perhaps Irish and Manx are more mutually intelligible than Irish and Scottish Gaelic?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uA7hlurc9EQ

But it still seems that the Goidelic language are closer together than the Brythonic language, there is no question of mutual intelligibility between Cornish and Breton or Cornish and Welsh without studying the languages. There are little bits that are familiar between Cornish and Breton, like the song above, but the majority is not.
An lavar coth yw lavar gwir:
Na vedn nevra dos vas a davas re hir;
Bes den heb tavas a gollas y dir.
[flag=]kw[/flag]


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