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Page:EB1911 - Volume 05.djvu/643

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618
[WELSH LANGUAGE
CELT

language, makes it extremely difficult to discover what sound-values are to be attached to the various symbols. At the beginning of the 18th century English was not understood by two-thirds of the natives, and in 1764 the S.P.C.K. issued a paper containing this statement: “The population of the Isle is 20,000, of whom the far greater number are ignorant of English.” But from this time English gradually crept in. The last edition of the Manx Bible was issued in 1819, and of the New Testament in 1840. The present writer’s great-grandmother refused to speak English, his grandfather (b. 1815) preached in Manx and English, and his father (b. 1844) only spoke English. The following figures illustrate the rapid decline of the language:—

  Monolinguists. Bilinguists.
1875   190 12,340
 (out of a population 
 of 41,084 exclusive
 of Douglas)
1901   None  4,419

Manx stands in a much closer relation to Scottish Gaelic than Irish, and fishermen state that they could understand a good deal of what is said in South Argyll, though they are quite at a loss at Kinsale. Manx exhibits the same tendency as Scottish to use analytical and periphrastic forms in the verb, thus jannoo, “to do,” is used like Scottish deanamh with an infinitive to express the past and future. The present has acquired a momentary (future) signification, and the past participle ends in -it (Scottish -te). The negative is cha as in Scotland and Ulster. Manx goes as far as northern Scottish in dropping unstressed final vowels, e.g. chiarn, “lord,” Irish, tighearna; -yn is the favourite plural ending in substantives. The nasal mutation has been partly given up. Old Irish stressed ĕ is frequently retained, e.g. fĕr, “man,” Irish făr (spelt fear), and the vowels ŏ and ă are confused as in Scottish, e.g. Manx cass, “foot,” Scottish cas, Irish cos. Manx is divided in itself about the treatment of short accented vowels before ll, nn, m. According to Rhys the south side lengthens, whilst the north side diphthongizes; e.g. Irish crann, “tree,” clann, “offspring,” S. Manx krōn, klōn, N. Manx, kroun, kloun (written croan, cloan). In the matter of stress Manx is quite original, going farther even than the dialects of the south of Ireland. Not only does it shift the stress in the case of heavy derivative suffixes like -ān and reduce the preceding vowel, e.g. Ir. fuarān, Sc. fuaran, Manx frān, “spring,” but even in cases like caghláa, “variety,” Sc. Ir. caochladh, O. Ir. coimmchloud; coráa, “voice,” Ir. comhradh. The Mid. English stress on the final is further retained in words from the French such as ashóon, “nation,” livréy, “deliver.”

As other features peculiar to Manx we may mention the following. An intervocalic s or sh shows a tendency to become lisped and voiced to d. In monosyllables post-vocalic final m, n, are often preceded by an intrusive b, d respectively, thus ben “woman,” may be heard as bedn. Ir. a becomes more palatal and is often ǣ. Ir. sc becomes st, sht, e.g. Ir. fescor, “evening,” Manx fastyr; Ir. uisce, “water,” Manx ushtey.

Authorities on Manx.—The place and personal names of the Isle of Man have been collected by A.W. Moore in Manx Names² (London, 1903) (33% of the proper names are Scandinavian). The chief source of information about the spoken language is J. Rhys, The Outlines of the Phonology of Manx Gaelic (London, 1895) (the book has unfortunately no index and no texts). The only serious attempt to represent spoken Manx graphically is the transcription of a song by J. Strachan in the Zeitschr. für celtische Philologie, vol. i. p. 54. The native grammarian is J. Kelly, who in 1803 published A Practical Grammar of the Ancient Gaelic or Language of the Isle of Man, usually called Manks. This book was republished by W. Gill for the Manx Society in 1859, and a facsimile reprint of this latter was made for Quaritch, London, 1870. A useful little book entitled, First Lessons in Manx was published by Edwin Goodwin (Dublin, 1901). There are two dictionaries, one by A. Cregeen, Douglas 1835, which is now being reprinted for An Cheshaght Gailckagh, a Douglas society which is endeavouring to encourage the use of Manx and to get it introduced into the schools. The other dictionary is by J. Kelly in two parts—(1) Manx and English, (2) English and Manx, published by the Manx Society in 1866. Kelly also prepared a Triglot of Manx, Irish and Gaelic, based upon English, which has never been published. A useful paper on the language appeared in the Transactions of the London Philological Society for 1875 by H. Jenner, “The Manx Language: Its Grammar, Literature and Present State.”  (E. C. Q.) 

(ii). Brythonic. The term Brythonic is used to denote the Celtic dialects of Wales, Brittany and Cornwall. Unlike the Goidels the Brythonic peoples have no common name for their language. Forms of Brythonic speech were doubtless current throughout England and Wales and the Lowlands of Scotland at the time of the Saxon invasion. The S.E. of Britain may have been extensively Romanized, and it is not impossible that remnants of Goidelic speech may have lingered on in out-of-the-way corners. No literary documents dating from this period have been preserved, but some idea of the character of Brythonic may be gathered from the numerous inscriptions which have come to light. In the middle of the 6th century Brythonic was confined to the western half of Britain south of the Clyde and Forth. The colonization of Britannia minor or Armorican Brittany during the 5th and 6th centuries will be described later. In the latter part of the 6th century the W. Saxons pushed their conquests as far as the estuary of the Severn, and from that time the Brythons of S.W. Britain were cut off from their kinsmen in Wales. Early in the 7th century the Brythons of Strathclyde were similarly isolated by the battle of Chester (613). The kingdom of Strathclyde maintained a separate existence until the 10th century, and it is generally stated that Brythonic speech did not die out there until the 12th century. The question as to how far Brythonic names and words have survived in these districts has never been properly investigated. Certain it is that Brythonic numerals survived amongst shepherds in Cumberland, Westmorland and N.W. Yorkshire down to the second half of the 19th century, just as herrings are still counted in Manx by Manx fishermen otherwise quite innocent of the language. Accordingly, from the 7th century onwards Brythonic became gradually limited in Great Britain to three districts—Strathclyde, Wales, and Cornwall and Devon. During the 7th century the Brythons of Wales and Strathclyde often fought side by side against the Angles, and it is from this period that the name by which the Welsh call themselves is supposed to date, Cymro < *Combrox, pl. Cymry < *Combroges, i.e. “fellow-countrymen” as opposed to W. allfro, Gaul. Allobroges, “foreigners.” We have no means of determining when Celtic speech became extinct in the petty states of the north which retained their independence longest.

The chief features which distinguish the Brythonic from the Goidelic dialects have already been enumerated. In the course of the 6th and 7th centuries final short vowels disappeared. In compound names the final vowel remains in the first component until the 7th century. Short vowels in other than initial syllables when immediately preceding the stress (on the historical penultimate) disappear, whilst long ones are shortened, e.g. Welsh cardawt from Lat. caritātem. Other vowels in unstressed position are apt to be reduced, thus ŏ, ŭ, give i in O.W. (Mid. W. y). A marked characteristic of Welsh as distinguished from Cornish and Breton is the treatment of ă under the influence of a following ī. In Welsh the result is ei, in Corn. and Bret. e, e.g. Welsh seint, “saints,” Bret. sent, sing. sant. The mutations seem to have started in the second half of the 6th century in the case of the tenues.

See J. Loth, Les Mots latins dans les langues Brittoniques (Paris, 1892); J. Loth, Chrestomathie bretonne (Paris, 1890).

(a) Welsh (Cymraeg).—It is usual to divide the history of the Welsh language into three periods—Old, Middle and Modern. To the oldest period belong the collections of glosses, the earliest of which go back to about 800. The middle period extends from 1100 to 1500.

As a rule the medial mutation of the tenues and mediae is not denoted in O. Welsh. Intervocalic g is sometimes retained but generally it has disappeared, whilst after r and l it is still written. In the course of the 9th century initial w (v) becomes gu (later gw). As the O. Welsh documents consist almost entirely of isolated words, we know scarcely anything about the morphology of the language during this period. To the middle period belong the ancient poems from the Black Book of Carmarthen, but the language of these compositions is evidently much older than the date of the manuscript (12th century), as it preserves a number of very archaic features. Other important sources of information for this period are the O. Welsh Laws contained in a MS. of the 12th century. To a somewhat later date belong the Mabinogion (14th century MS.), and the prose versions of French romances published by R. Williams (15th century). In Middle Welsh the consonant mutations are in general denoted in writing, though not consistently, and from this period dates the introduction of w and y (O.W. u, i) to denote vowel sounds. The symbol ll to denote a voiceless l was already employed in Mid. W. but rh (= voiceless r), dd (= Eng. th in “thou”) and f (= v) either do not appear or only become regular during the modern period

In Mod. W. the orthography is regularized and does not differ