p & q Celtic (was: names)

Anna Skarzynska theania at freeuk.com
Mon Jan 15 12:58:58 EST 2001


Philip wrote:
> Fair enough.  But could you explain why the M disappears altogether in
Welsh
> patronymics?
Ok. Time to get technical again. I asked my friend Simon who recently got a
PhD on early Welsh, and as I suspected, I did know, only it got buried under
other piles of useless information. Here goes: Celtic languages share a
feature known as mutations - for historical reasons (the principle of
mumbling again!) beginnings of words change to indicate the word's function
in a sentence, gender and other stuff. Mab "son" mutates to fab, pron. vab.
One of the instances when this mutation may occur is in personal names, such
as Dafydd fab Gwilym. The "fab" is unaccented here; the stress falls like
this: DAfydd fab GWIlym. The Welsh has the tendency to "drop" (English drops
hs!) its fs (vs phonetically), esp. in unstressed syllables, like in the
above example. We are left with Dafydd ap Gwilym, who incidentally was "the
Welsh Chaucer", a renowned poet. (1340 - 1400 approx.)
Ania
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