Celtic languages: to have

WestFevalia

Senior Member
French - France
Hello,

In Breton, the verb to have is said kaout but it's sometimes transcribed by bezañ (to be):
- arc'hant 'zo ganin (money is with me => I have money just now)
- arc'hant am eus (I have money).

Do you have the same in other Celtic languages?

P.S. Even the conjugation of kaout is based on the verb bezañ.
 
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  • Stoggler

    Senior Member
    UK English
    All the other Celtic languages do not have a specific verb for "to have". They all have constructions using the verb "to be" and a preposition.

    In Welsh (the one Celtic language I know something about), you can translate "I have money" as:

    Mae arian gyda fi
    literally: "(there) is money with me"
    This is shortened a little in spoken Welsh to: "mae arian 'da fi".

    In the north of the country, there is a slightly different construction using a different preposition (namely: gan, which changes if it's used with a personal pronoun, as is usual in the Celtic languages with a lot of prepositions):
    Mae gen i arian
    literally: "(there) is with me money"

    Not only is the preposition different but the word order is different too. Also, the item being possessed undergoes soft mutation if preceded by specific words, for example:

    I have a car = mae gen i gar (the word "car" undergoes mutation as it's preceded by the first person singular pronoun).

    Scottish Gaelic (and Irish) also use similar constructions:

    "I have a house" translates as:
    Tha taigh agam
    literally: "is house at me"

    The Goidelic languages use a different preposition from the Brythonic languages, but it achieves the same result.
     
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    WestFevalia

    Senior Member
    French - France
    Thank you Stoggler!
    I've always thought this type of construction was very interesting.
    Actually, I thought it was typical of Celtic languages until I heard that Finnish has the same contruction:
    Minulla on... (On me is...)
     

    Stoggler

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Many languages around the world don't have an equivalent verb for "to have" or "avoir". I think a lot of them do something similar to the Celtic languages. Russian is another language that doesn't have "to have"
     

    AndrasBP

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Hungarian and Latvian are the same in this respect.
    In Latvian, just like in Russian, the construction might have appeared under the influence of Finno-Ugric languages.
     

    spindlemoss

    Senior Member
    Welsh
    A few more Celtic languages:

    Cornish uses dhe ("to") for possession, so:

    Yma karr dhe Tamsin = "Is car to Tamsin" > "Tamsin has a car"
    Yma karr dhedhi = "Is car to-her" > "She has a car"

    You could use gans ("with") too to say you just have something with you:

    Yma karr gans Stefan = "Is car with Stefan" > "Stefan has a car with him"
    Yma karr ganso = "Is car with-him" > He has a car with him

    It's the same principle in Manx, with prepositions such as lesh ("with"):

    Ta gleashtan lesh Moirrey = "Is car with Moirrey" > "Moirrey owns a car"
    Ta gleashtan lhee = "Is car with-her" > "She owns a car"

    And with ec ("at"):

    Ta gleashtan ec Oshin = "Is car at Oshin" > "Oshin has a car"
    Ta gleashtan echey = "Is car at-him" > "He has a car"
     

    spindlemoss

    Senior Member
    Welsh
    I have a car = mae gen i gar (the word "car" undergoes mutation as it's preceded by the first person singular pronoun).
    I really like your explanation (and colours), Stoggler. Just to be nit-picky, the word car undergoes mutation because the element gen i gets in the way of the verb and the subject, it breaks the usual word order: Mae car gen i > Mae gen i gar.
     

    Gavril

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Cornish uses dhe ("to") for possession, so:

    Yma karr dhe Tamsin = "Is car to Tamsin" > "Tamsin has a car"
    Yma karr dhedhi = "Is car to-her" > "She has a car"
    I have also seen the preposition i "to" used this way in Welsh (Mae i mi X = "I have X"), although it may only refer to certain kinds of "having", and perhaps it is now considered old-fashioned usage (e.g. I saw i used this way in a book from the middle of the last century).

    One English->Welsh dictionary includes the phrase bod i ("to be" + "to") under the meaning "have", but says that this phrase is used for "having relatives etc.", so I guess that one could say something like Mae i mi ddwy fodryb "I have two aunts".

    However, I don't understand what the dictionary means by "having relatives etc.", i.e. what generalization it is making from the phrase "having relatives". Can any native/fluent Welsh speaker help clarify?
     

    spindlemoss

    Senior Member
    Welsh
    Yes, you're right, the construction with i is possible. You wouldn't go round saying Mae car i mi/fi instead of Mae gen i gar/car 'da fi but it's a good way of expressing "a ... of mine/yours" or "one of my/your..." etc with friends and relatives, e.g.

    Wyt ti'n nabod Siân? Mae'n ffrind i fi. "Do you know Siân? She's a friend of mine."

    Wncl i ti yw e? "Is he an uncle of yours/one of your uncles?"

    O'ch chi'n gwybod bod Mel a Mal yn blant i Dai Jones? "Did you know Mel and Mal were/are children of Dai Jones's?"

    That's just off the top of my head. If I think of anything else I should mention, I'll post more.
     

    djmc

    Senior Member
    English - United Kingdom
    This is a standard usage in Latin. Mihi est liber is the normal usage for "I have a book". The same usage is found in Classical Greek.
     

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    It is thought that PIE didn't have a verb expressing possession, and the Dative or Genetive + copula construction was used instead. This is the case in virtually all ancient IE languages, and in some modern ones as well as evident from this thread. Russian, for example has u (at, by) + Gen. + be.3.sg. and in some cases (like expressing age) Dat. + be.3.sg. I don't think this, or the similar Dative constructions in Latvian and Lithuanian, has anything to do with Finno-Ugric.
     
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    spindlemoss

    Senior Member
    Welsh
    It is thought that PIE didn't have a verb expressing possession, and the Dative or Genetive + copula construction was used instead. This is the case in virtually all ancient IE languages, and in some modern ones as well as evident from this thread.
    Does anyone know which IE languages developed a have verb and its origin? I've started a little list with the help of Wiktionary. Please correct it or add to it if you can. I didn't think Indo-Aryan languages had a verb have but I don't know enough about them to be sure.

    Germanic languages e.g. Dutch hebben, Scots hae < Proto-Germanic *habjaną ("to lift, take up") < Proto-Indo-European *keh₂p- ("to take, seize, catch")

    Albanian kam < Proto-Albanian *kapmi ("to lift, take up") < Proto-Indo-European *keh₂p-

    Albanian aorist & participle patur < Proto-Albanian *pat(i)- < Proto-Indo-European *poti-o-, cf. Latin potior ("to have a share in, take possession of")

    some Romance languages e.g. Italian avere, Aromanian am < Proto-Italic *habēō/*haβēō < ? Proto-Indo-European *gʰh₁bʰ- ("to grab, to take")

    other Romance languages e.g. Galician ter, Spanish tener < Proto-Italic *tenēō ("hold, have") < Proto-Indo-European *ten- ("to stretch, draw")

    Armenian ունենալ [unɛˈnal] < Old Armenian ունիմ < Proto-Indo-European *ōpn- ("to achieve")

    some Slavic languages e.g. Czech mít, Sorbian měć, měś < Proto-Slavic *jьměti, related to *ęti ("to take") < ? Proto-Indo-European *h₁em-

    Greek έχω [ˈe̞xo̞] < Ancient Greek ἔχω ("to have") < Proto-Indo-European *seǵʰ- (? "control, power")

    Persian داشتن [dɒːʃˈtʰæn] < Old Persian √dar- ("to hold, have") < Proto-Indo-European *dʰer- ("to hold")



     

    ger4

    Senior Member
    German
    [...]I don't think this, or the similar Dative constructions in Latvian and Lithuanian, has anything to do with Finno-Ugric.
    Actually, I think Latvian and Lithuanian differ here. Lithuanian has the verb turėti >> which can be translated as 'to have' (compare Latvian turēt >> 'to hold, to keep') --> Lithuanian: jis turi ('he has') <> Latvian: viņam ir (lit.: 'him is'). More examples here
     

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    ^Sure, there is certainly a difference in that Latvian has no verb expressing possession, while Lithuanian and Russian have both the verb and copula constructions, with the verb being dominant in the former and copula constructions – in the latter. Choosing between them may at times be complicated. For an overview of ways of expressing predicative possession in Lithuanian here's a nice little paper (Lidia Federica Mazzitelli, "The expression of predicative Possession in Lithuanian"). [Article author and title added by moderator]
     
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    WestFevalia

    Senior Member
    French - France
    Thank you all for your replies. I didn't know so many Indo-European languages used that kind of constructions instead of a verb like our avoir, have, etc.
    And thank you Spindlemoss for your list. It would be very interesting to know where and when it originated (if it's possible of course!;))
     

    Copperknickers

    Senior Member
    Scotland - Scots and English
    This is a standard usage in Latin. Mihi est liber is the normal usage for "I have a book". The same usage is found in Classical Greek.
    But Latin does have a verb for having, 'habeo'. The dative construction is only used for basic possessive meanings. The same is true in French and I guess other Romance languages too: 'C'est a qui ce livre? C'est a moi'. Whose is this book? It's mine.

    I can't speak for other Celtic languages but as I understand it, in Gaelic there are various prepositions used for have. There's 'tha taigh agam', 'there's a house at me'. But in other scenarios you might say 'tha cupla fhocal Ghaidhlig orm' - 'I have a few words of Gaelic', literally 'there's a few words of Gaelic to me'.
     

    spindlemoss

    Senior Member
    Welsh
    I can't speak for other Celtic languages but as I understand it, in Gaelic there are various prepositions used for have. There's 'tha taigh agam', 'there's a house at me'. But in other scenarios you might say 'tha cupla fhocal Ghaidhlig orm' - 'I have a few words of Gaelic', literally 'there's a few words of Gaelic to me'.
    Yep, change the preposition and you change the meaning. "Jock has a big head" could be:

    Tha ceann mòr air Seoc
    "A big head is on Jock"
    = "Jock has a physically big head of his own" [inalienable possession]

    Tha ceann mòr aig Seoc
    "A big head is at Jock"
    = "Jock has a big severed head" [alienable possession]

    Tha ceann mòr an Seoc
    "A big head is in Jock"
    = "Jock has a big head / Jock is full of himself" [quality, disposition]

    You can read about the above and more here.
     

    elirlandes

    Senior Member
    Ireland English
    Irish is the same.

    airgead agum
    (there) is money at me


    airgead agum, agut, aige, aici, aguinn, aquibh, acu
    (there) is money at me, at you, at him, at her, at us, at you (pl), at them

    In Irish, we have to learn off how to "conjugate" all of the prepositions

    Tá ceann mór ar Seán

    "A big head is on Seán"
    = "Seán has a physically big head of his own" [inalienable possession]

    Tá ceann mór ag Seán
    "A big head is at Seán"
    = "Seán has a big severed head" [alienable possession]
     
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