Welsh: gender of year names

Gavril

Senior Member
English, USA
Hello,

Since blwyddyn "year" is feminine, a number modifying this noun will generally be feminine also (when applicable): thus dwy flynedd "two years" (not *dau flynedd), pedair blynedd "4 years" (not *pedwar blynedd), etc.

But what about the names of years? E.g., if you say "I was born in 1992", would the year 1992 be translated "mil naw cant naw deg dwy", or would the masculine form dau be used at the end instead?

The problem is that "1992" can either be seen as a cardinal number (an amount of years) or an ordinal (a name that shows where 1992 fits in the order of years). In the former case, I would expect feminine numbers to be used, but in the latter case, either the masculine or feminine form seems possible.

Thanks for any help
 
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  • spindlemoss

    Senior Member
    Welsh
    Shwmae Gavril! A few points...

    As you know, if a cardinal or ordinal number is used before a noun, it takes the necessary masculine or feminine form, e.g. dau fab, dwy gath, y pedwerydd ci, y bedwaredd gath.

    If a cardinal follows a noun with "ordinal" meaning, it always takes the masculine form. So, y trydydd darn = darn tri, y drydedd ran = rhan tri (not *rhan tair). So I think this is why we say the year 2002 as dwy fil a dau because it's blwyddyn dwy fil a dau. Sometimes you'll hear dwy fil a dwy but it's a hypercorrection.

    As for years prior to 2000, the structure is mil or un plus the individual units, so 1992 is mil naw naw dau or un naw naw dau. You wouldn't say mil naw cant naw deg dau or use dwy at all. You can also tell whether a writer uses the mil or un version by looking at the form of yn before it, i.e. yn 1992 is yn un naw naw dau, ym 1992 is ym mil naw naw dau.

    Ask away if anything's unclear.
     

    Gavril

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Thanks, spindlemoss.

    The only thing that is a bit unclear to me is this:

    As for years prior to 2000, the structure is mil or un plus the individual units, so 1992 is mil naw naw dau or un naw naw dau. You wouldn't say mil naw cant naw deg dau

    I've been told by other Welsh speakers that "un naw naw dau" (i.e. "1-9-9-2") is a popular way of reading year-names among relatively younger speakers, but that it has not fully replaced the older system ("mil naw cant naw deg dau", i.e. "one thousand nine hundred ninety-two"): both are still options. Is the latter system not an option at all for you?
     

    Tegs

    Mód ar líne
    English (Ireland)
    Fe'i ganwyd ym mil naw cant naw deg dau
    Fe'i ganwyd ym mil naw naw dau
    Fe'i ganwyd yn un naw naw dau

    All of these are completely acceptable. There is nothing wrong with the structure "mil naw cant naw deg dau". Going further back, "fe'i ganwyd ym mil naw cant ac ugain" or "fe'i ganwyd ym mil naw cant dau ddeg" sound much better to my ear than "fe'i ganwyd yn un naw dau dim".
     

    spindlemoss

    Senior Member
    Welsh
    Tegs is right, all are acceptable. However I wouldn't say the mil/un naw naw dau is confined to younger speakers at all. I'd say it was more the norm. Mil naw cant naw deg dau, for me, is a marked form.

    Of course, remember also that many speakers will use English: ​Ges i ngeni yn nineteen ninety-two! If anything, this is more common amongst older speakers nowadays whereas younger speakers are more used to the mil naw... system due to the wider availability and popularity of Welsh medium education.
     
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