Welsh: mae vs. yw/ydy

Gavril

Senior Member
English, USA
Hello,

What is the semantic difference between the following pairs of sentences? Can they be synonymous in some cases?

1)
Cymraes yw fy mamgu ("My grandmother is a Welsh woman")
Serth yw'r mynydd ("The mountain is steep")

2)
Mae fy mamgu yn Gymraes
Mae'r mynydd yn serth

Thanks
 
  • Stoggler

    Senior Member
    English (Southern England)
    Hello,

    What is the semantic difference between the following pairs of sentences? Can they be synonymous in some cases?

    1)
    Cymraes yw fy mamgu ("My grandmother is a Welsh woman")
    Serth yw'r mynydd ("The mountain is steep")

    2)
    Mae fy mamgu yn Gymraes
    Mae'r mynydd yn serth

    Thanks

    That's something I've wondered too, Gavril. Hopefully there is a native speaker on here who can help.

    However, for adjectives like in your second example (the mountain is steep), I always thought that bringing the adjective to the beginning of the sentence (serth ydy'r mynydd) places emphasis on that adjective, whereas "mae'r mynydd yn serth" is neutral. That was my understanding anyway and hope someone better versed in iaith y nefoedd can help.
     
    Last edited:

    rhitagawr

    Senior Member
    British English
    Although Welsh isn't my native language, I think Stoggler's right. I'd say Cymraes yw fy mamgu is more likely than Mae fy mamgu'n Gymraes, which sounds English. If the other person doesn't know your grandmother, you probably want to emphasise the fact that she's Welsh.
     

    Tegs

    Mód ar líne
    English (Ireland)
    Cymraes yw fy mamgu - you'd use this in reply to a question, such as where is your grandmother from (un o le yw dy famgu?), or is your grandmother English (ai Saesnes yw dy famgu?). So, it seems to be a reply to a question and it emphasizes the fact that she is Welsh, rather than any other nationality.

    Mae fy mamgu yn Gymraes has no such "extra" information as it were. It doesn't sound like the answer to a previously asked question, nor a pointed statement that she is not from some other country. It doesn't however, sound remotely English, despite the fact that the sentence structure happens to be the same in both languages :)

    Serth yw'r mynydd sounds very poetic, unlike the previous "Cymraes yw fy mamgu". Putting adjectives in this position can often have a poetic effect. It depends on the sentence. Serth yw'r mynydd, tal yw'r ferch, melyn yw'r haul all sound strange in regular spoken and written contexts, but sound fine in poetic, flowery contexts (much like in English, where "the mountain is steep" is ok in all contexts but "steep is the mountain" only works in some specific contexts and language registers, e.g. steep is the mountain which leadeth to ... whatever ;) ). Mae'r mynydd yn serth has no poetic connotations and you could use that in regular conversation, unlike serth yw'r mynydd.

    Hope that helps :)
     
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