Welsh: vocative

Stoggler

Senior Member
English (Southern England)
Is the Welsh vocative (generally formed by using soft mutation) still in use in modern (spoken) Welsh?

The impression I get is that it seems to be a little inconsistent, sometimes I hear it, others I don't. Does it depend on speaker and/or who is being addressed?
 
  • Highland Thing

    Senior Member
    English, Welsh
    I think it's fading from the modern language, surviving in a few words in a few contexts. As you surmise, in fact.
     

    Tegs

    Mód ar líne
    English (Ireland)
    I can think of a few contexts, but not many. e.g. At the start of a speech: Gyfeillion. Or a teacher talking to a class: Blant. If you're thinking of particular contexts and want to check if it would be used then, let us know :)
     

    Emsiko

    New Member
    French-France
    (a bit late to react, but since the thread is not closed... :))
    I don't understand the question : for me, the vocative form, for example in latin, or gaelic, is the form you use adressing directly to the person. For example let's imagine there would be a "standard form" Grandpa ("thirs man is a grandpa") but if you adress your Grandpa you'll say "Hey, Frandpa..."
    Gaelic Seanathair (grandpa ) becomes A shenathair when adressing directly to this man.
    So, is it what you mean, that in Welsh there is a vocative form ? I thought Welsh, as our Breton, had no declension??? (don't tell me ! :)
    That's why I don't understand... (I'm just a beginner).
    Diolch yn fawr
     

    Emsiko

    New Member
    French-France
    I listen to a lot of old songs and, given the (lot of) times I hear the word Iessu, I may guess that they are religious hymns, I also indeed hear "Duw" (less frequently than Iessu !) but now will take care if I hear "Dduw". Thanks for the precision.
     

    Tegs

    Mód ar líne
    English (Ireland)
    Having looked into this a bit, I've discovered that Welsh used to have a vocative particle, "a", which caused mutation (and you still get this vocative particle in modern Irish).

    The old Welsh particle is discussed in A Grammar of Middle Welsh, page 15. It mentions examples like "A uorwyn!" (O maiden! - with "morwyn" mutating to "uorwyn".)

    It also says names of people changed in the vocative (with no vocative particle) if the names appeared in the middle or at the end of a sentence. e.g. "Pa beth yw hynn, Vargret? (What is this, Margaret - with "Margret" mutating to "Vargret".

    In Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru you get some other examples under "a [7]", such as "A, flodyn teg" (O, fair flower - with "blodyn" mutating to "flodyn"). See Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru.

    These days though, names of people don't mutate like this any more. Today, you would say "Beth yw hyn, Margret?" No mutation.

    The vocative particle "a" seems to have changed to an "o" at some point, and that "o" still causes mutation. You'll find it in poetic writing. So in modern poetry you might still get things like "O, flodyn deg" (O, fair flower + mutation). In prayer and such you'll also still find "O, Dduw" (O, God + mutation).

    In every day speech, you'll only hear the vocative in a handful of examples, some of which I mentioned in #3 above:

    Blant! - Children!
    Fechgyn! - Boys!
    Ferched - Girls!
    Gyfeillion - Friends!

    So, in a nutshell, you can stop worrying about the vocative. You'll probably never have to use it ;)
     

    Emsiko

    New Member
    French-France
    Really interesting, indeed. This vocative is in fact much mure present than we think : I heard that a lot of celtic names given to children by parents not necessarely "celtic speakers" are not the original celtic names, but their vocative form without the "a". Funny (but not surprinsing, since when you call a child, it's usually in a vocative way 'Seamus, what a kind baby you are !" "Mhairi (Vary) come, we are going now !". But not necessarely ("Did you see Seonag (Shonak)" ? All vocative forms from which was taken off the vocative "a"
    It seems to be the same with roman names coming grom latin : what leaded to the modern forms is not ther original latin name, but its vocative form. It's very interesting.
    Coming back to our subject : there was a vocative form in Breton (and I suppose in Cornish) : a Vari (for Mari) a Ber (for Per, Peter) but passed a long time ago, and even the mutation P/B in this case did not stay. We say Per and not Ber.
    luckily, Welsh and Breton (and I suppose Cornish), our britonnic branches of the celtic tree, are a bit less complicated or twisted than the gaelic ones! :)
     

    Tegs

    Mód ar líne
    English (Ireland)
    I heard that a lot of celtic names given to children by parents not necessarely "celtic speakers" are not the original celtic names, but their vocative form without the "a".
    I'm not aware of this and haven't come across it at all with Irish names. Using the ordinary form of names is the norm among non-Irish speakers - the vocative forms are completely unknown to them. It might be different in Scottish Gaelic, I don't know.
     

    Emsiko

    New Member
    French-France
    Well, I'm not a specialist either :) With latin it is obvious that a lot of names come from the vocative and not from the nominative forms, examples are well known, and this pattern could exist in a lot of languages I suppose, without people knowing where their names come from (which is generally the case). But let's let the specialists answer to this :)
    But that was an interesting thread. Thanks for exchanging some words. Have a nice week end.
     

    AndrasBP

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    I heard that a lot of celtic names given to children by parents not necessarely "celtic speakers" are not the original celtic names, but their vocative form without the "a". Funny (but not surprinsing, since when you call a child, it's usually in a vocative way 'Seamus, what a kind baby you are !"
    Well, the Scottish name Hamish, if that's what you mean, indeed comes from the vocative form of Seumas: A Sheumais.
     
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