[Spellyans] -ita

nicholas williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Tue Jul 1 18:11:54 IST 2008

Deg is from IE *dekm with a final nasal. Probably originally it  
nasalised all following nouns.
In Modern Welsh the nasal mutation is confined to following blynedd,  
blwydd and diwrnod. The same
is true with saith, wyth and naw, since they also ended in a nasal in  
This means that in "correct" Welsh one says deng mblynedd 'ten years'  
but deg ceffyl 'ten horses'.
This is an unstable situation and the simpler i.e. non-nasalising  
syntax is replacing the earlier
and more "correct" one.

In Irish seacht, ocht, naoi and deich nasalise all following nouns:

seacht dteach 'seven houses', ocht n-oileán 'eight islands', naoi  
bhfuinneog 'nine windows' and deich mblians 'ten years'.

Nasalisation in Celtic after ocht/wyth 'eight' is analogical anyway  
because the word is in origin a dual,
Latin octo, Greek oktô, cf. Latin duo, ambo. Historically therefore  
ocht/wyth should be followed by lenition.


On 1 Jul 2008, at 17:48, Eddie Climo wrote:

> On 1 Jul 2008, at 14:24, Craig Weatherhill wrote:
>> . . . Mutation is a curious thing in historical practice.  It is so
>> often
>> ignored and, in some cases introduced where it should not occur
>> according to the rules . . .
> In Welsh, some of the 'standard' mutation rules that learners cut
> their teeth on actually vary in practice between dialects (and
> perhaps between speakers, as well).
> An example of this is the (variable) mutation after some numerals,
> such as:
>> 10 years = 'deg blynedd' or 'deng mlynedd'
>> 5 years = 'pump blynedd' or 'pum mlynedd'
> Perhaps the inconsistencies Craig refers to were caused by dialectal
> variations in Cornish.
> Eddie
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