[Spellyans] ha versus hag

Mike R mremic01 at gmail.com
Fri Jul 1 03:13:06 BST 2016

Strachan describes it as '*ac* before vowels and the negative particles *ny*,
*na*, and sometimes before other consonants.'

Here are a few examples from the Four Branches:

'Ac ual y byd yn ymwarandaw a llef yr erchwys...'

Would we treat the u in *ual* as a vowel here? I imagine that it would have
been more of a bilabial at the time, unlike the modern f. *Ac ual* seems
consistent, but it's often just *a* before other words that begin with u/v.

'Y march a gymerth, ac racdaw yd aeth.'

'Ac rac diruawr wres, y kyrchwys y bleit a'e yscwyd a'y tharaw gantaw
allan, ac yn y ol ynteu y wreic.'

But then:

'...a rac guelet gwr kyuurd a thi yn diuetha pryf mor dielw a hwnnw.'

'A Riannon' is used fairly consistently.

'Ac nachaf y liw a'y wed a'y ansawd yn atueilaw o'y charyat, hyt nat oed
hawd y adnabot.'

Is *nachaf* being treating like a negative particle here? I thought it
meant something like 'behold', but maybe it has some obscure origin in a
negative construction.

So Strachan gives us more information than Evans, but even he doesn't give
us the specifics. It seems that Middle Welsh scribes usually abided by the
rule of using *ac* before a vowel, a negative particle (and by extension,
sometimes *n*), and even sometimes r. We might find even more examples
digging into other texts. Over time, I hope to narrow in on details like
this, but it's a daunting task.

There is also an instance of the phrase 'a'n kynnadyl yna yn y lle hon' in
the White Book version of PPD, where the Red Book has 'ac an kynnadyl yna
yn y lle hon.' Thomson's edition seems to take *a'n* as the conjunction *a*
with an infixed possessive *'n* (from *an)*, but I suppose it could just as
easily be 'an kynnadyl' with no conjunction. If we accept Thomson's
interpretation, we see two different ways to deal with *a/ac* in this
situation, each taken by a different scribe in order to write the same

Sorry to spend so much time on Welsh matters. I suppose my point is that
the rules for *a(c)* aren't as clear cut as we'd like them to be. But
that's okay. There's enough inconsistency that it's difficult to say that
one way or the other is 'wrong', but we can certainly look to the
tendencies of the texts and try to imitate them. I think you've got the
right idea, Nicholas. I have much more confidence in the Cornish described
in Desky Kernowek than what I see in other books due to the attestations,
and my own preference would be to proscribe rules for revived Cornish based
on the texts. At the same time, if everyone else finds *hag* acceptable in
all environments, I would be willing to go along with that, provided future
grammars make note of the fact that this was not the case prior to the

Does vowel length have any influence on the frequency of *ha *vs. *hag*?
Perhaps a diphthong at the beginning of the following word?
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