The page of Brithenig


`Yn nediwn seint yn llinghedig, yn nediwn seint yn cor'


There are two genders in Brithenig: masculine and feminine. Unlike English where objects can be neuter, all nouns in Brithenig are recognised as being of one gender or the other. The gender of a noun is indicated by the form of the definite article which precedes it: ill (masculine); lla (feminine).

The masculine article elides with prepositions that end with a consonant:

Four features distinguish feminine nouns from masculine nouns:

1. The initial consonant of the noun undergoes mutation after the feminine article, or after a possessive pronoun. The following prepositions are known to cause softening:

The conjunctions e, 'and', and o, 'or' both cause softening to following nouns

Before these parts of speech, ll and rh do not do so before the article.

The definate articles are exceptional and do not mutate.

The prepositions tra, through and a, to, at cause spirant mutation rather than softening.

Prepositions are pronounced in spoken Brithenig as though they were softened, although the written language does not reflect this:

2. Adjectives following a feminine noun always undergo soft mutation.

3. The demonstrative pronoun 'that, that one, those' is ô masculine nouns and â for feminine nouns. The demonstrative pronoun yst, 'this, these', is the same for nouns of both genders.

Ô and â are not used as articles before nouns in modern Brithenig. For that the adverbs ci, 'here', and llâ, 'there', are added to the definate noun phrase. For example, 'this man' and 'that man' become ill of ci and ill hof llâ.

Ô and â do not elide before a following vowel. Like e, and, and a, to, at, a consonant is inserted between the vowels. Instead of -dd, which gives e-dd and a-dd, -g is used, giving the forms ô-g and â-g. 'That is', is a good example: ô-g es and â-g es, while 'those are' is: ô sun and â sun.

4. Feminine nouns are referred to as sa, 'she', masculine nouns as ys, 'he'.

In Brithenig the plural ending has become silent and is no longer written. To indicate when a noun is plural the article changes from ill and lla to the plural form, llo. The plural article also causes spirant mutation:

ill of and llo h-ôn is one of the few cases in Brithenig where the singular and plural forms of the same noun are different.

Among some speakers it seems that llo is loosing is definite quality and it is interpreted only as a plural marker. How, or if, they mark the definite plural noun has not been recorded.

Plural nouns after possessive pronouns also take the spirant mutation.

Some words have special plurals created by changing from masculine to feminine gender:

Many of these have a collective meaning, lla freich, a pair of arms joined to a body, contrasted to llo freich, arms in a general sense. This is often reinforced in natural pairs by adding dew, two, as a prefix: yn ddewfreich, a pair of arms.

The indefinite singular article is yn, which also means `one'. It also causes initial consonants to mutate on feminine nouns. The indefinite plural article is the preposition di combined with the definite article: di llo h-ôn, some men.

Common nouns must always have an article. A notable exception is a genitive construction that alternatives with the use of di as possessive marker in Brithenig. Normally the only way to say 'the man's house' in Romance languages is to rearange it to mean 'the house of the man', lla gas di'll of. But there is an alternative form called the genitive construction. The preposition di is omitted along with the definate article of the possessed object. The possessed object comes first, followed by the possessor:

In this case the possessed object is always understood as being definate, it cannot be understood as 'a house of . . .' It is not uncommon in poetic literature, but can also be translated as lla gas di'll of, or lla gas d'yn of. It is often avoided when the possessed object is plural to avoid confusion, as there is no way to indicate plurality other than context.

Many words expressing unspecified quantities, such as asseth, enough; mullt, many; tan, too much; are also followed by di.

Brithenig has three suffixes which are used on nouns, two diminutives and one augmentative. -ith is the usual diminutive, teithith, `little roof, circumflex', -in implies affection, Tomin, `Tommy'. It is also used on collective nouns, plenhin, child, from plant, children. The augmentative is -wn, ofwn, big man. Treat them as very productive.

Brithenig has cases of i-mutation in its history, which cause a to become e, and u to become y. These cases are distinct from the normal letters e and i because they do not cause c and g to become the soft affricate sounds of 'tch' and 'j'. Technically the diminutive suffixes cause these vowels to change, but it is not strictly adhered to in spoken Brithenig.

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