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27  Passives

27.1  There is a single passive form for each tense of the Welsh verb. (See Appendix C and GMW 114 f.) It is not tied to any person, and it may properly be called impersonal. Sometimes it really does denote that an impersonal action occurs, without it being tied to any personal subject. So, the impersonal gellid can mean there was a possibility. But more often, the form denotes a real passive:
Llynn oedd yn Iwerddon, a Llynn y Peir y gelwid.
In Ireland was a lake, and it was called Lake of the Cauldron.

27.2  By chance, there are only three examples of passives in PPD1. They will be supplemented from other parts of the first two branches. We begin with the imperfect:

  1. Diffygiwys ei enw ef ar Pwyll Pendefig Dyfed, ac y gelwid Pwyll Penn Annwfn o hynny allan.
  2. "Pa darfu i Gradawg fab Bran, a'r seithwyr a edewid ygydag ef yn yr ynys honn?"
  3. Bedyddiaw a wnaethant y mab o'r bedydd a wneid yna.
  4. "Beth oedd y mynydd a welid gan ystlys y llongeu?"
  1. Darfu -- 'happened', from darfod; edewid from adaw -- 'leave' -- note the double I-affection, spreading backwards over two syllables.
  2. Bedyddiaw, bedydd -- 'baptize, baptism'; notice the awareness of a Christian writer that he is writing of a pre-Christian era.
  3. Llong -- 'ship', from the Latin navis longa -- 'longship, warship'.
27.3  The preterite passive is generally the same as the preterite third singular, with -d instead of -s.
  1. A'r neuadd a gyweirwyd.
  2. Talwyd ebolion iddaw.
  3. A phan wybuwyd ei meddwi ynteu . . .
  4. Celu y damwein hwnnw ni allwyd.
  5. Yna y rodded y march i'r mab.
  6. "Y nos y cefeist y mab y ganed yr ebawl."
  7. "Beth yw y coed a welad ar y mor?"
  1. (and 6) Ebawl -- 'colt'.
  2. Meddwi -- 'drunkenness' (cf. 'mead').
  3. Celu -- 'hide' (cf. 'conceal', Latin celare); damwein -- 'event, accident'.
  4. Ganed, from geni, 'to be born' (cf. 'genesis', 'genital', and many other English words).
27.4  The present passive ends in -ir.
  1. "Peth a ellir wrth hynny?"
  2. Ac ar ol hynny gelwir "seith cantref Dyfed"
  1. Supply the idea of 'do' -- 'what can be done?'.
27.5  One example of a subjunctive passive:
Ar ni ddel yn ufydd, cymmeller o nerth cleddyfeu.
Whoever does not come obediently, let him be compelled by force of arms (force of swords).

27.6  A few verbs have an archaic preterite passive ending in -pwyd, e.g.
gwnaethpwydit was done
dywedpwydit was said
dugpwydit was brought
aethpwyd'it was gone' ('there was a departure')
We have no examples of this formation in PPD1.

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All text copyright © 1996 by Gareth Morgan. Online layout copyright © 2001 by Daniel Morgan.