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26  Subjunctives

26.1  The Welsh verb has two subjunctive tenses, the present and the imperfect. In both of these the letter -h- used to be found between the base of the verb and the ending. By the time of our readings, this has largely disappeared, but traces are still seen:
  1. Occasionally it is still written: mynhynt, mynho, mynhei, ganho (from defective verb genni 'to have room', 'to fit').
  2. It can cause a final voiced consonant to become unvoiced: gwypo, adnapo, gwypych, dywetei, gwypei, bythont (*bydd-h-ont), debycei, henpych, pei (*b-h-ei). This is the process known as provection. It often produces a double-letter spelling, which represents a stage in the phonetic development: gwyppo, adnappo, etc.
See the simple paradigms in Appendix C, and the more extensive material in GMW 115, 128ff.

26.2  Take special note of the subjunctives of bod, and the suppletive forms for 'go', 'come', and 'do': el-, del-, and gwnel-.

26.3  The subjunctive is used to express wishes (the optative use):

  1. "Duw a dalo it dy gynymdeithas."
  2. "A wnaethost erof i, Duw a'e talo it."
  3. "Duw a roddo da iwch."
  4. "Duw a ro da it," heb y Gwawl.
  5. "Duw a rwyddhao rhagot."
  6. "Henpych gwell."
  1. ro is a shortened form of roddo.
  2. Supply the object 'road, way'.
  3. From hanfod; literally "may you be better", a formula of greeting.
26.4  This same idea in the first person can produce an exhortation -- 'let's do something':
  1. Lladdwn rei o'r canawon, ac irwn ei hwyneb hitheu Riannon a'r gwaed. (let's kill some of the puppies, and smear . . . )
26.5  The indefinite use of the subjunctive, with some sort of relative, is represented in English by all the words with the suffix '-ever' -- 'whoever, whatever, whenever, wherever, however', etc.:
  1. "A ddel yn waredawg, iawn yw ei gymryd."
  2. "A'r ny ddel yn ufydd, cymmellaf o nerth cleddyfeu."
  3. "Pan elem yn nillad gwely, na digrifwch, nag ymddiddan, nag ymchwelud dy wyneb attaf i . . ."
  4. "Aed a'i mynho," heb y mab, "nid af i."
  5. "O'r a fo i'm meddiant i, ti a'i ceffy."
  6. Er a ddywetei hi, ni chaffei namyn yr un ateb gan y gwragedd.
  7. "A ddel yma o Gymru, carchara wynt."
  8. "A fo penn, bid pont."
  9. Edrych oheni hitheu ar Iwerddon, ac Ynys y Cedeirn, a welei ohonynt.
  10. "Beth a fynnhei ef?"
  11. "Pa ddelw y pryny di fy ngherennydd?" "Wrth fal y bo dy anrydedd."
  1. Aed (third person imperative of myned) -- 'let him go'.
  2. 'For' = 'in spite of'.
  3. Carchara -- 'imprison', cf. 'incarcerate'.
  4. The famous line uttered by the gigantic Bran, when he lay across the River Liffey to let his army cross. Ever after, a proverb, implying roughly "leaders must take responsibility". Bid is the third person singular imperative of bod.
  5. Branwen speaks this upon a hill in Anglesey. 'Isle of the Strong' is a traditional name for Britain.
  6. 'according to (however is) your rank'.
26.6  The indefinite use is often supported by the word bynnag -- 'ever'.
  1. Peth bynnag o garueiddrwydd a fei yryngthunt y dydd, ni bu un nos amgen nog a fu y nos gyntaf.
  2. Pa ddylyedawg bynnag a eisteddo arnei, nad a oddyno.
  3. Pa ymofyn bynnag a fei ganthunt wy, i chwedlei ereill y trossei ynteu.
  4. Pa arch bynnag a erchych di i mi, iti y bydd.
  1. 'He turned it (diverted it) to other subjects'.
  2. '. . . you shall have it'.
26.7  A time clause referring to the future can (logically or pessimistically) be thought of as indefinite. The conjunction pann nearly always has a subjunctive in this situation.
  1. "Pann ddelych dy hun i'th wlad, ti a wely a wneuthum i erot ti."
  2. "Dilesteir fydd dy hynt, ac ni rusia dim rhagot, yny ddelych i'm cyfoeth i."
  3. "A phann fo ef ar berfedd ei ddigrifwch, dyret titheu ymywn."
  4. "A phann el ef, tro ditheu y god, yny el ef dros ei benn yn y god."
  5. "Ac o'r pann agoroch y drws hwnnw, ni ellwch fod yno."
  6. "Tra parhawyf i a'th cynhaliaf, tra allwyf y meu fy hun."
  7. "Ni a fyddwn drostaw, yny fo rydd ei wyr i fyned drostaw."
  8. "Hynny a wnaf yn llawen, tra parhao y wledd honn."
  1. Dyret: suppletive imperative of dyfod -- 'come'.
  2. 'Turn [i.e. unroll] the bag'.
  3. 'from whenever', i.e. 'from the moment that'.
  4. Meu -- 'mine' (the pronoun).
  5. A legal formula: 'be for', i.e. 'stand surety for'.
26.8  This idea of indefiniteness in the future leads naturally to the idea of purpose. Remember the typical English representations of purpose: either by the infinitive, 'he came to see you', or by a clause introduced by such words as 'so that', 'with the intention that', etc. Sometimes the Welsh purpose clause is introduced by a word like hyd or fal, but this is not inevitable.
  1. "Ceis a'th laddo: ni laddaf i di."
  2. "Mi a roddaf fy ansawdd arnat ti, hyd na bo gwas ystafell a wypo."
  3. "Mi a baraf na bo i'th gyfoeth na gwr na wreig a wypo."
  4. "Par wahardd, fal nad el neb i Gymru."
  5. "A chymer gedernid na bo ymofyn na dial fyth."
  6. "Mi a wnaf na chaffo ef fifi byth."
  7. "Cymer wreig arall, y bo etifedd it ohonei."
  1. (and 4-7) These negative purposes might be classified as "clauses of precaution".
  2. 'Arrange an embargo'.
  3. Cedernid (from cadarn) -- 'assurance, security'.
  4. Etifedd -- 'heir'.
26.9  Concessive clauses (introduced in English by such words as 'although', 'even if') have subjunctives. Typical Welsh conjunctions are cyd, cynn.
  1. "A chynn nid ymddialwyf a thi, mi a wnaf o anglod gwerth can carw."
  2. "A chyd archo ef iti rhoddi yr eil, na dyro, er a ymbilio a thi."
  3. "Cyd bwyf i yno ym mhenn y flwyddyn, pa gyfarwyd a fydd imi?"
  4. "Cynn ni bwyf arglwyddes, mi a wnn."
  5. "Cynn ni bei frenin ar Iwerddon, da oedd gennyf ymtirioni."
  1. Dyro -- 'give' (from a compound *dy-rhoddaf).
  2. 'It were good with me', i.e. 'I should like (to show friendship)'.
26.10  The word pei is itself a (provected) subjunctive of bod. It has come to be used in the meaning of 'if', introducing a conditional clause.
Pei ys gwypwn . . .
Literally: Were it that I knew it . . .
More naturally: If I knew it . . .
Pei caffwn dewis, y mae ti a dewisswn.
If I had a choice, it's you I would choose.

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