Nouns in Brithenig

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here are two genders in Brithenig: masculine and feminine. 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).

In some dialects the articles, including the plural form, llo are pronounced as if they were written as L instead of LL. While this is not discouraged, it is regarded by native speakers as a foreign or colonial feature and not an indigenous feature. Some dialects, notably the Kernow dialect found in the southern provinces of Cambria, do not have this sound at all.

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

a 'to, at' + ill -> a'll

di 'of, from' + ill -> di'll

gwo 'under, below, beneath' + ill -> gwo'll

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:

di, of, from

gwo, under, below, beneath

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 definite 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:

di is pronounced as ddi

gwo is pronounced as wo

tra is pronounced as dra

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

3. The demonstrative pronoun 'that' is o for masculine nouns and a for feminine nouns. The demonstrative pronoun yst, `this', is the same for nouns of both genders. The plural forms are llo h-o and llo h-a for 'those' and llo h-yst for 'these'

O and a 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.

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 'the man' -> llo h-ôn 'the men'

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.

lla gas `the house' -> llo chas 'the houses'

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.

gwstr gas, your house

gwstr chas, your houses

llo wstr chas, your houses, is also common and grammatically acceptable.

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

ill bordd, hut, lla fordd, huts

ill busc, wood, lla fusc, woods

ill breich, arm, lla ddewfreich, arms

ill cil, eyebrow, lla ddewchil, eyebrows

ill corn, horn, lla ddewchorn, horns

ill ew, egg, lla ew, eggs

ill genygl, knee, lla ddewgenygl, knees

ill llafr, lip, lla dewllafr, lips

ill os, bone, lla os, bones

ill rham, branch, lla rham, branches

Many of these have a collective meaning, lla dewfreich, 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. In the spoken language it is contracted and pronounced as dd'lo. The same happens with feminine plurals: dd'la.

(The creator of Brithenig thinks this is an ugly feature and doesn't use it. Any student of the language is free to make their own choice - Andrew.)

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: cas ill of, 'the man's house, the house of the man'

cas yn of, 'a man's house, the house of a man'

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 asset, '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 -un, ofun, 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.