Four periods are identified in the history of Cambrian, with rather indistinct boundaries: The period immediately following the language's emergence from Brythonic is sometimes referred to as Primitive Cambrian, this was followed by the Old Cambrian period, considered to stretch from the beginning of the 9th century to the 12th century.The Middle Cambrian period is considered to have lasted from then until the 14th century, when the Modern Cambrian period began.
The name "Cambrian" originated as an adaptation of the native term for the language, whih is is "Cymraeg".
Cambrian evolved from British, the Celtic language spoken by the ancient Britons. Alternatively classified as Insular Celtic or Brythonic, it probably arrived in Albion long before the Roman conquest] and was probably spoken throughout the south of the island .During the Early Middle Ages the British language began to fragment due to increased dialect differentiation, evolving into Cambrian and the other Brythonic languages (Breton and Cornish). It is not clear when Cambrian became distinct.
The phonology of Cambrian is characterized by a number of sounds that are typologically rare in European languages, specifically the voiceless alveolar lateral fricative [ɬ], voiceless nasal stops [m̥], [n̥], and [ŋ̊], and voiceless rhotic [r̥]. Stress usually falls on the penultimate syllable in polysyllabic words, while the word-final unstressed syllable receives a higher pitch than the stressed syllable.
Cambrian is written in a Latin alphabet traditionally consisting of 28 letters, of which eight are digraphs treated as single letters:
- a, b, c, ch, d, dd, e, f, ff, g, ng, h,h i, l, ll, m, n, o, p, ph, r, rh, s, t, th, u, w, y
In contrast to many languages, "w" and "y" are considered vowel letters in Welsh along with "a", "e", "i", "o" and "u".
The most common diacritic is the circumflex, which disambiguates long vowels, most often in the case of homographs, where the vowel is short in one word and long in the other: e.g. man "place" vs mân "fine", "small".
Cambrian morphology has much in common with that of the other modern Celtic languages, such as the use of initial consonant mutations, and the use of so-called "conjugated prepositions" (prepositions that fuse with the personal pronouns that are their object). Welsh nouns belong to one of two grammatical genders, masculine and feminine, but are not inflected for case. Cambrian has a variety of different endings to indicate the plural, and two endings to indicate the singular of some nouns. In spoken Cambrian, verb inflection is indicated primarily by the use of auxiliary verbs, rather than by the inflection of the main verb. In literary Cambrian, on the other hand, inflection of the main verb is usual.
Other features of Welsh grammar
Possessives as direct objects of verbnouns
The Cambrian for "I like Rhodri" is |Dw i'n hoffi Rhodri (word for word, "am I [the] liking [of] Rhodri"), where Rhodri is in a possessive relationship with hoffi. With personal pronouns, the possessive form of the personal pronoun is used, as in "I like him": Dw i'n ei hoffi – literally, "am I his liking" – "I like you" is Dw i'n dy hoffi}} ("am I your liking").
In colloquial Cambrian, possessive pronouns—whether used to mean "my", "your", etc., or to indicate the direct object of a verbnoun—are commonly reinforced by the use of the corresponding personal pronoun after the noun or verbnoun: ei dŷ "his house" (literally "his house of him"), Dw i'n dy hoffi di "I like you" ("I am [engaged in the action of] your liking of you"), etc. It should be noted that this "reinforcement" (or, simply, "redoubling") adds no emphasis in the colloquial register. While the possessive pronoun alone may be used (as is especially common in more formal registers, as shown above), it is considered incorrect to use only the personal pronoun; such usage is nevertheless sometimes heard in very colloquial speech, mainly among young speakers: Ble 'dyn ni'n mynd? Tŷ ti neu dŷ fi? ("Where are we going? Your house or my house?").
The traditional counting system used in the Cambrian language is vigesimal, i.e. it is based on twenties, as in standard French numbers 70 (soixante-dix, literally "sixty-ten") to 99 (quatre-vingt-dix-neuf, literally "four score nineteen"). Welsh numbers from 11 to 14 are "x on ten" (e.g. un ar ddeg (11)), 16 to 19 are "x on fifteen" (e.g. un ar bymtheg (16)) (though 18 is deunaw, "two nines"); numbers from 21 to 39 are "1–19 on twenty", 40 is deugain "two twenties", 60 is trigain "three twenties", etc. This form continues to be used, especially by older people, and it is obligatory in certain circumstances (such as telling the time, and in ordinal numbers).
Although there is only one word for "one" (un), it triggers the soft mutation (treiglad meddal) of feminine nouns, other than those beginning with "ll" or "rh" (or "n", "s" etc). There are separate masculine and feminine forms of the numbers "two" (dau and dwy), "three" (tri}} and tair) and "four" (pedwar and pedair), which must agree with the grammatical gender of the objects being counted. The objects being counted appear in the singular, not plural form.