"Medden nhw"

Translation:They said

October 9, 2016

This discussion is locked.


Where does 'medden' come from? What is the infinitive?

  • 2703

This is an archaic verb and the only forms that remain are used for reported speech in a story or report.

eg "It was wet yesterday," she said

"Roedd hi'n wlyb ddoe," meddai hi

The full forms are:

Meddwn i - I said Meddet ti - you said Meddai hi - she said Meddai fe/fo - he said Medden ni - we said Meddech chi - you said Medden nhw - they said


So they use the endings that are conditional nowadays, right?

  • 2703

Yes, these are the endings for conditional forms of other verbs.


It is intriguing that several languages I know have a defective verb with only this form. In Gaelic we have arsa which works exactly the same way as medden etc. When I looked it up in a 1911 dictionary I found it translated as a defective, if archaic verb in English, quoth.

Dwelly also points out that the subject never goes before the verb, even when it is a relative pronoun, so, to give an equivalent example in Welsh,

* _Y fenyw a meddai "Roedd hi'n wlyb ddoe"
The woman who said "It was wet yesterday"

would be wrong. Is this the case in Welsh?

Even weirder, this applies in English too, a language where you normally put the subject first,

"It was wet yesterday," she quoth : wrong
"It was wet yesterday," quoth she : right

In Shakespeare we have

'Tis dinner-time,' quoth I; 'My gold!' quoth he;
'Your meat doth burn,' quoth I; 'My gold!' quoth he:
'Will you come home?' quoth I; 'My gold!' quoth he.
'Where is the thousand marks I gave thee, villain?'
'The pig,' quoth I, 'is burn'd;' 'My gold!' quoth he:
'My mistress, sir' quoth I; 'Hang up thy mistress!
I know not thy mistress; out on thy mistress!' (Comedy of Errors [II, 1])

But even at the head of the sentence, we still have the verb first,

Quoth she, 'Before you tumbled me, You promis'd me to wed.' (Hamlet [IV, 5])



Does reported speech in the present tense use "dweud"?


i'd be curious to know also.


Yes, it can do. Both the following are valid for ""We'd like to come," they said":

"Hoffen ni ddod," medden nhw

"Hoffen ni ddod," dwedon nhw


So when Dafydd Iwan sings "Saesneg yn esensial meddan nhw", meddan is a form you wouldn't use in colloquial Welsh?

  • 2703

'Meddan nhw' is a North Wales variant, where 'a' tends to replace the 'e' or the 'y' in standard Welsh.

The song is referring to the effects of 'Brad y Llyfrau Gleision' on imposing English only education on mostly Welsh speaking Wales in the 19th century.


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