"Dw i erioed wedi bod i Sbaen o'r blaen."

Translation:I've never been to Spain before.

October 19, 2016

This discussion is locked.


Could "mynd" be used here instead of "bod"?


That would be "I've never gone to Spain"


So it means much the same but is not the direct translation. When there is a choice of two valid translations they prefer the more direct one.


"Been" is sometimes used in English as the past participle of "go" (see e.g. Collins Cobuild English Language Dictionary under "go" and "been"), so unless it's grammatical to say "Dw i'n bod i Sbaen" (let native speakers decide this), the construction "Dw i wedi bod i Sbaen" looks a bit like a translation from English.


I learnt a very important when I started Gaelic. I came across a lot of things that were obvious calques on the English - until it was pointed out that some of them were recorded in Old Irish centuries before English as we know it existed. So if anyone was copying, it wasn't the Gaels. I'm sure the same applies to Welsh. We cannot attribute any similarity between Welsh and English to Welsh copying without evidence that it was that way round. Since most of our ancestors in Britain spoke either something like Welsh, or Gaelic, for generations before they acquired English, it is much more likely that that brought their structures with them, rather than taking structures back. Or at least that is my view.


Not really. To see some explanations of the difference between 'been' and 'gone', look in the web for 'been vs gone'.

For example, https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/been-or-gone


Many thanks for the link to the Cambridge website, which was new to me. Their examples are illuminating as far as they go, but their characterization of the difference between "been" and "gone" ("We often use been to, instead of gone to, when we refer to completed visits to a place") doesn't account for sentences such as "This is the first party we've been to in months", as this can really only be said if we are still at the party (any topicality is purely coincidental — see Collins Cobuild English Grammar, London: Collins, 1992, § R84). What set me off on this was my use of "wedi mynd" (considered wrong) and the idea that "been" and "gone" can be kept strictly apart in English, whereas it seems to me that they are often equivalent. The verbs "to be" and "to go" both have suppletive paradigms ("I am — I was — I have been" and "I go — I went — I have gone / been"), which partially share a past participle (mediated by context). It seemed odd to use the preposition "i" which seems to indicate movement here with the verb "to be", hence my rationalisation that this is a syntactic loan from English. It does seem to be reasonably well established in colloquial Welsh (found examples in Ysbyty Brynaber from the BBC and in a blog by someone who said Welsh was their first language), so I suppose one question might be how old the construction is in Welsh. I agree that any influence could in principle be in either direction (see e.g. Heinrich Wagner, Das Verbum in den Sprachen der britischen Inseln, Tübingen 1959), but I haven't (yet) found any historical examples of "wedi bod" being used with "i", and my local Irish informant insisted on "Táim tar éis abheith i Londain", rejecting "go Londain / go dtí Londain" in this context (how in this in Scots Gaelic?). Anyway, I am conscious that a colloquial Welsh course is probably not the right forum for this discussion, so I will happily desist (and continue to use "wedi bod i") with thanks for both your help — I am learning a lot.


Is 'erioed' north Walian?


No. erioed is used for 'ever/never' with perfective verbs in the past (present perfect, pluperfect/past perfect and simple past), and byth is used for 'ever/never' in other tenses.


Thanks for clarifying that


There is nothing to indicate that this is a negative sentence (no ddim and 'dw i' could be positive or negative) except that it doesn't make sense as a positive one.


It's a very important word is except. So this sentence either has a negative sense or no sense at all. I go with the negative sense.

In fact quite a lot of the so-called negative markers in Welsh, most notably dim, are not really negative markers. (The original meaning of dim is 'any(thing)'. It is just so commonly used in negative senses that it is thought of as a negative marker.


Maybe an explanation is that "dw i erioed" is a colloquial version of more formal "nid wyf i erioed" (I am not ever), whereas "dw i'n mynd" (for example) is a colloquial version of "yd wyf i yn mynd", where "yd" is the form of the affirmative preverbal particle before a vowel (contrast "y mae", where is comes before a consonant). (Compare D. Simon Evans, A Grammar of Middle Welsh, Dublin 1970, § 190.)


Thank you for those details. I have that excellent tome, but I sometimes struggle to open it due to laziness. Welsh seems to have made an artform out of leaving bits out so as to obscure the grammar. Often I can reverse engineer the Welsh by looking at the Gaelic (as I know that much better than formal Welsh!). When that fails I turn to formal Welsh, and when that fails I turn to Evans.


I wrote "I have never been in Spain before" and was told that "in" is wrong. Why? In American English the expressions are interchangeable.


Well, there are certainly specific situations where they are interchangeable. For example,

  • I have been to Spain on vacation
  • I have been in Spain on vacation

How common each of these is will almost certainly vary by dialect because you cannot do one without the other. If you have been to Spain then you must have been in Spain for a period, and conversely if you have been in Spain on vacation then you must have got there somehow – you must have been to Spain at some stage. However they are not fully interchangeable. My mother has never been to India in her life, but nevertheless, she has been in India for seven whole months. This is because she was born there. This is why I added 'on vacation' to the example above. If you asked her these two question you would get very different answers:

  • Have you ever been in India before?
  • Have you ever been to India before?

So on this course they would probably want to go for the translation that is always correct, rather than the one that is sometimes correct. But there is an additional factor. As you do this course, you are learning the words as well as the phrases. Not everyone has grasped the meaning of i. Some people might thing it meant 'in' (as it does in Irish), so allowing in here could cause, or at least fail to identify, confusion. They generally work on the principle of using the corresponding vocabulary and grammar in the two languages – unless (and this is very important) there is a good reason for not doing so.


Thank you for your very thorough answer. I appreciate your precision--the instance of your mother never having been "to" India because she was born there is excellent. I do think in casual speech, if that were my situation and someone asked if I had ever been to India, I would respond, "Yes, I was born there." That is, I don't think Americans use "to" so precisely in this context. But I will now pay more attention to those little words. Please accept a lingot (I guess there isn't an option not to accept)!


While they logically mean the same (except the fine distinction carved out by @DaibhidhR), as a speaker of AmEng I would never use "have been in" rather than "have been to". I just conducted a super-scientific survey of two family members and one co-worker, and all three would use "to" instead of "in". Maybe it's a regional thing (survey participants all upper Midwest).

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