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Pronunciation /brɪθənˈig/
Created by Andrew Smith
Setting A thought experiment in alternate history, Ill Bethisad, if Latin had replaced the Brittonic languages
Date 1996
Region British Isles
Language family
ISO 639-3 bzt

Brithenig, [brɪθənˈig], was created as a hobby in 1996 by Andrew Smith from New Zealand, who also invented the alternate history of Ill Bethisad to have a conworld in which Brithenig could potentially exist.

Brithenig was not developed to be used in the real world, like Esperanto or Interlingua, nor to provide detail to a work of fiction, like Klingon from the Star Trek scenarios. Rather, Brithenig started as a thought experiment to create a Romance language that might have evolved if Latin had displaced the native Celtic language as the spoken language of the people in Great Britain.

The result is an artificial sister language to French, Catalan, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Occitan and Italian which differs from them by having sound-changes similar to those that affected the Welsh language, and words that are borrowed from the Brittonic languages and from English throughout its pseudo-history. One important distinction between Brithenig and Welsh is that while Welsh is P-Celtic, Latin was a Q-Italic language (as opposed to P-Italic, like Oscan), and this trait was passed onto Brithenig.

Similar efforts to extrapolate Romance languages are Breathanach (influenced by the other branch of Celtic), Judajca (influenced by Hebrew), Þrjótrunn (a non-Ill Bethisad language influenced by Icelandic), Wenedyk (influenced by Polish), and Xliponian (which experienced a Grimm's law-like sound shift). It has also inspired Wessisc, a hypothetical Germanic language influenced by contact with Old Celtic.

Brithenig was granted the code BZT as part of ISO 639-3.

Andrew Smith was one of the conlangers featured in the exhibit "Esperanto, Elvish, and Beyond: The World of Constructed Languages" displayed at the Cleveland Public Library from May through August 2008.[1] Smith's creation of Brithenig was cited as the reason for his inclusion in the exhibit (which also included the Babel Text[2] in Smith's language).


Brithenig started as a thought-experement to create a Romance language that might have evolved if Latin speakers had been a sufficient number to displace Old Celtic as the spoken language of the people in Great Britain. The result is a sister language to French, Spanish and Italian, albeit a test-tube child, which differs from them by having sound-changes similar to those that affected the Welsh language, and words that are borrowed from Old Celtic, and from English throughout its 'pseudo-history'. Although other Romance languages have Celtic influences, none of them are so thoroughly influenced as Brithenig.


The letters j, q, v, x, and z are used in foreign words that have been borrowed into the language, especially modern words that have not been adapted to the Brithenig orthography. They are not included in the traditional alphabet.

Brithenig has final syllables consonants that are pronounced soft rather than hard. This is shown with special combinations of letters in these cases. Certain phrases are treated as diphthongs also. Sa es, 'she is, there is, there are' is pronounced as 'saes'. A es and O es are treated similarly. In the standard dialect of Brithenig, where 'ae' and 'oe' are pronounced as long vowels, instead of diphthongs, these phrases can be contracted to sa's, a's and o's. When it becomes necessary to prevent two sounds from eliding, to avoid confusion or loss of sound or meaning, the ending -dd is added to a word:

ys a-dd abrob, he has nearly...

The letter 'y' at the beginning of a word is often unstressed and when preceded by a word ending in a vowel it often elides.

Some monosyllablic words end with a consonant cluster with r or l as the last letter. It is the case here that the last letter is pronounced as if the vowel in the word is repeated before it. Llifr, book is pronounced as 'llifir'. Sometimes it is spelled this way. With longer words 'r' in this position is silent.

Stress in Brithenig is placed on the ultimate, or last syllable, for example, afur, love, is pronounced as 'a-FUR', not 'A-fur'. In diphthongs, the first vowel is pronounced as a stressed or unstressed vowel depending on whether it occured in the stressed syllable or not

Brithenig sometimes accents words with a circumflex, called a teithith, or little roof. Although the accent is always pronounced as 'long', more often than not it appears to be purely grammatical, for example, la and .



There are two genders in Brithenig: masculine and feminine. Unlike English where objects can be neuter, 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 + illa'll
di of, from + illdi'll
gwo under, below, beneath + illgwo'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 masculine nouns and a for feminine nouns. The demonstrative pronoun yst, 'this', is the same for nouns of both genders. The plural forms are ogyn and agyn for 'those' and ystyn 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 definite 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 freich, arms
ill cil, eyebrow, lla gil, eyebrows
ill corn, horn, lla gorn, horns
ill ew, egg, lla ew, eggs
ill genygl, knee, lla enygl, knees
ill llafr, lip, lla llafr, lips
ill os, bone, lla os, bones
ill rham, branch, lla rham, branches

Many of these have a collective meaning, lla freich, 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-on, some men. In the spoken language it is contracted and pronounced as ddlo. The same happens with feminine plurals: ddla. However the creator himself doesn't favor this particular feature.[lower-alpha 1]

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 rearrange 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 definite 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 definite, 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, plentin, '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.


Pronouns have separate subject and object forms:

Subject English Object English
eo I mi me
ty you ti you
ys he llo him
sa she lla her
nu we nu us
gw you gw you
ys they llo them
sa they lla them

Brithenig has two ways of saying you: ty, thou, and gw, you. Ty is singular and used for addressing people that the speaker is familiar with, such as an immediate family member, a close friend, a child, an animal, or god. Gw is used as a singular when speaking to a stranger or a less familiar or more formal acquaintance. It is also used to address more than one person no matter the familiarity. Pronouns are subject to consonant mutation in the same way other words are. If ty or ti is mutated it is always written as dy to avoid confusion with the preposition di, which has a different pronunciation. Fi, the mutated form of mi, becomes 'i in the spoken language, especially after consonants.

Sa is used to mean 'they' when 'they' is exclusively feminine. For 'it' use the form appropriate to the gender of the noun. The impersonal pronoun 'it' is always sa: Sa es fel eidd, It is nice today.

There is a third person reflexive pronoun si, himself, themselves (etc.); it is used as the object case with the indefinite subject, yno, one', 'people', 'they, derived from yn of, a man.

The direct object form of the pronoun have the option of coming before or after a simple verb, but with a compound tense or an infinitive used in the sentence, it can only come after the past participle or the infinitive, to which it may be hyphenated.

Mi, ti and si also have special disjunctive forms mui or fui, tui or dui or thui, and sui. These are used after prepositions, after the conjunction ca, than, or when a sentence uses two pronouns as objects:

Eo widdef tui e llo in ill castr, I saw you and him in town

The disjunctive pronouns can also be emphatic, repeating the object pronoun:

Eo dy af tui, I love you!

Unlike English, subject pronouns and nouns always go in the order of first person (I, we), second person, (you), and third person (he, she, it, they). The verb usually agrees in number with the nearest subject:

Eo e Badrig gwa a'll castr, Patrick and I are going to town.

Similar is the use of the third person dative pronoun lle in place of llo or lla after a preposition. By itself it means 'to him, her, it, them' and can come before the simple verb or after it like a direct object pronoun, but with a preposition it can only come after the verb. Possessive pronouns precede the noun. Feminine singular nouns take the soft mutation after possessive pronouns, and plural nouns take the spirant mutation, masculine singular nouns do not mutate after possessive pronouns:

mew, my
tew, your
sew, his, her, its
nustr, our
gwstr, your
sew, their

Sew may refer to 'his, her, its or their'. To avoid ambiguity the phrase can be followed with the preposition di and llo, lla to clarify the meaning. With other pronouns this is used to be an emphatic construction:

mew gas, my house
mew gas di fui, MY house

The forms 'mine, yours, his (etc)' are translated into Brithenig as 'my one' or 'my ones' (etc):

mew yn, mew hyn, mine
nustr yn, nustr hyn, ours
tew yn, tew hyn, yours
gwstr yn, gwstr hyn, yours
sew yn, sew hyn, his, hers, its, theirs

llo, lla do not mutate, but other pronouns do. The indirect object is often written with a preposition such as a, to where the mutated forms are used: Ys dun yn llifr a fui, He gives me (to me) a book.

This is the usual order in Brithenig.

Brithenig has one case of personal prepositions which are derived from cun, with. Sometimes speakers reinforce the prepositions by prefixing cun-, but the first forms are more common:

meg, cunmeg, with me
nusc, cunnusc, with us
teg, cunneg, with you
gwsc, cungwsc, with you
seg, cunseg, with him, her, them, it


Adjectives agree with their nouns in gender and number. Plural adjectives take the spirant mutation to agree with plural nouns. Feminine adjectives take the soft mutation when following feminine nouns. Adjectives tend to follow the noun. Only the adjectives bon, good, and mal, bad, can be used without any uncertainty before a noun. When an adjective precedes a noun it has a figurative rather than a literal meaning. This effects only a couple of adjectives: pobr, poor, has the meaning of 'destitute' after the noun, but 'unfortunate' when it comes before the noun. Likewise with gran, big, large, when it precedes the noun it means importance, not size:

Yn gran of, a great man
Yn of gran, a big man
Yn gran ddiwrn, a great day

Note that the initial consonant undergoes softening after a preceding adjective.

sul can come before or after the noun with a difference in meanings. After the noun it means 'lonely', yn blentin sul, a lonely child. Before a noun, it means 'only', yn sul blentin, an only child.

Brithenig can use an adjective as a noun by putting an article in front of it. It then refers to an object that has that quality: ill rhys, the red one; llo phog, the little ones.

For a comparative of an adjective, Brithenig puts the words ply, more and min, less before an adjective, with the spirant mutation of the initial consonant of the following adjective. 'Than' is translated as ca: ply hallt ca yn gas, taller than a house.

The superlative is formed by putting the definite article suitable for the gender of the noun before the comparative adjective: ill ply hallt', the tallest. When a noun is qualified, the definite article goes in front of the noun, replacing yn: lla gas bly hallt, the tallest house. It is omitted if the noun is proceeded by a possessive pronoun:

ill llifr ci es sew ober feilwr di llo, this book is his best work
mew ffradr maer, my older/oldest brother

Following a superlative the preposition di is used:

ill tyr ci es ill ply hallt di lla giwdad, this tower is the tallest in the city

If this is getting too complicated then the suffix -isaf, very can replace the superlative sometimes:

lla giwdad ci es felisaf, this city is very beautiful

Certain adjectives are irregular:

Adjective English Comparative English
bon good meilwr better
mal bad puir worse
gran big maer bigger
pog little min less
mal badly pui worse (adverb)
ben well myl better (adverb)

The superlative form of these adjectives is the comparative form with the definite article, as per usual.

Most adverbs are derived from adjectives by adding the ending -fent. In spoken Brithenig this is usually pronounced 'fen' but the t is still written:

bel, beautifulbelfent, beautifully.

Adverbs cause soft mutation on following words.


Verb endings change for person, number and tense. The infinitive is indicated with endings -ar, -er, -ir. The -r is usually left unpronounced. Brithenig verbs are divided into three conjugations according to which infinitive ending the verb takes:

Canhar to sing

Perdder to lose

Dorfir to sleep

In a sentence the infinitive is mutated more often than not due to the preposition a before the verb. The preposition is then dropped but the mutation is preserved. With auxiliaries the infinitive is unmutated. It is the unmutated form that is recorded in the lexicon. It used with other prepositions where English prefers to use `-ing':

'Eo wa per yn turn inawant gweddir a'll lleith, `I go for a walk before going to bed

'Dibos rher-mi eo bran, `After getting up I have breakfast

It is also used to replace the past tense:

Eo fi ref a ffôner-lla, I got up and phoned her

The preposition subr, on is translated as 'about to' before the infinitive:

Eo er subr ffôner-gw, I was about to phone you.

The present indicative describes an action happening at the present time:

eo gant eo berdd eo ddorf
ty gant ty berdd ty ddorf
ys cant ys perdd ys dorf
sa gant sa berdd sa ddorf
nu chanhan nu pherdden nu ddorfen
gw chanhath gw pherddeth gw ddorfith
ys/sa chanhant ys/sa pherddent ys/sa ddorfent

Brithenig distinguishes different endings to go with each person and and number. The singular forms are unmarked, -n goes with nu, -nt goes with ys and sa when they are plural, and -th goes with gw, and -nt goes with ys and sa when they are plural. The `-t' on the third person plural ending is silent, in the spoken language there is no difference between this and the ending of the first person plural verb. Also the initial consonant undergoes soft mutation in the singular verb (except after ys) or spirant mutation in the plural verb. Just as standard English always indicates the third person singular with the ending -s (he carries), so these endings must also always be used in Brithenig. If an object pronoun is inserted before the verb, then the verb always undergoes mutation, soft before a singular pronoun, spirant before a plural pronoun.

A verb is reflexive when when its subject and object are the same person: eo fi law, I wash (myself); in Brithenig the object is not omitted.

Llawarsi, to wash oneself:

eo fi law nu nu lawan
ty dy law gw 'w lawath
ys/sa si law ys/sa si lawant

In speech the first `w' on gw 'w' loses it vocalic quality and the combination is pronounced `gwoo.

Sometimes `myself', etc are used for emphasis and not as the object of a reflexive verb. In such cases it is translated as medissif:

Eo fedissif widd llo char, I see the cars myself.

Brithenig makes the present participle by replacing the infinitive ending with -n:

canhan singing

perdden losing

dorfin sleeping

It forms a progressive tense with the verb ystar', `to stand:

Eo yst canhan: I am singing

Ys ystafant dorfin: they were sleeping

The present participle can also be an adjective:

ill of dorfin, the sleeping man

Lla ffuin ganhan, the singing woman

The Latin gerund ending in -nt, still exists in a handful of words in Brithenig that are used as adjectives and nouns, such as afent, wealthy, and president, president. But the survival of these is an historic feature and not a productive one, in Brithenig the present participle has taken over the role of the gerund.

The past participle has the ending -d:

canhad sung

perdded lost

dorfid slept

Some past participles are irregular:

ffaeth, done, made, from ffager, to do, to make;

dith, said from diger, to say;

yscrith, written from yscrifer, to write;

duith, led from duger, to lead;

gwist, seen from gwidder, to see;

rhuth, broken from rhumper, to break;

clos, closed from clodder, to close;

morth, dead from morir, to die.

The forms of the imperfect are:

eo ganhaf eo berddef eo ddorfif
ty ganhaf ty berddef ty ddorfif
ys canhaf ys perddef ys dorfif
sa ganhaf sa berddef sa ddorfif
nu chanafan nu pherddefan nu ddorfifan
gw chanafath gw pherddefath gw ddorfifath
ys/sa chanafant ys/sa pherddefant ys/sa ddorfifant

The imperfect is used to describe an action that happened in the past that is not concluded at this point due to it being an ongoing action, an interpreted action or an habitual action. So Eo ganhaf can be interpreted as either `I sang', `I was singing', or `I used to sing'.

`I was singing' can also be translated as eo ystaf canhan.

Remember that the final -f on the singular verb is silent.

The past definite describes a completed and unrepeatable action that happened in the past. Some verb endings have been lost and replaced with the imperfect, or with a compound past tense:

eo ganhaf eo berddef eo ddorfif
ty ganhast ty berddest ty ddorfist
ys canhaf ys perddef ys dorfif
sa ganhaf sa berddef sa ddorfif
nu chanafan nu pherddefan nu ddorfifan
gw chanhast gw pherddest gw ddorfist
ys/sa channarent ys/sa pherdderent ys/sa ddorfirent

The past definite is used particularly to describe an historical event; or in connection with a temporal adverb or adverbial phrase; or a `when' phrase; or a conclusive and final action.

There are a small number of verbs where the past definite is irregular, one such verb is diger, to say:

eo ddis nu ddisen
ty ddisist gw ddisist
ys dis/sa ddis ys/sa ddisirent

Other irregular verbs are:

Clos from clodder, to close;

Compruis from comprêner, to understand;

Cyrs from cyrrir, to run;

Duis from duger, to lead;

Lleis from lleir, to read;

Mis from mither, to send;

Tens from tener, to stretch.

The future tense is translated `I will' or `I shall'. It is formed by adding the endings -ai, -a, -a, -an, -ath, -ant to the infinitive. All Brithenig verbs use these endings in the future tense:

eo ganarai eo berdderai eo ddorfirai
ty ganara ty berddera ty ddorfira
ys canara ys perddera ys dorfira
sa ganara sa berddera sa ddorfira
nu chanaran nu pherdderan nu ddorfiran
gw chanarath gw pherdderath gw ddorfirath
ys/sa chanarant ys/sa pherdderant ys/sa ddorfirant

For the immediate future tense Brithenig can use gweddir', `go with the infinitive tense of the verb:

Eo wa wenir gwsc, I am going to come with you.

The conditional tense translates to mean `might', `could', `would' or `should'. It is formed by adding a -ew ending to the infinitive:

eo ganarew eo berdderew eo ddorfirew
ty ganarew ty berdderew ty ddorfirew
ys canarew ys perdderew ys dorfirew
sa ganarew sa berdderew sa ddorfirew
nu chanarewn nu pherdderewn nu ddorfirewn
gw chanarewth gw pherdderewth gw ddorfirewth
ys/sa chanarewnt ys/sa pherdderewnt ys/sa ddorfirewnt

The conditional is used to indicate a future tense to a past action. It is used in indirect speech after a verb used to communicate ideas:

Ys yscrifera yn garth He will write a letter

Ys digef (ke) ys yscriferew yn garth He said that he would write a letter

The conditional tense is also used in a sentence after an `if' clause:

Se eo w h-er, eo ffagerew rhen If I were you, I would not do it.

Se eo ai gwist-llo, eo afrew parolad a lle If I had seen him, I would have spoken to him.

If the second clause does not have the sense of an action not happening then another tense replaces the conditional:

Se ys gwen eo barolarai a lle If he comes I will speak to him.

The conditional is also used in describing non-specific repetitive action in the past:

I llo ddiwrn llâ nu h-amblarewn sempr a'll castr, In those days we would always walk into town, or, In those days we always used to walk into town.

The relative pronoun ke', `who, what, which, that is often omitted in Brithenig, especially the spoken language. Ke is the most common form of the relative pronoun. The alternative ill cal is used to avoid ambiguity in a sentence. It is variable in gender and number and cannot be omitted. Ke is more often encountered in speech.

`Whose' can be translated by ke sew before the noun or by di'll cal after it. `When' and `where' are translated respectively as can and ill llog (ke).

Brithenig uses disjunctive pronouns in dependent clauses:

Lla garth (k') eo yscrifef lla, The letter that I wrote

Lla ffuin (k') eo barolaf seg, The woman that I spoke with

The subjunctive tenses are no longer productive in modern Brithenig. They only survive in proverbial phrases such as:

Can in Rhufein, ffâ si llo Rhufan ffeigant, When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

There are two subjunctive tenses, past and present. The present tense is distinctive that it includes i-mutation in all three conjunctions, if only partially in the -ar conjunction. A, e, and o in the stem become ei, u becomes y, and aw, when it occurs, becomes ew; i is unaffected. The vowels in the ending also change, for -er and -ir verbs it becomes a, while for -ar verbs it becomes e.

eo gant eo beirdd eo ddeirf
ty gant ty beirdd ty ddeirf
ys cant ys peidd ys deirf
sa gant sa beirdd sa ddeirf
nu cheinhen nu pheirddan nu ddeirfan
gw cheinheth gw pheirddath gw ddeirfath
ys/sa chanhent ys/sa pheirddant ys/sa ddeirfant

The past subjunctive is simpler and is made by infixing -ss(e) between the normal stem and the ending:

eo ganhas eo berddes eo ddorfis
ty ganhas ty berddes ty ddorfis
ys canhas ys perddes ys dorfis
sa ganhas sa berddes sa dorfis
nu chanassen nu pherddessen nu ddorfissen
gw chanasseth gw pherddesseth gw ddorfisseth
ys/sa chanassent ys/sa pherddessent ys/sa ddorfissent

Compound tenses are made with two new verbs, esser, `to be and afer, `to have. They are irregular and do not conform to the three conjugations that have been given so far. Present tense:

eo su nu sun eo ai nu hafen
ty es gw hes ty a gw hafeth
ys/sa es ys/sa sunt ys/s' a ys/sa hant


Present: Past:
essen ystad (from ystar, `to stand')
afen afyd


eo er nu h-eran eo afef nu h-afefan
ty er gw h-erath ty afef gw h-afefath
ys/sa er ys/sa h-erant ys/s' afef ys/sa h-afefant

Past Definite:

eo ffew nu ffewns eo afew nu h-afewn
ty ffewst gw ffewth ty afew gw h-afewth
ys/sa ffew ys/sa ffewrent ys/sa afew ys/sa h-afewrent


eo serai nu seran eo afrai nu h-afran
ty sera gw serath ty afra nu h-afrath
ys/sa sera ys/sa serant ys/sa afra ys/sa h-afrant

Present Subjunctive:

eo sia nu sian eo ai nu h-aian
ty sia gw siath ty ai gw h-aiath
ys/sa sia ys/sa siant ys/sa ai ys/sa h-aiant

Sia is pronounced as sha in the present subjunctive of 'to be'.

Past Subjunctive:

eo ffews nu ffewssen eo afews nu h-afewssen
ty ffews gw ffewsseth ty afews gw h-afewsseth
ys/sa ffews ys/sa ffewssent ys/sa afews ys/sa h-afewssent

Gweddir, to go is irregular in the present tense:

eo wa nu wan
ty wa gw wath
ys gwa/sa wa ys/sa want

Otherwise the verb is regular and uses the longer stem.

The word for `not' is rhen. It comes after the verb phrase:

'eo su rhen, `I am not

With verbs beginning with p, t, c, b, d, g, the nasal mutation is used on all verbs beginning with these letters when they are followed by a negative adverb:

Eo nghant rhen, I do not sing.

Gw mherddefan rhen, you did not lose.

Ys norfira rhen, he will not sleep.

Similar to rhen' is nonc, `never. In questions 'ever' is translated as nonc:

'E'gw ystad nonc ci inawant? 'Have you ever been here before?

No, eo su ystad nonc ci inawant, No, I have never been here before.

'Rhen is also used before nouns, rhen llaeth, `no milk.

`There is' or `there are' is sa es:

'Sa es yn char, `There are some cars.

When an object follows a negative verb then the preposition di is inserted between the verb and the following noun. Literally this would be translated as 'none of':

Sa es rhen di yn char, There aren't any cars


1 yn 6 sei 11 yndig 16 yn e ghindig
2 dew 7 seth 12 dewddig 17 dew e ghindig
3 trui 8 oeth 13 truiddig 18 dewnoe
4 cathr 9 noe 14 cathorddig 19 cathr e ghindig
5 cinc 10 deg 15 kindig 20 gweint
21 yn e weint
30 deg e weint 40 dew weint
50 deg e ddew weint 60 trui weint
70 deg e drui weint 80 cathr gweint
90 deg e gathr gweint 100 cent
1000 mil 1000000 milliwn
0 sero, rhen . puith

Numbers precede the noun being counted. Yn causes feminine nouns to soften; dew, trui and sei cause following nouns to undergo spirant mutation; other numbers come before nouns without causing mutation. When the noun following dew and trui is a feminine collective of a masculine noun (see above under nouns) then the noun undergoes soft mutation rather than spirant mutation.

Before a noun cinc, gweint and cent become cin, gwein and cen. The noun being counted is always singular.

Big numbers are put before nouns in two different ways:

yn of e ghindig, sixteen men

yn e ghindig di llo hof, sixteen (of the) men

Ordinal numbers exist for one to ten:

1st prif 6th seist
2nd segunn 7th sethif
3rd terth 8th oethif
4th carth 9th noef
5th kint 10th degif

In shorthand these are reduced to the number and the last two letters of the ordinal spelling.

`Once, twice, three times' are made with using the cardinal number with the noun gweg: yn weg, dew weg, trui weg, cathr gweg.



Questions are formed by changing the word order of the subject and the verb:

'Gw pharolath Brithenig, `You speak Brithenig.

Parola'gw Frithenig?, `Do you speak Brithenig?

Note the change in sentence order causes softening to occur on following words. Also the -th ending on the verb has been elided.

When the subject is a noun it remains before the verb but the equivalent pronoun is placed after the verb:

'Ill car es llâ, `the car is there

Ill car es-ys llâ?, `is the car there?

Brithenig has a set of question words similar to English:

Ki?, who?

Di ghi?, whose?

Ke?, which?

Ke gos?, what?

K'log?, where?

A g'log?, to where?

Di g'log?, from where?

Co?, how, what kind of?

Cant?, how much, how many?

Ke sig?, how?

Ke dem?, when?

Perch?, why?

Question words come at the beginning of sentences, except for di ghi:

Ke gar es-o?, Which car is that?

Ill car di ghi es-o?, Whose car is that?

Coand ke replace the article and cause softening. Other question words which act adverbially cause following verbs to soften.

Ke sig? is used with adjectives:

Ke si wirdd er gwstr cum?, `How green was your valley?

In answering the word order is retained with the question word replaced:

Ke gos es gwstr nôn? - Rhaifun eo affell, `What is your name? - I am called Ray'.

Brithenig speakers can put the interrogative tag es-sa rhen, isn't it? at the end of sentences. The tense of the verb and the number and gender of the pronoun may change, but, unlike English, the negative rhen is not dropped:

Gw h-affellath Padrig, es-ys rhen?, Your name is Patrick, is it not?

Ty fi nglafaf rhen, er-ty rhen?, You didn't call me, did you?


The most common form of making a command is to add -th to the verb; Gwenith per yn turn, `Come for a walk. The familiar form of the command drops the ending along with the final vowel; Llaes mi sulfent, `Leave me alone.

Some imperative forms are irregular, being derived from a subjunctive tense which is no longer used in the spoken language:

Esser, to be, siath, sia (pronounced 'shath, sha')

Gwoler, to wish, gwolath, gwol

Afer, to have, aiath, ai

Saber, to know, seibath, seib

Three verbs have very curt familiar forms:

Diger, to say, digeth, dî

Duger, to lead, dugeth, dû

Ffager, to make, to do, ffageth, ffâ

The replacement of a blunt imperative with ffager is considered polite:

'Ffageth (a) wenir per yn turn, `Do come for a walk

'Ffagewth (a) wenir per yn turn, `Would you come for a walk

The verb calfar, to stop, cease is used to mean `don't':

Calfath (a) wedder, Don't go.

Calfath (a) weisar, Never mind

Gwan from gweddir, to go is used before another verb to mean `let's'. On its own it means `let's go'.

And always say: Se ddeg a'w, Please; and Greid, Thank you; and Sa es nyll, You're welcome, it's nothing. Brithenig speakers value courtesy and these little words will help to keep a learner in good standing every time he or she uses them.

'Mr' is ill maistr, 'Mrs, Miss' is lla faistres. The article is omitted when addressing someone by name. maistr and maistres are also used for sir and madam.


Most of Brithenig's vocabulary is distinctively Romance, even though it is disguised as Welsh. The following list of 30 words gives an impression of what Brithenig looks like in comparison to nine other Romance languages including Wenedyk, and to Welsh. The similarity of about one-quarter of the Welsh words to Brithenig words (indicated by not being bracketed) is due to their common Indo-European background, although a few others, such as ysgol, were borrowings from Latin into Welsh.

Brithenig compared with Romance and Welsh
English Brithenig Latin Portuguese Galician Spanish Catalan Occitan French Italian Rhaeto-​Romance Friulian Romanian Wenedyk Welsh
arm breich brachium braço brazo brazo braç braç bras braccio bratsch braç braţ brocz braich
black nîr nĭger, nĭgrum negro negro negro negre negre noir nero nair neri negru niegry (du)
city, town ciwdad cīvĭtās, cīvĭtātem cidade cidade ciudad ciutat ciutat cité città citad citât oraş, cetate czytać (dinas)
death morth mŏrs, mŏrtem morte morte muerte mort mòrt mort morte mort muart moarte mroć (marwolaeth)
dog can canis cão, cachorro can perro, can gos, ca gos, can chien cane chaun cjan câine kań (ci)
ear origl auris, aurĭcŭla orelha orella oreja orella aurelha oreille orecchio ureglia orele ureche urzykła (clust)
egg ew ovum ovo ovo huevo ou uòu œuf uovo ov ûf ou ów wy
eye ogl ŏcŭlus olho ollo ojo ull uèlh œil occhio egl voli ochi okieł (llygad)
father padr pater, patrem pai pai padre pare paire père padre bab pari tată poterz (tad)
fire ffog ignis, fŏcus fogo lume, fogo fuego foc fuòc feu fuoco fieu fûc foc fok (tân)
fish pisc pĭscis peixe peixe pez, pescado peix peis poisson pesce pesch pes peşte pieszcz pysgodyn
foot pedd pĕs, pĕdem pie peu pied piede pe pît picior piedź (troed)
friend efig amīcus amigo amigo amigo amic amic ami amico ami amì amic omik (cyfaill)
green gwirdd vĭrĭdis verde verde verde verd verd vert verde verd vert verde wierdzi gwyrdd
horse cafall ĕquus, cabăllus cavalo cabalo caballo cavall caval cheval cavallo chaval cjaval cal kawał ceffyl
I eo ĕgo eu eu yo jo ieu je io jau jo eu jo (mi)
island ysl īnsŭla ilha illa isla illa iscla île isola insla isule insulă izła (ynys)
language, tongue llinghedig, llingw lĭngua língua lingua lengua llengua lenga langue lingua linguatg, lieunga lenghe limbă lęgwa (iaith)
life gwid vīta vida vida vida vida vida vie vita vita vite viaţă wita (bywyd)
milk llaeth lac, lactis leite leite leche llet lach lait latte latg lat lapte łoc llaeth
name nôn nōmen nome nome nombre nom nom nom nome num non nume numię (enw)
night noeth nŏx, nŏctem noite noite noche nit nuèch nuit notte notg gnot noapte noc (nos)
old gwegl vĕtus, vĕtŭlus velho vello viejo vell vièlh vieux vecchio vegl vieli vechi wiekły (hen)
school yscol schŏla escola escola escuela escola escòla école scuola scola scuele şcoală szkoła ysgol
sky cel caelum céu ceo cielo cel cèl ciel cielo tschiel cîl cer czał (awyr)
star ystuil stēlla estrela estrela estrella estel estela étoile stella staila stele stea ścioła (seren)
tooth dent dēns, dĕntem dente dente diente dent dent dent dente dent dint dinte dzięć dant
voice gwg vōx, vōcem voz voz voz veu votz voix voce vusch vôs voce wucz (llais)
water ag aqua água auga agua aigua aiga eau acqua aua aghe apă jekwa (dŵr)
wind gwent vĕntus vento vento viento vent vent vent vento vent vint vânt więt gwynt

Sample texts

The Lord's Prayer

Nustr Padr, ke sia i llo gel:
sia senghid tew nôn:
gwein tew rheon:
sia ffaeth tew wolont,
syrs lla der sig i llo gel.
Dun nustr pan diwrnal a nu h-eidd;
e pharddun llo nustr phechad a nu,
si nu pharddunan llo nustr phechadur.
E ngheidd rhen di nu in ill temp di drial,
mai llifr nu di'll mal.
Per ill rheon, ill cofaeth e lla leir es ill tew,
per segl e segl. Amen.

The Tower of Babel, Genesis 11:1-9

(This is a very early text, and hasn't been revised.)
Agur ill mun inteir afew yn llinghedig e yn cant comyn. Sig ill pobl sumodefant di'll llewent, ys ligarent yn lluin in Senar e llâ si ysteblirent.

Ys ddisirent a sew alltr, "Gwath, gwan a ffager yn fric e gogher llo hinteirfent." Ys hýsafant llo fric in ill llog di'll pedr, e yn aerell per ill kelchin. Affos ys ddisirent, "Gwath, gwan a eddiffigar yn giwdad per nu, cun yn tyr ke dang a llo chel, ke nu ffagen yn nôn per nu e sun ysparied rhen syrs feig lla der inteir."

Mai ill Dôn gwenif a fas a widder lla giwdad e'll tyr ke'll pobl eddiffigafant. Ill Dôn dis, "Ech, alltresig yn pobl ke barol ill llinghedig medissif, ys hyst ant cýnidiad a ffager. Agur sa sera negarad rhen a llo ke ys phrofarewnt a ffager. Gwath, gwan a fas a ystyrddir sew linghedig sig ys nhomprênerewnt rhen sew alltr."

Sig ill Dôn llo hyspariaf di llâ syrs lla der inteir, e ys chalfarent a eddiffigar lla giwdad. A es perch sa affell Babel -- perch llâ ill Dôn ystyrdd llinghedig ill mun inteir. Di llâ ill Dôn llo hyspariaf syrs ffeig lla der inteir.

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As the people moved from the east, they found a plain in Sennar and there established themselves.

They said to each other, "Come, let us make bricks and cook them thoroughly." They used bricks for stone, and clay for mortar. Then they said, "Come, let us build a city for ourselves, with a tower that touches the heavens, that we make a name for ourselves and are not scattered over the face of the entire land."

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the people were building. The Lord said, "See, just as a people who speak the same language, they have begun to do this. Now it will not be denied to them that they would try to do. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.

So the Lord scattered them from there over the entire land, and they stopped building the city. That is why it is called Babel -- because there the Lord confused the language of the entire world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the entire land.


  1. ^ 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.


  1. ^ Boozer, Donald (9 May 2008). "Case 8: Meet the Conlangers, center". Flickr. Cleveland Public Library. Retrieved 2009-09-07.
  2. ^ Henning, Jeffrey (2005). "Babel Text Introduction". Langmaker. Conlang Profiles at Archived from the original on 2012-04-14. Retrieved 2009-09-07.
  • Vandepitte, Sonia; De Grotte, Carine; Verplaetse, Heidi; Denturk, Kathelijne; Vervenne, Dirk; Godyns, Rita; Kaczmarski, Peter; Gierts, Stephane; Vandamme, Fernand (2005). "URUK: the construction of multilingualism in an electronic knowledge management tool". Geolinguistics. The American Society of Geolinguistics: 145–156. hdl:1854/LU-687479. ISSN 0190-4671.
  • Havliš, Jan (2008). Rampas, Zdeněk (ed.). "Výlet do Conlangey" (PDF). Interkom. Kvark (in Czech). No. 2008/3. Prague. pp. 17–21. ISSN 1212-9089.
  • Nicholas, Nick (2003). "Artificial languages". In Frawley, William J. (ed.). International Encyclopedia of Linguistics. 1 (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 154–155. ISBN 0-19-516783-X.
  • Parkvall, Mikael (2008). Limits of language: almost everything you didn't know you didn't know about language and languages. Battlebridge Publications. pp. 91–93, 131. OCLC 70894631.

External links