Last Week in Welsh: Mad Cow and Ice.
While it would seem that language, like life, is very simply divided up into past, present and future anyone that has taken a language class will tell you that it is not that simple. If you studied Spanish you remember being bogged down with whether or not to use the pretérito or the imperfecto in the past or if you were an Italian student whether to use the passato prossimo or the passato remoto. Many hours have been spent looking at and memorizing whether things are perfect or imperfect or progressive. And, it can be confusing. Very, very confusing. Theses differences are known as aspect, which is a linguistic concept that specifies how time is related to an event being discussed. Wikipedia says that aspect, "defines the temporal flow (or lack thereof) in the described event or state." Aspect is typically considered to be part of the verb.
Why did you need to know that? Well, you didn't really. But, this M.A. isn't doing anything else for me right now, so it might as well bore you with not necessarily useful information about language.
Welsh, not surprisingly, has different past tenses that mark "temporal flow". We have started to learn the past, starting with the tense that marks completed actions in the past. This was once described to me (by Señora Kaalberg back when I was studying Spanish) as the "boom" tense. It happened. Boom! It is now over and done. And, in teaching us this, our teachers have started with two verbs. (Arguably, the two most useful verbs in any language.) "Be" and "Go".
To say "I was (over. done with. finished) in the class" you say, "Bues i yn y dosbarth." And, "bues i" is pronounced as if you were talking about Bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE. So, "BSE un uh dosbarth." And, it goes on like. Buest ti yn y dosbarth (you were in the class), Buodd hi yn y dosbarth (she was in the class), Buodd e yn y dosbarth (he was in the class), buoch chi yn y dosbarth (You (formal)/y'all were in the class), Buon ni yn y dosbarth (we were in the class) and Buon nhw yn y dosbarth (they were in the class). or the shop (siop), or in the library (llfrygell). Wicked, eh?
To say "went" is similar and pretty easy. "I" and "You" follow the same pattern, "Es i'r siop" and "Est ti'r swyddfa (said: soyddvuh. means: office). And, for the rest you have "aeth" (or aethon or aethoch) which is said like "ice" if you had a lisp. So, "We went to the restaurant," is "Aethon ni yn y dy bwyd" (said: aethon nee un uh dee boid).
This week in Welsh has been brought to you by the linguistic concept of Aspect (which, if you would like to read more my former Professors Paula Kempchinsky and Roumyana Slabakova have published a book on it. I've not read it, but I learned a lot from taking classes from both of them so I feel its only fair that I recommend something of theirs.) Hwyl Fawr!