Corona! Coronwch! What a virus can teach you about Welsh imperatives

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Sut mae, goronwyr? (Which means, “How are you, crowners?”. Forgive me for playing around with words…)

I do hope you are healthy and safe, tucked away comfortably in your respective homes. This is a blogpost about Wesh imperatives. “Just what we need to read about now”, you may think, rolling your eyes. Ah. Yes.

Well, it did seem the appropriate thing to write about, because there is a lot the coronavirus can teach us about the imperative mode in Welsh. With the present pandemic come a lot of new rules and guidelines, and these are often expressed in the imperative (also referred to as “do-this-do-that mode”).

By the way: Did you know that Corona! is indeed a Welsh imperative?

A coron is a “crown” in Welsh (thanks to Latin influence), and coroni means “to crown” (as well as “crowning, coronation”). So corona! would be “Crown! / Do crown!”, when addressing one person in an informal way. The plural or formal way to say this would be coronwch!

Do you like Welsh hymns? Then you may have heard (or even sung?) Corona’n hoedfa ar hyn o bryd / â’th hyfryd bresenoldeb.

In Welsh there are different imperative forms. For our purposes today, let’s concentrate on the 2nd person plural. This is the form to address (or boss around) either one person (respectfully) or a whole group of people (respectfully or not). For this form you will need the verb stem and the ending -wch. Very often this is straightforward enough. Here are some simple imperatives:

Darllenwch! – Read! (from darllen – to read)

Ysgrifennwch! – Write! (from ysgrifennu – to write)

Edrychwch! – Look! (from edrych – to look)

Eisteddwch! – Sit! (from eistedd – to sit)

Galwch! – Call! (from galw – to call)

You will also know this imperative form from the phrase Esgusodwch fi! (Excuse me!).

Now, sometimes knowing the verb stems can be a bit tricky. For this purpose there should be a long list of verb stems in your grammar books – have a look! Personally, I think that dictionaries should list them, too (the ones I own don’t though).

On top of that, there are some highly irregular imperative forms:

Ewch! – Go! (from mynd – to go)

Dewch! or Dowch! – Come! (from dod – to come)

Byddwch! – Be! (from bod – to be)

Corona Imperatives – the do’s!

This is where the coronavirus comes in now. Here are some examples of imperatives from pages yn Gymraeg relating to the corona pandemic.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The imperative causes a soft mutation in the following word!

Golchwch eich dwylo yn rheolaidd! – Wash your hands regularly! (golchi – to wash)

Golchwch eich dwylo am ugain eiliad! – Wash your hands for twenty seconds!

Arhoswch gartref! – Stay at home! (aros – to stay)

Cadwch oddi wrth unigolion bregus! – Keep away from vulnerable individuals! (cadw – to keep)

Darllenwch y wybodaeth yn ofalus! – Read the information carefully! (darllen – to read)

Dysgwch am y canllawiau diweddaraf! – Learn about the lastest guidelines! (dysgu – to learn)

Gwrandewch ar y newyddion! – Listen to the news! (gwrando – to listen)

Cysylltwch â …..! – Contact …! (cysylltu – to contact)

Ffoniwch y llinell gymorth! – Phone the helpline! (ffonio – to phone)

Cynlluniwch ymlaen! – Plan ahead! (cynllunio – to plan)

Osgowch ddefnyddio trafnidiaeth gyhoeddus! – Avoid using public transport! (osgoi – to avoid)

Gorchuddiwch eich ceg a’ch trwyn wrth beswch neu disian! – Cover your mouth and your nose when coughing or sneezing! (gorchuddio – to cover)

Gofynnwch i’ch ffrindiau eich helpu chi! – Ask your friends to help you! (gofyn – to ask)

Defnyddiwch y ffôn i gysylltu â’ch meddyg! – Use your phone to contact your doctor! (defnyddio – to use)

Diheintiwch arwynebau! – Disinfect surfaces! (diheintio – to disinfect)

Dilynwch y mesurau cadw pellter cymdeithasol! – Follow the social-distancing measures! (dilyn – to follow)

Hunan-ynyswch! – Self-isolate! (hunan-ynysu – to self-isolate)

I love this word, hunan-ynysu. Did you notice it has the word ynys (island) in it? So while self-isolating, we all become little islands. Nice.

Corona Imperatives – the don’ts

One way of expressing negative imperatives, the “don’ts”, is by using peidiwch â …!

Note that the â is followed by the basic / dictionary form of the verb (the infinitive) and causes an aspirate mutation!

Peidiwch â chyffwrdd eich wyneb! – Don’t touch your face!

Peidiwch â gadael eich cartref! – Don’t leave your home!

Peidiwch â defnyddio trafnidiaeth gyhoeddus! – Don’t use public transport!

Peidiwch â chael ymwelwyr yn eich cartref! – Don’t have visitors in your home! (You could put up a sign on your front door: Cadwch allan! – Keep out!)

Let me add two more imperatives you will hear a lot these days:

Cadwch yn iach ac yn ddiogel!- Stay healthy and safe!

Peidiwch â digalonni! – Don’t lose heart!

Along these lines…

Hwyl fawr,

Siw

And one more final NOTE for today: This is an article about Welsh grammar and NOT a coronavirus advisory page. (Come on, it IS obvious, isn’t it?)

One Reply to “Corona! Coronwch! What a virus can teach you about Welsh imperatives”

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