The Arvorec Language Research Series is proud to present for the first time in HTML format this online edition of Deiniol ffeil Iowan's seminal English-language Concise Grammar of Arvorec. This grammar is the culmination of more than half a decade of research and provides the foremost authority on Arvorec available in English1.
It is hoped that the grammar will be accessible to both specialists and casual readers alike, and it will serve as the corner-stone for the language materials presented on this site. However, it should be pointed out that this document is a Reference Grammar, not a textbook for learning the language. Although the author firmly believes that a basic grasp of a language can be gained from such a reference, it should be noted that an organised course in Arvorec is currently in preparation.
Arvorec is the native language of some 800,000 people worldwide, of which only around 200,000 live in the Armorican Isles themselves, where the language is co-official with Gaulish2. Other communities can be found in northern Brittany, Cambria, Louisianne, the North American League and even Australasia.
Arvorec is also the working language of the Cravethist Church, and as such of considerable interest to non-Armorican believers, many of whom make an effort to learn the language in order to read the Cravethist scriptures in the original language.
Modern Arvorec is the direct descendant of the Gaulish spoken in what is now northern France and Brittany during the third and fourth centuries of the current era. As such it is one of two surviving languages of the Gallo-Brythonic subgroup of the Celtic family of languages, the other surviving language being the Manoeg language spoken in the Cambrian province of Manaw.3
The language was carried to its current home in the Armorican archipelago in the British Sea by a large group of religious dissenters, prior to the influx of of Latin-speaking Romano-British in the early years of the fifth century CE.
In the intervening 1600 years, the language has changed considerably, from a classical inflected Indo-European language to a relatively analytic modern language. The history of the language can be divided into four stages.
Primitive Arvorec, or Late Aremorican Gaulish was spoken from roughly 350 CE to 650 CE. This period of the language saw the establishment of the allophonic modifications of consonants and vowels which would later develop into the grammaticalised consonant and vocalic mutations of Modern Arvorec.
Old Arvorec was spoken from 650 CE to 1000 CE. During this period final syllables were lost, phonemicising many hitherto allophonic distinctions. Additionally, a second wave of loanwords from Latin entered the language in the wake of St Rewan's mission to the Isles. During the period of Viking dominance a large amount of loanwords from Old Norse also entered the language, principally in relation to seafaring.
Middle Arvorec saw the establishment of a recognisably "modern" form of Arvorec. Spoken from foughly 1000 CE to 1500CE, this period is often called the Golden Age of Arvorec epic poetry. Loans from Old French and Middle Kerno flooded the language during this period as contacts with neighbouring peoples became easier. Towards the end of this period the vowel system underwent a fairly radical change, losing the front rounded vowels.
Early Modern Arvorec was a period of standardisation for the language, with the orthography fixed in a form essentially identical to the modern standard in the 1550's in the wake of the introduction of printing. This period also saw the birth of modern Arvorec drama and rapid differentiation in the language's dialects. Additionally, classical Gaulish learning was rediscovered and a wealth of reborrowings from the parent language enriched Arvorec's literary register.
Modern Arvorec, which is generally considered to begin around 1700 CE, saw the beginnings of the Arvorec novel and an increasingly intolerant view of foreign loanwords. During the eighteenth century, a group of Armorican literati bemoaned the increasing use of loanwords in the language and set upon a policy of re-Celticising the language, proposing neologisms based on native roots or reborrowing from Gaulish to replace many of the Romance loans. The changes were largely adopted by the public, with only the domain of Christianity remaining largely unaffected. This period also saw the renaissance of the Cravethist church, which gained its first new foreign converts since Talchan's time. The Arvorec language found itself thrust into the spotlight, both as a liturgical language for the increasing number of Cravethists but also of interest to scholars as a vital key in reconstructing Proto-Celtic.
When one considers the relative size of the Arvorec speech community through the centuries, the depth and richness of the Arvorec literary tradition is rather surprising.
The oldest expression of Arvorec verbal art is, of course, poetry. The poetic tradition of Arvorec stands in an unbroken line from the ancient Celtic bardoi, and from the monuments of Gaulish devotional poetry authored by Devobratus Bardos through the mediaeval lyrics and lays to modern poetry, the corpus of Arvorec poetry is at once varied and voluminous.
Particularly accessible to the foreign student of Arvorec are the poems of the late mediaeval bard Dewyth ap Cálvor, whose themes were largely of love and nature rather than the topics of war and honour favoured by his contemporaries. The influence of wider European ideas of courtly love was evidently a large influence on Dewyth's poems, and they are still remarkably popular today. An excellent anthology of his greatest works, with the language updated for modern audiences, is available from the University of Landrewan Press.
Those with a more spiritual bent might like to examine the devotional poetry of Dádhwen verch Gadvael, a druidess of the early twentieth century who wrote more than two hundred poems, all dedicated to the god Belen. Alternatively, the adventurous should attempt the protracted and rather prolix magnum opus of Davael ap Mwynvor, Chwedlow an Ynysseth, an eighteen-volume history of the Isles since their settlement, written entirely in perfect yet ponderous cyncaneth.
Of course poetry is not the beginning and end of Arvorec literature. Prose and drama are admirably represented, particularly in the Saernec tradition of religious plays (the finest writer naturally being Talchan ap Gyleaen). Novelists from recent years whose works are worthy of attention include Lyssen verch Dhaveth, Trennyth ap Prynavon and Gerent ap Evread.
The present work is divided into ten sections. The first will cover phonology, the second and third morphology, the fourth and fifth sytax and the remaining five will serve as references, providing information on vocabulary, dialectology, derivational morphology and including a selection of Arvorec prose and poetry.
Throughout an attempt has been made to provide cross-references and examples are liberally given to facilitate understanding of a grammatical point.
Part of the current work is a representative lexicon of Arvorec vocabulary, provided both in English-Arvorec and Arvorec-English formats. Currently in preparation is a thematic vocabulary of Arvorec, and a brief guide to current Arvorec slang.
Presenting this work online presents ideal oppurtunities to facilitate easy navigation. As well as hyperlinking all endnotes and cross-references, at the end of each page is a set of three links- the left-pointing arrow will go back a section, the right pointing arrow forwards a section and the central circle links to the complete table of contents.