Level 1 (new!) - Challenge 7

Hi pawb,

just wondering if someone could shed some light on the “d westy d” - “you said” words. What exactly does this mean? What words is it comprised of? And what was wrong with saying “Nesty duad”? (Sorry about the spelling - the app doesn’t teach that! :slight_smile:

Also - I’m using the pause button pretty much half the time. Maybe more. Is that a sign that I should go over the lesson again, or is that OK?


And… is anyone able to explain why a week translates as “eight nights”?..

First see this post.

This is my understanding…

With ‘dwedest ti’, dwedest is a form of dweud (to say) where the tense is indicated in the main verb dweud.

‘Wnes ti ddweud’ means more literally ‘you did say’. The tense happens in the helping verb ‘to do’.

Just two ways of saying the same thing.

As for wythnos, well, if you count the night immediately before the week starts, as well as all the nights in the week itself, you have eight nights. The Welsh for fortnight comes from the Welsh for fifteen nights, for the same reason.

Many thanks indeed, both.

Shouldn’t fortnight be 16 nights though, given that 1 week is 8 nights?

As Chris Parker said, if you consider a fortnight as one period bracketed by the first and last night that would give fifteen nights. One separate period of 14 days and fifteen nights.

Another way of looking at it is counting inclusively- today is “oneday” , tomorrow “twoday”, the day after “threeday” etc, leading to “in a weeks time” being on the eightday.
Throw in the counting of nights instead of days, and you have an eightnight.
Similar for pythefnos.

It might seem a bit odd to us, but it is/was not only Welsh which does/did it- “quinzaine” is French for fortnight. You might think that shows an underlying Celtic way of doing things, which sometimes pops up in French, but the other Romance languages (of which I have even less knowledge than French) apparently do it as well, including Italian.

Incidentally, before the Seven day week was standardised throughout the Roman Empire, the Romans actually commonly used a “week” of eight days.

They called it a nineday. :wink:
[nundinal cycle]

Yeah. Another way of thinking of it would be to remember that day and night being all one thing is a very recent thought. So if you think of seven days (or fourteen days for a fortnight), then the nights before and after, as well as all the nights inbetween, would add up to eight (or fifteen for a fortnight).

It all stems from the time when they started counting at 1 instead of 0. It’s why our calendar starts at AD 1 rather than AD 0 as it should. It’s like saying a newborn is 1 year old. It took them a while to figure out the concept of 0. This was true throughout Europe, so such concepts wouldn’t be unique to Celtic culture.

So, mathematically adding 2 ‘8 nights’ doesn’t equal a ‘16 night’ but a ‘15 night’ because you’d be counting a day twice.

Good and interesting point! The absence of a zero would certainly lead to inclusive counting being more common, but it would still depend on where you started counting from, if you see what I mean!

English retains “se’nnight” and “fortnight” from Old English (seven nights and fourteen nights, of course) apparently, going back to a time before zeroes, so it wasn’t universal- and though the use of inclusive counting in calendar reckoning certainly occurs throughout Europe at different times, it does seem to be accepted by those in the know as particularly consistent in the Celtic languages- leading perhaps to an implication that something else was strengthening its use?

If that is the case, we will probably never know for sure what it was.

It may be about how they are counted. If you count points of time which would include both end points, you get 15. if you count the whole duration of a night, then you get 14.

Zero was established as a position on the number line in the 4th/5th Century.
It’s linked because it is equally important to where you start counting. If you establish your weeks start point at midnight on Saturday (as the Welsh do), by the time you get back to midnight next Saturday, you have experienced eight periods of darkness (nights). If you then continue onwards, you will have counted fifteen periods of darkness, as the “middle” Saturday night is counted as one period, as it is continuous and (obviously) not a separate period of darkness.
That is perhaps a little laboured as an explanations, apologies.

This reminds me of the problem I had when I went into labour some 25 years ago. The midwife told me to go to hospital when I was having three contractions in 10 minutes, which I interpreted to be one contraction roughly every 4 mins 59 seconds. She actually meant one contraction every 3 mins 20 secs I think. They nearly sent me home for going in too early. Well I did work with statistics. That breakdown in communication was all in English.

Another time, I’ll tell you how I convinced the doctor that my son’s excema was caused by an allergy to dairy products using a simple Chi Square test - well that doesn’t prove causality, but it was significantly related…

4th/5th century? That’s a bit early isn’t it? Well, for Europe. I’m sure the civilised nations in India were using it far earlier, but it took a while for the Welsh to catch up.

[Not that we didn’t do too bad in mathematics, introducing the equals sign and the symbol for “pi” and all that ;-)]

And I believe that what few references we have regarding the Celts implied they believed that the “day” started at sunset rather than midnight- not that that alters what you were saying!

The thing is, as I think can be seen, that there are so many factors coming into play here- are nights and day thought of as separate entities, is the counting started inclusively, where does the counting start from- that we can’t know exactly why the terms were used. They just organically came about through different calendar systems, and maybe there is not a straightforward answer anyway!

However, saying that, I have enjoyed and benefited from reading every post on this thread!

And Helen Lindsay, that makes absolute sense! Start stopwatch when first contraction happens, third is within ten minutes. Three in ten minutes and three every ten minutes might imply different things, possibly- but that’s really what this thread is all about!

[mind you! I can’t imagine arguing the minutiae of this point with someone in labour…]

Just to add to the “confusion”, the French for a fortnight is “quinze jours” :slight_smile:


And there’s me saying in my earlier post it was “quinzaine”!

Even though my French is, as is obvious, less than negligible, that is something wot every skuleboy shud no.

Thanks for that, Huw!

I missed that in your earlier post, Owain so wasn’t trying to correct you.
I just enjoy the arithmetical oddities in switching between languages.

BTW, I sprinkle the word “fortnight” liberally into conversations with American friends - it makes them happy :slight_smile:

And I enjoy knowing the correct word in French for fortnight. I would hope you would correct an error of mine if you saw it in a subject which interested you. I like being corrected- the alternative is remaining in ignorance!

So my thanks remain, even if you didn’t see it earlier!

Completely unrelated, but interesting nonetheless. This is from Wiki, and pertains to the origins of the word Gaelic:

The names used in the languages themselves (Gaeilge/Gaolainn/Gaelic in Irish, Gaelg/Gailck in Manx, and Gàidhlig in Scottish Gaelic) are derived from Old Irish Goídelc, which comes from Old Welsh Guoidel meaning “pirate, raider”."

So siarad Gwyddeleg is talking like a pirate then? :slight_smile: To me, they always sound like Cernyweg.


Huw, Owain, my little French dictionary has quinzaine as “fortnight”, and also quinze jours

The reason why a week is “eight nights” and a fortnight is “fifteen nights” is because the ancient Celts started their 24-hour period at sunset instead of sunrise–they began the “day” at nightfall. Just as they began their year at the beginning of winter at Calan Gaeaf/Samhain. It’s a philosophico-spiritual thing. There are many other cool instances in the language the elucidate ancient beliefs, especially if you look at Middle Welsh. You could say this goes back to the birth process, which begins in darkness and moves into the light. Same thing with most ancient religions, even so in Christianity. In the beginning there was only darkness, then “Let there be light” and so on. It’s quite fascinating. Also the Celts saw time as a circular phenomenon where one end is another beginning. By this reasoning that “eighth/fifteenth” night is also the first night of the next period.