Reading ‘Llestri’r Dylluan’, Bethan Gwanas’s adaptation of Alan Garner’s ‘The Owl Service’, I came across this line: ‘Yna baglodd hi at y drws… yn tagu ar y mân blu oedd wedi dal yn ei wddf’. Aha, I think, so ‘mân’ is one of those adjectives that precede the noun. A few pages on I read ‘Golchodd y glaw nhw i ffwrdd, crafodd cerrig mân dyllau bychain o olau dydd i mewn’. Aha, I rethink, so ‘mân’ is one of those adjectives that can either precede or follow the noun. Doesn’t Gareth have something to say about those? He does indeed: ‘Section 99 Adjectives that can precede or follow the noun. These are relatively few in number, and you cannot do just as you please – their meanings differ depending on whether they come before or after’. I consider the two sentences I have just read and if the positioning of ‘mân’ is making a difference in meaning here it is not obvious to me what it is: ‘mân blu’ just seems to mean ‘small feathers’ and ‘cerrig mân’ seems to mean ‘small stones’. Am I missing some subtlety here – is there a difference between ‘cerrig mân’ and ‘mân gerrig’ – or is Gareth not telling quite the whole story: can the positioning of the adjective sometimes be simply a question of euphony rather than meaning?
AFAIK, manblu is a word meaning downy feathers.
Generally when mân precedes the noun it has the meaning of ‘slight’ or ‘insignificant’, while its more concrete meaning of just ‘small’ generally follows. So if you can replace ‘small’ with ‘slight’, then mân in front. That’s my impression with this word.
mân wahaniaethau small (= slight) differences
*mân adar small birds, because they are not ‘slight’ birds, are they?
Similarly (for example) arian mân small change, but mân donnau small waves (because they are slight on the surface).
Oh yes - also if the meaning is ‘fine’ or ‘delicate’, as with man blu.
Thank you both, that all makes good sense now.