Word order in identification sentences: Sadness is a carrot

OK, so this is a question about word order in identification sentences – I’ll explain about the carrot at the end :slight_smile:

In @garethrking’s Grammar you have the following examples of identification questions and answers:

What is the capital of Scotland? The capital of Scotland is Edinburgh.
Who is the President of Czechoslovakia? Havel is the President of Czechoslovakia.
Now, it strikes me that in English the word order in those answers could potentially give a difference of emphasis, but I'm not 100% sure how it works in Welsh:
*Edward is the lord of the manor* (I'm telling you something about Edward) vs. *The lord of the manor is Edward* (I'm telling you who the lord of the manor is)
In other words, although the two sides of the sentence both refer to the same person, they aren't actually quite equal: Edward could get overthrown, and stop being lord of the manor, but he can't be made to stop being Edward.

Now, I know which way round to say this sort of thing with a pronoun (I think) – Richard ydw i, Sais ydw i – but I’m not wholly sure what the normal word order is with a noun, or whether changing it around gives a different emphasis but is still acceptable. So the question is, what is the usual way to say, say, “Sioned is a teacher” – Athrawes ydy Sioned or Sioned ydy athrawes? What about if I asked “Is anyone here a teacher?” (“Sioned is”) rather than “What’s Sioned’s job?” (“Teacher”)?

(FWIW, I think the answer is that Athrawes ydy Sioned is the neutral “Sioned is a teacher”, and Sioned ydy athrawes is OK but marked as “Sioned is a teacher.”)

Oh, and the carrot thing, for anyone who’s stayed with this this far: when trying to pick up some Portuguese I kept forgetting that the word for ‘carrot’ is senoura. Once this finally stuck, I got it inextricably linked in my head with senhora ‘lady, mistress’ – so that I sometimes mis-sing the line A tristeza é senhora (‘Sadness is the mistress’) from this beautiful song as A tristeza é senoura (‘Sadness is a carrot’). (I think it’s whimsy, but I’m almost certainly the only person in the world who does.) So it was thinking of that that made me wonder whether it should be Moronen ydy tristwch or Tristwch ydy moronen

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I think it’s generally the persons name (or relationship eg mab) first, as you said. I’m pretty sure that it was in one of the challenges in a roundabout way. Yr henaf yn gweithio fel athro, or something similar, for: the oldest (offspring) is a teacher.

I am an old dragon, Normal stress.
Dw i hen ddraig.
Hen ddraig dw i , stresses what i am , an old dragon , me!
So, as one who does not like carrots,
Sadness is a carrot makes excellent sense!

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Sioned ydy’r athrawes - it is Sioned who is the teacher, nobody else, not Nia or Gwenllïan.

Athrawes ydy Sioned - Sioned is a teacher and not an astronaut.

Mae Sioned yn athrawes - neutral statement.

That’s my take.


Something about this strikes me as slightly unusual. Not wrong by any means, but not used as often as you might think if you were doing a straight one-for-one translation from English.
I’m afraid I can’t be much more specific than that, though. :frowning:


No I get what you mean. i’d probably say Athrawes ydy Sioned, but that’s also an emphatic sentence, whereas “Mae Sioned yn athrawes” has no emphasis at all. My brother-in-law says he’d probably use it in a light-hearted chat. I suppose you’d probably change it in context - “dyma Sioned, mae hi’n athrawes”.


I think one thing I was missing out in trying to puzzle this out was the difference between having “yr athrawes” vs just “athrawes” without the article – I was looking at your Mae Sioned yn athrawes and thinking “but surely that’s an identification, surely it can’t be mae” – but I guess that unless it’s a specific teacher that we’re talking about, it’s not an identification, it’s just a job-role. In my “lord of the manor” example in English there was a ‘the’ in both examples, though…
So – allowing for the right turn of conversation to make you want to say it this way – could we also have Yr athrawes ydy Sioned, just as we could have ‘Sioned is the teacher’ / ‘the teacher is Sioned’ in English?

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Yr athrawes ydy Sioned - emphasises or identifies that Sioned is a teacher

Sioned ydy’r athrawes - emphasises that Sioned and no-one else is the teacher.

I think that’s right?

Works with Fi, hi, fe/fo etc too

Hi yw’r unig wlad imi (From O Gymru) - emphasises is on hi (Cymru) and no other country.

So Wales and no other country

Yr unig wlad imi yw Gymru - It’s the ONLY COUNTRY for me. I don’t have dual citizenship. Or something like that


Perhaps leave out “Yr” for the first statement to translate? Genuine question.

Hi Anthony. I’ve just read my comment above, made late last night, and it came over a bit weird. Apologies if it looked offensive.

Here’s another attempt -
Would it still work if I missed out the “Y’r”?
I’ll stop digging :slight_smile:

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Hi John, no offence taken at all :slight_smile: (appreciate you checking though).

In answer to your question; I’m not sure so yesnomaybe? :slight_smile:


Right. Diolch i bawb for replies so far: I think I muddied the waters of my own question by introducing the “Sioned is a teacher” thing though, as @AnthonyCusack’s brother-in-law’s (mamiaith?) intuition suggests “Mae” could work there, even if @robbruce reckons it’s not as common as you might think.

So I wanted to get back to “X is Y” sentences where both sides of the statement are already definite, which I understand to mean that “Mae X yn Y” is no longer an option, and you have to go with ydy/yw, because that’s the bit where I’m not sure what the natural, neutral word order is. (I did understand the comments and examples re choosing order based on emphasis, though.) And so I was thinking about a good source of “X is Y” statements written by and/or for mamiaith speakers and suddenly thought of the opening of practically every Wikipedia article about a living person.

So I looked up Yws Gwynedd on Welsh Wikipedia, and – Bingo! The first two sentences are “Band roc Cymraeg yw Yws Gwynedd. Prif leisydd y band yw Ywain Gwynedd.”

Now, going by how such articles all start in English, I’d have to translate the first one as “Yws Gwynedd is/are a Welsh rock group.” (I couldn’t start with “A Welsh rock group…” without sounding like Yoda.) But for the second one, I could go either with “The band’s lead singer is Ywain Gwynedd” or “Ywain Gwynedd is the band’s lead singer.” Both are perfectly possible, but they seem subtly different to me – and I guess the more natural order in English feels to me like the first version – the one starting with the band.

But that means that I’ve got two different translations going on here:
X yw/ydy Y = Y is X (swap the order): Band roc Cymraeg yw Yws Gwynedd = Yws Gwynedd are…
X yw/ydy Y = X is Y (don’t swap): Prif leisydd y band yw Ywain Gwynedd = The band’s lead singer is…

So I haven’t actually reached any conclusion, but I think/hope I’ve managed to clarify my question a bit, at least for myself. I understand that if I want to throw emphasis on part of the sentence in Welsh, I can bring it to the front, whereas in English I’d probably just have to use tone of voice or write in green ink or something; but if I just want to say “X is Y” with no special emphasis, would the normal order be Y yw/ydy X, other factors notwithstanding? As in, Moronen ydy tristwch…?