Chair: Barry Lewis
Gruffydd Robert (c.1527–1598), priest, grammarian and author, holds a place of distinction in the history of 16th-century Welsh scholarship and literature. His discussion of the language, the first part of which was printed in Milan in 1567 (Dosparth byrr ar y rhann gyntaf i ramadeg cymraeg), was a pioneering work of its kind in Welsh, as was the anthology of poetry and translations he authored or edited, such as the Athravaeth Gristnogavl of 1568 compiled by his uncle, Morys Clynnog (Morys ab Ieuan).
Robert’s pastoral service in the Archdiocese of Milan during the episcopates of Carlo Borromeo, Gaspare Visconti and Federico Borromeo must by any standard be considered remarkable, and the post of theologus of the cathedral of that city was created with him in mind. This paper will discuss the initial findings of archival research into the life and work of one of the most intriguing and significant Welsh writers of his generation. It will also consider Robert’s possible involvement in a hitherto overlooked publication, and attempt to shed light on aspects of earlier scholars’ studies which have remained unresolved, notably the problematic impedimentum linguae referred to in the carteggio of Carlo Borromeo.
This paper seeks to reassess two often repeated views concerning the language of the sixteenth century Welsh Bible translations, in particular the 1588 Bible: first, that it was modelled on that of cywydd metre poetry (as argued by R. Geraint Gruffydd, Thomas Parry, J. Lloyd-Jones and Isaac Thomas) and second, that it was conservative in maintaining predominantly subject-verb order (e.g., R. Geraint Gruffydd; Robert A. Fowkes; David W.E. Willis), compared to the characteristic verb-initial order of Modern Welsh. Despite being of key interest to understanding the development of the modern standard language, these assumptions have not generally been systematically investigated.
We will show that, contrary to the traditional view, the Welsh sixteenth-century Bible translations were innovative in comparison with contemporary prose texts. Some of these, in particular Old Testament books translated from Hebrew poetry (e.g. Psalms, Song of Songs, Isaiah) were the first continuous prose texts in Welsh to show frequent verb-initial order in positive declarative main clauses. This innovative use of verb-initial order, as well as being an indicator of language change in progress, may reflect poetic influence. Verb-initial order was common in contemporary and earlier poetry but rare in prose and could thus have been perceived as a poetic linguistic feature and in turn exploited by the Bible translators to give a poetic quality to a prose translation of Hebrew poetry. We will also examine briefly William Morgan’s linguistic changes when revising the 1567 New Testament and Psalms to shed light on whether he may have selected higher register variants using poetry as a model.
Ystyrir Huw Morys (1622–1709) yn brif fardd yr unfed ganrif ar bymtheg. Ychydig iawn o sylw, fodd bynnag, a roddwyd i'w farddoniaeth nac, yn wir, i farddoniaeth y Cyfnod Modern Cynnar yng Nghymru. Mae hynny'n bennaf am fod y cyfnod wedi ei warthnodi fel cyfnod o ddirywiad digymar yn hanes llenyddiaeth Gymraeg. Diau fod rhywfaint o wir i'r honiad, yn arbennig o ran y canu a fu ar y mesurau caeth traddodiadol, ond y mae'n hen bryd herio'r dybiaeth ac ystyried y cyfnod o'r newydd fel un a ddaeth â lleisiau newydd i'r amlwg. Y cam cyntaf yn y gwaith mawr o ddod â barddoniaeth y cyfnod i olau dydd yn ei holl amrywiaeth yw ailymweld â'i bardd mwyaf, gyda golwg ar gyflwyno golygiad o'i waith – neu o'r hyn lleiaf gyfran ohono – erbyn pedwar canmlwyddiant ei eni yn 2022. Darperir yn y ddarlith hon drosolwg o'r cerddi yn eu cyfanrwydd, ynghyd â 40 testun a ddiogelwyd yn llaw'r bardd ei hun. Cynigir at hynny bortread o law'r bardd a dadansoddiad cychwynnol o bwysigrwydd Huw Morys o ran datblygiad y gynghanedd yn y Cyfnod Modern Cynnar. Trafodir hefyd arwyddocâd y gwaith o ran datblygiad y traddodiad nawdd, lleisiau merched yn y canu serch, yr elfen berfformiadol a hanes cythryblus yr ail ganrif ar bymtheg.