- Welsh language
Celtic language of Wales.Besieged for centuries by the English language, Welsh continues to be spoken by 18–20% of the population of Wales, or more than half a million people, though estimates of the actual number of first-language speakers vary widely. Welsh is traditionally divided into three periods: Old Welsh (с 800–1150), attested mainly in glosses and short textual passages; Middle Welsh (с 1150–1500), with a rich medieval literature including poetic texts originally composed much earlier; and Modern Welsh (from с 1500). Modern literary Welsh was largely fixed by William Salesbury's Bible translation. Vernacular Welsh, split along dialectal lines, has long been diverging from literary Welsh; many modern speakers cannot write or easily understand the traditional written language. The issue of an acceptable modern standard remains unresolved.
* * *Welsh Cymraeg,member of the Brythonic group of the Celtic languages, spoken in Wales. Modern Welsh, like English, makes very little use of inflectional endings; British, the Brythonic language from which Welsh is descended, was, however, an inflecting language like Latin, with word endings marking such grammatical categories as noun case and verb tense. The spoken language occurs in several local dialects but has been declining on the whole since the accession of Henry Tudor (Henry VII), of Welsh descent, to the English throne in 1485. At present few people speak only Welsh.
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