A History of the Welsh Language in Gwent by Alan Roderick CHAPTER I The area we now know as Gwent formed part of the territory the Romans called Siluria, the limits of which are obscure, the Silures apparently occupying the eastern half of the region between Cardigan Bay and the Severn.1 The Silurians themselves appear to have been aggressive and warlike and gave the Romans a considerable amount of trouble before they were finally subdued. Siluria seems to have been the term used by the Romans themselves, there being little evidence of the Silures ever referring to their homeland by this name. Nor do we know very much of the language spoken by the Silurians. There are some writers who have put forward the theory that they were of Goidelic extraction and spoke an early form of Irish. Whatever the language spoken by the Silures, the coming of the Roman invaders brought them into contact with a "civilised" language with all the attendant prestige of a great empire and possessing a con- siderable literature. The Romans were to leave their mark on Gwent, establishing settlements in Caerleon and Caerwent and it is fair to assume that the language spoken by them, Latin, would have had some influence on the language spoken by the indigenous inhabitants of the area. About two centuries after the departure of the Romans from Britain it appears that this local speech had changed from a form of Irish (if indeed Goidelic/Irish had ever been widespread in the area) to an early form of Welsh known as Brythonic. Latin was to influence Brythonic, especially in its vocabulary. We have only to compare present day Welsh and French to realise the linguistic legacies Latin left to the Welsh language. The numerals one, two, three are in Welsh: un, dau, tri and in French: un, deux, trois. The word for bridge in both langu- ages is pont. The Welsh word for church is eglwys, the French eglise; Welsh has ffenestr for window, French fenetre; while God is Duw in Welsh and Dieu in French. And to return to numerals, one hundred is cant in Welsh and cent in French; a thousand is mil in Welsh and mille in French. Both languages use the same process to express eighty: that is, four times twenty, Welsh: pedwar ugain, French: quatre vingt. No doubt these examples could be multiplied. Indeed, some have argued that this was only the beginning of a Latinising process and that Welsh would have followed Gaulish into oblivion, had the Roman occupation continued and the Saxon invasions not occured: