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A proposed British Romance language

7. Grammar 2: Pronouns and Determiners



  1. I have departed from IPA in the representation of mid vowels, and follow the long established academic practice when describing Vulgar Latin and the development of Romance languages, namely:

    [e]and [o] denote any front unrounded or back rounded mid vowel respectively, when the degree of height is either unknown, indeterminate or irrelevant;

    [ẹ] and [ọ] denote specifically high versions (IPA [e] and [o]);

    [ę] and [ǫ] denote specifically low versions (IPA [ɛ] and [ɔ]).

  2. Also [ə] denotes:

    - generally any reduced non-defined centralized vowel without reference to height;

    - in Late Britainese, a unstressed non-phonemic low-mid to near-low ([ɜ] to [ɐ]) central vowel, depending upon regional pronunciation.

7.1 Survival of oblique cases and of neuter gender

As we see with personal pronouns in English, case forms which have disappeared with nouns may be retained by pronouns, e.g. I ~ me, thou ~ thee, he ~ him, she ~ her, we ~ us, they ~ them.. This is so with personal pronouns in all the Romance languages also. Indeed, some pronouns may exhibit three distinct case forms, e.g. French il (subject), le (direct object), lui (indirect object).

We have seen, indeed, that nouns and adjectives in Old Britainese as in Old French and Old Occitan retained nominative and oblique cases, so we should not be surprised to find these retained in the personal pronouns and in demonstrative adjectives and pronouns and other determiners in Old Britainese. But Old French and Old Occitan also retained the dative singular in pronouns and determiners and derivatives of genitive plural to serve as inidrect object and, sometimes, to show possession. There is no reason to suppose that Old Britainese did not do much the same.

As all nouns in Britainese, as in all other western Romance languages, are either masculine or feminine it may be thought that the third person pronoun and determiners do not require a neuter gender. But we do find survivals of neuter, e.g. Spanish este (masc.), esta (fem.), esto (neut.) "this"; ese (masc.), esa (fem.), eso (neut.) "that (near you)"; aquel (masc.), aquella (fem.), aquello (neut.) "that (yonder)".

Such neuters refer to situations, indefinite ideas etc., e.g. Eso es muy interesante "That is very interesting.", cf. French c'est très intéressant. In French and other languages which are not pro-drop a neuter will also serve as subject of impersonal verbs. Old French had el (← Latin illud) with oblique le (the latter was identical with the masculine singular oblique which doubtless was a factor in el become il in later French, e.g. el pluet → il pleut "it is raining").

Old French also had a neuter demonstrative: ceo, ço, ce ← ecce hoc, which in modern French is ce with derivatives ceci and cela, ça.

We may thus expect Britainese to have retained similar neuter pronouns to those found in other western Romance languages.

7.2 Personal Pronouns

Latin had pronouns for 1st and 2nd persons which could be used both reflexively and non-reflexively, e.g. mihi dīxit "he told me" (non-relexive); mihi dīxī "I told myself" (reflexive).

The 3rd person pronoun, "himself, herself, itself, themselves" was used only reflexively; it was the same for both singular and plural and showed no distinction of gender. It cannot, of course, ever have a nominative case as it can never be the subject of its clause since, by definition, it is used to refer back to the subject.

Derivatives of and of the 1st and 2nd person pronouns survive in all the Romance languages.

There was no non-reflexive 3rd personal pronoun in Latin. It used demonstrative pronouns instead; the most commonly used in Classical Latin was is masc., ea fem., id neuter; this did not survive in Vulgar Latin where we find ille or ipse used, e.g. Italian ella ← illa "she" (animate), essa ← ipsa "she" (inanimate).

The 3rd person pronoun in western Romance language have only forms derived from ille, which in colloquial Latin diverged considerably from the Classical norms. The nominative singular neuter illud gave way to the more regular illum and the nominative singular masculine ille became illī by analogy with quī; similarly the dative singular illī became illūi by analogy with cūi. Besides the dative singular illī, a feminine illæ was occasionally found in Classical Latin, e.g. in Cato. That must have persisted in popular speech as in late Latin we find illæi on the model of illūi (cf. Italian lei and lui). The dative plural illīs persisted as an unstressed clitic and appears to have become *lis, cf. Portuguese lhes, Spanish les and Catalan els.

The genitive singular dropped out of use, being replaced by the possessive adjective suus (see subsection 7.2.3 below); in some areas, e.g. the Iberian peninsula, suus also did duty for the genitive/possessive plural. Elsewhere we find the genitive plural illōrum replaced illārum and came also to be used not only to show possession but also, when stressed, as the dative plural; thus we see the Romanian 3rd person dative plural is lor (← *lōru) when stressed and le (← *lis) when enclitic. Though les is found in the earliest French and in Anglo-Norman texts, we find that unstressed lor, lour becomes more common (the stressed form was leur). The modern Walloon èlzî / lèzî / lzî are perhaps from les with suffixed on analogy with the dative singular .

7.2.1 In Old Britainese
In Classical Latin object pronouns were normal words, but probably in spoken Latin from an early period and certainly in Proto-Romance they were becoming unstressed clitics, merging phonologically with verbs; they would, however, have remained stressed after prepositions.

Most Romance languages are "null subject" languages., i.e. they allow an independent clause to lack an explicit subject, which means that subject pronouns are used only for emphasis and will, therefore, remain stressed.

French, however, in common with Romansh, Friulan and some Gallo-Italian languages of northern Italy do require explicit subjects, a noun phrase or a subject pronoun (some indeed require a subject pronoun even if there is a subject noun phrase). In such languages the pronoun subject is also a clitic and merged phonologically with the verb.

So is Britainese a "null subject" language like most of its Romance sister languages? Or does it, like French, require an explicit subject? In our timeline both English and French require explicit subjects; also we might note that though Welsh could be "null subject" as, indeed, literary Welsh is, in the spoken language pronoun subjects are expressed unless there is a noun phrase subject. It would thus seem to be an areal feature and it would, I think, be odd if Britainese also did not share this feature, i.e. an explicit subject is required: if there is no noun phrase subject, then the subject is a clitic pronoun.

Thus we find in Old Britainese, just as in Old French and Old Provençal, pronouns have stressed and unstressed forms; as for the latter:
- the nominatives were derived within Britainese from weakened forms of the stressed pronouns;
- the oblique forms were derived from unstressed proto-Romance pronouns.
The pronouns are:

1st person2nd person1st person2nd person
Singularnom.eu ['eu̯]tu ['ty]eu [əu̯]tu [ty]
obl.mei ['mei̯]tei ['tei̯]me [mə]te [tə]
Pluralnom.nous ['nou̯z]vous ['vou̯z] nos [nuz]vos [vuz]
obl.ns, ons, ens [n̩z]os [uz]

The variant spellings ns, ons, ens almost certainly all represented the same sound, i.e. a syllabic [n] followed by [z]. For the unstressed oblique plurals, cf. Romansh ans, as and Catalan ens, us, Old Occitan -ns, -us.

Note also that there was no unambiguous way of spelling [u] Old Britainese, and it is likely that scribes would retain spellings familiar to them from Latin. However, when towards the end of the Old Britainese period the diphthong [ou̯] gave way to [u], then the unstressed forms would be likely to have alternative spellings nous and vous probably also occurred.

 3rd person non-reflexive pronouns
Singularnom.il ['il]el(l)e ['elə]el ['el]il [il]el(l)e [ələ]el [əl]
acc.lui ['lyi̯]lei ['lei̯]-lo [lu]le, la [lə]lo [lu]
dat.-li [li]-
Pluralnom.il ['il]el(l)es ['eləz] il [il]el(l)es [ələz]  
acc.els ['elz]los [luz]les, las [ləz]
dat.lour ['lou̯r]les [ləz] (lor, lur [lur])

Note: the forms separated by a comma are variant spellings of the same sound. Before the end of the Old Britainese period the nominative plural masculine was beginning to acquire a final -s, i.e. ils ['ilz] or [ilz]. In the dative plural the forms in brackets were likely to be found on analogy of the stressed lour, but as Walloon forms above show, the unstressed les persisted in the more northern areas and thus were likely to have persisted in Britainese.

 3rd person reflexive pronoun
obl.sei ['sei̯]se [sə]
7.2.2 During Middle Britainese
Three things happened in this period:
  1. changes in pronunciation and spelling;
  2. just as the case system broke down with nouns and adjectives, so it did with stressed pronouns, leaving just a single form. This led, as in French and other western Romance languages to a distinction between disjunctive and conjunctive pronouns;
  3. there was a realignment of neuter pronouns together with the adverbs end (← inde) and iv (← ibī) acquiring pronominal values. Changes in pronunciation and spelling
The sound changes had begun before the end of the Old Britainese period, notably the change [y] → [i] (so that e.g. lui "him" [stressed] became ['li]) and the fall of final [ə], e.g ele "she" → el from which it will be seen that feminine nominative singular became identical with the neuter nominative singular,

Also the earlier diphthongs [ei̯] and [ai̯] fell together as [əi̯] and the spelling ei giving way to ai, thus, e.g. mei ['mei̯] "me" [stressed] → mai ['məi̯].

The earlier diphthong [ou̯] became the monophthong [u], meaning the difference between the vowels of vos [vuz] and vous ['vuz] became primarily merely one of stress; but the stressed vowel would also be longer, while the unstressed vowel would be laxer and more retracted, so though we do see unstressed form being written nous and vous by some, the the older nos and vos spellings are generally retained. The spelling lur was no longer found for unstressed [lur] and, indeed, the the unstressed lo(u)r forms give way to les which, as in Walloon, gets a final -i, giving forms such as lesi, elsi, lsi all representing [l̩zi]; later we also find lis resulting either from lsi with metathesis or as a of the vowel of les being influenced the singular li. Breakdown of case system in stressed pronouns
As we noted above, while the unstressed forms remained with their case system as verbal complements (i.e. as conjunctive pronouns), the stressed forms became disjunctive pronouns and, like nouns, lost case distinction; also as with nouns it was the oblique form that survived, at least with the 1st and second person pronouns, i.e. mai, tai, nous, vous and the 3rd person reflexive sai.

With the 3rd person, the singular became lui /li/, lai, while the plurals became els, elles; the latter is indentical to the subject form which would have shifted to els before the end of the Middle Britainese period. We also find before the end of the Middle Britainese period that the nominative masculine plural becomes ils by analogy with el(le)s and to distinguish it from the singular il which tended to give rise to disjunctive ils. In fact analogy was at work with 3rd person forms and during this period we find nominative singular forms competing with the oblique forms as disjunctive pronouns.

There would, of course, have been considerable dialect variation. But with the advent of printing, there would have been a move towards standardization in the Late Britainese period. Realignment of neuters and end and iv acquire pronominal values.
We saw above that in that the feminine and neuter nominative 3rd person singular became identical, i.e. el. We find that in our timeline in Welsh the 'impersonal' neuter subject is also identical with the feminine, e.g. mae hi'n glawio "it is raining", mae hi'n dri o'r gloch "it is three o'clock" (hi = "she, her"). So, although in French the old neuter el gave way in Middle French to il, thus becoming identical with the masculine, there is no reason to suppose the Britainese neuter would not have retained the same form as the feminine in sentences such as el plouvs "it rains", el es trais hours "it is three o'clock." But this dummy subject came often to be written just as l-, [l̩] before a consonant, [l] before a vowel or silent h, e.g. l-plouvs, l-es trais hours.

The neuter singular accusative lo [lu] was identical with the masculine even in Old Britainese, and before the end of the Old Britainese period we see a confusion with cio [tʃu] ([tʃw] before a vowel) ← ecce hoc (see section 7.1 above). In Middle Britainese cio eventually replaced lo as the neuter accusative, coming to be used very much like ho in Catalan,

Cio was the unstressed form the Old Britainese neuter demonstrative ciou; as an unstressed form it came also to be used as a subject pronoun, especially though not exclusively, with the verb "to be", e.g. cio es perilous [ˌtʃwespəri'luz] "it is dangerous" (meaning a situation, circumstance or action is dangerous, not a specific thing). Basically it is a pronoun corresonding to "this" or "that" referring to a situation, circumstance etc.; it could not be used a dummy subject of an impersonal verb.

We shall see in 7.3 below that the stressed form ciou did not survive in late Britainese.

Also during the Middle Britainese period the adverbs end (← inde "then, from there") and iv (← ibī "there" also in Vulgar Latin "thither, to there") came to be used as the equivalents of de ("of, from")+pronoun and a(dh) ("to, at")+pronoun respectively. This similar to en and y in French, ne and i in Occitan and en and hi in Catalan.

7.2.3 In Late Britainese
We have seen that during Middle Britainese there developed the distinction, familiar from French, of disjunctive and conjunctive personal pronouns. We discussed developments during Middle Britainese; in Late Britainese we find:
subjectdirect objectindirect object
1st personeumemai
2nd persontutetai
3rd pers. masc.illoliíl
3rd pers. fem.ellaél
3rd pers. reflex.-sesai
3rd pers. dummyl---
3rd pers. neut.cio-(cioul/ cioust)
1st personnosnsnous
2nd personvososvous
3nd pers. masc.ilsloslisíls
3nd pers. fem.elslaséls
3rd pers. reflex.-sesai
  • In "null subject" Romance languages subject pronouns are used only for emphasis or clarity and are thus stressed and we find two sets of stressed personal pronouns: subject pronouns and object pronouns. But in those languages like Britainese or French where subject pronouns are compulsory and have become verbal clitics, we find only one set of disjunctive pronouns which, like nouns, are invariable.
    Conjunctive pronouns serve as pre- or post-verbal clitics; in other positions, e.g. after a preposition or as complement after a copula, the disjunctive form is used.
  • It may be thought that as the 3rd person plural pronouns are the same as the singular with suffixed -s, this is more like a conlang, especially as the plural suffix appears to come after the 'case end'. But, in fact, it is what we find in Spanish and Portuguese, cf.
     subj.dir. obj.ind. obj.
    Span.sing.él, ellalo, lale
    plu.ellos, ellaslos, lasles
    Port.sing.ele, elao, alhe
    plu.eles, elasos, aslhes
  • Cio has no disjunctive equivalent. The demonstrative pronouns cioul and cioust are the nearest equivalent but, unlike the disjunctive pronouns but, unlike disjunctive pronouns, the demonstrative may stand as subjects and direct objects, cf. cio es perilous "it is dangerous" but cioust es perilous "this [situation/circumstance] is dangerous", cioul es perilous "that [situation/circumstance] is dangerous". 2nd person familiar~formal distinction
In the middle Ages, most Romance languages and other European languages developed a distinction between familiar and polite second-person pronouns, similar to the former English distinction between familiar "thou" and polite "you". This distinction was generally developed by appropriating the plural second-person pronoun to serve in addition as a polite singular as, e.g. in modern French. Some European languages, indeed, have taken this further by developing an even more polite pronoun, (e.g. Spanish vuestra merced "your grace" has been progressively reduced to vuesasted, vusted to the modern usted with its plural ustedes taking 3rd person verb agreement; some have replaced the former polite phrase with a corresponding pronoun, e.g. Italian tua eccellenza "your excellency" is replaced by Lei in modern Italian, with its plural Loro, always written capitalized and having 3rd person verb agreement). These latter developments, however, did not occur in our area of consideration.

In our own timeline, the use of former singular pronoun (thou, tu) as a singular familiar, and the use of the plural (you, vous) both as a polite singular and as a plural irrespective of familiarity or politeness, is common to both French and Welsh (ti ~ chi) and is still common in the colloquial speech of much of northern England and in Scots dialects.

It is clear, therefore, that in Britainese:

  • the forms marked "2nd singular" in the subsections above are to be understood as familiar singular forms;
  • those marked as "2nd plural" are to be understood as both plural and as polite singular forms.

Whether Britainese went further, as in modern English in our timeline, and simply used the "2nd plural" for both singular and plural irrespective of politeness as the standard form, must be questionable. To have vous, vos &c. as the standard form for "you" and tai, tu &c. used only in the colloquial dialects of those parts of north Britain where "thou" is used in our timeline would be a blatant bogoism for which there is no justification.


7.3 Possessive adjectives & pronouns

Although personal pronouns had genitive forms in Latin, these were not used to denote possession; instead Latin used possessive adjectives which, as in many languages, could also double up as possessive pronouns. But some Romance languages have developed two different sets of possesive, e.g. Spanish has adjectives mi, tu, su "my, thy/your, his/her/its" and the pronouns miyo, tuyo, suyo "mine, thine/yours, his/hers/its." Similarly French has (masc. sing:) mon, ton, son and mien, tien, sien. Thus in our timeline we find that both Germanic derived English and Romance derived French have two sets of possessives; it would, therefore, be odd to suppose that Britainese did not also similarly have two sets of possessives.

As we saw above, Classical Latin had no true 3rd person pronoun; they used demonstratives instead, and the possessive was expressed by the genitive case, e.g. canis eius /'kanis 'ejjus/ "dog of-that [one]" i.e. "his dog." All the Romance languages, however, use forms derived from the Latin suus which originally meant "his/her own" (reflexive), but which came to be used in Vulgar Latin without any reflexive meaning simply to denote "his, her"; some use derivatives of suus also to mean "their", while others use forms derived the Latin genitive plural illōru(m).

7.3.1 Possessive adjectives
These are unstressed proclitics; it would seem that when meus, tuus, suus were so used in Vulgar Latin, the initial short vowel was elided, i.e. [ˈmę.ʊs] → [mę.ʊs] → [mʊs]; [ˈtʊ.ʊs] → [tʊ.ʊs] → [tʊs]; [ˈsʊ.ʊs] → [sʊ.ʊs] → sʊs] &c. These will have given Old Britainese:
 singularplural  Likewise for:
tou(s), te/ta &c.
so(us), se/sa &c.
subjectmo(u)sme, mamimes, mas

Therefore, in Late Britainese we have:

mymo [mu]ma [mə]mos [muz]mas [məz]
thy, yourto [tu]ta [tə]tos [tuz]tas [təz]
his, her, itsso [su]sa [sə]sos [suz]sas [səz]
  1. Before a vowel or silent h
    - the masculine singulars are pronounced [mw], [tw] and [sw] respectively, and
    - feminine singulars elide the [ə] and are written m’, t’ and s’ respectively
  2. The plurals are pronounced with final [s] before voiceless consonants.

The Classical vester did not survive in Vulgar Latin which had retained the old pre-classical voster.

There existed also abbreviated forms, *nossus and *vossus (possibly originated in unstressed proclitic forms), from which are derived Portuguese nosso, nossa, nossos, nossas and vosso, vossa, vossos, vossas, with related forms in Spanish dialects, and in Romansh noss (masc. sing. & pl.), nossa, nossas and voss, vossa, vossas. These forms do not concern us here as Britainese, in common with most of the Romance speaking world uses forms derived from the Latin noster and voster.

Modern French plurals nos and vos are derived from Old French noz /nots/ and voz /vots/, being proclitic contractions of nost(r)s and vost(r)s respectively; when /nots/ and /vots/ gave way to /nos/ and /vos/, analogical singulars /no/ and /vo/ were found in some dialects. These do not concern us here.

The Vulgar Latin noster and voster would have given nostr [nostr̩] and vostr [vostr̩] in Britainese and these are, indeed, the possessive pronouns (see below).

For "their" while derivatives from suus are found in the Iberian peninsula and in parts of Occitania and Raetia, derivatives of illōru(m) are used in Italy, most of Rhaetia, Occitania and the rest of France. Originally the word was invariable, as Italian loro still is, but in most places it gradually acquired plural agreement ending in -s (and in some places having feminine endings like an adjectives). In Old Britainese it would have been [lur] written variously as lur, lour or lor and will doubtless have acquired plural -s agreement in Middle Britainese.

Wilhelm Meyer-Lübke in the second volume of his "Grammatik der romanischen Sprachen" observed that in the Romance languages of France derivatives of noster had caused a transformation of forms derived from lōru(m), citing, e.g., liotrõ and notrõ in Franch-Conté, and also noted that in the reverse happens in Picard nör on analogy of lör. The Wikiversité page on modern Picard possessives do not give those forms; however, it is probable that the modern leu has lost a final /r/ (we find, for example, in Walloon that while the possessive adjective is leu, the possessive pronoun is leûr). The forms no and vo are found in other French dialects are are back-formations of the plurals nos and vos from Old French noz /nots/ and voz /vots/, and do not concern us here.

However, it is evident that analogy has influenced the forms of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd person plurals possessives, just as it has been with the Walloon possessive adjectives.

It is tempting, in the light of Meyer-Lübke's nör ~ lör forms in late 19th century Picard, to suppose that unstressed possessive adjectives of Old Britainese - nostr [nustr̩], vostr [vustr̩] and lor [lur] gave way by similar analogy in Britainese to nor [nur], vor [vur], lor [lur]. But would [nustr̩] and [vustr̩] have contracted to [nur] and [vur], losing the [st] cluster? Is it not more likely that in unstressed position before a noun the final [r̩] would have been dropped and that we would have had something like nos(t) as we see in Walloon? I am assuming in the table below that nosts in this position contracts to noss [nus]. So in late Britainese we would have:

masculine & feminine
masculine & feminine
before a vowelbefore a consonant
ournost [nust]nos [nuz]noss [nus]
yourvost [vust]vos [vuz]voss [vus]
theirlor [lur]lors [lurs]
7.3.2 Possessive pronouns
These are normal stressed words and developed from Vulgar Latin non-proclitic forms. The singulars developed from [ˈmę.ʊs], [ˈtʊ.ʊs] and [ˈsʊ.ʊs]. In Old Britainese the feminines will have been mee['me.ə], toe ['to.ə] and soe ['so.ə] respectively (the latter two are found in Old French also, but Old French also had meie for the 1st person singular). However, when final [ə] fell silent in Middle Britainese, we would have been left with forms like the pronoun object (me) or masculine possessive adjectives (to, so) which is confusing. They would surely have dropped out of use just as they did in French.

The masculine singulars would have been meus [meu̯z] (subject), meu [meu̯] (oblique); tous [tou̯z] (subject), tou [tou̯] (oblique); sous [sou̯z] (subject), sou [sou̯] (oblique). In Old French new declined forms were developed from the masculine oblique mien and the 2nd and 3rd person possessive pronouns were remodelled on this, giving the familiar forms of modern French (le mien, la mienne etc.). We see this happening in Occitan where the masculine mèu has given a remodelled feminine mèua and the possessive pronouns for the other two persons are: tèu ~ tèua and sèu ~ sèua. Similarly in Catalan we find that meu has given the feminine meua or meva, and that the other two persons are teu ~ teua/ teva and seu ~ seua/ seva. There is no reason to suppose something similar did not happen in Old Britainese, with the distinctive feminine disappearing in Middle Britainese when final [ə] fell silent.

As we said in subsection above, the three plural persons will have had forms developed regularly from Latin noster [ˈnǫs.tęr], voster [ˈvǫs.tęr] and (il)lōru(m) [ˈlọ.rʊ] respectively but, unlike the possessive adjectives, the pronouns will be stressed as normal words.

In all the central and western Romance languages possessive pronouns are always preceded by the definite article (even in Romanian they are preceded by a possessive article al, ai, a, or ale); it would, then, be very odd if Britainese behaved differently. The possessive pronouns in Britainese are, therefore:

minelo meu
la meu
los meus
las meus
thine, yourslo teu
la teu
los teus
las teus
his, hers, itslo seu
la seu
los seus
las seus
ourslo nostr
la nostr
los nostrs
las nostrs
yourslo vostr
la vostr
los vostrs
las vo strs
theirslo lour
la lour
los lours
las lours


7.4 Demonstrative Pronouns & Adjectives

Classical Latin has a rich array of demonstratives which could serve, as we have noted above with ille, also as pronouns. There was is, ea, id which was a general demonstrative, "this, that", rather like modern French "ce, cet, cette, ces", and was commonly used as a third person pronoun; there were more specific demonstratives with a three-way deictic position contrasts:

proximal: hic, haec, hoc "this (near me)"
medial: iste, ista, istud "that (near you)"
distal: ille, illa, illud "that (yonder, over there)"

All three could be used as pronouns to give greater clarity or emphasis. To these three we must add

  • ipse, ipsa, ipsum "-self [emphatic], the very, the actual."

In Vulgar Latin, is disappeared completely, and hic survived only in set phrases, e.g. hāc hōrā → Spanish ahora, Portuguese agora "now"; ab hōc → Old French avoec, avuec → modern French avec "with"; and in affirmative answers: Occitan òchoc, French oui ← Old French oïl ← hoc illu(d).

There was a realignment of the other demonstratives: iste came to mean "this (near me)" and *isse (← ipse) to mean "that (near you)"; ille retained its Classical meaning, but was 'strengthened' with the addition of a prefix accu-, ecco- or ecce- (see below); this is preserved to the present day in Portuguese and Spanish:

7.4.1 Demonstrative prefixes
The demonstrative adverb ecce "lo!, see!, behold!" had long been prefixed to is, iste and ille in colloquial Latin. We find many instances in the comedies of Plautus ( c. 254 – 184 BC) and Terence (95/185 – c. 159? BC), e.g. eccillud, eccilla, eccistam; when prefixed to is we find, e.g. eccam, eccum, ecca, eccos and so forth. The latter dropped out of popular use as is disappeared from Vulgar Latin, with the exception of eccu(m) which became an alternative to ecce and survives to the present day in Italian both as the word ecco "here!" and in the demonstrative prefixes qu-, e.g. questo ← eccu(m) istu(m) "this", quello ← eccu(m) illu(m) "that", or co-, e.g. colui ← eccu(m il)lūi "that man, he, him."

In the Portuguese and Spanish aquele, aquel above, we find a prefix derived from *accu which was possibly a conflation of eccu(m) and atque /'akkʷe/ ← /'atkʷe/ "and, also, too." This is found also in the three Catalan demonstratives aquest, aqueix and aquell and in some varieties of Occitan. But it is not found in the rest France; nor is the Italian ecco, qu-, co- found there. Most of Roman Gaul retained the centuries old ecciste and eccille and there is no reason to suppose that Roman Britain did not do so also.

7.4.2 Reduction in deictic position contrasts
We saw above that Latin hic, iste and ille distinguished a three-way distinction of distal values, and that this same three-way distinction is preserved in Portuguese and Spanish. It will be observed that Catalan also has three demonstratives derived from *accu-iste, *accu-isse and *accu-ille, thus apparently sharing the three-way distal distinctions of Portuguese and Spanish. In pratice, however, aqueix is hardly ever used and aquest has come to mean either "this (near me)" or "that (near you)"; most dialects of spoken Catalan have moved from three-way distinctions to just a two-way distinction.

Similarly, Italian once had three distal distinctions: questo "this (near me)", codesto "that (near you)" and quello "that (over there, yonder). But codesto is now rarely used, it meaning having merged with quello so that for all practical purposes modern Italian has only two distal distinction, questo ~ quello corresponding to our "this/these ~ that/those."

Old French had already reduced the distinctions to just two:

 this, thesethat, those
direct objecticesticel
indirect objecticestuiicesteiiceluiicelei
pl.subjecticisticestes → iceziciliceles
  • icist and icil are from eccistī and eccillī respectively.
  • Abbreviated forms without initial i- appear from the beginning of the Old French period and eventually prevail.

Both sets of demonstratives could be used adjectivally or as pronouns; however, even in the Old French period there was a tendency to reserve (i)cil for the pronoun, and (i)cist for adjectival use, thus giving way to the loss of distal distinctions. In modern French, ce, cet, cette, ces is used only adjectivally as generic demonstrative (rather as Latin is, ea, id had been) and celui, celle, ceux, celles are used as pronouns (There is also an 'indefinite' ce used as a pronoun, but that is derived from an old neuter iço, ço, ce, cf. above). If distal distinctions are required, modern French adds -ci "here" or -là "there" after the noun (in the case ce, cet &c.) or pronoun (celui &c.).

The reason why (i)cil etc. in Old French tended to be as a pronoun rather than an adjective and why celui etc are used only as pronouns in modern French is probably that the demonstrative was practically identical with the 3rd person pronoun with prefixed (i)c(e)-. Yet similarly both the Spanish demonstratives aquél, aquélla, aquello, aquéllos, aquéllas and the Portuguese aquele, aquela, aqueles, aquelas are the same as the 3rd person pronoun prefixed by aqu-, yet those languages have maintained three distal distinctions. So would Britainese have followed the French path and have only one demonstrative adjective and one demonstrative pronoun, or retained the three-way distal distinctions of Vulgar Latin or reduced these to two as in Old French, Italian and spoken Catalan?

7.4.3 Demonstratives in Britainese
That in our timeline Old French had a two-way distinction and English has this, these ~ that, those and Welsh has hwn, hon, hyn ~ hwnnw, honno, hynny surely point to Old Britainese having a two-way distinction with demonstratives derived, as in Old French, from Vulgar Latin ecce iste "this" and ecce ille "that" and retaining that distinction into the modern language. Indeed, the Old Britainese demonstratives are likely to have been similar to those of Old French given above, except that instead of icez, where z = [ts], Old Britainese probably had (i)cests and, as indeed happened in Old French, the nominatives plurals will gave gained a final plural -s before the end of the Old Britainese period. Demonstratives in Middle Britainese
Three things happened during this period:
  • As with nouns and adjectives, the case system broke down. The singular datives disappear; the feminines were already the same in the nominative and (direct) object forms. The masculines might be expected to adopt the direct object forms but as post-tonic [ə] became silent it would leave no distinction between masculine and feminine; while this was not a problem with adjectives, it was felt awkward when the demonstratives were used as pronouns. We find, therefore, the masculines favoring cist, cists and cil, cils.
  • We find the neuter ciou, the tonic form of cio (see and above), being written cioul by analogy with cil and cel; as this form becomes more common. and ciou begins to drop out of use, we begin to find cioust also appearing by analogy with cist and cest.
  • We find that when used as demonstrative adjectives, the forms are atonic and weakened; cist develops as nost and vost above. Demonstratives in Late Britainese
It follows from the above, that in Late Britainese we shall have:
(a) The demonstrative adjectives:
 this, thesethat, those
singularbefore consonantciscescilcel
before a vowel or
silent h
(b) The demonstrative pronouns:
 this, thesethat, those