Jackson, however, believed that the two varieties were already distinct by that time.The earliest Welsh poetry – that attributed to the Cynfeirdd or "Early Poets" – is generally considered to date to the Primitive Welsh period.Modern Welsh is subdivided into Early Modern Welsh and Late Modern Welsh.
This is evidenced by the dropping of final syllables from Brittonic: *bardos "poet" became bardd, and *abona "river" became afon.
Though both Davies and Jackson cite minor changes in syllable structure and sounds as evidence for the creation of Old Welsh, Davies suggests it may be more appropriate to refer to this derivative language as Lingua Brittanica rather than characterizing it as a new language altogether.
It is also the language of the existing Welsh law manuscripts.
Middle Welsh is reasonably intelligible to a modern-day Welsh speaker.
This figure is still a greater number, however, than the 508,000 (18.7%) of people who said that they could speak Welsh in 1991.