The Welsh Language...

Russell   Sat Dec 17, 2005 3:47 pm GMT
I think the Welsh language looks very difficult to read and the pronounciation seems quite difficult too. And I think some Welsh words do not have any vowels in them! how confusing.
Sander   Sat Dec 17, 2005 3:57 pm GMT
I believe Welsh uses different letters as vowels than most Latin script languages do.
Rick Johnson   Sat Dec 17, 2005 4:02 pm GMT
Welsh is an odd language. I can travel hundreds of miles to Spain, Italy, Germany, Norway etc and have a certain level of understanding of road signs, place names etc, but just 40 miles away across the Welsh border I undertand very little (apart from words taken directly from English) and struggle with pronunciation.
Adam   Sat Dec 17, 2005 6:23 pm GMT
Welsh has about as many vowels as English.

In Welsh, the letter W is a vowel, and is pronounced like the "oo" in the word "food."

The Welsh word "cwm" means "valley." It's pronounced "coom."

So it's not as difficult to pronounce as it appears.
Rick Johnson   Sat Dec 17, 2005 6:30 pm GMT
A "cwm" is actually a glacial hollow also known as a cirque (french)or a corrie (scots).
Adam   Sat Dec 17, 2005 6:40 pm GMT
Welsh has 2 genders - masculine and plural - but its definite articled change according to the SPELLING of the words, NOT their gender (just like the English indefinite articles.)

The definite article are - y, yr, and 'r.

"Y" (pronounced like the "i" in "bit") appears before words beginning with a consonant -

e.g. Y gwely - The Bed.

Yr (with the R sound trilled as in Italian) goes before words beginning with a vowel -

e.g. Yr achos - The cause.

The definite article 'r goes ON THE END of a word that ends in a vowel and the word AFTER it begins with a consonant -

e.g. Mae'r gwely yma - The bed is here.

However, most placenames do NOT use the definite article (just like English, but there are a few exceptions -

yr Affrig - Africa
yr Alban - Scotland
yr Eidal - Italy
y Swistir - Switzerland

There is NO indefinite article in Welsh.


Yr Wyddor Gymraeg/The Welsh Alphabet

The Welsh alphabet has 28 letters -

A, B ,C ,Ch, D, Dd, E, F, Ff, G, Ng, H, I, L, Ll, M, N, O, P, Ph, R, Rh, S, T, Th, U, W, Y.

Note that Welsh does not possess the letters J, K, Q, V, X or Z, though you will often come across "borrowings" from English, such as John, Jones, Jam and Jiwbil (Jubilee); Wrexham (Wrecsam); Zw (Zoo).


THE VOWELS: (A, E, I, U, O, W, Y)

A as in man. Welsh words: am, ac Pronounced the same as in English)

E as in bet or echo. Welsh words: gest (guest); enaid (enide)

I as in pin or queen. Welsh words: ni (nee); mi (me); lili (lily); min (meen)

U as in pita: Welsh words: ganu (ganee); cu (key); Cymru (Kumree); tu (tee); un (een)

O as in lot or moe. Welsh words: o'r (0re); don (don); dod (dode); bob (bobe)

W as in Zoo or bus. Welsh words: cwm (koom), bws (bus); yw (you); galw (galoo)

Y has two distinct sounds: the final sound in happy or the vowel sound in myrrh Welsh words: Y (uh); Yr (ur); yn (un); fry (vree); byd (beed)

All the vowels can be lengthened by the addition of a circumflex (ä), known in Welsh as "to bach" (little roof). Welsh words: Tän (taan), län (laan)


Ae, Ai and Au are pronounced as English "eye": ninnau (nineye); mae (my); henaid (henide); main (mine); craig (crige)

Eu and Ei are pronounced the same way as the English ay in pray. Welsh words: deisiau (dayshy), or in some dialects (deeshuh); deil (dale or dile); teulu (taylee or tyelee)

Ew is more difficult to describe. It can be approximated as eh-oo or perhaps as in the word mount. The nearest English sound is found in English midland dialect words such as the Birmingham pronunciation of "you" (yew). Welsh words: mewn (meh-oon or moun); tew (teh-oo)

I'w and Y'w sound almost identical to the English "Ee-you." or "Yew" or "You": Welsh words: clyw (clee-oo); byw (bee-you or b'you); menyw (menee-you or menyou)

Oe is similar to the English Oy or Oi. Welsh words: croeso (croyso); troed (troid); oen (oin)

Ow is pronounced as in the English tow, or low: Welsh word: Rhown (rhone); rho (hrow)

Wy as in English wi in win or oo-ee: Welsh words: Wy (oo-ee); wyn (win); mwyn (mooin)

Ywy is pronounced as in English Howie. Welsh words: bywyd (bowid); tywyll (towith)

Aw as in the English cow. Welsh words: mawr (mour); prynhawn (prinhown); lawr (lour)


For the most part b, d, h, l, m, n, p, r, s, and t are pronounced the same as their English equivalents (h is always pronounced, never silent). Those that differ are as follows:

C always as in cat; never as in since. Welsh words: canu (Kanee); cwm (come); cael (kile); and of course, Cymru (Kumree)

Ch as in the Scottish loch or the German ach or noch. The sound is never as in church, but as in loch or Docherty. Welsh words: edrychwn (edrych oon); uwch (youch ), chwi (Chee)

Dd is pronounced like the English th in the words seethe or them. Welsh words: bydd (beethe); sydd (seethe); ddofon (thovon); ffyddlon (futh lon)

Th is like the English th in words such as think, forth, thank. Welsh words: gwaith (gwithe); byth (beeth)

F as in the English V. Welsh words: afon (avon); fi (vee); fydd (veethe); hyfryd (huvrid); fawr (vowr), fach (vach)

Ff as in the English f. Welsh words: ffynnon (funon); ffyrdd (furth); ffaith (fithe)

G always as in English goat, gore. Welsh words: ganu (ganee); ganaf (ganav); angau (angeye); gem (game)

Ng as in English finger or Long Island. Ng usually occurs with an h following as a mutation of c. Welsh words Yng Nghaerdydd (in Cardiff: pronounced ung hire deethe) or Yng Nghymru (in Wales: pronounced ung Humree)

Ll is an aspirated L. That means you form your lips and tongue to pronounce L, but then you blow air gently around the sides of the tongue instead of saying anything. Got it? The nearest you can get to this sound in English is to pronounce it as an l with a th in front of it. Welsh words: llan (thlan); llawr (thlour); llwyd (thlooid)

Rh sounds as if the h come before the r. There is a slight blowing out of air before the r is pronounces. Welsh words: rhengau (hrengye); rhag (hrag); rhy (hree)

The most common expressions that Welsh-Americans come across are Cymanfa Ganu (Kumanva Ganee); Eisteddfod (Aye-steth-vod); and Noson Lawen (Nosson Lowen)
Adam   Sat Dec 17, 2005 6:41 pm GMT
"A "cwm" is actually a glacial hollow also known as a cirque (french)or a corrie (scots)."

Well, it's the Welsh word for "valley."

Y cwm - The valley.
Adam   Sat Dec 17, 2005 6:48 pm GMT
Bws (boos) - Bus.

Cwm - (coom) - Valley.

Zw - (zoo) - Zoo.

Most English speakers think of W as a consonant in Welsh, but it's a vowel, so they think Welsh has few consonants and the pronounciation is difficult, But, in fact, Welsh has more consonant letters than English had.
Adam   Sat Dec 17, 2005 6:59 pm GMT
Welsh also has a strange aspect of grammar cause "soft mutation" in which FEMININE nouns change spelling when you put the definite article before it (rememebr, there are no indefinite articles).

Some examples -

basged (basket/a basket) - y fasged (the basket)

mam (mother/a mother) - y fam (the mother)

gardd (garden/a garden) - yr ardd (the garden)

Gender of Nouns

Welsh falls within the majority of the Indo-European languages (of which English is one of the exceptions in this regard) in assigning an often arbitrary gender to every noun. Welsh has only two genders: masculine and feminine. You can always tell feminine nouns, because they're the ones that wear fingernail polish.

More seriously, those nouns for which the gender is obviously intrinsic to the noun (e.g., girl, son) have the obvious gender (unlike in German, which considers girls, for example, to be neuter), but there remain many nouns for which assignment of gender is simply a linguistic convention. The long and short of is that you need to learn the gender for nouns at the time you learn the noun itself. Consider it part of knowing the word itself.
Adam   Sat Dec 17, 2005 7:06 pm GMT
And learning the soft mutation for feminine nouns is a NIGHTMARE for learners of the Welsh.

Mutation is a feature common to all of the Celtic languages, although none of them follow all of the same patterns. Mutation means that the first letter of a word is modified, by becoming another letter or combination of letters, or by vanishing entirely.

Consider the word "cwm". On it owns it means "valley/a valley."

But to say THE valley, it becomes - y nghwm.

All feminine nouns that begin with the letter C change the C to NGH when putting the definite article before it. But every letter changes to something else, and it's a bloody nightmare having to learn the 28 or aso different combinations.
Sander   Sat Dec 17, 2005 7:10 pm GMT
*Another C&P frenzy*
Adam   Sat Dec 17, 2005 7:13 pm GMT
AND it changes with the word "my" and "her" (but not "he")

stone/a stone - carreg

the stone - y garreg

my stone - fy ngharreg

her stone - ei charreg

But that's only the ones for feminine nouns beginning with C! For all the other letters, there is a completely different combination.

So if you want to learn a language, do NOT learm Welsh, cos it is DIFFICULT.
Adam   Sat Dec 17, 2005 9:39 pm GMT
Welsh is difficult!!! Learn ENGLISH INSTEAD IT'S SUPER EASY!!!
Guest   Sun Dec 18, 2005 6:13 am GMT
Adam, you are SUPER EASY to understand!
Damian in Edinburgh   Sun Dec 18, 2005 8:13 am GMT
***Welsh is an odd language***

Slightly amend that statement by using "old" instead of "odd". Welsh is one of the oldest Languages of Europe....belonging to the South Celtic branch of the Indo European linguistic family, and was on the scene long, long, long before English first saw the light of day. It was once the Language of that part of Britannia where English now reigns supreme, before it was forcibly thrust into the western region now called Wales.

It looks odd to English eyes because it is totally alien to the Anglo Saxons. It's structure is such that to the English speaker it looks unpronounceable. This is because of the "Ys" and "Ws" are classed as vowels. Actually, the article "y" is pronounced as "uh" in North Wales and as "ee" in South Wales.

Welsh has a strange form of mutation as well, which hardly any other Language has. That means the initial letter of a word (usually a noun) changes when it is preceded by a certain sound formation. Take the placename Bangor (a univesity town in North Wales). In Welsh, if you go "to Bangor" you use "i Fangor" ("i" meaning "to" and the F is pronounced as a V...and the R is clearly sounded, as in Scots). If you live "in Bangor" you say "ym Mhangor" (um Mhangor).

Just down the road is the town of Caernarvon, with a huge castle. In Welsh it is spelt Caernarfon (F in Welsh is pronounced as a V). If you go "to Caernarfon" you go "i Gaernarfon". If you live in Caernarfon then you live "yng Nghaernarfon". All this is the name of mutation, which apparently makes the whole Language slip more easily and melliflously off the Welsh tongue.

Confused? You WILL be if you go to Wales. Try stopping a policeman (if you can find one...they are all whizzing along in patrol cars) and ask how you would get to Llanfairtalhaearn, going via Pentrellyncwmer but avoiding the low bridge at Abergynolwyn or the usual traffic bottleneck on the A5 at Cerrigydrudion, which is even worse than the one at Pentretafarnyfedw, just to the south of Betwsgwerfilgoch.

That's why Welsh looks odd to English speakers.

According to my cool Welsh mate fom uni - Andrew, who lives in Llanfairmathafarneithaf btw (a Welshman with a Scottish name, just to add to the fun) tells me that a lot of English people make absolutely no effort to pronounce even the simplest of Welsh names correctly. A lot of Welsh people think that they deliberately make a pig's ear out of mispronunciations, according to Andy. That I can believe, because the same thing happens here in Scotland when they cock up names like Ballachulish or Auchtermuchty.

It's a fact that visitors from outside Britain at least TRY to pronounce Celtic placenames a wee bit more like they should be pronounced, and not deliberately turn mispronunciations into some sort of gleeful sporting activity. Andy told me that a female Greek singer once sang the entire Welsh national anthem IN WELSH and her pronunciation and stress was absolutely spot on.