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Welsh Language Guide

The language of Wales, more properly called Cymraeg in preference to Welsh (A Germanic word denoting "foreigner"),
belongs to a branch of Celtic, an ndo!"uropean language# The Welsh themsel$es are descendants of the Galatians, to
whom %aul wrote his famous letter# Their language is a distant cousin to rish and &cots Gaelic and a close brother to
'reton# Welsh is still used by about half a million people within Wales and possibly another few hundred thousand in
"ngland and other areas o$erseas#
n most hea$ily populated areas of Wales, such as the &outheast (containing the large urban centers of Cardiff, (ewport
and &wansea), the normal language of e$eryday life is "nglish, but there are other areas, notably in the Western and
(orthern regions, (Gwynedd and )yfed particularly) where the Welsh language remains strong and highly $isible# The
Welsh word for their country is Cymru (*umree), the land of the Comrades+ the people are ,nown as Cymry (*umree)
and the language as Cymraeg (*umrige)# -egional differences in spo,en Welsh do not ma,e spea,ers in one area
unintelligible to those in another (as is so often claimed), standard Welsh is understood by Welsh spea,ers e$erywhere#
)espite its formidable appearance to the uninitiated, Welsh is a language whose spelling is entirely regular and phonetic,
so that once you ,now the rules, you can learn to read it and pronounce it without too much difficulty# .or young
children learning to read, Welsh pro$ides far fewer difficulties than does "nglish, as the latter/s many inconsistencies in
spelling are not found in Welsh, in which all letters are pronounced#
T0" W"L&0 AL%0A'"T1 (23 letters)
A, ' ,C ,Ch, ), )d, ", ., .f, G, (g, 0, , L
Ll, 4, (, 5, %, %h, -, -h, &, T, Th, 6, W, 7
((ote that Welsh does not possess the letters 8, *, 9, :, ; or <, though you will often come across "borrowings" from
"nglish, such as 8ohn, 8ones, 8am and 8iwbil (8ubilee)+ Wre=ham (Wrecsam)+ <w (<oo)#
T0" :5W"L&1 (A, ", , 6, 5, W, 7)
A as in man# Welsh words1 am, ac %ronounced the same as in "nglish)
" as in bet or echo# Welsh words1 gest (guest)+ enaid (enide)
as in pin or >ueen# Welsh words1 ni (nee)+ mi (me)+ lili (lily)+ min (meen)
6 as in pita1 Welsh words1 ganu (ganee)+ cu (,ey)+ Cymru (*umree)+ tu (tee)+ un (een)
5 as in lot or moe# Welsh words1 o/r (?re)+ don (don)+ dod (dode)+ bob (bobe)
W as in <oo or bus# Welsh words1 cwm (,oom), bws (bus)+ yw (you)+ galw (galoo)
7 has two distinct sounds1 the final sound in happy or the $owel sound in myrrh Welsh words1 7 (uh)+ 7r (ur)+ yn (un)+ fry
($ree)+ byd (beed)
All the $owels can be lengthened by the addition of a circumfle= (@), ,nown in Welsh as "to bach" (little roof)# Welsh
words1 T@n (taan), l@n (laan)
T0" )%0T05(G&1
Ae, Ai and Au are pronounced as "nglish "eye"1 ninnau (nineye)+ mae (my)+ henaid (henide)+ main (mine)+ craig (crige)
"u and "i are pronounced the same way as the "nglish ay in pray# Welsh words1 deisiau (dayshy), or in some dialects
(deeshuh)+ deil (dale or dile)+ teulu (taylee or tyelee)
"w is more difficult to describe# t can be appro=imated as eh!oo or perhaps as in the word mount# The nearest "nglish
sound is found in "nglish midland dialect words such as the 'irmingham pronunciation of "you" (yew)# Welsh words1
mewn (meh!oon or moun)+ tew (teh!oo)
/w and 7/w sound almost identical to the "nglish ""e!you#" or "7ew" or "7ou"1 Welsh words1 clyw (clee!oo)+ byw (bee!
you or b/you)+ menyw (menee!you or menyou)
5e is similar to the "nglish 5y or 5i# Welsh words1 croeso (croyso)+ troed (troid)+ oen (oin)
5w is pronounced as in the "nglish tow, or low1 Welsh word1 -hown (rhone)+ rho (hrow)
Wy as in "nglish wi in win or oo!ee1 Welsh words1 Wy (oo!ee)+ wyn (win)+ mwyn (mooin)
7wy is pronounced as in "nglish 0owie# Welsh words1 bywyd (bowid)+ tywyll (towith)
Aw as in the "nglish cow# Welsh words1 mawr (mour)+ prynhawn (prinhown)+ lawr (lour)
T0" C5(&5(A(T&1
.or the most part b, d, h, l, m, n, p, r, s, and t are pronounced the same as their "nglish e>ui$alents (h is always
pronounced, ne$er silent)# Those that differ are as follows1
C always as in cat+ ne$er as in since# Welsh words1 canu (*anee)+ cwm (come)+ cael (,ile)+ and of course, Cymru
(*umree)
Ch as in the &cottish loch or the German ach or noch# The sound is ne$er as in church, but as in loch or )ocherty# Welsh
words1 edrychwn (edrych oon)+ uwch (youch ), chwi (Chee)
)d is pronounced li,e the "nglish th in the words seethe or them# Welsh words1 bydd (beethe)+ sydd (seethe)+ ddofon
(tho$on)+ ffyddlon (futh lon)
Th is li,e the "nglish th in words such as thin,, forth, than,# Welsh words1 gwaith (gwithe)+ byth (beeth)
. as in the "nglish :# Welsh words1 afon (a$on)+ fi ($ee)+ fydd ($eethe)+ hyfryd (hu$rid)+ fawr ($owr), fach ($ach)
.f as in the "nglish f# Welsh words1 ffynnon (funon)+ ffyrdd (furth)+ ffaith (fithe)
G always as in "nglish goat, gore# Welsh words1 ganu (ganee)+ ganaf (gana$)+ angau (angeye)+ gem (game)
(g as in "nglish finger or Long sland# (g usually occurs with an h following as a mutation of c# Welsh words 7ng
(ghaerdydd (in Cardiff1 pronounced ung hire deethe) or 7ng (ghymru (in Wales1 pronounced ung 0umree)
Ll is an aspirated L# That means you form your lips and tongue to pronounce L, but then you blow air gently around the
sides of the tongue instead of saying anything# Got itA The nearest you can get to this sound in "nglish is to pronounce
it as an l with a th in front of it# Welsh words1 llan (thlan)+ llawr (thlour)+ llwyd (thlooid)
-h sounds as if the h come before the r# There is a slight blowing out of air before the r is pronounces# Welsh words1
rhengau (hrengye)+ rhag (hrag)+ rhy (hree)
The most common e=pressions that Welsh!Americans come across are Cymanfa Ganu (*uman$a Ganee)+ "isteddfod
(Aye!steth!$od)+ and (oson Lawen ((osson Lowen)
%-ACTC"
-ead the following, written using the Welsh alphabet1
Gwd lwc# Ai hop ddat yw can ryd ddys and ddat yt mei,s sens tw yw# ff yw can ryd ddys, dden yw ar dwing ffaen and wil
haf no problems at ol yn lyrnyng awr ffaen Welsh alffabet#
Good luc,1 hope that you can read this, and that it ma,es sense to you# f you can read this, then you are doing fine and
will ha$e no problems at all in learning our fine Welsh alphabet#