A dummies guide to pronouncing Welsh

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The Boss
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A dummies guide to pronouncing Welsh

Post by The Boss » Wed Oct 30, 2019 4:00 pm

All too often we get riders returning from events with wonderful tales of where they've been, or they would be wonderful if they could say the names of the places. Many years ago I found this website to be really helpful so thought I'd share it with those of you who want to be better at Welsh pronunciation. One thing they don't mention is 'si'. It has the same sound as 'sh'. Siop = shop.

Copied straight off the page:

A guide to Welsh Language Pronunciation
With thanks to Howell Owen Williams for help with this guide.

While English is the most common language in Wales, Welsh is still used and actively promoted by some half a million people. It is particularly strong in the Western and Northern regions (Gwynedd, Conwy and Dyfed) where the Welsh language remains strong and highly visible - such as on road signs.
For the walker planning to scale the hills and mountains of Wales, a cursory glance at the map will reveal that most mountain tops and geographical features are described in Welsh. At first sight, this seemingly incomprehensible language may be daunting, yet a little knowledge of the language and how to pronounce it correctly will enhance your experience in these majestic surroundings.

Welsh is a language whose spelling is entirely regular and phonetic, so that once you know the rules, you can learn to read it and pronounce it without too much difficulty.

Just remember that in Welsh ALL the letters are pronounced (even if sometimes its looks impossible).

See if you can read the following out loud. It is english but written using the sounds of the Welsh alphabet:
Ai hop ddat yw can ryd ddys and ddat yt meiks sens tw yw. Iff yw can ryd ddys, dden yw sawnd ryt and ar redi tw gow hycing in wals widd gofforawalc dot cwm. Gwd lwc and Haf ffyn.
Answer at the bottom.

The Welsh Alphabet:
There are 28 letters in the Welsh Alphabet comprising 7 Vowels and 21 Consonants and 13 dipthongs
There are 28 letters are: A | B | C | Ch | D | Dd | E | F | Ff | G | H | I | L | Ll | M | N | Ng | O | P | R | Rh | S| T | Th | U | W | Y
The dipthongs are: Ae | Ai | Au | Aw | Ei | Eu | Ew | I'w | Y'w | Oe | Ow | Wy | Ywy
Officially, Welsh does not possess the letters J, K, Q, V, X or Z, though you will come across imported words from other languages using these letters where no suitable Welsh letter is available, notably Jones (!) and Wrexham (Wrecsam).

Pronouncing the Vowels:
Welsh vowels have distinctive sounds and it is the difference between these sounds that enables the listener to differentiate between and understand the meanings of, words. An example is the difference between mil = thousand and mul = donkey.
A | E | I | O | U | W | Y
A as in man.
Welsh words: aber (abber); Garn (garn)
E as in bet or echo.
Welsh words: carnedd (caneth)
I as the ee in queen.
Welsh words: ni (nee); mi (mee); lili (leelee); min (meen)
O as in lot or hot.
Welsh words: o'r (oh/rr with a rolled r); don (dohn); pont (pohnt)
U as the 'i' in pita
Welsh words: canu (can-i); cu (key); Cymru (Kum-ri); tu (ti); un (in)
W as the 'oo' in Zoo.
Welsh words: cwm (koom); bwlch (boolch)
Y has three distinct sounds.
The first is 'uh' when used as the definite article
Welsh words: y ci (uh key) = the dog.
The second is similar to the Welsh u
Welsh words: Glyder (gleeder); byd (beed)
The third is similar to the English u in under.
Welsh words: Y (uh); Yr (ur); yn (un);
All the vowels can be lengthened by the addition of a circumflex (^).
Welsh words: Tân (taan), lân (laan).
Since the circumflex (^) changes the sound of the word, it also changes the meaning.
Welsh words: Glân (glaan) = Clean, Glan (glan) = Riverbank or Shore.

Pronouncing the Consonants:
B | C | Ch | D | Dd | F | Ff | G | H | L | Ll | M | N | Ng | P | R | Rh | S | T | Th
Usually(!) B, D, H, L, M, N, P, R, S, and T are pronounced the same as they are in English (Since all letters in Welsh are pronounced, H is never silent).
C always 'hard' as in cat:
Welsh words: cwm (coomb); carnedd (caneth); Cymru (Kumree)
Ch soft and aspirated as in the Scottish loch or Docherty:
Welsh words: fach (vach); uwch (youch ), chwi (Chee)
Dd as the 'th' in the or seethe:
Welsh words: bydd (beethe); carneddau (caneth-eye); ddofon (thovon); ffyddlon (futh lon)
F as the 'v' in five:
Welsh words: afon (avon); Tryfan (Try-van); fydd (veethe); hyfryd (huvrid); fawr (vowr), fach (vach)
Ff as the 'f' in fight:
Welsh words: ffynnon (funon); ffyrdd (furth); ffaith (fithe)
G always 'hard' as in goat:
Welsh words: ganu (ganee); ganaf (ganav); angau (angeye); gem (game)
Ng as the 'ng' in finger:
Welsh words Yng Nghaerdydd (ung hire deethe); Yng Nghymru (ung Humree)
Ll is peculiarly Welsh and difficult to describe. Form your lips and tongue to pronounce the letter L, but then blow air gently around the sides of the tongue instead of saying anything. The nearest you can get to this sound in English is an l with a th in front of it:
Welsh words: llan (thlan); llyn (thlin); llwyd (thlooid)
Rh sounds as if the h comes before the r with a slight blowing out of air before the r is pronounced:
Welsh words: rhengau (hrengye); rhag (hrag); rhy (hree)
Th as 'th' in think:
Welsh words: gwaith (gwithe); byth (beeth)

Pronouncing the Diphthongs:
Ae | Ai | Au | Aw | Ei | Eu | Ew | I'w | Y'w | Oe | Ow | Wy | Ywy
Ae, Ai and Au as the 'y' in my:
Welsh words: ninnau (nineye); mae (my); henaid (henide); main (mine); craig (crige)
Aw as the 'ow' in cow:
Welsh words: mawr (mour); prynhawn (prinhown); fawr (vow)
Eu and Ei as the '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. The nearest English sound is probably the Birmingham pronunciation of 'you'.
Welsh words: mewn (meh-oon); tew (teh-oo)
I'w and Y'w as the 'ew' in yew:
Welsh words: clyw (clee-oo); byw (bee-you or b'you); menyw (menee-you or menyou)
Oe as the 'oy' in toy:
Welsh words: croeso (croyso); troed (troid); oen (oin)
Ow as the 'ow' in tow or low:
Welsh words: Rhown (rhone); rho (hrow)
Wy as the 'wi' in win or the french 'oui':
Welsh words: Wy (oo-ee); wyn (win); mwyn (mooin)
Ywy as the 'ui' in fluid:
Welsh words: bywyd (bowid);

That sentence:
Ai hop ddat yw can ryd ddys and ddat yt meiks sens tw yw. Iff yw can ryd ddys, dden yw sawnd ryt and ar redi tw gow hycing in wals widd gofforawalc dot cwm. Gwd lwc and Haf ffyn.

Should have sounded thus:
I hope that you can read this, and that it makes sense to you. If you can read this, then you sound right and are ready to go hiking in Wales with go4awalk.com. Good luck and have fun.

See - told you it was easy!

https://www.go4awalk.com/fell-facts/wel ... iation.php

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sean_iow
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Re: A dummies guide to pronouncing Welsh

Post by sean_iow » Wed Oct 30, 2019 5:08 pm

Thank you :-bd With a bit of studying I should hopefully be able to at least get the pronunciation close enough to not get the blank looks I usually do when I explain where I've been :smile:
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ScotRoutes
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Re: A dummies guide to pronouncing Welsh

Post by ScotRoutes » Wed Oct 30, 2019 5:26 pm

Great find. I was aware of some of that due to the links between Welsh, Scottish Gaelic and the remnants of other ancient British languages. We have a Carnethy Hill in the Pentlands 😁

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whitestone
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Re: A dummies guide to pronouncing Welsh

Post by whitestone » Wed Oct 30, 2019 5:26 pm

When Cath and I were doing Welsh at night school we were told the following rule about the pronunciation of "si":

If it's followed by a consonant then it's pronounced as in "sin", if it's followed by a vowel then it's the "sh" sound - "sioe" (show as in Broadway show) or "Siân".

The thing that is really hard to get your head round is that the start of words can mutate depending on the first letter and according to what goes before. It's done so that the two words flow together in speech, a bit like the use of "a" and "an" in English depending on whether the next word begins with a vowel sound. It applies to proper nouns as well which can be really confusing: Bangor (the town in Gwynedd), ym Mangor (in Bangor), o Fangor (from Bangor), i Fangor (to Bangor). "B" isn't too bad but guess the original first letter here: "yng Nghaer"
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Blackhound
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Re: A dummies guide to pronouncing Welsh

Post by Blackhound » Wed Oct 30, 2019 6:05 pm

Somewhere I have the song American Pie translated into Welsh - must dig it out.
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Re: A dummies guide to pronouncing Welsh

Post by Blackhound » Thu Oct 31, 2019 7:24 pm

Some nonsense after the useful stuff up there:

A’r llongllong tymago
Y canstillru memba
Hywthat mwsic ywstw maycmismyl
A’n y nwyff yhadd mychans
Thattau cwd mayc thowspeepl dans
A’n maybi thayddbi hapi forawyl
Butt ffebrwari mayddmi shifa
Wydd evri payparau’d delifa
Baddnws ondda dawrstepp
A’u cwdant tayc wynmor stepp
A’u cantru memba tffau cryd
Whenni reddabwt hiswiddow’d bryd
Byttsym thingtoch’d mi dypinsyd
Th’daytha mwsic dyd

Sw bibi misa’r merrican pi
Drowvmi shefi twtha lefi bytha lefi wasdri
Themgo doldd bys werdrincin wisci an ri
Syngyn thyss’ I butha dathatidi

This is not my original work. A former colleague who had less to do than perhaps he should have did the 'translation'
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benconnolli
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Re: A dummies guide to pronouncing Welsh

Post by benconnolli » Thu Oct 31, 2019 11:24 pm

I’m a big fan of the bilingual signage everywhere to make the links. Making a vague effort to learn enough to get by. If a credible job opportunity came up I’d move there in a flash. Every time I go to Wales I get reminded why I think it is the best place in the world, whenever I go anywhere else in the world I am reminded why Wales is my favourite place in the world.

I find Nessa from Gavin and Stacey a big help for word order “Nessa I am” and use the few place names I know to work out others.
Any chance of a recording of that pronunciation paragraph?

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Adnepos
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A dummies guide to pronouncing Welsh -and Scottish Gaelic (ghaidhlig)

Post by Adnepos » Tue Dec 03, 2019 6:41 pm

Scottish Gaelic is a bit more of a challenge than Welsh but here's a useful link if you want to work out how to pronounce some of those strange spellings on the OS maps for the gaeldoch.

https://cuhwc.org.uk/page/unofficial-gu ... ing-gaelic

Also find the link from here to more help on pronouncing Welsh

The Boss
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Re: A dummies guide to pronouncing Welsh

Post by The Boss » Sat Dec 21, 2019 6:49 pm

benconnolli wrote:
Thu Oct 31, 2019 11:24 pm
Any chance of a recording of that pronunciation paragraph?
Better late than never Ben, sorry for the slow reply. I'm not recording my terrible accent in any language lol.

Here are real welsh people telling you how to pronounce the alphabet and words:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gb8Bps3bG84
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dqv1geIlfFI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6r2AX5v55ds

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