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Myrtonos

Introduction to Welsh

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Myrtonos

This forum has a mainly U.K base, and at least three of our active members (@Miss Chief , @Echo and @Angry Primeape) are from Wales. I don't know if any of them are native Welsh speakers but I would like to introduce people to Welsh. It is Britain's second most widely spoken language and is also spoken in a remote part of Argentina called Patagonia. I'd like to start with a list of words that are the same in Welsh as in English.

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Myrtonos

The thing is I don't know of any but those from Wales might. What I meant is that I would like to see that list before going further.

Edited by Myrtonos

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Miss Chief

I don't think there are Welsh words that are the same as English words, there are some words that don't exist in Welsh and so we use English words instead, this is because Celtic languages (which Welsh is) are the oldest languages in Europe and obviously there are modern words that didn't exist when Welsh was evolving and we don't always create new ones so we just use the English word. 

There are some Welsh slang words that have made their way into English (mainly Northern England since some parts of the North still have links to Welsh) I think the term 'tara' which means goodbye comes from Welsh although I'm not 100%. The term 'cwtch' (which means to cuddle) seems to be used in northern England and that is definitely a Welsh word :) 

It's also worth knowing that there are differences between the North Wales and South Wales languages, although you can get by in either if you speak one. I know @Echo is Welsh speaking but she is from North Wales so I assume she speak the Northern Welsh where as I am from the South.

You can see some links between English and Welsh, if you speak both languages it's obvious that English came after Welsh since Welsh is structured a lot like 'old English' for example in modern English you would ask someone: 'Where are you from?' but Welsh would be closer to the old English of: 'From where do you come?' in South Wales this would be 'O ble dych chi'n dod?' I think there would be some slight differences in Northern Welsh but the translation into English would still be the same. So you can see the evolution of the language in English, whereas, Welsh has stayed the same.

I was raised Welsh speaking but I moved to a city where it isn't spoken much when I was 10 so I lost a lot of the language but I still speak some and I'm working on  getting back to speaking it more since I now live in an area where it's spoken a lot again.

@Nesf I don't know if you have this already on the resources page but a Language Tree would be good I've also attached it here (a slightly shorter one since this topic is specifically about Welsh) so you can see that Celtic is the first branch on the Indo-European > European trunk and predates Germanic (which includes English), this means you can see a lot of Celtic influences in the groups that directly follow it (like Germanic/English). However, English has evolved a lot since then so you see the links more in old English (like Shakespeare).

EDIT: I almost forgot, French also has huge Celtic influence even though it's a Romantic language because part of France spoke Brittany (a Celtic language very close to Welsh), so there is huge Celtic influence on French even though the Romantic languages evolved from Germanic, there are common words between Welsh and French, for example the Welsh word for 'window' is 'ffenestr' and the French word is 'fenêtre', the Welsh word for 'horse' is 'ceffyl' and the French word is 'cheval' and while they look quite different the pronunciation is very close.

Language_Tree.jpg

Edited by Miss Chief
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Nesf

@Miss Chief Thanks for posting the language tree. This is actually the same picture that I used for the profile picture.

2 hours ago, Miss Chief said:

I almost forgot, French also has huge Celtic influence even though it's a Romantic language because part of France spoke Brittany (a Celtic language very close to Welsh), so there is huge Celtic influence on French even though the Romantic languages evolved from Germanic, there are common words between Welsh and French, for example the Welsh word for 'window' is 'ffenestr' and the French word is 'fenêtre', the Welsh word for 'horse' is 'ceffyl' and the French word is 'cheval' and while they look quite different the pronunciation is very close

This is interesting. Also, the German word for window is Fenster, it is very similar.

2 hours ago, Miss Chief said:

cwtch

What is the pronunciation of this word?

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Miss Chief
1 hour ago, Nesf said:

What is the pronunciation of this word?

Cwtch is pronounced; Coo - like a pigeon noise, Tch - like itch without the i ;)

The Welsh alphabet has 29 letters and includes extra vowels so W and Y are vowels, it also has 8 digraphs (double letters) and it has accents used on vowels; acute accent ( ´ ), grave accent ( ` ), circumflex ( ˆ ) and diaeresis ( ¨ ) but accented letters are not regarded as a separate part of the alphabet it just effects how you pronounce the vowel; long, short, hard, soft etc.

I mention the above because the one thing most people ask about pronouncing is the double LL digraph and while this doesn't sound anything like an English sound this is how I explain it: put your mouth and tongue in the shape/position you would if you were going to say the letter L (hard as in Laugh) then instead of making the sound for L (keeping you mouth in that position) instead make the sound for the letter C (hard as in Cough) and the noise that comes out of your mouth will be the right sound for the LL in Welsh ;) 

Consonant letters are almost always hard in Welsh, so the letter B is said Buh and never Bee C is Cuh and never Cee and so on through the consonants.

Here is the Welsh alphabet...

image.thumb.png.9ee0ec8b0b24f8ea07cbc92571b6df94.png

A, E, I, O, U, W & Y are vowels. I'm not going to go into ALL the ways you can pronounce vowels, it depends on the accent used as well as what letters come before the vowel. 

Speaking of which there are also mutations in Welsh: 

image.thumb.png.a093bfa321be9f7c63699bf07e16ef08.png

And of course we have masculine and feminine forms too, so that can effect stuff.

I've probably put everyone off now :( 

Edited by Miss Chief
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Myrtonos

One word we have in English is 'avon' as a name of a few rivers. In Welsh, 'afon' (f pronounced as in 'of') is simply the general word for 'river.' In fact, it can mean 'a river'. If you look at the list above, you'll see the word for 'a head'. 'A white head' is 'pen gwyn' believed to be the source of the English word penguin, even though penguin heads are black as I'm sure we all know. 'The head' is 'y pen' and 'the river' is 'yr afon'.

Another Welsh word we have in English is 'eisteddfod' the <dd> being the [dh] sound like in 'the'. In English it is the word for the Welsh festival of things like music and poetry. But in Welsh it apparently just means 'a session'. 'The session' would be 'yr eisteddfod'. Another feature Welsh shares with French is a thing called liason. In French, it's only a matter of pronouncing word-final consonants before words beginning with vowels, like a/an in English and indeed y/yr in Welsh, the latter meaning 'the'.

In Wesh, this linking of words connected in meaning also affects initial consonants, causing mutations mentioned above. Going back to the word for 'session' it is a compound word. 'Eistedd' means 'sit' or 'to sit' and 'bod' means 'to be'. Note what happens to 'bod' when combined with 'eistedd'.

13 hours ago, Miss Chief said:

I don't think there are Welsh words that are the same as English words, there are some words that don't exist in Welsh and so we use English words instead, this is because Celtic languages (which Welsh is) are the oldest languages in Europe and obviously there are modern words that didn't exist when Welsh was evolving and we don't always create new ones so we just use the English word. 

There are some Welsh slang words that have made their way into English (mainly Northern England since some parts of the North still have links to Welsh) I think the term 'tara' which means goodbye comes from Welsh although I'm not 100%. The term 'cwtch' (which means to cuddle) seems to be used in northern England and that is definitely a Welsh word :) 

These are the sort of words I mean. Regarding Northern English, the North Country counting jargon is an example, having something to do with Welsh numbers. Before we get to an example, here are the first four numbers in Welsh, and they can actually be related back to Latinate numbers we use in English:

*Yn - This can be related back to 'uni' in English, as in uniform, unicycle, unicorn, etc. And indeed also to 'Uno' which means 'One' in Italian, for us it's the name of a card game.

*Dau - prounced 'die', it can be related back to the Latin derived 'duo' in English.

*Tri - Although Welsh has both [th] and [dh] (the latter written as <dd>) it sounds like the English word with [t] instead. And it is spelled like the tri- in worlds like triangle and tricyle, coming again from Latin.

*Pedwar - We have Quadra in English in words like Quadralateral, Quadracep, etc. The <qu>/[kw] is a 'p' in Welsh, because Welsh is P-Celtic.

If you've seen that country jargon, you will have seen 'pimp' for 'five'. It is pronounced the same in Welsh but written like the English word 'pump'. And that's how the <u> is generally pronounced in Welsh. The formal British pronunciation of <oo> as in 'food' is what is written as <w> in Welsh. While <w> can also be a consonant, as in names like 'Gwenth' and 'Gwernol', <y> is always a vowel in Welsh, pronounced as in 'Sydenham'.

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Miss Chief

You right that Avon descended from the Celts but it isn't really a word just a place name no one would refer to a river as an avon.

Eisteddfod is absolutely not an English word, it's a Welsh word that some English people might be familiar with due to the fact we have a big festival every year and to say it means session isn't really right... it doesn't mean anything except the festival of arts that we have annually, you wouldn't use the word in any other context, I have certainly never heard it mentioned in Southern England, however, due to the fact that Northern England still feels like it has links to Wales, Liverpool has in the past asked to host the National Eisteddfod even though they aren't in Wales.

I did mention that you can see Celtic influence in the languages that followed it immediately like Germanic but also of course Latin... I didn't see the need to mention them all since I posted the tree, however, to say the words you listed came from Celtic sources is not quite right... those words in English came from Latin... now being as Celtic predated Latin it is certain that Celtic influenced Latin (as well as English) but in those cases we know those English words came directly from Latin not Celtic sources, you could make the argument that there is a link since Celtic is the oldest Indo-European language but it isn't a direct one in at least some of those cases.

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Myrtonos

What I said is that we have the word 'eisteddfod' in English, I did not mean that it's any more of an English word than café or gatau. The reason I said we have that word in English is because that's what that festival is called, even in English, there is no other word. While in English that word wouldn't be used in any other context, are you say that's the same in Welsh?

I didn't list any words for numbers as being from Celtic sources, I noted that they can be related back to words we get from Latin. The Latin side of English is a large part and there are also a lot of simularities between Celtic languages and Latin. The language tree doesn't specify which words are similar, it just shows that the languages are all related.

Looking at the list of rivers in Wales, I see 'afon' quite a lot. Indeed avon is just a place name in English, but the first paragraph of the post above makes it sound like 'afon' is only a name even in Welsh. I didn't say anyone would refer to a river as an 'avon' in English.

Another thing about Welsh is that the order both of statements and questions is often like the order of questions in English. 'Dw yn' means 'I am' but in the same order as 'Am I?' in English. 'Mae' means 'is' and also goes at the beginning of a clause.

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Miss Chief
15 hours ago, Myrtonos said:

While in English that word wouldn't be used in any other context, are you say that's the same in Welsh?

Yes you would never use it to as a general word for example you wouldn't use it for the word session it is only used to describe the arts festival in Welsh.

15 hours ago, Myrtonos said:

Looking at the list of rivers in Wales, I see 'afon' quite a lot. Indeed avon is just a place name in English, but the first paragraph of the post above makes it sound like 'afon' is only a name even in Welsh. I didn't say anyone would refer to a river as an 'avon' in English.

No it does mean river in Welsh but my point was it isn't really a word that is common to both languages since your average English speaker today doesn't know it means river or that it comes from Celtic/Welsh.

15 hours ago, Myrtonos said:

Another thing about Welsh is that the order both of statements and questions is often like the order of questions in English. 'Dw yn' means 'I am' but in the same order as 'Am I?' in English. 'Mae' means 'is' and also goes at the beginning of a clause.

As I said originally it is more like old English than modern English in it's structure if you do a direct translation.

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Myrtonos
12 hours ago, Miss Chief said:

Yes you would never use it to as a general word for example you wouldn't use it for the word session it is only used to describe the arts festival in Welsh.

And it's used like that in English too.

12 hours ago, Miss Chief said:

No it does mean river in Welsh but my point was it isn't really a word that is common to both languages since your average English speaker today doesn't know it means river or that it comes from Celtic/Welsh.

And maybe not all English speakers know that 'costume' (same spelling but different pronunciation) simply means 'suit' in French, that doesn't mean the word isn't common to both English and French. I never said the average English speaker knows that 'avon' comes from Welsh, let alone that it means 'river' in that language, I just said we have that word in English, what the average English speaker knows or doesn't know doesn't change the fact. We have it in English because it is a name of some rivers in England.

12 hours ago, Miss Chief said:

As I said originally it is more like old English than modern English in it's structure if you do a direct translation.

Old English was more like Dutch, German and especially Frisian. Take for example the order of 'cath gwyn', it's the same as French 'chat blanc'. Welsh shares this habit with French and we employ it in English when we say 'chat noir' or 'film noir'. It's not like the order of 'wit kat' or 'weisse Katze'.

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Miss Chief
10 hours ago, Myrtonos said:

And it's used like that in English too.

But it is NOT an English word it is not in common usage in English and therefore not a word common to both languages.

10 hours ago, Myrtonos said:

And maybe not all English speakers know that 'costume' (same spelling but different pronunciation) simply means 'suit' in French, that doesn't mean the word isn't common to both English and French. I never said the average English speaker knows that 'avon' comes from Welsh, let alone that it means 'river' in that language, I just said we have that word in English, what the average English speaker knows or doesn't know doesn't change the fact. We have it in English because it is a name of some rivers in England.

Again it is a name not a word an therefore no more a common word to both languages than the name Siobhan or Sian is they are Celtic names that are understood to be names but they are not words that are shared across both languages.

10 hours ago, Myrtonos said:

Old English was more like Dutch, German and especially Frisian. Take for example the order of 'cath gwyn', it's the same as French 'chat blanc'. Welsh shares this habit with French and we employ it in English when we say 'chat noir' or 'film noir'. It's not like the order of 'wit kat' or 'weisse Katze'.

Of course it is... English is a Germanic language, as I pointed out in my initial post, I also clearly explained why French a Romantic language has so much Celtic influence.

I will not be posting here again since I have zero interest in arguing with you further.

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Myrtonos

What I had actually read is that 'session' is the closest English word in meaning to 'Eisteddfod'. I'm nevertheless under the impression that the average English speaker does know the word Eisteddfod. And many in England will know of the river name 'Avon' even if they don't know it's from Welsh. Since there are rivers in England with that name, it counts as part of the English language.

But an English speaking beginner should probably be told that the Welsh word for river is indeed like the river name 'Avon' in English.

By contrast, the names Siobhan and Sian are not only Irish names but associated with Irish people.

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