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Cymraeg Revisited: Our Guide to Some Basic Welsh

by Love Wrexham Magazine
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Welcome to our revamped Welsh for Beginners section. After many of you asked why the feature was discontinued, we decided to bring it back!

We’ve gone into a little more detail than on previous occasions just to make it more challenging and interesting. We’ve also included phrases and adjective-noun combinations to show you how the dreaded mutations can sometimes raise their unpredictable head and to give the guide a more realistic feel!

All you experts out there, please feel free to comment on the pronunciation guide. We welcome your feedback, but please be kind – none of us are Welsh!

This month, we’ve chosen a topic that we believe will be particularly useful for you: cars and traffic. It’s a practical subject that you’re likely to encounter in your daily life, so let’s dive in!

EnglishWelshPronunciation Guide
Give wayIldiwchill-dee-uch1
Slow down nowArafwch nawrar2av-uch1 now-r3
Traffic jamTagfa draffigtag-va dra-fig
Red, amber, greenCoch, ambr, gwyrddcorch1, am-ber3, gweerth4
CarCarcar2
LorryLorilor-y5
MotorbikeBeic modurbake mod-eer3
CrossroadsCroesfforddcroyce-forth3 4
RoundaboutCylchfankillch1van
Speed limitTerfyn cyflymdertare-vin cuv-lim-der
20 mphUgain milltir yr awre-gaɪn6 mill7-tier ɜːr8 our3
Traffic lightGolau traffiggoll-aye trafig
The bold lettering tells you which syllable to stress.

Key

  • 1 The “ch” is pronounced like the “ch” in “loch”.
  • 2 The “a” is pronounced like the “a” in cat, and you have to roll the “r” slightly.
  • 3 Again, roll the “r” slightly.
  • 4 This is like the “th” in “the”, not the “th” in “fourth”.
  • 5 This is pronounced like the English “lorry” but with a slightly trilled “r”.
  • 6 The “aɪ” phonetic symbol is pronounced like the “i” in “pine”.
  • 7 The double “l” here sounds almost like the “ch” in “loch”.
  • 8 This phonetic symbol sounds like the “er” in “her”, with the “r” trilled ever so slightly.

A Brief History of Cymraeg – Introduction

Firstly, Cymraeg, or Welsh, is a language native to the British Isles, originating from a Celtic language spoken by the ancient Britons. Throughout its history, it has faced numerous challenges to its existence.

Welsh is a Brythonic language, meaning British Celtic in origin and was spoken in Britain even before the Roman occupation. Thought to have arrived in Britain around 600 BC, the Celtic language evolved in the British Isles into a Brythonic tongue which provided the basis not only for Welsh, but also Breton and Cornish. At this time in Europe, Celtic languages were spoken across the continent even as far as Turkey.

The Welsh Language Society

Secondly, in the 19th century, the Welsh language still did not benefit from the increasing literacy levels amongst the general public. Moreover, whilst children were attending school, Welsh was not part of the school curriculum. English was still the dominant language as it represented administration and business in an era of imperial expansion.

In the 20th century, there was a growing recognition that the Welsh language and speakers were being discriminated against. For example, in 1942 the Welsh Courts Act formally addressed the issue of defendants and plaintiffs being forced to speak in English and ushered in a new law allowing Welsh to be used in the courts.

By 1967, a very important and crucial piece of legislation was introduced thanks to the campaigning of many individuals including Plaid Cymru and also the Welsh Language Society.

This legislation was largely modelled on the Hughes Parry Report only two years earlier which stated that Welsh should have equal status to English in the courts.

This was a pivotal moment when the prejudices ushered in during the Tudor period began to be reversed. Today the Welsh language is spoken at home, in the workplace, in the community and also in the government. In the 2011 census, over 562,000 people named Welsh as their main language.

Finally, to learn more Welsh phrases view The Welsh Gift Shop website here, or, to view our other Welsh words click here.

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