Welsh language

Brittonic language spoken natively in Wales

The Welsh language is a Celtic language and the national language of Wales, a country that is part of the United Kingdom. In Welsh, it is known as Cymraeg, or yr iaith Gymraeg, which means "the Welsh language".

Cymraeg, y Gymraeg
Native toWales and Argentina.
RegionSpoken throughout Wales, in border-towns between England and Wales, and in the Chubut province of Argentina.
Native speakers
721,700 total speakers (2011)
Wales: 562,000 speakers, 19.0% of the population of Wales,[1] with 14.6% of the population (431,000) considering themselves fluent in Welsh
England: 150,000[2]
Chubut Province, Argentina: 5,000[3]
United States: 2,500[4]
Canada: 2,200[5]
Early forms
Latin (Welsh alphabet)
Official status
Official language in
Regulated byMeri Huws, the Welsh Language Commissioner (since 1 April 2012)[6] and the Welsh Government (Llywodraeth Cymru)
Language codes
ISO 639-1cy
ISO 639-2wel (B)
cym (T)
ISO 639-3cym
Percentage of Welsh speakers by principal area

Welsh is still spoken throughout the region: about 21% of the people of Wales can speak Welsh. That is about 600,000 people, and some people outside Wales, including those in nearby England. Many people in Wales say they can understand some form of Welsh, such as spoken, written, or can read Welsh, even if they do not speak it all the time.

Even though almost all Welsh people can understand and use the English language, the Welsh language is still an important part of Welsh culture. So children in all schools in Wales have to study it. There are some schools that have almost all of their classes in Welsh, but most schools teach mainly in English. Welsh is taught as a second language in these schools.

Language mutations change

Welsh has mutations, a sound (in speech) or a letter (in writing) changing at the start of a word. Example are the Welsh words "gwneud", which in English means "to do"; and "dod", which means "to come"; and "dewch i mewn", which means "come in". The word sometimes changes from "gwneud" to "wneud" and from "dod" to "ddod". The sounds (in speech) or letters (in writing) changes also occur within and at the end of words, but the simplified classification found in ordinary books does not mention that.

Formal and informal Welsh change

In Welsh, there is formal and informal Welsh. Formal Welsh is used for writing in formal documents and tor speaking to a group (because it also includes the plural), to someone older than yourself, to someone you have just met, or someone to whom you would like to show respect. Formal words and phrases use variations of "chi", meaning "you." Sometimes, people will ask you to call them "chi."

Informal Welsh is used in sending e-mails or sending text messages to your friends or family and in talking with people you have known for a long time. Informal words and phrases use variations of "ti", meaning "you." Sometimes, people will ask you to call them "ti."

Sounds change

There are some sounds and letters that exist in Welsh but not in English, such as the letters and sounds ch and ll. The first sound is pronounced like the Scottish Loch Ness, and one Welsh word that uses it is "bach", which means "small." Ll is a voiceless 'l' and is made by placing the tongue on the top of the top gum, and blowing. A Welsh word that uses the 'll' is "llan", which means "church" and appears often in place names, including one called Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Both 'ch' and 'll' are single letters in the Welsh alphabet, along with 'dd,' 'ff,' 'ng,' 'ph,' 'rh,' and 'th.'

Here are some things to say in Welsh with the pronunciation in brackets ().

  • "Croeso i Gymru" (Kroy-sore ee Gum-ree) - Welcome to Wales
  • "Dewch i mewn" (Dew-ch ee mewn) - Come in (formal Welsh)
  • "Bore da" (Bor-eh dah) - Good morning
  • "Cai ydw i" (Ky uh-doo ee) - I am Cai (i.e.,My name is Cai)
  • "Pwy ydych chi?" (Poi Ud-uch ee) - Who are you?, or What is your name? (formal Welsh)
  • "Sut ydych chi heddiw?" (Sit uhd-ich ee heth-ew) - How are you today? (formal Welsh)
  • "Sut wyt ti heddiw?" (Sit ooee-tea heth-ew) - How are you today? (informal Welsh)
  • "Da iawn diolch" (Dah yoww-n dee-olch) - Very well thank you.

Here are a few other words;

  • "Trwyn" (Troo-in) - Nose
  • "Hapus" (Hap-is) - Happy
  • "Trist" (Tree-st) - Sad
  • "Rwy'n caru ti" (Rooeen carry tea) - I love you (informal Welsh)
  • "Heulog" (Hey-log) - Sunny
  • "Eira" (Ey-ra) - Snow
  • "Ci" (Key) - Dog

Media change

Welsh books and newspapers have been printed for hundreds of years. Some of these books have been translated into English, and some books in other languages have been translated into Welsh. "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" was translated into Welsh, with the translation of "Harri Potter a Maen yr Athronydd," which means the same as the English title.

BBC Radio Cymru is a Welsh-language radio station that is available throughout Wales. Some local radio stations have some Welsh and English programs during the day.

The Welsh television channel, S4C, has been on air since 1982. It broadcasts shows such as the soap opera Pobol y Cwm, and children's programs such as Superted and Sam Tân (known as Fireman Sam in English).

In August 2009, the mobile phone maker Samsung (with the provider Orange) unveiled a new Welsh-language mobile phone that would be available from September 2009. It includes Welsh-language predictive text and menus.[7][8]

The Welsh alphabet change

The Welsh alphabet has some extra letters that are not used in English, and does not have some others. Although certain letters do not exist in Welsh, they are used sometimes to make sounds that could not possibly be made otherwise. A good example is the word "garej" (meaning garage). The letter "j" does not exist in the Welsh language, and is a lend-word from English. The traditional word for "garage" in Welsh is modurdy, which means, "motor house". Another lend-word is "toiled," which means "toilet" in English. There are now many lend-words in spoken Welsh. Here is the Welsh alphabet;

A1, B, C, CH2, D, DD2, E1, F2, FF2, G, NG2, H, I1, L, LL2, M, N, O1, P, PH2, R, RH2, S, T, TH2, U1, W1 2, Y1.

1 These letters are vowels. The letter 'W' can be used either as a vowel (when it is said 'oo' like in the Welsh word 'cwm' (coom) meaning 'valley') or as a consonant (when it is said like it is in English, for example in the Welsh word 'gwyn' (gwin) meaning 'white'). This is the same with letter 'I' which can also be used as a consonant (when it is said like an English Y like in 'iogwrt' (yog-oort) meaning yoghurt.
2 Letters that are not in the English alphabet, or have different sounds. CH sounds like the 'KH' in Ayatollah Khoumeini. DD is said like the TH in 'there'. F is said like the English 'V'. FF is said like the English 'F'. NG sounds like it would in English but it is tricky because it comes at the beginnings of words (for example 'fy ngardd' - my garden). One trick is to blend it in with the word before it. LL sounds like a cat hissing. PH sounds like the English 'F' too, but it is only used in mutations. RH sounds like an 'R' said very quickly before a 'H'. TH sounds like the 'TH' in 'THin'. W has been explained in the sentences before about vowels.

References change

  1. Office for National Statistics 2011 http://ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/census/2011-census/key-statistics-for-unitary-authorities-in-wales/stb-2011-census-key-statistics-for-wales.html#tab---Proficiency-in-Welsh
  2. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. "Refworld | World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples - United Kingdom : Welsh". UNHCR. Retrieved 2010-05-23.
  3. "Wales and Argentina". Wales.com website. Welsh Assembly Government. 2008. Archived from the original on 2012-10-16. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
  4. "Table 1. Detailed Languages Spoken at Home and Ability to Speak English for the Population 5 Years and Over for the United States: 2006-2008 Release Date: April, 2010" (xls). United States Census Bureau. 27 April 2010. Retrieved 2 January 2011.
  5. "2006 Census of Canada: Topic based tabulations: Various Languages Spoken (147), Age Groups (17A) and Sex (3) for the Population of Canada, Provinces, Territories, Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations, 2006 Census - 20% Sample Data". Statistics Canada. 7 December 2010. Retrieved 3 January 2011.
  6. "Welsh Language Commissioner". Archived from the original on 2018-12-26. Retrieved 2013-03-06.
  7. BBC News | Cymru Wales - Mobile phone for Welsh-speakers
  8. WalesOnline - Samsung/Orange launch Welsh language mobile phone