Welsh (Welsh: Cymraeg) is a language spoken by around 21% of the population in Wales in addition to English (according to the 2001 Census) but probably more than 21% of the Welsh population can speak the Welsh Language now in 2010. It is also spoken by several thousand people in the Chubut province of Argentina, as well as by substantial numbers of people scattered around the world. All Welsh speakers old enough to attend school in Wales also speak English, while those in Argentina speak Spanish. There are probably at least 100,000 Welsh speakers elsewhere in the UK, and considerable interest in learning the language not only in Wales but also elsewhere in the UK, in the US and elsewhere.
Welsh is a relatively phonetic language, with most letters having only one pronunciation. Complications may arise with the various consonantal digraphs, particularly "dd" which is represented in English as "th" as in "breathe", while "th" is represented in English as "th" as in "think"; "ll" is a famously difficult (and common) sound for non-Welsh speakers to produce - made by positioning the tongue at the top front of the mouth and blowing, and represented here as "lh". (Not uniquely Welsh, it also occurs in some South African languages.) "Ch" is always pronounced like the German name "Bach" or the Scottish "loch"; the sound which appears in the English word "church" is represented by "ts".
There are relatively minor pronunciation differences between northern and southern Welsh, most notably that "i" on the one hand and "u" and "y" are two distinct sounds on the other in the north, while in the south these letters are pronounced identically as the sound of "i".
Unless overridden by an accent mark, the stress in Welsh words nearly always falls on the last but one syllable of a word. As syllables get added to words, for example to denote a plural or a female person of a particular occupation, the sound of a word can change dramatically.
Welsh is written in a version of the Latin alphabet containing 28 letters, including 8 digraphs which count as separate letters for collating purposes (and crossword puzzles): a, b, c, ch, d, dd, e, f, ff, g, ng, h, i, l, ll, m, n, o, p, ph, r, rh, s, t, th, u, w, y.
The letters j, v, x and z do not exist in normal Welsh usage, but have been adopted from English for limited use e.g. in personal names. "K" is regarded as redundant in Welsh as the sound is always represented by "c", but it is found in the prefix "kilo-", although "cilo-" is always acceptable.
Grammatically, Welsh is relatively complex with two grammatical genders, masculine and feminine, which all nouns are assigned to, and also masculine and feminine forms of the numbers "two" "three" and "four" which have to match the gender of the object being counted; there are also two separate counting systems, decimal (base 10) and the more traditional vigesimal (base 20). The phenomenon of mutation is a characteristic of the Celtic languages, where the initial letters of words change depending on the grammar of the sentence, which can make tracking words down in a dictionary difficult.
Vowels in Welsh can have accent marks, most commonly the circumflex (^), called the to bach (little roof), which lengthens the sound of the vowel, and the acute (´), which shortens it. Occasionally the diaresis appears, dividing two vowel sounds from each other. Vowel sounds tend to resemble those of major continental European languages rather than English.
There are seven vowels in Welsh, which have both short and long forms. The following sounds are only approximations in English:
What is your name? (informal) : Be' ydy dy enw di? (bay UHdi duh ENoo dee?)
My name is ______ .
______ ydy f'enw i. (_____ you ven-oo ee.)
Nice to meet you.
Braf cwrdd â chi. (Brahv corth ah khi)
Os gwelwch chi'n dda. ()
Thank you [very much].
Diolch [yn fawr]. (DEE-ol'ch [un vowr])
There are no exact equivalents of "yes" and "no" in Welsh; the concept is conveyed grammatically with regard to agreement between the person and tense by indicating agreement or disagreement e.g. "yes there is" or "no there is not", which is said in different ways depending on how the question was phrased. If the question begins "Oes...?" or "A oes...?" ("Is there...?") then the reply is "oes" or "nac oes"; if the question begins "Ydy...?" ("Is...?") then the reply is "ydy" or "nac ydy" etc
Excuse me. (getting attention)
Esgusodwch fi. (es-gis-OD-oo'ch vee)
Excuse me. (begging pardon)
Esgusodwch fi. (es-gis-OD-oo'ch vee)
Mae'n ddrwg gen i. (My uhn th'roog gen ee)
Da bo chi. (Da BO ch'ee)
I can't speak Welsh [well].
Alla i ddim siarad Cymraeg [yn dda]. (Alh'a ee thim SHARad kym-RYE-g [uhn tha])
Do you speak English?
Ydych chi'n siarad Saesneg? (UD-ich ch'een SHARad SAYES-neg?)
Is there someone here who speaks English?
Oes rhywun yma sy'n siarad Saesneg? (Oyss RHEEW-in UMma seen SHARad SAYES-neg?)
Dates are written day/month/year. So if you see 04-12-2003, you know that's y pedwerydd o Rhagfyr, not April 12. A date (18-12-1963) fully spelled out is y deunawfed o Ragfyr mil naw chwe tri (you specify the number of thousands, then the individual number of the hundreds, tens, and units; for years from 2000 onwards say "dwy fil" (two thousand) followed by the significant number, omitting the zeroes - thus 2005 is "dwy fil a phump" (two thousand and five), compared with 1987 which was "mil naw wyth saith" ((one) thousand nine eight seven).
The ordinals are as follows. The feminine form is given with feminine nouns.
1st - 1af, cyntaf
2nd - 2il, ail
3rd - 3ydd, trydydd (m.), trydedd (f.)
4th - 4ydd, pedwerydd (m.), pedwaredd (f.)
5th - 5ed, pumed
6th - 6ed, chweched
7th - 7fed, seithfed
8th - 8fed, wythfed
9th - 9fed, nawfed
10th - 10fed, degfed
Times are either written in the 24 hour clock or with hours and minutes separated by a colon or dot and suffixed by "y.b." (y bore),"y.p." (y p'nawn) or "y.h." (yr hwyr) equivalent to "a.m." and "p.m.".