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.
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". "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:
like "pat" and "father".
like "pet" and "pear".
like "pit" and "machine".
like "pot" and "port".
In South Wales, like "pit" and "machine".
In North Wales, more like a French "u" as in "tu"
like "u" in "put" and "oo" as in "moon".
like "b" in "bed".
like "c" in "cat".
like "ch" in German "Bach" or Scottish "loch".
like "d" in "death".
like "th" in "the".
like "v" in "van".
like "f" in "fun".
like "g" in "garden".
like "ng" in "pong". Sometimes, like in "fi"ng"er".
like "h" in "heart".
like "l" in "link".
place the tongue at the top of the mouth, and blow.
like "m" in "meet".
like "n" in "news".
like "p" in "pen".
like "ph" in "philosophy".
like "r" in "red" (well rolled, as in Scottish pronunciation).
an aspirated, breathy "r".
like "s" in "state".
si + vowel (NOT a consonant, but a sound)
like "sh" in "shore".
like "t" in "time".
like "th" in "think".
Only southern forms unless otherwise stated.
English approximations are also given.
like "aye", with a rounded closing sound. When used as the plural marker, often pronounced "ah" in the north and "eh" in the south.
like "ey" in "hey!"
like "ey" in "hey!", but with a rounded closing sound.
like "eh-oo" said quickly.
like "ey" in "hey!".
like "oy" in "boy".
like "oy" in "boy".
like "oy" in "boy".
like "you" (in monosyllables).
like "uh-oo" (in polysyllabics).
The differences between some of the dipthongs are often very subtle.
S'mae? (s-my? (north) shoo-my? (south))
How are you? (formal)
Sut ydych chi? (north) Shwd ych chi? (south)
How are you? (informal)
Sut wyt ti? (north) Shwd wyt ti? (south)
Fine, thank you.
iawn, diolch. (yown, dee-ol'ch)
What is your name? (formal)
Be' ydy'ch enw chi? (bay UHdi'ch ENoo ch'ee?)
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?)
Bore da. (BOR-eh dah)
Prynhawn da. (PRINhaun dah)
Noswaith dda. (NOSS-why-th thah)
Nos da. (NOHS dah)
Good night (to sleep)
Nos da. (NOHS dah)
I don't understand.
Dw i ddim yn ddeall. ()
Where is the toilet?
Ble' mae'r ty bach? (Blay my'r tee bahch?)
dau (die) (m); dwy (doo-ey) (f)
tri (tree) (m); tair (tire) (f)
pedwar (PED-war) (m); pedair (PED-ire) (f)
chwech (ch'way'ch or ch'way)
deg (day-g or deng)
From this point, the first term is the vigesimal form, the second is the decimal form. Replace "dau", "tri" and "pedwar" with "dwy", "tair", and "pedair" as appropriate.
un ar ddeg (een ar thayg); un deg un
deuddeg (DAY-theg or DAY-theng)' un deg dau
tri ar ddeg (tree ar thayg); un deg tri
pedwar ar ddeg (PED-war ar thayg); un deg pedwar
pumtheg (PUM-theg); un deg pump
un ar bumtheg (een ar BUM-theg); un deg chwech
dau ar bumtheg (die ar BUM-theg); un deg saith
deunaw (DAY-now); un deg wyth
pedwar ar bymtheg (PED-war ar BUM-theg); un deg naw
ugain (IG-ine); dau ddeg
un ar ugain (een ar IG-ine); dau ddeg un
dau ar ugain (die ar IG-ine); dau ddeg dau
tri ar ugain (tree ar IG-ine); dau ddeg tri
deg ar ugain (DAYG ar IG-ine); tri ddeg
deugain (DAY-gine); pedwar deg
hanner cant (HAN-ner kant); pum' deg
trigain (TRIG-ine); chwe' deg
deg a thrigain (DAYG ah THRIG-ine); saith deg
pedwar ugain (PED-war IG-ine); wyth deg
deg a phedwar ugain (DAYG ah FED-war IG-ine); naw deg
un ar ddeg a phedwar ugain (een ar thayg ah FED-war IG-ine); naw deg un
dau gant (die gant) (m); dwy chant (doo-ey ch'ant) (f)
tri chant (tree ch'ant)
dau mil (die meel) (m); dwy fil (doo-ey veel) (f)
number _____ (train, bus, etc.)
rhif _____ (REEV)
rwan (ROO-an); nawr (NOW-r)
in the morning
yn y fore (un uh VOR-eh)
prynhawn (PRUN-hown) - commonly pronounced p'nown
min nos (meen nohs); noson (nosson)
in the evening
yn y fin nos (un uh veen nohs)
one o'clock AM
un o'r gloch y bore (een oh'r glo'ch uh bor-eh) - 1:00 y.b.; 01:00
two o'clock AM
dau o'r gloch y bore (die oh'r glo'ch uh bor-eh) - 2:00 y.b.; 02:00
hanner dydd (HAN-ner DEE-th) - 12:00
one o'clock PM, 13:00
un o'r gloch y p'nawn (een oh'r glo'ch uh p'nown) - 1:00 y.p.; 13:00
two o'clock PM, 14:00
dau o'r gloch y p'nawn (die oh'r glo'ch uh p'nown) - 2:00 y.p.; 14:00
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 Rhagfyr mil naw chwe' thri (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 pump" (two thousand and five), compared with 1987 which was "mil naw wyth saith" ((one) thousand nine eight seven). Ordinals are
1st - 1af, cyntaf
2nd - 2il, ail
3rd - 3ydd, trydydd
4th - 4ydd, pedwerydd
5th - 5ed, pumed
6th - 6fed or 6ed, chwechfed
7th - 7fed or 7ed, saithfed
8th - 8fed or 8ed, wythfed
9th - 9fed or 9ed, nawfed
10th - 10fed or 10ed, 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) or "y.p." (y p'nawn), equivalent to "a.m." and "p.m.".
gwyn (m) / gwen (f) (gwin/gwen)
glas (glaas) - note that this word is also used to describe the colour of grass.
gwyrdd (m) / gwerdd (f) (gwirth/gwer'th)
porffor or glascoch (POR-for or GLASko'ch)
Bus and train
How much is a ticket to _____?
Praint yw tocyn i _____ ? (pry-nt yoo tok-in ee)
One ticket to _____, please.
Tocyn i _____, os gwelwch yn dda. (tok-in ee ____ oss gwel-ookh un tha)
Where does this train/bus go?
Ble 'dy trên/bws hon yn mynd? (blay dee train/boos honn yn mind?)
Where is the train/bus to _____?
Ble mae'r trên/bws i _____ ? (blay mire train/boos i ____)
Does this train/bus stop in _____?
Ydy'r trên/bws hon yn galw yn _____ ? (Uh deer train/bws honn un ga-loo un _____)
When does the train/bus for _____ leave?
Pryd mae'r trên/bws i ______ yn ymadael? (preed my-r train/boos i _______ un umm-ad-ile)
When will this train/bus arrive in _____?
Pryd fydd y trên/bws hon yn cyrraedd _____ ? (preed veeth uh train/boos honn un kurr-ithe _____)
a one-way ticket
a round trip ticket
tocyn dwy ffordd
Where is the _____?
Ble mae'r _____ ? (blay my'r _____)
y Gogledd (uh GOG-leth')
y De (uh DAY)
y Dwyrain (uh DOOY-rine)
y Gorllewin (uh gor-LH'EW-in)
Bed & Breakfast
Gwely a Brecwast
Gwersyll, Maes Gwersylla
pabell (pl: pebyll)
Llaeth (south), Llefrith (north)
'Sgod a Sglod
Cheers (good health)
Half a bottle
Crisps (potato chips)
Is there a petrol station here?
Oes na orsaf petrol fan hyn?
Where's the road to Pandy?
Ble mae'r ffordd i'r Pandy?
The road via Gwersyllt is quicker.
Mae'r ffordd drwy Gwersyllt yn gyflymach.
Try to avoid Cefn-y-Bedd.
Ceisiwch osgoi Cefn-y-Bedd.
Is there a prettier route to Brymbo?
Oes ffordd perta i fynd i Frymbo?
Turn left at the old steel works.
Trowch i'r chwith ger yr hen waith dur.
There's nothing to see there. The Gresford pithead is a housing estate now.
Does dim byd yna i weld. Mae'r glofa Groesfford yn stad tai rwan.
There's a petrol station in Rossett but Sainsbury's is cheaper.
Mae na orsaf petrol yn Yr Orsedd ond mae Sainsbury's yn dsiepach
You can park in Heol Hyfryd for free.
Gewch chi barcio yn Heol Hyfryd am ddim.
Don't park in Bryn Hyfryd it's a rough area.
Paid a pharcio ym Mryn Hyfryd - mae'n ardal ryff.
This is a usable phrasebook. It explains pronunciation and the bare essentials of travel communication. An adventurous person could use it to get by, but please plunge forward and help it grow!