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The Welsh Language

Welsh is one of the Celtic languages still spoken. The only natural communities of speakers are Wales and a small colony in Patagonia (in the Chubut province of Argentina), although there are many speakers of Welsh elsewhere, particularly in England, Australia and the United States of America.

The English names of the Welsh language (y Gymraeg) and the Welsh people (y Cymry) and Wales (Cymru) derive from a Germanic name for foreigners that crops up elsewhere in Europe in the same way.

Welsh is an Indo-European language and so has much of the deep structure of its grammar shared with other Indo-European languages It is less closely related to English than are languages like French and German and the Scandinavian languages.

The Welsh spoken today is directly descended from the language of the sixth century. Today around 20% of all people in Wales speak Welsh fluently, so the language is very much a living language and it is a very important part of the Welsh identity and culture. Gwynedd has the highest percentage of fluent Welsh speakers which is about 69%. For visitors, an understanding of the language and the ability to speak a few words will make your trip more enjoyable.

The spoken language is lyrical and flowing, poetic in sound but the written language is difficult to come to grips with. Here are a few aids to understanding.

      Common & Useful
      Welsh Words and Phrases

    • the Welsh alphabet does not have the letters - j, k, q, v, x, z
    • it has one “f” pronounced as “v” in English and “ff” pronounced as “f” in English
    • a “dd” pronounced as “th” in “then”
    • a “ll”, nice one this! Put your tongue on the top of your mouth and hiss
    • remember that long Welsh place names are not really long, but are a number of words joined together - similar to German

    Good Morning
    Good day
    Good Afternoon
    Good night
    How are you?

    Bore da
    Dydd da
    Prynhawn da
    Nos da
    Sut mae?
    Iechyd da

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