By: Blonde Two

Last weekend I spent a lovely (if rather wet) couple of days in the midst of the Cambrian Mountains in mid-Wales. My sister and I both enjoy languages and we spent a fair amount of our travelling time trying to pronounce and understand some of the Welsh place names. This is a great occupation as many Welsh place-name translations give a lovely picture of the surrounding features and can translate a map into a guide book. Here are a few examples.

Glas Llyn – blue lake
Eglwys Fach – small church
Ty Coch – red house
Mynydd Ddu – black mountain
Llanbrynmair – St Mary’s Church on the hill
Nant y Moch – stream of pigs (not sure about this one)

I love languages and like to learn some vocabulary wherever I travel. This isn’t always easy but at the very minimum, I try at least say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ in the local tongue. ‘Diolch yn fawr’ for thank you is tricky enough but ‘os gwelwch yn dda’ for please has really proved a struggle to remember. We were given a few fascinating lessons by a local and were relieved to find that ‘plis’ is also a colloquial option for please.

Welsh pronunciation can often prove a problem and is perhaps the reason why so many people give up when they are trying to speak it. Take the letter ‘y’ for example. So popular in the Welsh language that if you play Welsh Scrabble (apparently not many people do) it only has one point instead of the English four points. However, move it around a word in Welsh and it gives a completely different sound (apologies if I have got the below completely wrong).

At the start of the word = ‘i’ as in ‘shin’

At the end of the word = ‘ee’ as in ‘bee’

In the middle of the word = ‘u’ as in ‘cut’

Yr = ‘ur’ as in ‘turn’

Any other combinations… this Welsh alphabet might help but be warned…

I would love to be able to speak Welsh but think I am a long way off even understanding it. Even so, I always feel that my adventures in Wales are enhanced by investigating the language. I would also like to learn a few Welsh songs and hymns in their original language, very tricky but I am enjoying listening to them nonetheless.

Suo Gan = ‘Do not weep’ (I think)

A Hyd y Nos = ‘All Through the Night’