The Welsh Language
The Welsh language is beautiful, whether spoken in the rounded lilt of the south or the more staccato rhythm of the north, and I had every intention of learning to speak it as soon as I could after my move to Wales. I had visions of me speaking fluently to my new Welsh friends within months. I had the tapes (showing my age here!) and accompanying books but unfortunately things didn’t go quite as planned and I am still working on it!
I mastered ‘Bore da’ (good morning), ‘Prynhawn da’ (good afternoon), ‘Nos da’ (good night) and ‘Diolch’ and ‘Dim Diolch’ (thank you and no thank you) quickly and thought how well it was going. However, we then came to the traditional Welsh word for please – Os gwelwch yn dda. The pronunciation (oss gway-looKH un tha) took me a while to get the hang of, but it did make for a good introduction to the Welsh alphabet.
There are 29 letters in the Welsh alphabet. The 5 English letters not included are K, Q, V, X and Z and there are 8 double letter combinations to be added which are used as single letters in Welsh: CH, DD, FF, NG, LL, PH, RH and TH. The majority of them can have their pronunciation fairly easily explained phonetically and if anyone does want to know how, give me a shout.
The letter ‘LL’ is more difficult. The best description I have come across that worked for me was to place the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth by your top front teeth then make a short, sharp breath. Are you all trying it?? The resulting noise should give you a good idea of the letter sound. It worked for me and certainly helps when it comes to pronouncing place names confidently. Does anyway else have a better way?
Whereas I may not still be fluent in Welsh I have picked up a lot of words and phrases that I had not come across before living here. My absolute favourite has to be the word ‘cwtch’, usually used in reference to a warm hug and in place of the word cuddle. There is no literal English translation but ‘safe place’ is probably the nearest equivalent phrase. I think this is the most lovely thought – that when you give someone a cwtch you are providing a safe place for them to be.
My whole family now use ‘cwtch’ – especially after the incident where a family member was most offended when she asked my then 2 year old daughter for a cuddle and was rewarded by a blank look and then the view of her wandering off!
What are your favourite Welsh words or colloquialisms? Is there a particular phrase you think sounds more evocative in Welsh than English? I’d love to know your thoughts!
Hello and Welcome!
Hi! My name’s Ginnie and welcome to my journal! This is my first foray into blog writing but am hoping that my love of Wales will shine through and infect you all with the urge to discover for yourselves all my adopted country has to offer!
A little bit about me first…. Born and raised in England, I have always had links to Wales with visits to family on the North Coast and listening to my Mum's many stories of idyllic summer holidays spent on Anglesey when she was a girl.
When it came to choosing a university, I felt at home right away at Trinity College Carmarthen and had a fantastic three years studying, discovering West Wales and last but not least, meeting my future husband, a native of the valleys of South Wales.
We are now happily settled in Mid Wales with a little girl, who has just started at our village school, and a very soft dog who loves nothing more than getting out and about in the glorious Welsh countryside.
Working for Wales Holidays for nearly 14 years has been a joy and now having the opportunity of being able to use my experiences and interests to help people get even more out of their holidays and trips to this beautiful country, or just even to have a bit of a laugh at my exploits, is just great.
I am eager for my friends and colleagues to join me in this new venture and am sure they will have plenty to contribute on a wide variety of interesting topics.
The world of social media can be wonderful thing so please do get involved! I would love to hear from you about your own experiences of Wales and any suggestions for blogging ideas or places to visit would be gratefully received. I will be looking out for your comments and will always respond.
I will be updating my journal with blog posts regularly, so stay tuned, follow Wales Holidays on Facebook and Twitter for more information and I look forward to getting to know each and every one of you!