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The Welsh Language
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Wales / Cymru

The Welsh Language

It is estimated that a quarter of the population of Wales speak Welsh as naturally as they do English - and there are a few thousand people who speak Welsh only. The basic vocabulary of present-day Welsh is Celtic, but it includes a sprinkling of Latin and English. It is a lyrical-sounding language, but very tongue-twisting for outsiders. The Welsh alphabet omits the consonants j, k, q, v, x, and z. It has the one 'f' (pronounced 'v') and adds a double 'ff' (pronounced as the ordinary English 'f'); a double 'dd' (pronounced as 'th' in 'then'); a double 'll' (almost impossible for an outsider pronounce correctly; to get near to the sound, put the tongue at the back of the roof of the mouth and say 'hl').

Saying Hello
The first thing you should know how to say in Welsh is "Hello".
  • Helo! - this is how you say "Hello" to your friends.
  • Bore da. - this is how you say "Good morning" to someone.
  • Noswaith dda. - this is how you say "Good evening" to someone.
  • Croeso. - "Welcome"
Saying Goodbye
  • Hwyl or Hwyl fawr - means "Goodbye, have fun".
  • Da boch - is another way of saying "Goodbye".
  • Diolch - "Thank you"
Saying Goodnight
  • Nos da - you only say this last thing at night.
How are you?
  • Helo, sut wyt ti? - this is how you greet someone and ask how they are.
This list shows the different ways of saying how you are.
  • yn dda iawn - very well
  • yn dda - well
  • yn weddol - fairly well
  • dim yn dda - not well
  • yn wael - poorly
  • yn ofnadwy - terrible
1 = un 2 = dau/dwy 3 = tri/tair 4 = pedwar/pedair 5 = pump
6 = chwech 7 = saith 8 = wyth 9 = naw 10 = deg
11 = undeg un 12 = undeg dau 13 = undeg tri 14 = undeg pedwar 15 = undeg pump
16 = undeg chwech 17 = undeg saith 18 = undeg wyth 19 = undeg naw 20 = dauddeg
21 = dauddeg un 22 = dauddeg dau 23 = dauddeg tri 24 = dauddeg pedwar 25 = dauddeg pump
26 = dauddeg chwech 27 = dauddeg saith 28 = dauddeg wyth 29 = dauddeg naw 30 = trideg
40 = pedwardeg 50 = pumdeg 60 = chwedeg 70 = saithdeg 80 = wythdeg
90 = nawdeg 100 = cant
You count the 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's in the same way as 20-29

Place Names
Welsh place names, often mystifying at first, become easier to understand when it is realised that they are often made up by joining together a number of separate word elements. When the word 'bryn', for exaple, appears in a place-name it usually denotes a hill; 'llyn' a lake; and 'ynys' an island.

Other meanings of elements in Welsh place names are:

aber, estuary cwm or dyffryn, valley pen, headland
afon, river dit, village pistyll, waterfall
bach or fach, small dol, meadow pwll, pit or pool
bont, bridge fawr or mawr, large rhiw, slope
bwlch, pass glan or lan, shore rhos, moor or marsh
caer or gaer, fort gwyn, white traws, cross
capel, chapel llan, church tre, town
coed, wood maen, boulder ty, house
coch or goch, red munydd, mountain ystwyth, winding

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