GWERS 1

 

PRONUNCIATION

English people are usually rather perturbed by the seemingly unpronounceable names of Welsh villages. In fact, Welsh has many complications but pronunciation is not really a serious one. Once learnt the alphabet is more consistent than English, basically one sound per letter. The exception to this is the letter Y. The difficulties encountered by visitors to Wales are due to attempting to pronounce

Welsh letters as if they were English. Welsh has its own alphabet.

There are 29 letters in the alphabet. There is no K, Q or Z. J is also not really a Welsh letter but occurs in Borrowed words such as jam and the surname Jones. The latter is a historical leftover resulting from English registrars' attempts to register the sons of Welshmen named Ieuan ! CH, DD, FF, NG, LL, PH, RH and TH are all letters in their own right with their own pronunciation and place in the alphabet. The following explanation is given in Welsh alphabetical order [you need this to look things up in the dictionary] and letters listed without comment are pronounced as in English.

Welsh words are normally stressed on the penultimate syllable. When this is not the case there is usually an accent thus \ over the vowel of the stressed syllable. In general you should assume that the syllable before the last is the stressed one.

 

 

A

may be long as in HARD or short as in HAM

B

 

C

always hard as in CAT. This is the Welsh K.

CH

as in Scottish LOCH

D

 

DD

as TH in THIS

E

can be long as in LANE pronounced with a Welsh accent [English as spoken by English native speakers does not have this sound] More often short as in THEN

F

As English V

FF

As English F

G

NG

 

H

always hard as in GARDEN

as in KING but not restricted to end of words. Note position in dictionary after G. It is not an initial letter but occurs internally and one can look for ages in the wrong place.

 

I

L

can be long as EE in TREE or short as in INK

LL

no equivalent in English. Place tongue behind teeth and breath out. Use tape for comparison. It's not as difficult as it is made out to be.

M

 

N

 

O

can be long as in TOE [but not a diphthong as in ordinary English Oh!] or short as in ON.

P

 

PH

as FF but only occurs in mutated forms [of which more later

R

RH

rolled more than English R, which can be almost silent.

Think about how WH is pronounced with a posh accent and then do the same with R. Listen to tape for clarification.

T

 

TH

as in THINK [compare DD. They are different.]

U

Beware! nothing to do with English U. Long as EE in BEEN or short as I in TIN.

W

 can be pronounced as English W when it comes before a vowel, but is also a vowel in its own right, pronounced as OO in SHOOT

Y

 

 

has two possible pronunciations. It can be as Welsh U [long EE or short I]. This occurs when Y is in the final syllable of a multisyllabic word, and also in all but three single syllable words [see below].

Where it occurs in non final syllables it is pronounced like the U in BUT. This is also the pronunciation in the three single syllable words YR, YN and FY.

 

In some words a long vowel is indicated by a circumflex [^ ] above the vowel but this is not invariable. The circumflex is however part of the spelling and must be learnt.

 

DIPHTHONGS

AI, AE, AU

all as English EYE but in plural endings is often pronounced as A or as E in unemphasised English THE

AW

as OW in COW

IW, EW, UW

all as in NEW

WY

 

can be as in WIN, but the real diphthong is more like OO + I.

A circumflex above the W denotes the latter pronunciation.

 

INTRODUCTION TO SYSTEM

I believe that (once childhood is behind us) it is impossible for most people to learn a language thoroughly without some understanding of the grammatical framework, especially if it is not heard regularly as part of normal life. On the other hand, I do not think there is much satisfaction to be gained from the old method of conjugating verbs etc without ever meeting the real language. Therefore each lesson will include at least one new aspect of Welsh Structure and work to do using the structures taught to date. There will also be some other material (often of a colloquial nature) to be learnt by heart and understood with regard to usage rather than structure. These passages will sometimes include structures which you do not yet know but which will slot into place when we come to them. A previously encountered phrase (a line in a song, for example) can make a new concept seem far less daunting.

There are several points where Welsh is constructed on quite different principles from English and, when one is not learning it as a toddler and has preconceptions which cause linguistic interference, a grammatical vocabulary is useful. If at any point you are not familiar with terms used, please do not hesitate to ask for clarification. Please also ask any questions that may occur to you. This course is intended as individual tuition so can progress at the speed that suits you. Every lesson will have work to be done and returned for checking. The material on the cassette is covered in the first three basic lessons. Having digested it and them thoroughly you should have a good idea about pronunciation but further tapes will be available if required.

The written material is colour coded for convenience: explanatory material is on white background, vocabulary and taped texts on yellow and exercises on green.

ARTICLES

Indefinite article: There is no word in Welsh for A or AN.

Definite article: The Welsh for THE is Y between two consonants, YR before a vowel, and 'R after a vowel. This sounds unnecessarily complicated but one soon gets used to it. An added complication is caused by the fact that Welsh nouns all gave grammatical gender; i.e. they are all either masculine or feminine. This does not require a different form of the definite article but many feminine nouns undergo a change of initial letter when they follow the definite article (see below)

MUTATIONS

A mutation (for linguistic purposes) is the substitution or disappearance of a letter. This occurs in some English plurals (wife > wives. knife > knives) but it is just considered an irregularity. In Welsh mutations occur for grammatical reasons according to strict rules. Native speakers operate these rules by ear (and not always consistently) but non-native speakers will find themselves floundering without guiding rules. We shall consider these over several lessons. In this lesson we shall note only what happens to certain initial letters of feminine nouns after the definite article.

initial P changes to B

initial T changes to D

initial C changes to G

initial B changes to F

initial M changes to F

initial D changes to DD

initial G disappears.

Thus 'a kitchen' is CEGIN, but 'the kitchen' is Y GEGIN. Words beginning with letters other than those listed above do not change for this reason; nor do masculine nouns or any plurals -- just feminine singular nouns.

 

 

Examples of indefinite ARTICLE, definite article and mutations

a dog

a garden

a kettle

a knife

ci

gardd

tecell

cyllell

the dog

the garden

the kettle

the knife

y ci

yr ardd*

y tecell

y gyllell**

the kettle and the knife

the cat and the dog

the house and the garden

the garden and the house

a house and garden

y tecell a'r gyllell**

y gath a'r ci

y t] a'r ardd

yr ardd a'r t]

t] a gardd

*G has been lost because of mutation of feminine nouns after definite article.

Y has become YR because, as G is lost, it now comes before a vowel.

** C > G because of mutation

VERBS

  1. Unlike English the verb in Welsh mostly comes first in a sentence. In this lesson we shall use only MAE, which means IS.
  2. When the subject is more than one person or thing, which in English would require ARE, Welsh still uses MAE, so you can think of MAE as meaning both IS and ARE.
  3. To say the something is we write mae'r ---- . since MAE ends in a vowel (see notes on definite article].
  4. MAE is used alone to say that someone IS [we don't use THE before a name] or with the meaning THERE IS A- - - -. or A SOMETHING IS - - -

 

 

Examples: note C > G after THE.

Mae'r sudd oren yn y jwg.

Mae'r gath yn y gegin.

Mae cath yn y gegin.

 

Mae Mari yn y stafell fwyta.

The orange juice is in the jug.

The cat is in the kitchen.

A cat is in the kitchen.

There is a cat in the kitchen

Mari is in the dining room.

 

 

 

POSSESSION

There is no apostrophe S in Welsh to denote possession. Welsh uses the equivalent of our 'the title of the book', except that no word for OF is used and there is a rather (to us] idiosyncratic way with the definite article. This we shall leave till the next lesson; for now we shall limit this idea to people with names in which case no definite article is used.

example: Siân's dog --- ci Siân

 

 

MASCULINE

brawd

bwrdd

car

ci

cig

cig moch

cwpwrdd

Dad

drws

d[r

gwely

llefrith

maes parcio

menyn

plât

sudd oren

tad

tebot

tecell

teledu

t]

 

brother

table

car

dog

meat

bacon

cupboard

Dad

door

water

bed

milk

car park

butter

plate

orange juice

father

teapot

kettle

television

house

 

 

FEMININE

cadair*

cadair freichiau*

cath*

cegin*

cwpan*

cyllell*

ffenestr*

fforc*

gardd*

jwg*

lolfa*

llwy*

mam*

potel*

rhewgell*

soser*

teisen*

ystafell*

(stafell]

ystafell wely*

ystafell fwyta*

 

 

chair

armchair

cat

kitchen

cup

knife

window

fork

garden

jug

sitting room

spoon

mother / Mum

bottle

fridge

saucer

cake

room

 

bedroom

dining room

* feminine nouns are marked with an asterisk to get you used to noting them before the next lesson where the vovabulary will be in alphabetical order.

 

a [ac before vowels and before mae

ar

ble / lle

dan

wrth

yn

dyma

dyna

hefyd

hi

mae

o

rwan [nawr in the south]

dyma

dyna

and

on

where

under

by / near

in

here is

there is

also

she

is

he

now

here is - presenting or indicating sth.

there is -- in sense of there not here

 

The postal course version of this lesson includes a cassette with the texts in Welsh. Here the Welsh (in print) is given alongside the English.

At present there is only text one here. I am rethinking the website version

.

 

 

TEXT 1

Here's the house.

Here's the garden.

Here's the kitchen

Here's the bedroom.

There's the car park.

There's the car.

There's the fridge.

There's the television.

The television is by the window.

The chair is near the table.

The jug is on the table.

Mum is in the kitchen.

Siân is at the door.

Gwilym is in bed. *

The cup is on the saucer.

The orange juice is in the bottle and the bottle is in the fridge.

 * In Welsh one says 'in the bed'.

 

TESTUN (text) 1

Dyma'r t].

Dyma'r ardd.

Dyma'r gegin.

Dyma'r stafell wely.

Dyna'r maes parcio.

Dyna'r car

Dyna'r rhewgell.

Dyna'r teledu.

Mae'r teledu wrth y ffenestr.

Mae'r gadair wrth y bwrdd.

Mae'r jwg ar y bwrdd.

Mae Mam yn y gegin.

Mae Siân wrth y drws.

Mae Gwilym yn y gwely.

Mae'r gwpan ar y soser.

Mae'r sudd oren yn y botel ac mae'r botel yn y rhewgell.

 

 

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