The Welsh alphabet
c ch d dd e f ff
g ng h i j l ll
m n o p ph r rh
s t th u w y
or if youre
saying it out loud, you can say:
*note that ah
is a short sound of surprise, or as in cat, not
as in open wide
a good tactic to practise all seven vowels separately - ah
eh ee o eu oo uh - unless you live in North Wales where, of
course, they only have one vowel: eugh.
in Welsh is pretty easy really - Welsh is a phonetic language,
so what you see is what you pronounce.
as in hat, never as in ball
in bag. Although is there really any other
hard as in cat, never an s as in precise
the ch in the Scottish word loch, but with
as in dog, never as in djinn
buzzy th sound, as in this. Think
angry bees with a lisp
as in pen
This is very, very simple, and when you get really used
to it, f will play hafock with your spelling
Equally, you can ffind yourselff getting too used to ff
hard as in get, never a j sound
as in the last g in garage
in song, where the g isnt hard, like
in gig, but a soft glottal stop made in your
in hat, always sounded and never silent
now because of the loan words from English that use it,
luh as in lava, but never an ul
sound as in milk
as hard a sound to make as some would have you think.
Raise your tongue to the top of your mouth as if you were
going to say el, then make the ell
sound by blowing air round the sides of your raised tongue,
instead of by using your voice. You should sound like
an annoyed cat
in mithridatize. Or as in mum,
if you want to be boring
as in hot, not round as in hotel
can I have a p please Bob?
English f, or Welsh ff sound, as in phase
rolled. Some people just cant get a rolled r
- their tongues are unable to vibrate in the right way.
Its a genetic thing, apparently, similar to being
able to roll your tongue into a tube, or turn the end
upside down. Honestly, some people can, but my tongues
not that prehensile. Roll if you can, dont if you
Make a huffy, breathy sound before your rolled r
soft as in sit, never a z sound
as in juxtapose
in top. Can it get any simpler?
in think, softer and less buzzy than dd
in the South, but not in the North . If you had stepped
in something disgusting and made a kind of eugh
noise, the vowel eu sound would about approximate
the Northern u. If you dont have access
to a Gog who can teach you this noise, stick to the Southern
sound - its much easier
y breaks the rule that Welsh is phonetic. As a single
syllable word, y is like uh, on the last syllable
of a multisyllabic word its an ee, and
anywhere else its like the unstressed, indeterminate
noise of the final e in garden or letter.
Ysbyty (hospital) is the perfect example.
You will also
see some vowels with accents on, especially the to bach, or
circumflex, e.g. â (aah), which serves to lengthen the
vowel. The umlaut is often seen on an i, and creates a longer
ee sound, as in storïau. There are other
accents, and all change the pronunciation and possibly the
syllable which is stressed, e.g. copâu has the stress
on the âu, not on the cop, as would be expected. Learn
them when you have to, and dont worry about swatting
up in advance.
Stress, on the
whole, is on the last or next-to-last syllable. Thus you have
LLYFR, LLYFRgell, llyfrGELLydd, (book, library, librarian).
This initially seems counterintuitive to English speakers,
and it takes a bit of getting used to, but soon it will be
second nature. There are exceptions but you have to learn
those as you go along!
Of course, its all well and good to have the alphabet
down pat, but sometimes you will find that your attempt at
pronunciation is a little wide of the mark, no matter how
hard you try. The only real way to start sounding more fluent
is to mimic those around you, or to download some sound files
(there are several on the audio page)
and play them over and over and just mimic the noises. Listen
hard, then make the noises yourself and repeat ad nauseam.
And if you do actually reach nauseam, listen hard to the sound
you make as youre talking on the great white telephone,
and youll find youre making that exact Gog u
the text document