A bee in my bonnet?

I have one. A new one. I was mulling over whether I could justify mentioning it on the Forum when I realised that I do not know whether the saying translates. In fact, a load of proverbs and sayings are the most difficult things to get right. I can say gwenynen yn fy het or even gwenynen yn fy bonet, but would a Cymro Cymraeg recognise the saying or have to translate it and only know it because he speaks English as well?
@aran, when the move is over, can you help? Is there a handy guide to sayings in both languages?

oh, my bee? Well it isn’t really Forum material. It is the number of inshore lifeboats which RNLI do not run and are now dependent on local funding. Given the increase in drownings lately, I feel the badau-achub are needed. I have a theory that folk have holidays on the Med with no tides and then visit our beaches without realising how far and fast tides can move. There was a Cei Bach episode on this theme, so maybe it’s relevant to the Forum after all?
Also, I remember showing one little girl from an estate in Abertawe that sand could suck at your feet, so you should never swim out to sea, always walk out and swim back!

We have the “Geiriadur idiomau” compiled by Alus Rhys Cownie, which gives for ‘a bee in her bonnet’ ‘chwilen yn ei when’, with the fuller example:

She has a bee in her bonnet about men with red hair / mae ganddi chwilen yn ei phen ynglŷn â dynion â gwallt coch.

New one on me, that, so thanks for asking!

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There’s also asgwrn i’w grafu which is more or less equivalent to having “a bone to pick” with someone (literally “a bone to scratch”) - I think that’s more or less in the same general area of meaning? I’m now questioning whether having a bee in your bonnet is equivalent to having a bone to pick, or not… hmm. :slight_smile: Feedback on English idiom equivalence, anyone? :slight_smile:


Diolch yn fawr iawn am dy helpu! Although I must say, I’d rather have gwenynen yn fy het than a beetle in my head!! And as soon as I said it, I remembered being very small and frightened that a nasty thing was going to run into my ear while I was asleep and get into my head! I think my Mam’s Dad, raised by his Welsh mam, must have said it, in English! I had heard mention of an earwig and jumped to conclusions!!
I’m not sure when someone explained or even whether! As my vision was not of an earwig, which I don’t think I’d seen, but of woodlice, probably I just learned not to take things literally! In fact, that Grandad said all sorts which I knew weren’t true, so it was easy to discount him!! (He was an absolute sweetie, but he would say, “When I was a liittle girl!” and I knew he’d been a boy!)

Mae’n ddrwg gen i, but I do not think that is the same saying, but if we are building up a dictionary of them, it is very useful to have!!
I would say picking or scratching a bone is what you want to do when you have a cause for disagreement, a feeling of injustice. I was trying to think of an example and I thought:-
If the Independent Lifeboat (bad-achub) at St. Abbs or, say, at Loughor, saved a lad from drowning and his dad wrote to the Secretary to say, “I can’t tell you how grateful I am, and my wife too. Of course I sent a donation to RNLI at once and told them what you did for us!”
Well, the folk trying to raise money to maintain, supply, house and eventually replace the Independent boat would feel they had a bone to pick neu asgwrn i’w grafu gyda RNLI for pocketing the donation without explaining to that dad that none would go to the boat which saved his son! (That is based on something which happens a lot!)

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chwilen yn ei when

Is this yet another mutation of “pen”? If so, I’m giving up Welsh to concentrate on my Klingon. :smiley:


No a typo for phen : pen = head; ei ben = his head; ei phen = her head.
Also note that ei is one of the few words deliberately mis-spelt even in literary Welsh, possibly to make the sense clear when reading. It sounds just like i.

(I have a feeling Hewrop knew this ) :wink:

And remember it is
" Chwilen yn eu xjen nhw" :blush:
(With the ‘eu’ pronounced “throat wobbler mangrove”).


I´ve an old(ish) book here called Cymraeg Idiomatig by one C.P. Cule (a spaniard I think!) D. Brown a´i Feibion, cyf. 1971/72. Probably out of print but you might find it in a library. You would need basic Welsh as the explanations are in Welsh. It gives a series of made-up, but credible passages full of idioms, and then explains them all.

And it does indeed give mae ganddo chwilen yn ei ben as equivalent to ¨he has a bee in his bonnet¨, although I admit it´s not a pleasant thought :frowning:

Yes, some good ones here, how about :
Mynd â´r maen i´r wal
Heb flewyn ar ei dafod
Diwedd y gân yw´r geiniog
Pob copa walltog
Rhoi´r ffidil yn y to

Dim byd

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Would you believe it, Huw, well of course you would…that this unobservant old dragon didn’t notice that there was a typo when I read it, it was spelled correctly later! And I still didn’t notice when I copied it!! Much giggling of a girlish nature when I read your comment!! :blush:


As if mutations weren´t scary enough … dal dy dân draig dros y disgybl :slight_smile:

I started to say that my fire is not nearly as fierce as my words, and thought, “Another saying!” So @sarapeacock, can your helpful book tell us the Cymraeg equivalent to “Her bark is worse than her bite!”? I do hope it isn’t a boring straight translation! (Oh and can’t type â, (I copied that one)…
Oh! So I can type, “mae fy nhân” after all!!


I’m very sorry, my dear henddraig, I will have to let you down - the idiom dictionary doesn’t have that one (under either ‘bark’ or ‘bite’). Perhaps there isn’t an equivalent…

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There is a sizeable cottage industry on books being turned out on Welsh idioms ( recently published, in Welsh and English) but after a quick look through three of them I can’t find one either.
Probably something similar if you continue searching (arranging idioms in some sort of easily searched order is very difficult!), but, of course, whether people actually use these things is something I have found to be another matter entirely!

Now I use them to look up something I come across in Welsh elsewhere, rather than the other way round.

Oh, by the way, Geiriadur yr Academi has “mae ei gyfarth yn waeth na’i frathiad” under “bark”, which is the literal translation you were fearing :wink:

Nothing yet, and rhaid i fi fynd allan nawr, but I´ve found this page just now, so something to be going on with:


Here´s an old saying I´ve just made up for you Draig Fach:

Gwaeth ei tharan na´i thân, a´i rhu na´i rhuthriad :innocent:

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Just to make it clear after that - interesting - little interlude, as above stated, the Geiriadur yr Academi (a very good source) has a direct translation of “bark worse than bite”, rather than anything else.

Certainly you can make things up, it’s part of using the language- to be honest, it is better simply to express yourself naturally in the language rather than finding out translations or equivalents of idioms which are often not as widely used as you might get the impression from courses etc.

That’s my experience, anyway!

Just to add to this - if I find an idiomatic phrase in a dictionary or similar I would always try it out on a couple of native speakers first, just to see if they had heard it used.

I remember when I was at school we had to learn various ‘idiomatic’ French phrases such as ‘Nom d’un chien!’, only to find out (when we eventually got to meet real French people our age a few years later) that they were things their grandparents would say (sort of ‘Oh, by Jove!’) Which was more than a bit embarrassing to a 13-year-old.

So just because it’s in the dictionary doesn’t mean it’ll make sense to your friends in the pub (or library, or whatever…)

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Absolutely! That’s exactly what I meant when I said I only do it the other way round- look up from the Welsh I come across, as it were.

Good, good advice. Always good to try it out on Welsh speakers and see how it rolls, as it were. Otherwise, considering the personality of people who often write these books ( not to do them down, probably similar to mine in many ways!) you can end up just using words and phrasing which were odd and unusual when they were written, never mind about here and now!

Nothing wrong with having an odd or old fashioned manner of speaking of course- I am odd mannered old fashioned bloke myself! Certainly odd!:blush: