Best-known Welsh phrase

I just came across this article

about an Irish lady living in Australia who is often asked to “speak Irish”. She hasn’t a lot of Irish so she typically uses one phrase which is well-known to just about all children who went to school in Ireland and which may be one of the few sentences they can rattle off confidently and fluently, and she decided to get it tattooed on her arm: “An bhfuil cead agam dul go dtí an leithreas?” (más é do thoil é)

It made me wonder what the best-known Welsh phrase is among people who went to school in Wales as children. Something that people who claim to speak not a word of Welsh would be able to recognise and perhaps even produce themselves if prompted with the first word or three.

I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s also “Ga i fynd i’r tŷ bach (os gwelwch yn dda)?”

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Back in the mists of time when I went to school, in English, we asked, “Please may I be excused?” for that! Euphemism ruled! :wink:

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In German, “Ich muss mal!” is a common euphemism – “I have to!”. The verb (to go, to do one’s business, or whatever) is similarly omitted.

(It’s not quite polite enough that you’d use it to your teacher, though, I think.)

I would be amazed if it weren’t just “rydw i’n hoffi coffi”, given the simplicity and rhyming of the phrase, whereas asking to go to the toilet is a long/complicated enough phrase to pass some people’s memories.

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True, hoffi coffi seems to be pretty popular as well, especially among adult learners perhaps?

If you say the toilet phrase about once a week on average for twelve years, I can imagine it would be seared into your brain though.

I get asked to say Llanfair P.G. most frequently, but actual phrases maybe:

Cymru am byth?
Mae hen wlad fy nhadau?

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My guess would be Iechyd Da - particularly if you count it’s mangled form of Yacky Da.


As someone who went to school in Wales and left without almost a word of Welsh, it’s one of the following

  • boreda

  • Gwlad! Gwlad!

  • (or maybe that “cantorion enwogion o free” bit we had to have an extra special long lesson to phonetically learn in time for the Eisteddod assembly)

or my own personal favourite

  • un, dau, tri, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete, huit, neuf, dix

Thank you, government, bungling, that made us learn 3 languages simultaneously under the banner of “choice”

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We gentlemen of a certain age need to go a lot more often than once a week! :slight_smile:

I agree with this.

But thinking of other phrases, for some reason, I knew “nos da” many years before I ever made any attempt to learn Welsh. Not sure where it came from, but I can only imagine some Welsh radio or TV presenter used to sneak it in from time to time. I also vaguely knew that “ar hyd y nos” meant “All Through The Night”, from the song, of course.

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Of course, but presumably at least some of those times would be between classes rather than during them.

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not just gentlemen!

I agree with @siaronjames’ mangled form.

My reply to the frequent “What does it mean?” is “Good yacky”.




I was thinking about this today, and it occurred to me that Huw Thomas, a popular newscaster and presenter of current affairs programmes on national TV in the 1960s and maybe later, used to say it, from time to time. At least that is my foggy recollection.

(Interesting … I wasn’t aware of his political career).