Choosing Northern or Southern Welsh!

Hey there! I’m quite now here so this is the first time I’m commenting.
I started learning Welsh a while back at Duolingo when the course was first launched and a bit later I started with SSiW (but I also sometimes use Memrise to revise the vocabulary used at the Duolingo course). I don’t really know in which dialect the Duolingo course is based (maybe a mixture of both?) and when I started with SSiW I began with the Southern version by mere chance, I believe (or was I maybe predestined to learn the Southern dialect?). I have exactly 0 preferences in learning one dialect or the other since I don’t live in Wales and have no relation to the language (I’m Catalan :grinning:). If I’m not wrong Southern Welsh is the most spoken dialect for the fact that more people live in the South than in the North, and so in the North a higher percentage of the population speaks the language. And could it be that the traditional literary language is closer to Southern Welsh?
I don’t think there are too many differences between these two varieties of the Welsh language so I suppose there are no problems in learning one or the other. In the meantime I have to choose Northern or Southern Welsh and I’d appreciate if someone could advise me on this (e.g. which one is most commonly learned…).
This course is proving very useful, so thank you all!!

PS: I have only done three lessons here so I guess it wouldn’t be too much of a problem to switch from Southern to Northern if I decided to.

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Sorry you are catalan? You mean I am spanish right? Lol

This was one of the reasons I chose Southern Welsh - but I’ve been told since then that more people speak Welsh in the North.
I don’t complain though - I love the Southern dialect:) And Carmarthen, the most interesting city for me, is in the South.

Not sure about that - but several people have told me that in the South the language has changed less so maybe you’re right.

Totally correct - wherever Welsh is spoken, people will understand you no matter which version you pick.

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I might be mistaken, but I suspect calling a Catalan person Spanish is like calling a Welsh person British - it’s technically true, but it completely ignores the different cultures, languages and histories of the people involved.

In reply to the actual question, the two courses on this site are both regional dialects; there really isn’t much to choose from between the two, so I’d just do the first one of each and then decide which you prefer the sound of. If you still can’t decide, then maybe do Northern because that one is more common in writing and has more lessons available for it. Beyond that, it’s entirely up to you; you’ll be able to use your Welsh anywhere in Wales regardless of which you pick, so it’s not all that important.


Or perhaps like calling certain Cornish people English. Technically true, since there is no Catalan passport (at least not one recognised internationally) but I believe many do consider themselves a completely different nation.

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If you’re worried about the pronunciation, I believe that southern Welsh (in general) has one fewer “odd sound” than northern Welsh :smile:

Since u and y sound like i rather than like some sound which does not exist in English. (Though I think it might be close to Russian ы.)

I think @JL1 was probably joking and is aware of the differences:)


Have you seen this? It’s a Catalan-Welsh dictionary and it’s really good.

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If Stella was right and that was meant to be a joke, please be aware that jokes like that don’t usually work very well on the internet unless you already know the person involved in the real world (or have been friends with them for a long time online).

If it wasn’t - then let’s have a little cultural sensitivity, please.

@Paubofill - benvinguda al fòrum… :sunny: Yes, you’re absolutely right about the balance between number/percentage of speakers - you’re still so early in the lessons, the best thing is probably to listen to Lesson 1 for both, and decide which you prefer… :sunny:

Did you find SSiW via Duolingo? That’s very interesting.

We’re hoping to make our Welsh courses available through the medium of Catalan (and a number of other languages) at some point - probably next year… :sunny:

Well - if you split Wales across the middle, through Powys and Ceredigion - it would be 40% Northern to 60% Southern. Camarthenshire and Gwynedd have almost identical numbers of speakers. The difference is the concentration of speakers or the number of English only speakers and over half the people in Camarthenshire have no knowledge of Welsh at all, whereas in Gwynedd it is about a third. Interestingly, there are more Welsh speakers in Cardiff than the whole of Ceredigion, but there are no Welsh speaking communities as such in Cardiff, although you will often hear the language spoken in some of the shops and in the restaurants around Cardiff Bay.

You can spot the difference when you travel to places like Camarthen and Caernarfon - you could spend a whole day in the middle of Carmarthen and you might not hear anyone speaking Welsh at all - I go there quite a bit and it’s mostly anglicised now and you are more likely to hear Welsh spoken around the shops in Cardiff to be honest. That would be inconceivable in Caernarfon, where the language is spoken everywhere and you almost feel a bit awkward for not speaking Welsh - albeit not (in my biased southern opinion) the lovely southern Welsh that my ear is accustomed to hearing. Caernarfon is definately the place to go to get the feeling that the language is very much alive and kicking. I haven’t heard a lot of Welsh spoken in Aberystwyth or going down the coast to some of the little villages and towns, like Newquay or Aberaeron, but you will hear the odd group of people every now and again.

There are lots of places in Carmarthenshire and North Pembrokeshire where you will only hear Welsh or mainly Welsh, but not the really pretty towns etc, like Narberth etc, which are just cute little English market towns, just like the ones you will find in places in England like Shropshire, Gloucestershire, Somerset or the Cotswolds.


Thank you! You have just helped me shape a bit my travel plans for next (or this) year:)

If you want to hear and speak really good southern welsh, you should go off the beaten track and go to places like the aman valley - Brynaman is somewhere I would go to just to hear southern Welsh spoken by almost everyone, but I don’t think I would be offending anyone if I said that it wasn’t a pretty tourist destination - it’s a bit grim looking in the winter months that’s for sure.


I live in Belarus - I’m used to grim looking places:) And I’m very interested in hearing good Southern Welsh, so thank you very much for your advice!

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Well it isn’t that bad really, but not your typical tourist destination and a good base to travel onwards to the black mountains. As an aside - I did a test on the BBC website for alcohol consumption and I don’t think that I drink that much and certainly not as much as many people I know, but it said that I was probably from Belarus, which apparently is the heaviest drinking country in Europe. Not something to be proud of I suppose, but I think if Wales had been in the options for the test then we would have been very similar. Wel at ei gilydd, dwi’n tybio bo ni’n hoffi mynd i’r dafarn o amser i amser jyst i gwrdd â ffrindiau ac ymlacio a sgwrsio.

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I think our area of Cardiff (Pontcanna) is probably one of the most ‘Welsh’ communities - you hear it spoken in the street, and in the pubs (if you know which ones to go to).

Also, if you’re ever in Cardiff do go to the new language centre in the middle of town (Yr Hen Lyfrgell). I get such a kick going in there and hearing everyone speaking Welsh all around me.


It is probably true.
I think Russia is not much behind us, but because it’s so big and there are uninhabited parts of it, probably the percentage of drinking people is a bit lower.

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Yes its the same calling a catalan spanish and a welsh british, but the sad thing is that if I say I am from La Rioja (example) people wont know that is also a spanish region :frowning:

Croeso i’r fforwm @Paubofill and fascinating to have a Catalan learning Cymraeg!

Although the languages are completely unrelated of course, it seems to me that Catalonia and Wales share some of the same issues, as do their respective languages. I understand there are far more Catalan speakers than Welsh speakers, but (if I understand correctly), this does not necessarily mean that the future of the language is secure. But it would be interesting to hear your view.

As an aside, I was in Alicante and Valencia some years ago (was doing a Spanish course + holiday), and was told by some of the native Spanish speaking tutors that regarding the local Valenciano, while the Valencians regarded it as its own language, everyone else “knew” that it was really Catalan… :slight_smile: This was said in a good humoured way with a smile…a bit like southern Welsh speakers mocking northern Welsh speakers (and vice-versa)…all in good humour and nothing serious intended.


hahaha I’m officially Spanish, that’s true, but I have never quite considered myself Spanish, just Catalan :wink:


Yeah, I think I’ll try a couple of lessons from the other course and see which one I prefer.
I don’t remember exactly where I found out about SSiW… maybe it was thorough Duolingo, but I’m not sure.
Really? That’d be great! :slight_smile:
Oh, by the way, it should be “benvingut” instead of “benvinguda”. “Pau” (Paul) is a boy’s name, I don’t know what it looks like to non-catalan speakers, maybe it looks like a girl’s name? hahaha :wink:

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