Comparing lessons with previous knowledge

I discovered this course at the 2015 NAFOW, and decided to try it. I have done the first two Welsh lessons, Northern style, in the old course 1. I studied some Welsh back in the 1980s, and what I am hearing here is not the same as what I learned back then. I guess I learned a more formal version of the language, the kind that is used in the hymns. So I am curious. I guess the language is changing. I know that languages change, but it is a bit hard when they change while you are trying to learn them!

I know that there are differences between northern and southern Welsh, but I am not sure exactly what they are. Possibly my questions are relative to the differences, but I do not know enough to be sure.

One question is about some of the words. Please pardon my spelling, as it is from memory. For example, I learned that “want” is “eisiau”, but what I am hearing sounds phonetically like “ishaw”. I know the lesson says not to write anything, but it would help me to see the proper spelling of what they are saying.

Also, I’m curious why this verb does not take the preceding “yn” like most verbs.

It seems that “gwybod” has become “gwbod”. And is “hoffi” used in the south only?

I am also curious about the sentence formation. To say “I am” or “I do” they say “Dw i”, as in “Dw i’n mynd”. I remember it more formally as “Yr ydw i yn myned”, with various simplifications. But for “you”, they just say “ti’n mynd”. I thought it would be something like “r’wyt ti’n mynd”. I think for questions they add something like “ydyt” or “wyt”, which sounds more like what I am used to. Has the helping verb form totally disappeared for second person singular?

Also, to say “it”, they say something that sounds like phonetic “fah” after a vowel and “ah” after a consonant. I never could understand quite what they were saying, and I do not remember this word from my previous study. Can someone help me here? Should I switch to the southern version? Diolch yn fawr iawn!

I’m really glad to have found this, and I hope I can keep progressing.

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Hi, John – Did I meet you at NAFOW? I’m Diane, and I organized the SSIW table & meetups there. Anyhow, I’m so glad you’ve found your way to the course!

Yes, I’m not surprised at all that the SSIW course is giving you some words & verb forms that differ from what you learned awhile ago. Really formal written Welsh, particularly OLD formal written Welsh, throws Rs and Ds and Fs in all over the place. Nobody speaks that way (including John Ogwen or Edward Morus Jones or any of the other folks you may have heard at NAFOW), & what’s happened over time is that there are a variety of ways of shortening the formal stuff. So, “yr ydwyf yn myned” from an old Bible becomes “dw i’n mynd” in common speech, or a variety of other slightly different shortenings of the “dw i” bit (wi’n, rwy’n, etc.). And in ordinary speech, the verb form often gets dropped out or slurred altogether (ti’n mynd, rather than wyt ti’n mynd).*

The good news is that SSIW will give you a perfectly normal conversational set of verb forms that match what people actually say out loud, and that all hang together like a native speaker’s vocabulary. All the rest – oral variations, written variations – is MUCH MUCH easier to come to grips with once you have your own consistent “base” to build on.

As for how “eisiau” and “gwybod” are pronounced, yep, you’re right, they’re not pronounced like they’re written. :slight_smile: That’s one reason Aran & Iestyn (the course creators) recommend not looking for written references!

As for why you don’t use “yn” with eisiau, I don’t know that there’s an answer beyond “it’s just a charming little irregularity of the language.” Or “cursed little irregularity.” That works too. :wink:

I don’t think you should switch to Southern just because some of what you’re learning here is new to you, because I guarantee that the Southern version will also have things new to you (maybe even more than the Northern). Pick whichever appeals, and try accepting it as a new, consistent set of structures that you can, over time, adapt with vocabulary that you recall and like.

Have fun!

  • [EDITED TO ADD] Did you go to Oedfa’r Bore (the morning service) at NAFOW? I was quite amused that the Welsh speakers finished the Lord’s Prayer a noticeable number of seconds after us English speakers.

Hi John,
I’m a terrible person to try to answer grammar questions, so I’ll leave them well alone, but picking a couple of things out:

Hoffi”'s used in the Southern course.

The Southern course uses “fe” while the Northern course uses “fo

The differences between the Northern and Southern courses aren’t as pronounced as you might think, but a handful of the words are different and as they’re commonly used ones ("he", “like”, “quickly”, “want” etc.) it seems like they’re vastly different until you stop to think about it.

My long-forgotten experience from a couple of years of Welsh at school was somewhere between the Northern and Southern SSiW courses, with less contraction - so yes, things like “rydw i yn” (if I remember correctly, which I might not) instead of “dwi'n”.

One of the first SSiW rules, that you’ll see repeated a lot on the forum is “Don’t worry about it” - if you follow the course things’ll just start going in, so I’ll parrot the advice of people smarter than me and just suggest that.


The ‘yn’ is a link between the form of ‘bod’ being used (in this case dw i) and the verb (like mynd) - so ‘dw i’n mynd’ = I am going.
Eisiau is not a verb so you don’t use the linking yn.
End of grammatical bit as it was explained to me. (Some Welsh speakers have been extremely helpful in my attempts to understand these things and still I struggle!)


Just to reiterate what everyone else has explained in detail, the Welsh you’re learning here is of the colloquial variety - what is spoken by Welsh speakers in real live conversations. It’s also for this reason that there is the “no writing things down” suggestion. Of course, this doesn’t, and never will, make any formal forms of Welsh obsolete, and these forms are still of importance today in Welsh. But in live speech, no one speaks like that!

As for the different words in used in the courses between North and South (ie; “hoffi” and “licio”) many of these words are not strictly area specific, but are most likely to be used in that region - so you will still hear people use “hoffi” in North Wales and still be understood.

Hope you are enjoying the course though, and find that this new method of learning this beautiful language enhances your previous knowledge of Welsh.


Am I glad to meet you!!! SNAP!! As well as the '80s, I also learned in the 60s, 70s and 90s!!! I am a very slow learner!! I also suffer from having learned mainly in the south but also in the north, from the attempts to teach everyone a sort of ‘standard Welsh’ and also from a gog trying to teach in the south!!! To top it all, I now live in Yr Alban and am only on this site to help with the hiraeth, as my chances of meeting anyone who speaks Cymraeg are extremely low!!!
Right, it’s easier for me because I met a lot of simplified, shorter forms before I found SSiW, but even so, this is much more colloquial than my last lessons!! You will get used to that quickly. I sometimes try north if south just doesn’t fit with what I know, but it’s actually better, if you really want to learn, to stay with the area relevant to you. I currently use a dreadful mixture!! Also, Iestyn, who teaches de Cymraeg, has a very strong east valleys accent with no ‘h’s’, which throws me completely sometimes!!
I advise that you stay with the course and play it as if you had never learned anything before. After a bit, you’ll be able to slot things in!! I very rarely meet anything completely new, and if I do, I find it’s regional!! Oh, and yes the language is changing!! Teledu instead of teleweli is just one example!!! Must go, my washing needs to come out!!!
editing to add:
Sorry about that! Not much to add really, save I never met ‘o’ for 'he’before SSiW. I did learn ‘eisia’ not moyn, but I get on fine with ‘moyn’ now!! I learned ‘gen i. etc’ and the southern course uses ‘gyda’ for everyone. I frequently say what comes into my head and count it as right if it is correct anywhere and any when!! Pob Lwc!! Enjoy the Course and the Forum! There are some very very lovely people on here!! (They put up with me!!!)


I may have seen you at the 2015 NAFOW, but I do not believe that we met. I never saw anyone at the SSIW table, and I was not able to make it to one of your sessions. That I regret. Thanks for your encouragement. I’ll keep plugging and see how it goes.

Here’s an attempt: Rwy i wedi mynd i’r Oedfa’r Bore. I did notice some confusion about the Gweddi’r Arglwydd. I did not notice the difference in time. I was going to start in English, but the person next to me said it in Welsh so loudly that I just kept quiet. :confused:


OK, a popup chastised me for making too many short replies to individuals, so here goes an attempt at a consolidated reply to several of you. Diolch yn fawr i chi bawb!

To @raymondkefford: So eisiau is not a verb. That surprises me, but I looked it up in an online dictionary and it indeed says that. So you taught me something. Diolch! I know this course has a “go with the flow” attitude, duly noted here and hereafter, but this raises another question for me. If it is a noun, shouldn’t the form be something more like “mae gen i eisiau” or even “dw i’n cael eisiau” rather than “dw i eisiau”? Oh well, I guess it is just one of those things.

To @henddraig: I live in Memphis, Tennessee, so my chances of finding anyone with whom to “siarad yr hen iaith” are slim indeed. I do remember hearing something that sounds like moyn, but I can’t remember it now, nor what it means. I can’t find it in the dictionary. Aaaugh! And I won’t remember when to use that and when to use eisiau.

To all: When I started the course, the instructions said that it is important to say the sentence they give before listening to them say it, and to use the pause button if necessary to give yourself time. That is what I have been doing. I am about to turn 63, and my quick memory is not what it once was. Sometimes my mind just shuts down and I can’t even remember the words to use without stopping to think. But today I got an email saying don’t use the pause button. So now I am confused. The shortness of memory issue is also a reason it would be helpful to have a list in writing of the words used so far, so that I could at least review before going on to the next lesson.

So I am going to forge ahead and do the best that I can. Diolch i chi bawb am y help.

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I’m not sure that’s true. Lots of people chat over Skype and similar to get in their practice, it just might be hard to do it in person.

Do not worry about these messages. They are not defined by SSiW but rather the programmers of the Discourse software. @mikeellwood calls it the Nagbot. :wink:




If you look in Google Books for Gareth King’s “Modern Welsh: A Comprehensive Grammar” (there is an old-ish version there, or there used to be) and look in the intro, he describes in quite understandable overviewish terms the different sorts of Welsh, and then says that in this book, he is going to be concentrating on modern, colloquial Welsh, which is the sort of Welsh we learn on SSIW.

( @craigf - heh heh - I’d forgotten that one! :slight_smile: )


So it means you were/are a “good boy” on the forum … - hehe :slight_smile:


It’s not the end of the world if you use the pause buttons - but those audio intros were recorded a few years ago, and since then we’ve seen increasing evidence that if you avoid using the pause button, you adapt to the need to produce whatever you’ve got as quickly as possible - which is, of course, a very real help when it comes to real conversations.

The best way to test it for you might be to try five sessions without the pause button - if you’re not managing to say anything at all in the gap by the fifth session, then repeat all five with the pause - but then try the next five without the pause, and so on. The worst case scenario is that you run through each lesson twice (once without the pause, once with) - and many people repeat more often than that. The best case scenario is that you find yourself adapting to the need to speak immediately, and become capable of moving through the course faster as a result… :sunny:

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I’m about to turn 74, so I can sympathise!! Don’t fret about ‘moyn’ or ‘mwyn’, it’s only in the southern course, I repeated it like a parrot and learned it, but have just found that it’s not in either of my dictionaries either!! I do think that ‘I need food’ (I’m hungry!) is “Mae eisia bwyd gen i” or “Mae gen i eisia bwyd”. Because we are saying “I have a need”!
@aran Help us!!
I also automatically say ‘hoffi’ and actively dislike ‘licio’ and I’m not struck on ‘stopo’, but prefer ‘peidio’!! However, I like having a living language, not one like Latin which is fossilised!!!
Lwc dda i ti!! I hope you find a skype friend…I’m not into that form of communiation!!
I shall watch this topic, because it will answer loads of my questions, and I may throw some in!!


On the northern course, we use “angen” for need, and it can either be used as a verb - “dw i angen bwyd”, or the way you have put it: “mae angen bwyd gen i” or “mae gen i angen bwyd”, or also:
“mae angen i mi bwyd” (I think). (some people might say “i fi”). There seems to be lots of flexibility.


To @henddraig: Thanks for your interest in the topic. I shall try to make it worth your while.

I was doing pretty well through lesson 3, and then hit lesson 4. I got an email today saying not to repeat lessons. But at the end of the lesson, they said go ahead and repeat it if needed! Now this one I really need to repeat. I just could not assimilate the “Do, naddo” as quickly as they introduced it. So I am going to have to think about this and repeat the lesson.

BTW, I looked at the lesson notes and observed that in Gwers 2, “Yndw” is misspelled, as “Ynwd” if I remember correctly. I informed the moderator, who said to mention it here and it might attract the attention of the author. If I need to start a separate topic for it, I can do that.

Another thought: I realize that no one is going to go back and rerecord all these lessons, but it would be nice if they gave you a few examples of a pattern (saying both the English and Welsh) before throwing you directly into exercises when you have just heard the new words or new pattern a few seconds ago.

Digon am heddiw.

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Shwmae John,

Can I just ask where these emails are coming from? I mean, did you sign up for an intensive week? Only I receive emails once a week which is really only a newsletter.
The lessons have been designed so you can work at your own pace, learn as much as you feel you can do in one session, use the pause button as much as you need to, repeat the lessons as much as you need to, and so on, until you dont need the pause button, and you feel ready to go to the next lesson (although sometimes not spending too much time on a lesson and moving on to the next lesson can be a lot better, since you still get to review previously learned material on the way). So it seems strange that you’re receiving emails that ask you to contradict the instructions in the actual lessons - unless you have signed up for one of the intensive courses Aran has tried out with some learners in the past, although I’m not really sure if he’s still conducting these types of courses.

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I think that, while this was true at the outset, events have overtaken this somewhat, and these days avoiding the pause is the vogue:

Although I do lessons without the pause for more practical reasons - I’m either in the car or out jogging doing lessons, and either way pausing isn’t really viable :slight_smile:


When I was doing the lessons, I hardly ever used the pause button either. That was because at the time I could complete an entire lesson in one walking trip to work, and using the pause button only made the lesson last longer, so when I got to work, the lesson wasn’t finished! So I would repeat the lessons instead until ready to move on. This worked brilliantly for me, but everyone is different.
I follow updates to the courses available here all the time, even now. Just the emails were new on me. I just receive the weekly email and the occasional ones from Aran about the direction SSi is going.