Correct pronunciation of "ac"

I have been pronouncing “ac” (the form of “and” used before vowels and words like “mae”) with a hard “c” sound - like “ack.” I was sure this was what I’ve been hearing on SSIW, on the old Catchphrase lessons, and on my Teach Yourself Welsh tapes. Recently, I was told it should be pronounced “ag” with a “g” sound - like the beginning of the word “agriculture.” Should I be pronouncing ac as “ag?” Have I been hearing it wrong all this time? Or is this a word whose pronunciation varies from place to place in Wales, so either is correct?

By the way, I’ve been using SSIW for over 2 years now. I’ve finished Course 3 and am now really enjoying the new Course 1. I don’t get on the forum much due to time constraints, but I love SSIW and am totally convinced that this is the best method for learning a language. Thanks to all (Aran, Catrin, Iestyn, Cat, and everyone on the forum) for your hard work in making this such a wonderful and successful language learning experience.

I use “ack”…Hmmm…saying it over to my self a few times with various words “ag” as well.

Diolch yn fawr, Dinas. Do you notice any patterns in when you say “ack” versus when you say “ag”? Although that’s probably a hard one to answer, since I suppose a lot of little shifts happen in natural speech of which we are totally unaware. And of course, I can’t think of any examples at the moment for just that reason!

And thank you for your very kind comments…:smile:

Who told you that you should pronounce ‘ac’ as ‘ag’? It’s a tiny shift, really, but no, you’ll be absolutely fine saying it with a hard c all the time. Maybe the person who told you that was confusing it with the word ‘ag’, which does get pronounced with a hard g sound…:smile:

Aran said : "who told you that you should pronounce ‘ac’ as ‘ag’?

The Geiriadur Yr Academi, for one!
“The conjunctions ac and nac are always pronounced as if ag, nag”

Heini Gruffudd’s “The Welsh Learner’s Dictionary” has the entry
ac (conj) [ag]
Ie, it gives the pronunciation of “ac” as “ag”.

But I’ve also read it in many other places, if I haven’t heard anyone refer to the matter! It’s something I have always studiously ignored in my pronunciation.

I’ve sometimes wondered how much it is actually the case, so it is nice to know that the answer is, from what Aran says, not very much, if at all!

“The conjunctions ac and nac are always pronounced as if ag, nag”

Strewth! That sounds like one of the most bonkers things I’ve ever heard. I wonder what a sound graph of the difference between ‘ac wedyn’ and ‘ag wedyn’ would look like…!

I have never noticed anyone saying ‘ag’ instead of ‘ac’, so I’m finding it hard to believe there’d be enough difference for it to be heard…:smile:

Diolch Aran,
The kind comments are more than deserved. I can’t say enough about the SSIW approach and SSIW people. You have all built such a strong language-learning method and such a lovely community.

The person who told me that ‘ag’ was the correct pronunciation for ‘ac’ is a very advanced Welsh speaker (although not a native speaker). I also wondered if maybe it was a momentary lapse and that the person was thinking of â/ag. But after my having said ‘ac’ for the past couple of years, I was both too startled and too timid to question it at the time. Well, thanks for clearing it up. I will happily carry on now with ‘ac’ …

Diolch yn fawr i chi i gyd unwaith eto.

I ran it through Ivona earlier and to my ear there was a knife edge between the two sounds: well, to my Kentish ears…
I ran “Ac wedyn and Ag wedyn” also…their very close.

The person who told me that ‘ag’ was the correct pronunciation for ‘ac’ is a very advanced Welsh speaker (although not a native speaker).

Aha, bingo, that explains it. There can’t be more than a dozen or so first language speakers who’d be that precise about a rule that everyone I know appears to ignore…:wink:

Your kind words really mean a huge amount to us - diolch o waelod calon…:seren:

I see a couple other people have run across this. I don’t have the sources that Owain/Lurch mentioned, so thus far, I have only found it written that ‘ac’ is pronounced ‘ag’ in David Thorne’s “A Comprehensive Welsh Grammar.”

I just listened to some examples from the CDs for Gareth King’s “Colloquial Welsh”, and I hear ‘ac’, not ‘ag’ on those. And I would swear I hear ‘ac’ when I listen to BBC Radio Cymru podcasts. I keep looking for spoken and written examples to help me sort it out but I think that if regular people using the language every day don’t make the distinction then I may be able to stop worrying about this so much?

Diolch, pawb! I can relax about it now, as per the SSIW mantra!

As you guys know better than I, c/k is a plosive unvoiced consonant and g is a plosive voiced consonant.
I am more familiar with the spectra and wave forms of sounds, however, and the following graph adds weight to Aran’s incredulity. The top part of the diagram contains the actual waveforms (time domain) and the lower parts are the frequencies (frequency domain:-

Huw, I swear, you are consistently too good to be true.

That’s just made my day.


On another thread, I wrote down what I thought I heard on a Beti a’i Phobol interview. I wrote down for one part “bod ni â sefyllfa fel sydd ynddi yn Abertawe ar y foment ac ar yr un pryd yn dathlu dou ganmlwyddiant genedigaeth rhywun wnaeth gymaint…”
Just listened to it again, and to my ears- to my ears!- that “ac” in the middle is definitely pronounced as “ag”.
But, I didn’t notice at the time even though I listened to it several times!
As Aran says, I don’t think anyone is going to notice whichever one is said.
Not that the fact that I didn’t notice at the time means anything, of course!

Not saying the interviewee says it “right” or “wrong”, whether she always says it like that or normally says it another way (she might even regard that pronunciation as a mistake!)
Just saying I didn’t notice at the time.
Which as I say is unimportant.
I shall stop typing now.

‘Feeling’ the sound in my throat, I think you’d be much more likely to get a ‘g’ kind of feel before a following vowel. But as Owain says, and Huw’s file shows, we’re talking about a tiny, tiny difference here…:smile:

Another marvellous link from Huw!
So that’s what “g” and “c” look like… :wink:
Very little difference indeed, no-one would ever notice!

Interesting as always, Huw!
You are an important part of this site- an important part in the workings of this machine!
A machine which serves like a huge dock for everyone round the world coming here to learn Welsh.

But I suppose we are all important on this site in our own way- all important cogs in the machine which serves the huge dock.

So Huw, as one big dock’s cog to another, I salute you!


You’re going to have to say that out loud as your party piece at the next party…:smile:


As Huw already pointed out ‘g’ is the voiced version of ‘c’. When unvoiced consonants are adjacent to vowels or other voiced consonants, it’s quite common for them to become voiced. Since, ‘ac’ usually comes before a word with a vowel, it’s bound to happen at times.

We do similar things in English. When we make a noun plural, we add ‘s’, right? Most of the time we add a ‘z’ sound. (‘z’ being a voiced ‘s’) The only time we say ‘s’ is when the word ends in an unvoiced consonant.

Owain: “one big dock’s cog”

Diolch yn fawr, Owain but we’ll both need to be very careful not to swap the voiced and unvoiced plosives in that phrase :smiley:

Yes, thanks Craig F. The “s” sounding like a “z” is exactly the example I was trying to think of - a sound shift we make all the time in English without even realizing it.

Meanwhile, I will be very careful when I’m talking about docks and their cogs.