Discouraged by evening class

Frances, that’s exactly what I thought when I first saw written Welsh, and pretty much during the first challenges, and even more during challenges 13-14-15! :scream:
But just as the instructions said - I carried on with the next ones, without worrying too much about the fact that I couldn’t do any of the long sentences right, really often said just one or two words in the pause and got basically 99% of mutations wrong. :grimacing:

And now, I just came back from a trip to Wales, and I can tell I managed to communicate in Welsh just fine! Well of course, basic Welsh, but there are witnesses here around the Forum who can say how I did (starting from @Deborah-SSi and @margaretnock with whom I spent a bit more time ). :wink:

p.s. I promise I write a more detailed report soon, but it takes time!


I learned bass guitar years ago and had about a year of lessons before giving up and just playing (and still am!) I did learn quite a bit of “theory” but not to a level where I truly understood it all. I could recite scales and arpeggios and the notes on the neck, circle of fifths and that, but the deeper understanding wasn’t there. This really really hampered my creativity because I was always trying to use the stuff I had learnt and fit it into a scale, rather than just trusting my ear. It took me a long time to realise this and attempt to ‘forget’ the stuff I had! And its the same with English. I literally don’t know the difference between nouns/verbs/adjecures and all that, but I am “fluent” in it somehow!


Hi Frances – You’re right, from a present day perspective, that many of the mutations don’t make obvious phonetic sense – although some of them, like @louisYm Mangor, do.

The thing is, as far as we know they were all originally perfectly phonetically-plausible assimilations in origin; but languages sometimes seem to pick up on meaningless, incidental features, and evolve in a way that turns them into meaningful ones that no longer just happen automatically. (For example, English swim/swam/swum probably goes back to just a difference of accent in Indo-European between different forms of the word, depending on what ending followed it. All of those endings were lost centuries before the earliest Old English, but it doesn’t matter, because we can use the vowel to tell us what part of the verb we’re dealing with.)

So Celtic languages in general have tended to take those automatic assimilations and turn them into meaningful features, so that we’re still making the changed sound today, even though the sound that originally triggered the change – sometimes even the whole word that triggered the change – has long since vanished.

The easiest clear example that I know of is the word for ‘my’. The academic and historical Welsh dictionary, the GPC, gives a reconstructed pre-Welsh form men, more or less like English ‘mine’, but by the time we get to Middle Welsh it’s mostly written something like fyn (in Modern Welsh spelling). In the South I know some people do in fact say yn, but in the North and the written language the form you’ll come across is fy, with no ‘n’ on the end. But despite the disappearance of the ‘n’, people in the North and in written Welsh still do a nasal mutation on the front of the following word, if it starts with a sound that can be nasalised. In fact, that’s such a clear signal that you mean ‘my’ that you can even miss the bloomin’ word out altogether, and just do the mutation, and it’ll still sound like you mean ‘my’.

So you get a situation where ‘my brother’ in pre-Welsh Brittonic would have been something like men brōt- (mine brother!) but turns into:
- Middle Welsh vym mrawd
- Modern Welsh fy mrawd
…with no obvious rhyme or reason.

Now, because all these changes have become grammatically meaningful instead of phonetically automatic, you could just sit down and try to learn them all, and then try to remember when to use them when you’re speaking; and it would be dishearteningly hard work, but thoroughly traditional. But – and I say this as someone who literally read a book entitled “From Proto-Indeuropean to Primitive Germanic” for fun and owns a couple of different Hittite grammars – it’s probably much, much more effective to try to allow yourself to go with the flow (with whatever accommodations may suit you personally, as suggested by @aran) until you’ve heard fy mrawd so many times that it’s just what comes out of your mouth automatically when you need it.

And as others have said – dal ati (keep at it) and pob lwc (good luck)!


I was a punk lad when I started, so I ended up learning the “Power chord” shape (E5, F5, G5 and so on!) and just moving that shape around the fingerboard ad nauseum.

I toured the UK five times completely and sold thousands of records before I sat down and actually learned what the notes were!

I guess this is pretty much the same thing. I’ve now been playing for 23 years and I know my way around a guitar, but if someone asked me to explain a scale or show them one, I wouldn’t have a clue!

Doesn’t mean I haven’t had a grand time with it over the years though!


Not at all. YOu’re not discouraging me, your answer was nice, I’m just not sure I quite understood the whole get into the flow of life thing… :smiley: Please rest assured, I have not been discouraged, just not very good at ballroom dancing or the other things you mentioned so I couldn’t quite relate :smiley:


Thanks for that. Yes I have heard of it. Actually it’s not SSiW that I struggle with, I’m very good indeed at copying… it’s following instructions in a classroom. It has happened to me all my life, everyone else starts packing up their books and going somewhere, or doing some activity, and I’m like, What are they doing? I haven’t understood what was being said. Or in a class I’ll be miles behind everyone else, not being able to follow the instructions or the exercises in the book in the time given. However I have a first class degree so I’m not daft. I tend to work better teaching myself things. :slight_smile:


Hey Nicky, you and me are EXACTLY the same in that regard! I am a self taught guitarist and can play pretty complex folk and blues music, but I really don’t have much of a clue about music theory. This is a good analogy because the theory can hold you back from creativilty. I’ve played with guitarists who just can’t write a tune where x chord follows y chord because the theory says it’s not in the same key or mode… whereas I just write music that sounds gorgeous. I should adopt this view to learning Welsh probably. The difference is that I can’t just make up my own stuff in Welsh I have to at least follow some rules or I’ll be saying things like “donkey on flow in star sky below little thanks”… very poetic sounding but not much use. :wink:


I shall read this fully later. I knew I would get some clever answers on here, the knowledge on this forum is outstanding, thank you


Exaclty Martin. Yeah I have said someting similar further down. The music analogy is a really good one, actually. I think I’m too hung up on why things work


This is really interesting how it happens!

My wife is a Grade 7 Pianist, she’s beyond Grade 8 really - but never sat her exam. She’s Grade 7 in Musical Theory as well - so on that side of things, she absolutely puts me to shame. She knows what the notes actually mean, and how to sight read - so she’s legendary on that side.

But she struggles to write music, or just “jam” because the rules hold her back somewhat.

I wrote a song once where the chords went B,A,D,D,A,D - because it spelled out BAD DAD and I found that hilarious! When I told Lara that story she recoiled in horror because those chords don’t go together well apparently :D:D


thanks Aran. I’ve assimilated the material from lessons 1 2 and 3 ok. The earlier stuff is automatic. I repeated lesson one 2 times I think, lesson two the same, lesson, 3 about 4 times and lesson 4, I’m really getting stuck. Initially I was flying ahead, but getting confused between the I must, I need to, I have got and how they all fit together with bod, mynd i etc. Thanks for your advice, it’s very nice to know that after lesson 5 I can go back and revisit. I am getting most of the sentences right first time in the pause, though normally have to pause the button. However, it’s really hard with the more complex forms coming into lesson 4. I just feel frustrated the language isn’t yet just dropping into my head, it is with the earlier stuff, dw i’n sariad cymraeg, dw i’n dysgu cymraeg nawr etc, the more simple stuff is easy now but the harder stuff, welll, is harder. I am just feeling discouraged but today is a new day and you are all so great on this forum, thanks for encourageing me :slight_smile:

1 Like

tis normal to be fluent in ones native tongue, if English is yours? OUr brains are adapted to learn language and patterns hence why if you learn any language from birth you can speak it even if it’s totally complex grammatically. Coming at a language as a foreign learner is a bit like having a load of bricks that are a diffeerent shape to what you are used to and learning how to assemble them together because you can’t just learn it as you would your own language, direct translations don’t work but it can be helpful to know patterns of how things fit together. So Welsh for example seems to have a reflexive thing going on with verbs that’s absent in English, “beth yw’ch enw chi” has two “you” s in it. I couldn’t just translate directly from English. That’s where grammar helps me, but also I get the reason for not getting bogged down in it. I am a bit obsessive sometimes.

Allow the language to flow into you - I know this sounds a bit “spiritual”.

I never sat down and actually learned the mutations parrot fashion like some people do. I just allowed Iestyn and Cat (and later Aran and Cat)'s instructions to sink into my head, and then things just clicked:

“Croeso i Gymru” made sense and sounded right, whereas “Croeso i Cymru” sounded “wrong”.
“yng Nghaerdydd” made sense and sounded right, whereas “yn Caerdydd” sounded “wrong”.
“a Phopeth” made sense and sounded right, whereas “a popeth” sounded “wrong”.

It really mimics the way we learn language as kids. We learn everything “on the fly” as we need it as kids. I don’t ever recall learning why for example we say “six coffees” but “six sheep” instead of “six sheeps” - I guess I just developed that sense of “six sheep” sounds right, while “six sheeps” sounds wrong.

Have a relax, let the lessons flow, go with the flow - and trust in the process. You will come out of the other side understanding it all, and you will really have a solid grasp on how it all works!

It worked with me, and if it worked with me - it will work for anyone :smiley:


ah shame. Bad Dad sounds like a cool song! Nothing wrong with writing like that, whatever floats your boat, or donkey as we say over here in Somerset

1 Like

oh gosh yes the accordian is a very hard instrument to play I’ll grant you

I have definitely been defeated by the guitar analogies here :wink: My inner musician is at odds with my inner grammarian because the inner musician is a creative soul who doesn’t care for rules whereas my inner grammarian is a nutter who locks me in a jail of grammatical terminology. Well, the thing is, I don’t see it quite the same way as I’ve explained further down, due to the way languages are constructed and needing to actually be able to put toghether sentences following rules, or you will speak nonsense, but I do partly understand where people are coming from. I know it’s possible to learn to speak a language well even as an adult learner just from listening, and yes, I will sit on my inner grammarian but he/she is SCREAMING at me with discomfort just now. I kind of need an explanation because in many cases they are probably quite simple. I am a teacher of English grammar so I won’t be thrown by a simple explanation of something, it will actually help. Mutations are another thing altogether though, I won’t try to learn those at present!!!


Yes that is. sorry my example was wrong, I meant the mutations after o where Bangor becomes Fangor and Pontypridd becomes Bontypridd… why don’t they all just mutate to F or not at all? I don’t really expect an answer there. The Ym Mangor is fab, yes that’s a perfect example of assimilation of sounds.

1 Like

thank you diolch yn fawr, I will watch it later!

to all who have replied/commented, if I haven’t liked or replied to your comment rest assured it wasn’t because I didn’t like it, I’ve been flooded with great answers and don’t have time to read them all right now, I’m not ignoring anyone, you are all lovely thank you x


who is the member and where can I obtain said volume? :smiley: