I find that I am getting myself increasingly confused with starting sentences and looking at a couple of dictionaries and reference books just makes things worse. So, for example …We (are)… In SSiW it is Yn ni’, but I’ve also seen Dyn ni’n in another book…but then in a dictionary it is R’yn ni. So I think my question is does this matter? Are there just a number of acceptable ways of saying ‘We are’, or am I really missing something fundamental here but not recognising it? Any further tips for using ‘bod’ easily? Thank you.
Short answer … Yes. Please trust SSiW and go with the flow. Adjust in the future if needed.
The answer is “No, it doesn’t matter”. Across Wales you will hear people using different ways of saying those basic little words, and if you start looking at writing or reference books, you will find other more formal ways as well.
The SSiW advice as always is not to worry about it, go with what you’re hearing in the lessons, but when you’re in real “in the wild” Welsh situations, listen to what those around you are using and go with that.
As for using “bod” easily, I think the best way is to build up the use slowly in the way it gets introduced in the lessons. Become comfortable with how it slots into sentences you know and create others of your own based on the same pattern, and as you go on the range will increase. You can also listen out for it in conversations, on the radio or S4C, and just make a mental note of when other people use it.
Hope that helps!
No it doesn’t matter they both mean the same thing
All of the above are absolutely right, and if you can go with the flow as Gruntius advises, there’s no need to add more, so stop reading here! but if you’re someone who remembers better with a ‘reason’ to pin things to (like me!), maybe this will help.
The main thing to remember is that SSiW teaches a spoken form - the form that will get you sounding like a natural Welsh speaker - whereas many books, reference/dictionary and literature, will tend to use more standardised or formal versions.
With ‘bod’, the easiest way (I think) is to realise that the more informal the use becomes (think ‘bible’ at the most formal end and ‘chat over a coffee’ at the other!), the more the full form is shortened.
Going with your We (are) example, the fullest form would be Yr ydym ni. This gets shorter as the informality increases, and also the m changes to another n, so you’ll see 'Rydym ni, 'Rydyn ni, R’yn ni, 'Dyn ni, and most informally 'Dan ni, Yn ni. And possibly even more local variations.
But don’t worry about it - get the speech one to stick first and the others will slot in when you get to reading and writing later on.
I don’t want to confuse you further, but it may help to know that these are all ways of not having to say, Rydw i or Rydyn ni or whatever and even that, which I was taught, back in the mists of time, was short, I believe, for Yr ydw i!! In English, do you say, “I’m…”? Well, “I am” is correct, but we only usually say it if we want to stress something! “I am waiting!” Means, “For… sake hurry up!”
Eventually ending up with ni’n and fi’n
I always hear and use ‘Dan ni’n’ in SSiW, yet I have come to “correct” it to ‘Dyn ni’n’ when I write in Welsh.
Just accept that there are lots of different ways of saying it and that they are all fine
That’s the best explanation of this point that I’ve seen!
Go with what comes to mind first and you’ll be fine…
Well you’ll definitely see it written as “dan ni’n” sometimes when spoken Welsh is being represented.
And (at least in the north, so far as I know), I don’t think it’s usually pronounced as if it should be written “dyn ni’n”. And I don’t just mean in tweets or informal forum posts and the like. I’ve just found “dan ni’n” in two different “Nofelau Nawr” books, by different authors (writing in northern-oriented Welsh), although I found a “dyn ni’n” in a third book, written in southern-oriented Welsh. (So is this just a north-south difference?).
Exactly that. I don’t “dyn ni” is any more formal than “da(n) ni”. When I’ve seen it written down as a formal register (so avoiding a colloquial) it’s always been “rydyn ni” (very occassionally with an ‘m’ as Siaron explained). Otherwise they’re both as informal as each other
I have always thought of “bod” as being the “big beast” of Welsh. The verb “to be” is pretty irregular in most languages that I have any familiarity with, but Welsh seems to do this in spades!
(And to be honest, it was what put me off learning Welsh properly for years. Any time I looked at a book, and found the various ways of saying “am” “are” etc, I soon lost the will to live!)
Thank goodness for SSiW and sanity!
My take on the subject: Let’s say that you’re teaching English to someone who has had no previous exposure. The sentence in question is “You are not going to get either of them.” Colloquially, this could come out as:
- You’re not going to get either of them.
- You aren’t going to get either of them.
- You’re going to get neither of them.
- You’re going to get none of them.
- You’re gonna get neither.
- You ain’t going to get either…
That’s merely a selection of course. The list goes on. In spoken English, which is ‘correct’? Obviously, all of them. A good English course would perhaps cover them all. To an outsider, it may sound totally confusing.
There’s more than one way to say most things in any language, and one of the things I like about SSiW is that this is one of its strong points.
That’s exactly right; all are equally correct, and are dependent on variables like regional dialect, social class, and context. The same applies in Welsh with ‘bod’ - all variations are equally valid, and surely no first-language Welsh-speaker is going to condemn a learner for ‘speaking out of context’ by using a variation that isn’t fully matched to that context.
Henddraig’s point (further up the comments list) about emphasis also sounds like a good rule of thumb.
Incidentally , in school in the late sixties I was taught to use ‘rwyf i’ for ‘I am’. I presume this is archaic and no longer used?
Pretty much, although you might hear it occasionally in more formal settings…
Diolch, Aran. In ‘less-Welsh’ parts of Wales, dydyn nhw ddim wedi dysgu Cymraeg yn dda 40-50 mlynedd yn ol (as you can tell by my beginner’s Welsh).