Eisiau is a difficult one to pin down - there are quite a few pronounciations depending where you are in Wales. I’m in North Wales, so whilst I can recognise S.Wales forms, I’m not the best one to advise on what is in general use around Llanelli (hopefully someone else can though) but my best advice would be when in doubt, go with the one most common in your area. (but bear in mind it’s likely there’ll almost always be someone who says it differently wherever you are!)
In the challenge I actually hear it as:
a (like spelling the letter)
shay (like in the word shame)
How do you hear it?
However the sound stuck in my head is, of course, from my favourite pronunciation teacher Mr D.R.E., that I hear as:
a - she - eye
Not sure who and where people would understand what, though!
Maybe @alistair-corbett might have a look at the TV programme on S4C called “Bois y pizza” cause the guys are from Llanelli and I expect them to say eisiau at least once in the series!
(Also I think it’s fun and good for learners, although I’m maybe a bit biased cause they make pizza and travel to Italy too!)
Ha ha, it was only once as far as I could here. Mostly angen. Incidentally they also used paned and mixed edrych with disgwyl. Anyway, the one eisiau that I heard sounded like ish eye. So it all comes down to that ay/eye choice. To be fair, in Swansea it probably would be more like in the challenge: ish ay fi
Well to be honest I still haven’t met anyone using eisiau for need like in the challenge, so maybe the weird looks of the speakers were for the structure, not pronunciation (because maybe they normally use dw i eisiau for I want and dw i angen for I need which are so much easier!)
Possibly more of an EW than a NS thing, then? I think you can mix most words these days (a bit like using Australian or American English). Although apparently dwi’n disgwyl can sometimes sound weird in the North.
i wondered about this when i started, being from Llanelli it seemed odd. I asked my Welsh speaking nieces and a friend and they all said that they would use Rhaid for need and eisiau for must. Also they would say eeshe. They would also say paned and edrych, so what I do now, if I come across a word that is unfamiliar to me for a particular thing (because my distant memory of school Welsh is just about still alive!) is just check with them, or with locals here, and see what is the norm. They were all flummoxed by disgwyl, because it’s used to mean pregnant here!
Well, I’d pronounce ‘eisiau’ as roughly ee-sheh - i.e. first syllable rhyming approximately with English ‘see’ and second syllable like English ‘shed’ without the ‘d’; stress is on the first syllable. It’s often spelt ‘isie’ or ‘ishe’, reflecting S. Welsh pronuncation (or the pronunciation in parts of S. Wales - as Sharon says, there are a lot of variations).
So the sequence “ma(e) eisiau i fi wella” would be approx “ma ee-sheh i-vee well-a” - understanding that ‘ll’ = the Welsh ‘ll’. (It’s really difficult to transcribe these words without using formal IPA symbols, so don’t know how helpful my non-IPA transcription is. If you know IPA, let me know, and I can do it that way.)
Note that in the sequences you mention there is an ‘i’ between ‘eisiau’ and the pronoun (mae eisiau i fi wella; mae eisiau i ti siarad - literally, there is a need for me to improve; there is a need for you to talk).
In formal or very careful speech, ‘eisiau’ is pronounced, as Gisella indicates, ay-shy (first syllable rhymes with ‘day’, second syllable like English ‘shy’; stress on first syllable). But I doubt you’d want to pronounce it like that in natural conversation.