On one of the early challenges of the new South course, ‘I would like to…’ is introduced as ‘hoffen i’ (as far as I can work out), but I seem to remember from other Welsh learning attempts that, in the first person singular, the translation is '‘hoffwn i’. Can someone clarify please? Thanks.

S’mae Alun,

Yes are correct, it is written hoffwn i. :smile: Perhps its just the way its is being pronounced in the lesson?


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Shwmae Alun!

The last spelling is the correct way to spell it (hoffwn i…). The first interpretation is pretty much what it sounds like when it is spoken!

For those reading this who are new to the language (and indeed this course), this is just one of the reasons why this course recommends everyone to learn how to speak the Welsh before learning how to read and write it. Because most people are used to their own language and how the letters in their alphabet sound, when they see the written Welsh word, their brain naturally tries to pronounce the word as it would sound if it were in their own language. Those who realise that the Welsh alphabet contains some letters which sound very different to English (the letter U is a good example), and that when 2 certain letters are written together (LL is an example here) they can also have a unique sound, won’t have much of a problem with the reading and writing element.

Of course, you have to start somewhere, so learning how to speak the words before learning how it’s spelt helps to familiarise you with the differences, as you start to see patterns forming. The fortunate thing here with the Welsh language is that the Welsh alphabet is phonetic, which makes it, in my view, much easier to learn.

Back to your question though Alun, you were right with what you heard (but sounding more ‘un’ than ‘en’ after ‘hoff’ in English terms), and you were also right with the spelling ‘hoffwn’!

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I think it may be more that you will hear both.
[I’m sort of assuming that from the name of the original poster :wink: and, more importantly, the way he worded the question that he does have a basic understanding of the way Welsh is pronounced and spelled.]

Hoffwn i/ hoffen i - I would like.
Hoffet ti - you would like
Hoffet ti? - would you like?
Hoffech chi? - would you like?

The literary form, if you like, is “hoffwn i”,
Which used to be the only one taught in most courses (but from my experience things have changed now.)

Now, because a lot of the other verb endings in this sort of “would you, I would” tense use the “e” vowel, this “bleeds” into spoken Welsh in the first person singular.
However, you will hear both in normal speech, and also see both written, depending on who is saying it and where it is written!

Well, if you can make sense of that answer, you are a better man than I am! :wink:

[and that’s without talking about lico/licio :wink: ]


Wow! What rapid responses. Thank you all for your help. This is the first time I’ve used the forum - I can see it won’t be the last. Thanks again.


Shw mae, @alunmorgan!

Just to confirm - “hoffwn i” is the accepted literary form, but in the south, the natural spoken form is “hoffen”. This is the same for all the conditional words, especially bydden i / bysen i (byddwn i / buaswn i) and more specialist words like elen i (I would go), etc.

Good listening skills, by the way - when you start getting to this degree of “hold on, that’s subtly different to what I expected” as you listen to the lessons, you are really developing an ear for the language. Don’t worry about the little details, though - no-one will misunbderstand you one way or the other, and you will pretty much only ever get “corrected” by other learners or tutors (most first language speakers will just think your “from somewhere elase!”).


And as well as this, there is I think a slightly more subtle point which is that the conventional education of most of us has probably taught us to regard the written form of language as primary, even though that was not the way we learned our first language.

As we all know, the spelling in English was not standardised until relatively recently (taking the long view), and when we read historic texts, spellings look very odd, and very variable. Apart from anything else, they may well have been reflecting dialect/accent variations.

Now while spellings might have become standardised, accents and dialects didn’t, at least they didn’t begin to until the era of mass mobility and broadcasting. So standard spellings in English have probably never particularly closely reflected the pronunciation of most people.

Nevertheless, in an era of near total literacy and wider access to education there is probably an implicit pressure for the written standard to start affecting the pronunciation…people may begin to feel uneasy about their own pronunciation, and look to the written language as a guide.

I would think this is even more likely with people learning a second (or re-learning a “lost”) language.


In the courses I’ve been to we have been lucky enough to have teachers who have stressed that though “this one is the written, literary form”, “this is the way people say it round here”. And the second form is used in the lessons, practice or whatever, includiing in most writing.

I found all these forms being mentioned gave me a way of linking and accepting different ways of speaking Welsh, as it were.

Very good teacher at the moment, actually- really enthusiastic, infectiously so! And stressing, giving examples and explaining through the course how Welsh is spoken and used in the area. Really useful.

So yes, you are right. It is very important for that to be stressed. Luckily I have had teachers who have always made a point of doing it. Other people may not have been so lucky.
[Though it does seem to be the stress in the course material nowadays, thankfully! However, the attitude of teachers can have a big difference.]