I think I know from SSiW lessons when to say ‘‘Yndw, Yndi, Do, Bydd etc’’ when saying YES.
Eirwen says I’m not to actually name her as the source of my confusion when I am struggling with my Welsh.
Let’s just say an anonymous gremlin corrects me whenever I think I have chosen the correct word for YES and tells me I should have said ‘‘Oes’’ or '‘ie’ or something else.
I’m starting to develop a ‘‘tic’’ around the eye whenever the challenge of saying YES is on the radar.
Next on the horizon is potentially very expensive therapy, so I’m hoping this note to the Forum will prompt the Seventh Cavalry into action to rescue me from a nervous breakdown or from Eirwen if she reads this.
The basic trick, and apologies if you already know this, is to realize that most of the time the right word for yes is just an affirmative statement.
Are you going to the store? I am. (Ydw.)
Was he sleeping? He was. (Oedd.)
and so forth. So I always try to think of saying that statement, and not “yes/no.”
There are (of course) exceptions. You mentioned “ie.” Ie/Nage are the yes/no forms when you’re answering a question where the first word isn’t a verb. Gareth King’s books call these “focused sentences,” because they put extra emphasis on the word that comes first.
Wyt ti’n Gymro? (Are you a Welshman?) Ydw.
Cymro wyt ti? (Are you a Welshman, as opposed to something else?) Ie.
Here’s another therapist-avoiding suggestion - if you don’t feel entirely certain about any particular Yes or No, just use ‘Iawn’ for Yes and ‘Peryg o ffiars’ for No. Eirwen will, I suspect, particularly enjoy the No alternative
And seriously, seriously, don;t worry about it. If the anonymous source of your confusion is not willing to let it go, then refuse to answer yes or no. (i would suggest always saying “do” / “naddo” until said anonymous helper gives up, but that may cause more arguments than it cures)… Instead, anser “I will”, “I did” “He was” etc. The fact that these constructions are the basis of the “correct” yesses / noes is a bonus, and you will soon fall into knowing the yesses and noes by default.
BUT, using the correct yes and no is a flourish, the flowers in the vestry, the icing on the pannetone. If you use the wrong one for the rest of your life, you will always be understood - as long as you don;t mix between negative and positive, of course!
If it is starting to cause you a problem, could you very seriously explain to Eirwen that you will get the right ones sorted in time, but for now, the corrections are actually holding you back and affecting your confidence / natural rythm. That being the case, for now please could she just accept that you will continue to use wrong ones on a regular basis, and learn from her example, not from her corrections.
I’ve always thought that having a first language helper is a two edged sword, because there are certain unimportant things that are dear to us, like mutations and yesses and noes. We really want to help you to find them equally dear, but the flipside is that we can affect your whole outlook, and your progress, by being impatient of the process. The process is - 1)get it wrong a thousand times, then 2) start to get things in order oer another ferw thousand times, then 3) get it roght so often that you forget that it was ever a probem.
I’ve been meaning to write instructions for first language helpers for ages. One day…
Eirwen and I have been married for 40 years and up to now I have thought it prudent to stop short of suggesting she go on a behaviour modification course.
But you have given me the confidence to stand up and be counted. Well - sort of - and veering to the side of caution I thought it best to give you the credit for the idea.
Eirwen is now looking for you. You will recognise her - she is breathing fire and has a forked tongue and tail, sort of like a Welsh Dragon in drag.
Seriously, as you may have gathered Eirwen and I believe SSiW performs wonders.and can’t thank you enough for the obvious dedication that has produced a conversational language-learning experience second to none.
No need to modify her behaviour - don;t stop helping! The only thing is for her to wear a set of ear mufflers which allow a few more, umm, mutilated forms to pass without comment.
“Iestyn says…” is fine - I’ve got 4 kids, so regularly get called the worst dad ever, told I’m spoiling their lives etc. One more person out to get me (temporarily - the kids last about 5 minutes) is no problem!
So the final mystery to be solved is: did the Celts arrive in Llanfairtalhaian or Pwllheli first.
If they arrived in Llanfairtalhaian first they said ‘‘Dim ffiars o beryg’’ when they wanted to say ‘‘No way Jose’’ (No Chance!) which then mutated to ‘‘Peryg o ffiars’’ when part of the tribe moved on to Pwllheli
Of course, in order to answer a normal, non-focused Welsh question grammatically, it is necessary to fulfill the condition that you were listening from the beginning of the sentence, and not do like me which is to start listening about one third the way through. Coupled with my wife’s habit of starting the question when she is only half-way down the stairs and I am downstairs and one and a half rooms away, this would mean I had no chance if the question had been in Welsh. In English I can sometimes just about get away with it (well, at least the answer would be grammatical…no husband ever gets away with anything in the long term… ).
My stomach has found the solution to all this. I should have paid attention to it sooner. I notice that if I am offered a ‘‘panad’’, and if for breakfast I would like some ‘‘uwd’’, the magic words ‘‘Oes, diolch’’ produce the desired result.
My brain first responds to ‘‘wyt ti eisiau …’’ by prompting me to respond to a question in a foreign language - so it first tries ‘‘si’’. When this fails it next tries ‘‘Yndw’’. Finally Pavlov wins because I end up with a wonderful panad and uwd at breakfast when I dutifully reply ‘‘oes, diolch’’.
I don’t know whether this is good Welsh or bad Welsh, regional Welsh, Llanfairtalhaian Welsh or Eirwen Welsh. It doesn’t really matter because marital bliss reigns in our household and my stomach is deliriously happy, momentarily.
And I can move onto my next attempt at Welsh discourse with -
‘‘Chwant bwyd arna i hyd yn hin’’
I think I can just comprehend in Eirwen’s response ‘‘Sut mae’n bosib!’’ and something about a ‘‘mochyn’’.
I’ll obviouslyhave to do more listening excercises …
Well, it’s good to see there are optimists in the world. It is much more likely, however, that I was being called ‘‘mochyn budr’’ (which is a variation on your mochyn aflan) or hopefully something slightly less derogatory like ‘‘mochyn barus’’.
It’s a fascinating subject. I just noticed that I have a tendency to force Eirwen into the patterns of speech that I am comfortable with (SSiW learned patterns).
I can almost feel her resistence sometimes but I will persist with trying to say something new starting from some pattern I have learned. Eirwen will sometimes grudgingly say ‘‘well, you can say it like that’’. Then later the other shoe will drop and I will hear her say the same thing in a much more natural form that is instinctive to her.
So I and probably many students begin by operating from our newly learned limited universe of patterns with which we are comfortable. Our first language helpers operate usually completely from instinct (which I guess is a much richer and infinitely larger variety of patterns that they can’t even remember they once learned).
As far as any given individual is concerned - but not necessarily a measurably ‘more natural’ form in the whole universe of speakers - you’ll hear all the stuff we teach you in entirely natural situations from first language speakers at some point or another
Sounds as though you’ve got yes/no cracked, though. I was also going to offer ‘Dwi’n meddwl bod ti’n hollol iawn’ as a very reliable and safe fall-back position.