Llefrith or llaeth

I’ve seen other bits on the forum about this. I’ve just switched to North Welsh after doing the introductory South Welsh course. Makes sense because it’s Betws y Coed that I visit most often. Just reading about the north/south divide on milk and the general opinion is that llaeth stops around Dolgellau. But in the Co-op in Llanwrst, four miles down the road, they have a Llaeth dy department so I’m sticking with llaeth.

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I look at all languages as methods of communication. I would always go firstly with what will make the person I am speaking with understand. If the person understands both then I would go with what I find most comfortable.

For example I live in the south and am very fortunate that I live in Pontcanna in Cardiff which has a number of shops with Welsh speakers so I can practice (I started to learn Welsh in August but life obstacles appeared so my partner and I started to learn again this week). If you want to stick with “llaeth” because it’s most comfortable then more the power to you :smiley:


When I was in Caernarfon for the recent Parti Penblwydd, someone making me a cup of tea asked me if I wanted llefrith. I was suddenly too tongue-tied to answer!


The fact that a shop (which is in effect part of a chain when it comes to signage, I would reckon) uses “Llaeth” does not imply that this word is favoured by locals. I see both “Llaeth” and “Llefrith” in shops in Caernarfon, where most everyone says “Llefrith”. More likely, the sign suppliers are based in “Llaeth” country, or the management person who specified the sign is from that persuasion.

I can and do accept that people will use all forms of tafodiaith (local dialect), but I would have expected Betws-y-Coed to be in Llefrith country. The place does attract quite a mix of people, though, so maybe people will say either of the “LL” words for the white drink from cows. Some people may even say M-I-L-K, but we can help them, can’t we :wink: ?

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Llaeth is also the word for dairy (adjective), so if you’re seeing signage in a supermarket, that would be one explanation.

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Llaethdy/llaeth-dŷ/llaeth dŷ is common throughout Wales as a word used for the dairy (house)/milk house - where the milk is stored and cheese and the butter produced. So it would be normal to see ‘llaethdy’ as a word for the dairy section in a shop or supermarket. I’ve also seen it used on holiday cottages which are converted farm buildings.

In north Wales, llaeth on it’s own means buttermilk - sometimes you’ll hear the term llaeth enwyn. But milk is still llefrith and using llaeth in certain situations in north Wales may result in a helping of buttermilk… :wink:


That clears it up nicely. Thank you. Since Latin at school I have had an interest in the root of words and, strangely enough, llaeth has always suggested in my mind a picture of cream rather than milk - to ‘cream off’ something. SSi Welsh is a fantastic learning method. I was fluent with the South Wales introductory course but as I worked through the intermediate South Wales course I felt, with great respect, that I was assimilating too many colloquialisms and abbreviations so, as it is Betws y Coed that I visit often, I switched to the North Wales course and I am just going through the North introductory course to make sure before moving on to the intermediate North. I find Northern Welsh just a bit more poetic and lyrical. Does that make sense? At the farm where I stay I have heard ‘Betws y Coed Welsh’ described as ‘Biblical Welsh’ and I kind of see the point especially as Bishop Morgan translated the bible into Welsh at Ty Mawr Wybrnant all those years ago. So, thank you for such an excellent course. I must learn now to go back to my North Wales accent for ‘Cymraeg’.


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That’s curious!
For me instead, it was one my first “oh crazy, there’s Welsh words that look like Italian!” :smiley:
Llaeth = latte = milk, even though they don’t really sound very similar. But still, it’s much easier to remember than the other.

p.s. By the way…I enjoy all accents, but if you asked me which one sounds more poetic and lyrical I would certainly say South! I suspect it’s all very subjective. :slight_smile:

Hello. certainly “llaith” sounds easier to remind for learners having a latin native tongue : latte, leche, llet, lait…" and even for us Breton “laezh”. For this reason I currently stay with “llaeth” but keeping l Llefrith in my mind.

I agree with Gathyn in using the terms used by the interlocutor. In Brittany where there are a lot of various way of saying things (for ewample “eus ar beure” and “diouzh ar mintin” for “in the morning”),I’ II use what fits the person speaking to me (otherwise he/she could misunderstand me, or actually not understand at all).
Of course, that matches if you know the different ways of saying, which is not necessarely the case. That’s why French people who laugh at breton language or culture say “look, Bretons don’t even inter-understand themselves”. But would a French man from Lille (North of France) a French man of Marseille (South) and another from Strasbourg (East) would inter-understand when speaking French if they had not been at school and had not learnt a “common French” allowing to be understood wherever you are in France ? (And even with this “common French”, local stresses on words - accent tonique - or loca pronouciations make the understanding sometimes rather diffiicult) :slight_smile:

I love things beeing said in different ways, and of course have my own preference (in Welsh cas, northern). But a “common tongue”, sometimes considered as a bit “chimical”, seems also necessary…

Not to be confused with lladd-dy which is something completely different (i.e. abattoir), so care needed with pronunciation if you’re asking directions to the shop or there might be a nasty surprise! :grinning:


It’s worth knowing both words, but it won’t really matter which you use. North and South Walians will understand both, and context will make it clear you’re not asking for buttermilk. They’ll just be pleased you’re speaking Welsh. I’m North Walian, but learned a lot of my Welsh at the Urdd camp in Bala, in the company of a lot of Southerners, so my vocab is thoroughly mixed!


I had learnt llefrith but I saw a lot of llaeth on the actual milk bottles when I visited North Wales.

It would be cool to have some colourful gradient maps made with these North/South words!

If she wants to use the words that way, fine, but that interpretation has no basis in any dictionary that I am aware of. They are simply regional variants of the same thing.

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One of the reasons I remember how to say milk is that it’s in lyrics of a song that goes:

llaeth poeth yn y cwpan te

It looks like they’d put llaeth in a paned in Aberteifi! :smiley:


This was a series that would really interest you, I imagine. I’ve found the trailer with a quick search https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKMdMgrlTZM but I’m not sure if any more of the series is available.