I noticed that in the SSIW Southern courses, they teach ‘he is’ as ‘ma fe’n’, so I assumed that the pronoun ‘he’ was ‘fe’. However I’ve been going through some other Welsh learning resources and in those ‘he is’ is taught as ‘mae e’n’ or ‘mae o’n’ and there is no mention of ‘ma fe’n’, not even in the grammar books I have. In ‘Now You’re Talking’, ‘he is’ is also taught as ‘mae e’n’ or ‘mae o’n’ - they say the former is used in the south and the latter is used in the north.
So is ‘ma fe’n’ just a ‘southernism’ used in colloquial southern Welsh? What is the correct pronoun for ‘he’?
Good question! Thanks for asking it!
The correct pronoun for “he” is e in the south and o in the north. But things get muddled a bit in spoken Welsh when that pronoun follows a vowel. Natural speech often inserts an f between the two vowels, but usage depends on region and speaker preference. As a rule this f should not occur in Mae e, but you’ll hear Ma’fe in the south a lot.
This inserted f also happens in Northern speech, for example I had lunch with him - Ges i ginio efo fo
I tend to say “Ma’ fe” but write “Mae e” when I’m not just sending a quick informal text, but having lived in Cardiff and now in Llandysul, I’ve heard plenty of both. Mostly I don’t think people notice which version you use.
Only because my Welsh is mainly copying what I hear (Swansea), I tend to say: mae’n but: mae fe’n in full (well, almost full). I seem to remember that the “fe” version is used in hymns and old songs.
Edited: O yes, I think I only/mainly use the “f” when the previous word ends in an “e” or an “a”. So, Ydy e and Yw e, but mae fe
Edit: Sorry, also Ef in Hymns, but generally lose the f in conversation.
Thanks for the replies - what would I do without you lot to clarify these little things for me!