North and South accents mutually unintelligible?

Been listening today to @beca-brown in the Advanced Content recording no. 4, where the interviewee Eleri Lovgreen states that, on moving as a child from north Wales to Carmarthenshire, “I didn’t understand the children speaking – I didn’t have a word of English – and they didn’t understand my Northern accent, so they started to speak English to me, but I didn’t understand English either…”
I seem to remember reading once or twice that there were mutually-unintelligible Welsh accents a generation or two ago, and I’d sort of dismissed the matter as exaggerated. It’s always seemed to me that the South and North versions, at least as presented in SSiW, aren’t that different.
Anyone who knows about this and can elaborate? @beca-brown?


Well, when my brother and sister - who are a lot older than me(!) - moved south from Dolgellau to Brecon in the early 60s, their English was very poor…they had to spend time at school catching up…seems incredible now but that was then!

It does seem another step entirely for someone from the North truly not understanding someone from the south. I took this to be kids making fun/ refusing to talk to someone with a really strong accent…,but, I agree, it would be really interesting to know if it was more literally true.

Rich :slight_smile:


My Welsh speaking neighbours reported going on holiday to Ynys Môn, probably some time in the 60s, and said they switched over to English when speaking to the North Walian woman in the tourist information centre. I suppose there was much less exposure, via TV or radio, to accents other than the local one at the time. In my personal experience, understanding the Gog accent is difficult but by no means impossible and by no means harder to understand than another very strongly accented Cwm Gwendraeth neighbour. Exposure is key.


Just as an aside for all of these items. How did it help when they changed to English dialects? Especially if they weren’t 1st language English speakers. Unless they all spoke some sort of standard Welsh English.

Incidentally, my church is currently holding a conference with speakers from Hampshire, Barry, Swansea, Poland and Texas. Thats a cool mix of accents.

By the way, does anyone know what toad choking weather is? :joy:

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Hi there! I think it can be exaggerated among adults, especially these days, but I think it may have been more of an issue for children.
I remember moving from mid-Wales to the Caernarfon area and having words in my Welsh that were not readily understood. I said ‘mincia’ for sweets while the Caernarfon kids said ‘da-da’ or ‘fferins’, and there was wrach/ella, ffedog/brat etc.
But I think too much is made of it, generally.


:flushed:Er…anyone reading, use this word with caution with Italians. It may cause serious misunderstandings and embarrassment - to say the least. :grimacing:


Indeed they aren’t.

Perhaps to the child (as it was in this case) it might have been true - little experience of dealing with different accents.

Your instincts that the matter has been exaggerated are sound, I think.


Oh golly gosh!!! :joy::joy:
Incidentally, mincia comes from the English ‘mint cake’.

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What word would we use in the south for ‘unbiased’ please?


Unprejudiced is ‘diragfarn’, and you’d use it for unbiased too. ‘Rhagfarn’ is bias or prejudice, and the ‘di’ negates it.


Great, thank you Beca.

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