North versus south

I just did my first lesson and the thing that struck me was the different vocabulary. I’ve done myneddiad un ac dau and lots of Duolingo. So I know these expressions already and found this really easy. But I learned eisiau “to want” and dw i ddim yn “I do not”. Versus (phonetically) ay shuh and ved draw thim. Is that a dialect thing? I’m not worried about it. I live in South Wales so picked South Wales but it seems like I’ve been learning north. And the people I work with at bbc tend to see north as proper Welsh and that’s more often what’s on radio. I know it’s not true but I’m torn right at the beginning on what path to take. And before you say it I’m not stressed about it. I just need to choose. It’s also really weird to not learn how to spell things. My welsh so far (and French, Russian, Inuktitut and Arabic) has been heavily written which is probably why I do well writing but I’m rubbish speaking. But I recently did a Michel Thomas tape before s trip to Argentina and my Spanish went from zero to not bad in no time. Though I can’t write anything. So I’m a convert to the ssi approach to fixing my poor spoken Welsh. But to north or not to north, that is the question.


Hi Paul, welcome to SSiW and the forum.
Lots of people ask the same “N or S” thing, and in the end it comes down to personal preference. Whichever one you use, you’ll hear plenty of the other!

Some words sound pretty much the same in all dialects (because N and S have their own variants too), whereas the pronounciation of other words can seem to change every 10 miles down the road. This can be daunting to begin with, but the trick really is not to worry about it and go with the versions that come to you easiest/quickest. None of them are wrong!


Gog-gog-gog-gogettem either way! :upside_down_face:

Paul, when it comes to the words - feel free to print out the lesson guides & vocabulary for each lesson. You can see both Gog and De that way.

Different people learn in different ways, you have hit an oft-discussed topic-here and elsewhere. You have also struck the bone of contention/loose flagstone:

Personally, I love the way that @aran & @Iestyn have set up the (old and new) lessons for embedding the spoken language (even as a vegetarian you will understand that later :meat_on_bone: ). I’m not getting on the North/South clarion-line in relation to “proper”. My answer here is Siaradwch! I am doing Gog, so would welcome the company :rofl:

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@siaronjames already wrote what I could have thought. :slight_smile:

Maybe I would just add that since this is mostly based on speaking, you might try and listen to Challenge 1 in North and South version. Then choose the one that sounds…easier and/or nicer to you.

p.s. you might find a little bit of playful Gog vs De/north vs South jokin’ around the forum :grin:
So now that I hear that your BBC colleagues and @Sean-O are promoting North, I think someone has to wave the South Walian flag: hey it would be nice to have you among us Southern Course learners! :smiley: :wink:

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Definitely this too…and even if it’s lowering my flag a bit…you do live in the South.
Either way, you will pick up bits of both along the road!

Okay so I probably put my foot in it suggesting a bbc bias for north Wales. Hopefully none of my south Walian colleagues on this thread. I’ll give the gog version a try and see what strikes my ear best.

Where do I find the lesson guides? I’m using the app and slack but still a bit overwhelming trying to navigate around.

I set a link in my first reply…click on that and you will be ar y ffordd!

now that is interesting! :thinking:
(I work for an indie TV company in N Wales, and it’s not entirely the impression we sometimes get! :wink: )


I know but the link goes to faq

Oh boy I’m really getting myself in trouble here…

Okay Sean O I have the written materials now.

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hehe - don’t worry. I won’t tell the boss! :smile:

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And the vocabulary is in a little drop down on the app. I’m sorted now. And I discovered that actually my previous lessons were in south Walian and I found a few words odd because the app defaults to north Wales. Talk about bias! I’d set up south in a browser but then actually did the first challenge in the app so gog. Just figuring things out…


Well Paul, I’m from Gwynedd but lived and worked in Cardiff for over a decade. Here are my observations -

Southern Welsh is most definitely ‘proper’. This is not an issue about North vs South, but rather West vs East.

I’ve noticed that those from the south-east or who’ve been raised in English speaking families (but who went to Welsh medium schools), often can’t speak in Welsh for a long time before switching into English to express themselves easier. It’s like they are carrying a heavy rock around before going '‘You know what, I need to put this rock down and take a rest before I carry on’! The ones who’ve learnt the language at school or profess to be fluent often say odd things that don’t sound quite right to a native speaker. Sometimes it’s the sentence structure or sometimes it’s the words (like insisting that popty-ping is a widely used word when it was only used for lolz at their school). If you’ve ever read Taschen art books which were translated into English by a German or Dutch translator, you’ll get exactly what I mean.

I often had very disorientating conversations where someone would switch back & forth between the languages, every other sentence. On other occassions, ‘Mi oedda nhw’n dechrau siarad Cymraeg ar ddechrau’r frawddeg, before ending the sentence in English’! Most of them seemed to have no awareness of doing this. This might be why your colleagues talk of ‘proper’ Welsh, even though people from the North use English loan words all the time too.

Once you get to around Swansea or further, these things tend to fade or disappear completely, and then you will hear ‘proper’ southern Welsh. It doesn’t matter that much, but I would stick to the southern one if I were you.

Also, we could have a separate conversation here about what defines ‘proper’. I would learn whatever will help you blend in and converse with the Welsh speakers in your area. As long as you’re not planning on using it formally in your job, I don’t think you need to be concerned with proper or unproper Welsh. Just have fun!

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Bingo! Approach other angles later :+1:

Thanks Caren. It seems I’ve stumbled into a rather emotive topic. I could blame it on being from Canada but I’ve been here long enough and working most of that time for BBC Cymru Wales I should have known better. Languages and languages loss is an emotional minefield for almost all cultures it would seem. Before Wales I lived in Labrador and raised my daughter speaking a dialect of Inuktitut spoken by less than 500 people. As I reporter there I did a story about the last speaker in one community, unable to communicate with family and then friends as speakers passed away. It was heartbreaking. And the insidious influence of a coloniser’s language is so difficult to fight. My training is as a linguist working specifically on endangered languages and it’s worth knowing that in that academic community the Welsh resistance to English over eight centuries is often held up as a remarkable story. One last thing. Please don’t worry about loan words. Again with my linguist hat on I can suggest that much of any language exists in her grammar. Every language, with English being the biggest borrower of words, incorporates new words. And invents novel ones. But critically those words take on the language’s sounds and are used in the context of her syntax. There is no shame in borrowing and in some ways can show a language’s strength in adapting to new things. I am learning south BTW and carrying a very heavy rock at the moment!


There is more than one dialect in South Wales of course and many more sub dialects and the same applies across Wales. If you listen to the new southern course and compare it to the old one then you will detect some differences. Iestyn has said he has picked up some influences from the South West now, but he is still essentially from the South East.

The dialects a bit to the west of Swansea used to be called demetian and I regard them as the singy-songy sort of Welsh . The ones to the East called Gwentian or Gwenhwyseg are similar, but there are key sound differences for vowels and diphthongs. There used to be harder consonants to the East as well and I still hear that, but it’s more for the older generation now - d pronounced t and b pronounced P, g as c etc. Gwentian is still very much alive and kicking, but isolated to smaller areas now and there are far more Demetian speakers.

There’s more to difference in dialects than the choice of words and accents though - I think there’s a difference in humour and more subtle things that effect the style people adopt, which influences their choice of words and expressions - maybe something that’s not really considered very much and perhaps important to consider if we want more people who don’t have Welsh as the home language, to feel more connected and have that sense of a what is natural for them.

I think dialects have developed for a reason - it’s not simply about contact or isolation and it’s something that creates a distinctive bond to where you’re from. The icing on the cake maybe.

Cardiff is different being a city, with people moving there from all over Wales and it’s developing a new dialect almost, as a fusion of standard, regional and perhaps English.

Interesting times for Welsh, I think.


Interesting career!! I’m not putting a lot of energy into my blog at the moment, but you would be someone interesting to interview if you ever get to conversational level.

I’m not worried about loan words and I’m already aware of everything you’ve outlined (although I would like to megaphone this info across to certain people lol). Some borrowings are interesting - I can’t think of some now, but certain English words have been adopted to mean something slightly different. Like we’ll use the Welsh word to mean a particular type of something, and use the English word to mean a slightly different type of that same thing (connotations which that word might not have in English).


Now that bit about loan words having different shades of meaning would make an interesting topic for a sociolinguistics paper, if it’s not already been done on Welsh. I hope I can get to the interview stage. My head is pounding after challenge three and I laughed out loud at some of the crazy English sentences I’m suddenly having to say in Welsh. Might have sworn. Sorry Aran. But giving up is not an option! Ma eisiau i fi siarad Cymraeg.