Please excuse my bad welsh

Whenever I’ve tried to speak a few words of a foreign language to a native speaker, I always try to say before or during my conversation, “Please excuse my bad…(whatever language)”.

I’ve found that it’s a real ice-breaker, and the native speaker will invariably say something like “no, you speak fine”.

So…how do you say yn Cymraeg, “Please excuse my bad Welsh”, or “Please excuse my poor Welsh”?



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I have sometimes tried “Dw i’n dysgu Cymraeg a felly dw i isio amarfer siarad cymaint â phosib…” or similar, and leave it to them to judge the quality of the Welsh.

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Recently being in Cardiff, I’ve just plunged into the shop or caffee saying Coffi Americaneur plis (of course I’ve said my greeting in Welsh first) not even asking if they speak Welsh or not. Getting some puzzled looks many times I’ve usually continued: “Oh, sorry, you don’t speak Welsh? OK, then we probably should continue in English. One American coffee please.” and I went on … “Mawr plis … gyda llaeth … oh, with milk please …” and I usually just gesturred that “mawr” word for them. Then it turned out or they really didn’t speak Welsh at all, or they did but were so puzzled to hear it because they talked to people before me in English so they needed some seconds to adapt to my “agression” on them. Then only I usually told them I’m learning Welsh and I’m actually even not Welsh at all but come from Slovenia. From puzzled surprised people they usually turned into surprised pleasant ones. So, despite it maybe was a bit rude from me to make “attack” it worked just fine for both sides.

So, this for, I believe you should never say your Welsh is bad but rather tell people you’re learning the language so they should maybe be a bit patient with you! You will soon see it works that way too. I was taught on this forum particularly that one should not neglect themselves so I FINALLY obayed that rule and went for speaking whatever quality rather then excuse myself at the very beginning for not speaking fluently/good (or whatever). If you’ll not impress people with your Welsh then you will do so with your courage to just plunge into conversation no matter how short or at the “beginners” level it might be.

Hwyl! :slight_smile: :smile: :slight_smile:


Fantastic story, I wish I’d been there. The ‘quality’ of our Welsh matters a lot lot less than being able to use it.
In these modern coffee shops, often most of the staff are from central Europe, so they may have just been pleased to meet someone else from central Europe. Most Welsh people, who like me, did a little at school before SSiW, would understand a lady saying, ‘mawr gyda llaeth’ (as opposed to bach) and certainly ‘coffi americaneur plis’, so I suspect they may not have been Welsh.
I think it’s important that we use whatever Welsh we have, whenever we can and not revert to English at the first sign of trouble, it tells our minds that language can be used everyday.


You could go for ‘Maddeuwch safon gwael fy Nghymraeg’… :slight_smile:


That’s an interesting, positive approach Tatjana!

Thank you. I have to say such aproach brought me much joy which resulted into strange happening when I was on the way to the bus station in Caerdydd to go home. I walked the street with my (really big) rucksack, driving my suitcase along aswell and as I’ve stopped at the pedestrian cross I’ve seen one man of the staff at the Caffee where I had my morning coffee every day. “Are yuo OK?” was his question seing me with such luggage (unfortunately he didn’t speak Welsh though). “Yes, I’m fine.” I’ve replied. Obviously he rememberred me from the caffee and maybe he also had in mind how I came with my (whatever quality) Welsh in the morning ordering my coffi. :slight_smile:

So, I believe, if we have positive aproach and try to speak the language we learn without too much excuses how “bad” it is, the happenings can go very positive way. :slight_smile:


Good point, Tatjana! But when I say "Please excuse my bad/poor ,(whatever) it’s not really because I think it IS bad/poor (although it often is). but purely as an ice-breaker. I’ve found it works, and people who may have been a bit diffident, become friendly!

Example…many years ago I visited Berlin shortly after the fall of the Wall, and I got hopelessly lost in the U-bahn (Underground/Subway) in the eastern part of the city. Very few people in the former East Berlin spoke English (Russian was their foreign language). I was stranded in an eerily empty U-bahn station with only me and the uniformed platform supervisor.

So I tried my limited German and he gave me basic help in German, but he wasn’t particularly friendly. I thanked him, and said “Enschuldingen Sie, mein schlechtes Deutsch”, (please excuse my bad German), whereupon a smile burst out on his face, he assured me that my Deutsch was just fine, and even shook my hand and wished me a happy holiday!


Yes, but you started to talk first and then you explained about your knowledge of the language. It works of course. Maybe he only at that point realized you were actually speaking German altnough it might be heard you’ve tried very hard saying what you wanted with your “schlechtes Deutsch”. It happens …

From this point of view I could agree with you.

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My experiences are fairly similar (although my approach is perhaps not quite as “aggressive” as yours, Tatjana ;-)). For some years now, we go to Wales every summer; and thanks to SSiW, I meanwhile feel confident enough to actually say something in Welsh to normal people in shops or pubs. (Diolch yn fawr iawn i bawb!) I usally start with “Bore da” or whatever time of day, which usually gets a conversation going. This time, in a bookshop in Carmarthen, I tried to speak as much Welsh as I could think of, although the person at the counter kept talking to us in English at first (well, my husband doesn’t understand or speak Welsh; perhaps that’s why).
I find that speaking Welsh, even if it’s only a few words like “Noswaith dda” and something like “Dw i’n trio dysgu Cymraeg”, opens doors and conversations and people seem to very pleased. It happened several times that they told other people “Would you believe, she’s from Germany and she’s learning / she speaks Welsh.”(Usually something to that effect, in Welsh , of course.) Then those other people started a conversation with me.
The more you actually speak and hear the easier it gets and the more confident you become. Great experience!
I also thoroughly enjoyed volunteering to help in the caffi on Maes D at this year’s Eisteddfod. Since then I keep dreaming in Welsh.


That’s a great neurological sign… :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Exactly … and then puzzled question: “How come? Why Welsh?” :slight_smile: I just can’t help myself but smile to such reactions

There were 3 (or 4) men (I don’t remember this well anymore) at the table in the tafarn in Tresaith. Hearing us few who came to the pub speaking Welsh we somehow fell into conversation and the question about where we all come from was brought. Each of us told them where we’re comming from and the reaction when I told them from where I am, was “Oh, Slovenia? Great!” I already thought they know Slovenia very well since they were so thrilled and only then one of them said “Oh, I don’t know where Slovenia is at all, but still great!” “Neither do I.” was replica from all of them. I had to litrally laugh about this statement asking them: “You don’t know where Slovenia is? Why such excitement then?” Then to my surprise I’ve got (I feel a bit unjustified) compliment with “Oh, because you speak Welsh quite well.” Laugh from my side again with polite “Diolch yn fawr iawn.” of course knowing exactly how many mistakes I’ve done even during this, really pleasant and jolly conversation … And when one woman came to sit at the men’s table they all almost “attacked” her: “Do you know this woman comes from Slovenia?” (as that she should already know that from who knows where :slight_smile: ) “O, really?” was her excited reply probably not knowing where my country is either. :slight_smile: The conversation was held totally in Welsh of course with some gesturing inbetween words and might be one or two English words too … (Ups … I’ve sinned … ) :slight_smile: And to my knowledge this was also the longest Welsh conversation with locals in Tresaith I’ve ever had there. Such things bring joy and momentum to learn more, speak more, plunging into conversation more often … GRETT! :slight_smile:

I [quote=“charlottefalb, post:10, topic:5725”]
Since then I keep dreaming in Welsh.

I was dreaming in Welsh one or two times but I’m thinking in Welsh a lot lately sometimes even about things which are not related to Wales, Welsh, SSiW or similar things at all. And as I work I many times talk to myself … from bootcamp on in Welsh many times.

Hmmm … I had my coffii there once … :slight_smile:


I was there only on Tuesday afternoon.
Profiad ddiddorol iawn iawn. Oedd cyfle dda iawn i ymarfer siarad a deall Cymraeg hefyd.
This experience seems to have been a lubricant on the hinges of my brain’s door to Welsh: it swings open far more easily than before. Magic.


I was in Cardiff today, long day, so prepare for a bit of a ramble.
I went to St Fagans for the first time, it’s an amazing project. In my first old house, the museum attendant opened with ‘Good Afternoon, P’nawn da’ and we had a really nice chat in Welsh and he told me that all the staff speak Welsh, which was great! I did slip into English a few times when I wanted to ask a technical question, but the staff were really nice and happy for me to keep switching back and forth.
So emboldened I went for a coffee and plunged in with ‘Ga i cappucino a darn o cacen foron plis’ and guess what happened, ‘That’ll be 4 50 please’! Okay, so the catering staff don’t all speak Welsh, but she understood me. In another shop I did the same and I got the ‘Sorry I don’t speak Welsh’ for my first time (Is this proof that I am indeed becoming a Welsh speaker?) but the guy had clearly understood my request (presumably with his school Welsh).
The thing is, as learners we are sometimes not confident enough to stay in Welsh, so when talking with other people with some Welsh but not actively learning, we just slip into English to be clearly understood. We are kind of used to this. Why waste the time staying in Welsh, with someone who probably isn’t learning but has those few words and phrases that almost everyone who has grown up in Wales has. It’s what makes practicing Welsh so hard, having this always being able to use English. Do we have some awareness of how native speakers view using Welsh with learners?

It’s like mentally, you have to choose to stay in Welsh, when you ‘net’ a Welsh speaker to get the practice, even when you have burningly interesting things to ask that you just don’t have the vocab for. Well mainly I was fascinated by the two little China dogs on many of the mantelpieces. All my aunts had these, along with keeping old coal scuttles,brass bed warmers and the really loud ticking clocks. My grandmother insisted that I keep the two little dogs after she’d gone as ‘family heirlooms’, I thought she was daft, but made the promise, but I kind of get that tradition now. Also how that generation kept things, and kept their houses very much like their grandmothers had with a few modern ‘intrusions’. I miss fireplaces so much… so many childhood memories of the family gathered around the fire.
Anyway, when I’ve been in France, they don’t seem to like using English (even though it’s usually really good) and encourage you to make yourself understood with whatever pigeon French you have. I think maybe it’s easier to understand attempts in your native language than to use a second language, so why do native Welsh speakers not stay in Welsh when people show that they have some Welsh? Why is it different to France?
So, plunging in does work, but if the response is in English, then just use English.


Was it in the old mill? The attendant was happy to speak Cymraeg and we usually just did as on Radio Cymru - if one word was not in my head I’ve used just that English word talking fruther in Welsh. There was where I was told the staff all speak Welsh otherwise they can not work there, but people in shops don’t so I was prepared in advance that in shops I will not hear much Welsh. However I still tried.

O, yes, the same story. I don’t know if this was the same lady but if yes, she is the one I’ve given her the visit card. Well, she didn’t gather enough courage yet to start learning obviously or she didn’t want to show she has learnt something due to the same reason as majority of learners - I don’t speak well enough … :slight_smile:

Did you managed see everyhing?

I didn’t. The “right side” of the area remained unknown to me… I could spend there the whole day or even two … :slight_smile:

Just curiousity: Is there more made on new “interactive” facility they’re building here:

I agree with this. And you just don’t have to be afraid to speak the language.

If you’d speak Slovene it might happen something like that in Slovenia also or it woudl be fair mixture of both - English and Slovene, but if you start conversation in English people would (too)gladly slip into English too.

Hehe … Didn’t I say so??? It works in at least 95 % so go for it, people!

Were you by any chance at the Nero Caffee across the Castle? How are boys doing there …? (Yes, now I am realizing only men are working there. I’ve seen no woman working all days I was visiting …) I failed having my last coffee in Cardiff there when leaving on August 4th …

I thought I have plenty of time but I actually rushed at the end. In Cymru the time flows fast, too fast for the visitor but yet being there the time stops at least for a while …

Bore da pawb a paid ddim yn dyfnedio eich Cymraeg chi!

You learn Welsh to use it so do it wherever and whenever you possibly can. …

Da iawn ti @Y_Ddraig_Las. I’ve honour to hear you speaking Welsh quite some times and I am saying again and again that your Cymraeg is excellent (for my ear) with a lot of vocabulary in store to use.

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Guilty! But we never had the dogs. I have never liked those, I had real Cavaliers instead!! also my clock is broken and just sits silent on the shelf! Fairly early on, I noticed that museums seemed to display what I was using in my kitchen! Hint: WW2, rationing, couples were given old family stuff… time passed… when next generation were setting up, we got the old stuff to be going on with!! I have actually lost most of it in various moves! I’m none too sure where that bed warmer is!
Did you notice the stark contrast between, say, the house provided for Toll Gate keeper and the high ceilinged bright kitchen in the farm house where a poor girl might go to work? It would have awed her totally, like church!

p.s. The French are very proud of their language and their history, their empire etc… Why should the English get their language adopted as World-speak, just because the American ended up with it instead of French? I would be surprised if you found people in the Netherlands with the same attitude despite having had a pretty wide spread of influence!


No, I somehow managed to walk past that, it was number 8 on the map. I didn’t quite see everything. i mostly stayed on the left side. I briefly went to the right side, which are mainly the beautiful grounds of the manor house

Sorry, maybe next time!

The main reason I was in Cardiff was for a job interview, so the peace of St Fagans in the afternoon was appreciated. Anyway, I now have a job in Cardiff and will be moving there as soon as I can find somewhere to live! So, I may well pop into Cafe Nero at some point!

Well, we still have the clock, but silent, basically because we are too afraid to wind it up as the spring mechanism is pretty lethal. It’s quite sad really, things that were valuable and handed down through generations, has come to an end in our ‘modern’ disposable society. A lot of the houses seemed more ‘natural’ and much nicer places to live in than modern buildings.

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It is number 5 …(I’m looking at the map right now…) And yes, you could easily pass it if you went the other way around though. Your number 8 is Nant Wallter Cottage. I’m not sure I remember that perfectly though. If I know correctly on 2 they’ve repaired the roof that time

Same as me just that I didn’t even mangae to go to the right side. Next time I really have to plan all day to be there not just 5 hours. But, to be honest, I’ve spent the most time reading the descriptions of the buildings and historical thingys written on the panos as I wanted to read mostly the Cymraeg version so the reading went really slow. :slight_smile:


Hwnna ydy ‘y ty goch’, rhif 2. Gafon nhw wedi gorffen y gronglwyd newydd nawr. Mae ‘mill-house’ (rhif 5) yn drws nesa iddo fe.

That’s the red house, number 2. They’ve finished the new roof now. The mill-house (number 5) is next door to it

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To some “attractions” the ways were closed at the time I was there as they renewed things. There were probably ways around to them, but I didn’t go that far. I know I’ve got a bit lost despite the map and for approximately 10 or 15 minutes just circled around church and I just couldn’t find the way to somewhere else. :slight_smile:

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