Political party names in Welsh (not politics)

The names of political parties in Wales, and in Welsh, has always interested me from a linguistic / grammatical perspective. (Let’s avoid a discussion of political ideologies and stick to Welsh language considerations.)

First the Welsh name for ‘party’, ‘plaid’, is a feminine noun, which incurs a soft mutation of adjectives.

So why isn’t Plaid Cymru spelt Plaid Gymru? I assume it is because in this instance Cymru stands as a noun in its own right and is not considered adjectival.

But a ‘Welsh Party’ would be ‘Plaid Gymreig’, right?

This reminds me. Many years ago I had a friend who was organizing the Green Party in Wales. They had chosen a Welsh name for the ballot papers - Plaid Werdd. He asked me if this was correct but I couldn’t give him a definite answer.

On reflection I would say that Plaid Werdd (gwerdd being the feminine form of gwyrdd/green) would be correct if the colour of the party was green, but clearly the term green in this context refers to environmental principles, not the colour green so Plaid Gwyrdd would be more appropriate. Yes?

Then we have the Labour Party that calls themselves Plaid Llafur - no mutation, like Plaid Cymru. Although now they seem to call themselves Welsh Labour / Llafur Cymru, which taking a cue from Plaid Cymru’s self translation, The Party of Wales, would seem to mean ‘Labour of Wales’.

Wouldn’t ‘Llafur Cymreig’ be a better translation of ‘Welsh Labour’? - given that ‘llafur’ is a masculine noun.

I suppose it’s a question of style - but political party names is not the same thing as freestyle poetry - so is this good Welsh? Or not?

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With Plaid Cymru, that’s just how possessions are formed in Welsh, so their translation of The Party of Wales is the literal translation. I can’t speak for any of the others though, I’m afraid, but I have definitely often wondered why Plaid Werdd isn’t Plaid Las!


There’s no mutation if the name is not adjectival. Thus Plaid Cymru is the Party of Wales, rather than the Welsh Party.

AFAIK, Plaid Lafur (with mutation) is how the (UK) Labour Party is normally styled in Welsh.

I also think that the Green Party should be y Blaid Las, BTW.


Yes Plaid Lafur, not Plaid Llafur. I stand corrected. But doesn’t that lead to the connotation of ‘the labouring party’ rather then ‘the party of labour’? I’m a little confused, I admit.

Regarding Plaid Las, I know that place names containing ‘las’ (glas) are usually translated as ‘green’, (the street my aunt lives on, Gorslas, was recently been ‘bilingualized’ as Green Fen).

But is this not an obsolete use of glas, when it meant more of a blue-green? Now glas is translated as blue.

(Coincidentally, ‘glas’ means grey in Scottish Gaelic.)


I believe I’m right in saying that traditionally blue/green/grey were all covered by the word glas in Welsh; so more of a shared heritage than a coincidence :slight_smile:

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Glas still means a natural green to me when speaking of say the green of a green field. That’s why I think it would be more appropriate for the name of the party.


I noticed some “Plaid Werdd” posters up in Ceredigion, when I was on an April bootcamp (probably for the May 2015 elections). I remember trying desperately to mentally work out the grammar behind this at the time, not having any grammar books, etc, with me.

That may well be technically correct, but perhaps they decided to go for the simpler option, and treat it as a normal colour adjective. (I notice this is how the national Green Party of Wales describes itself). Perhaps they were afraid of people correcting them from “Plaid Gwyrdd” to “Plaid Werdd” “…because “plaid” is feminine, so you have to use the feminine adjective and in this case it’s mutated…”, and then they’d have to give your (perfectly reasonably, but you have to think about it for a minute) explanation every time.

BTW, I notice that the Green Party in Wales refers to itself as The Green Party of Wales (and “Plaid Werdd Cymru”), but the Green Party in England refers to itself as “The Green Party of England and Wales” (the Scottish Green Party is definitely separate though).

I know there are Welsh names for the Conservatives and Liberals, but they are nothing like the English, so I never remember them, whereas “Lafur” is easily recognised and remembered. I wonder if for “brand recognition” purposes, the parties concerned push their English names and not the Welsh ones.

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Don’t get me started…

I think the Conservatives describe themselves as y Ceidwadwyr Cymreig, interestingly.

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I’d say it is a case of poetic licence not a case of correct or incorrect because it’s how they all stylalise themselves.

It raised the question for me - did the phrase “being green” to describe being environmentally minded come about before or after the existence of the parties? Plaid Amgylchedd would be a bit grandious. So I’d say it is a case of stylisation rather than grammar. In other words, they’re naming themselves in Welsh not translating from English.

The British (English?) Green Party used to be called The Ecology Party. Germany had something called The Green Party (although in German :slight_smile: ) which was actually quite successful at one time, and I’d always assumed we’d copied the name from them, and the name seems to have become accepted internationally (e.g. in the USA).

I suppose “Green” works better in soundbites. :slight_smile:

Although they are not a political party “Friends of the Earth” actually have a name which gives a good idea of what they stand for, whereas “Green” doesn’t really mean anything when you think about it. But it’s too late to change it now I think. :slight_smile:


But Scots have told me that Glasgow means ‘green hollow’. Does that mean it dates from the time when the British, the people of Prydain. all spoke varients of the precursor of Cymraeg? The grey maybe came with the Dalriada or the Scoti from Ireland?

Yes, my understanding is that the Celtic (and for that matter, Indo European) names for colours were based on natural pastel colours rather than metallic ones. So Glas, which is now blue, was originally a blue/green/grey colour. I suppose the colour of the sea or well, glass.
Incidentally, gwyrdd (green) and gwydraid (a glass) also seem a bit close to each other.

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I believe glass, other than as a glaze, wasn’t made until 1500BC, so glas the colour would be pretty recent as these things go! (Oh, I have always regarded anything post-neolithic as recent!). :wink:


My Welsh teacher claimed the definite colour green (gwyrdd) is said to be brought in by latin/roman culture…glas was the pre roman way of looking at greeny things

Think the Tories are known as Ceidwadwyr Cymreig or alternatively Plaid Geidwadol Cymru. The LD’s are Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol Cymru. The German Green Party is known as Die Grünen. BTW the British Green Party was originally called People and became the Ecology Party circa 1975. It became The Green Party sometime in the mid 1980s.

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The word “green” has become so much identified with all things ecology and environment that it is no wonder that various environmentally centered political parties are called “Green” in some form.

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The word is certainly from Latin viridis (or rather Vulgar Latin vir’dis).

Like verdigris?

That also comes ultimately from Latin viridis, yes, via French :slight_smile: