Hi everyone, a fairly new American learner here with three questions. I progressed through lessons 1-11 pretty easily, but am now on Lesson 12 and my head is spinning a bit! Here are my questions:
It seems that Welsh adjectives usually come after the noun (like “dyn yfanc”), but some come before (like “hen fenyw”). Is there more of a rule to which ones go where, or is it basically just figure it out as you go?
After I do a lesson, I look at the vocabulary list. The consonant “dd-” usually seems to sound similar to the American English “th.” (Like in “Dwi ddim’n moyn…” But lots of times Iestyn and Cat sound as though they’re pronouncing “dd” like the American English “v” or Welsh “f.” (For example, lots of this in lesson 12 with things like “Byddai fe’n hoffi…”) Am I hearing it wrong? Is this a Southern dialectical quirk? Or does “dd” sometimes sound like the Welsh “f?”
Early lessons point out that “d” frequently changes to “dd” after an “I” sound. (So “dysgu” becomes “ddysgu” after “Dwi’n mynd i ddysgu…”) But I noticed that things also change after “n” a lot. (So “diddorol” becomes “ddiddorol” after “Mae’n…” Also “menyw” becomes “fenyw” after “hen.”) Also, “a” for “and” supposedly only changes to “ac” before vowels. But in at least one lesson we hear “ac m’easiau fi” for “and I need.” (Sorry for poor spelling!) Why does the “c” add on before “m?” Any other advice on when pronunciations change?
Many thanks, everyone! I’m excited to visit Wales this summer! We’ll be at Cwm Cou organic farm near Newcastle Emlyn for two weeks in July, and one night in Cardiff for my birthday.
Without going into grammar rules too much (because that’s not how the SSiW method generally works), here are some answers
the adjectives that come before the noun are the exceptions - the majority of adjectives come after it, and which ones are which IS something you’ll pick up as you go.
yes, sometimes the dd can sound like v (Welsh f) but this (as you’ve suggested) is to do with dialect rather than anything else.
The ‘dreaded mutations’! As you’ve started to notice, some letters do indeed change in certain circumstances. There are ‘rules’ as to which ones and when, but these can be pretty scary when you’re starting out and kind of counter-productive if worrying about getting them right stops you talking. There are several threads/charts showing the mutations already on the forum and certainly plenty following a quick google search - but as I say, don’t feel you have to memorise them. You will pick them up as go along.
The reason ‘a’ is ‘ac’ before ‘mae’ is because ‘mae’ is actually short for ‘Y mae’ but the Y has been dropped in general speech (you’ll see it in more formal Welsh) but the the mutation the Y causes has remained.
Regarding “Y”: is it true to say that the Welsh “Y” is sometimes simply “the” but is also sometimes a particle not translated into English? Is this what’s going on in “Y mae…”?
Regarding “Mae:” In an early lesson, Iestyn says something like, “A literal translation of 'M’easiau i fi” would be ‘There is a need for me.’" So if I say “achos mae’n ddiddorol,” what am I literally saying? I’m partly wondering if Welsh “Mae” is more similar to the French “c’est” or “Il y a,” or if those comparisons are just not helpful.
Thank y’all for your patience. Welsh is beautiful.
yes, y (or yr before a vowel or 'r after a vowel) is usually ‘the’, but y can also mean ‘that’ in more complex sentences (which you’ll come across later) and yes, it is also sometimes a particle not translated into English exactly as in its use with mae. Mae is a form of the verb ‘to be’ (bod) and this particle is also technically present (although generally dropped) in the other forms of bod. Dwi, for instance is a shortening of ‘yr ydw i’ and ‘roedd’ is a shortening of ‘yr oeddwn i’.
[quote=“DanielP, post:4, topic:8325”]
So if I say “achos mae’n ddiddorol,” what am I literally saying?
you are literally saying “because it is interesting” - mae = it is . In “m’eisiau i fi” the m’ is just mae contracted and this is the ‘there is’ bit. Eisiau (also seen written as isio) just happens to be one of the verb exceptions which doesn’t take the yn (or 'n) before it.
I’m afraid I can’t remember enough of my O level French to comment on any comparisons there though
The trick is to try not to find a logical, literal translation every time - the magic is when one creeps up on you!
IMO it’s more to do with the sound production/reproduction system than dialect. When I hear people “live” including Iestyn and Cat in particular I never have any doubt that their "dd"s are much closer to “th” as in “the” rather than “v”
There is an explanation of this in terms of the effect of recording - transmission - replaying - hearing on the speech waveforms but I’d rather stick with the simple recommendation that @DanielP sticks with his feeling that “dd” is very close to “th”
(There is a linguistic variation in the UK called Estuary English in which “th” is routinely pronounced “v” as in “I speak English wivout any bovva”)
worth remembering that English “th” is actually two sounds - a voiceless one, as in “think” - that sound is Welsh “th” , and a voiced one, as in “those” - which is represented as “dd” in Welsh, and this one is often hard to distinguish from “v”, particularly in recordings.
That’s why I specified “th” as in “the” which, I think is the voiced version. Although the frequency range of my hearing is narrowing with age, I still have no difficulty distinguishing dd from v or Welsh f in live conversation in a reasonable acoustic environment.
Maybe we should look at how the sounds are produced. In my case, I make the Welsh “dd” sound by placing the tip of my tongue under my upper teeth (still all mine ) and “voice” the sound. For an English “v” or Welsh “f”, I place my upper teeth on my bottom lip and “voice” Does everyone do that? Whatever, my response to @DanielP is to suggest that he makes the voiced English “th” sound whenever he wants to make the Welsh “dd” sound.
(Note that I have deliberately avoided technical phonetic terms mostly because I don’t know them.)
In my youth, it was important for me to hear the triangle in a Brahms symphony or the transients in a percussion piece, so I spent a lot on my music system. Even though the quality of reproduction and transmission is much better nowadays, I am still sure that the equipment and media between Iestyn’s voice and @DanielP 's ears remain the biggest source of confusion between sounds.
Forgive me for this slight change of topic but it’s definitely pronounciation related. I was talking to some family members earlier near the Neuadd reservoirs (by Pontsticill). My Auntie pronounced this as “neye-add” whereas I pronounced it as “nay-add”. My Mam and Auntie then told me I’d used the North Walian pronounciation whereas I thought it was probably more West Walian (we’re all from the Valleys). I’m definitely noticing differences in what I’m hearing in the real world compared to the “living Welsh” I was taught at school.
Of course, it doesn’t actually matter at all. I’m just curious. Is there a particular trend for eu to be pronounced as ay in any particular bits of Wales?
The variation of the pronounciation of eu means you hear the same thing with the name Ieuan. As far as I can tell from my experience, it tends to come out as YAY-an more in the North and YIY-an more in the South, although as with many other North-v-South variations like this, there always seems to be sneaky pockets of useage that buck the trend!