Quick Guide To N. Welsh vs S. Welsh

I’ve completed the first level of SSiW, which was extremely useful, but I’ve decided to use another tool for a while to help build my reading ability. The problem is the tool I’ve found, which is very good also, seems to be biased towards S. Welsh. As I’m originally from N. Wales I want to learn gog-style so is there any quick way of seeing basic differences?

For example, the tool is teaching me:
Dyw e ddim yn dysgu.

Whereas what I learnt from SSiW level 1 was more like Dydy o ddim yn dysgu.

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Not that I’m aware of, but I’d be interested in hearing and sharing if you find any good overviews… :slight_smile:

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You could do an intense couple of days doing SSiW Level1 South…

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There’s an overview of spoken verb forms in the book “Welsh rules” by Heini Gruffudd, with tables comparing the Northern and the Southern forms, on pages 68-70.
I would like to find something like that for vocabulary and phonetics, since some words are different in different parts of Wales, and apparently the diphthongs can be read in different ways.


Thanks everyone.


Certainly ‘mae’ in the south tends to be ‘mah’ and rhymes with English ‘fry’ in the north! I am currently doing the Northern Challenges and enjoying it,but, to be fair, I did learn quite a lot of Gogledd Cymraeg in the first place - years before many of you were born! Also, my pronouciation, which I had thought Southern, is more like Catrin and Aran than Iesyn and Cat!

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This resource from some research into Welsh for Adults courses - pages 160 onwards is an interesting read, since it brings up many of the questions and dilemmas that I certainly have come across when thinking about learning and speaking Welsh - if it was only a North v South thing it would be quite simple - how local do you want to be, how colloquial or standard should it be, how much English borrowings or code switching should there be in the teaching materials and methods etc. These are things that people tend have opinions on in general - I know that I do.

I have attached the English and Cym,raeg versions - I find it useful flicking between the two.


A collection of unique words from different part of Wales. Probably most people here have known about it for a long time but I’ve just discovered it and it made me really happy:)



Interestingly in English medium education in the south, we’re taught ‘mae’ rhymes with ‘fry’ (that’s how my Gran from over in Neath pronounces it too, but she’s not spoken Welsh regularly since she was a kid!).

Depends where in the south. Further west, in general, I think, ‘fry’ Nearer Gwent, ‘mah’! That is based on personal observation, not learning, but people move, so you get all sorts everywhere!

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Since @Yaiyan mentioned English-medium education, this may be one of those many differences between “what’s taught in Welsh lessons” versus “what native speakers in the area say”…

FWIW, in my Rownd-a-Rownd viewing, I usually get an advertisement for S4C HD before the episode starts, and the voice-over begins with “Ma’ Es Pedwar Ec …” – not “fry”, either!

I’m sure that’s a huge thing. Welsh lessons (I suppose unsurprisingly, given they’re based off the same materials) in English-medium education almost perfectly mirror the variants and pronunciation used in the duolingo course. In a way, it’s not really a bad thing - learning a relatively standard/dialect-free version of the language will make it far easier to learn one of the variants later on in life, and if you want to be fluent, that’s what you’ll have to do anyway.

It’s a real shame that Welsh language education in English-medium schools is so poor, and there’s no real easy solution to that I can think of barring a massive cultural change. So, anything that eases the transition to learning as an adult is fine in my books.

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Casting my mind back to my secondary school education we got taught

Rydw i
Rwyt ti
Mae e/hi
Rydyn ni
Rydych chi
Maen nhw

Roeddwn i
Roeddet ti
Roedd e/hi
Roedden ni
Roeddech chi
Roedden nhw

Bydda i
Byddi di
Bydd e/hi
Bydden ni
Byddech chi
Byddan nhw

Or something like that. I believe its cymraeg fyw. And noone speaks like that. It would be like someone speaking english and asking “would thou tell me what hour of the day we are at, supposing it pleases thou”

ok a little extreme but i much prefer at least sounding a bit more natural.


To be fair, I’ve heard Welsh speakers use some of those forms, so whilst it might not be in super-common everyday speech, it definitely exists for some people these days. Either way, learning your dialect is probably the best thing for you to do :slight_smile:

Thinking about it some more, unless I’m mistaken, the purpose behind Cymraeg Fyw was to have a relatively dialect free set of words that looked familiar to everyone. If we’re training kids to not be Welsh speakers, but people who can learn the language as adults, then that makes sense. You wouldn’t teach someone how to speak Yorkshire English before they can speak “standard English”, afterall!

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I think that counts as ‘literary’ and ‘formal’, the equivalent of the sort of English used in legal documents, Acts of Parliament etc. Ever so correct!
It may also have been used for the ‘cymraeg fyw’ which was supposed to be geographically neutral but could not ever be!!
I got taught the same as you and, back then, anything I read seemed to be in that sort of Welsh, unless it was Medieval poetry or other ancient stuff, which used words not in current use. Mind, a lot of what I learned that was current at the time isn’t now! And that’s true even for stuff picked up later! I thought ‘teleweli’ was television, but someone on here told me his Uncle remembered saying that back when!

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Well it’s derived i think from literary forms.

Eg rydyn ni comes from something like yr ydyn ni. Sorry if i’m wrong.

From what (little) I’ve read the problems were to do with usage. No one spoke like that. It had good intentions but i remember thinking i’ve never seen or heard anything the same as my school welsh.


This thread is clearing up some things for me. I went to a Welsh-medium school in Cardiff. The teachers came from all over Wales, but like most of the kids, I came from an English-speaking home and didn’t speak Welsh socially (or in class, so long as the teachers couldn’t overhear).

Now I’m doing Level 1 South I’m ‘overwriting’ old vocab. I thought it was because I must have learned a hotchpotch of North & South Welsh. Now I know it was Cymraeg Fyw.

You learn something new every day, eh?


I think for areas where Welsh isn’t used widely outside of school, i. e. communities in South East Wales, a modern variant of Cymraeg fyw is the main choice and it seems to almost have become a bit of a dialect in its own right. When I was young it would make you stand out as a second language speaker, but nowadays it is so common its almost just like another way Welsh speakers speak.


As it sounds like you really want to learn northern style Welsh, you either need another tool that uses northern Welsh, or (probably better, since you say you want to build your reading ability), just get some books written by authors who tend to use northern Welsh.

If you haven’t come across them already, then the Blodwen Jones books by Bethan Gwanas in the Novelau Nawr published by Gomer are an excellent choice for starting reading. There are 3 of them, quite short, e.g. 80 pages or so, and with vocab help on most pages.

Others in the Novelau Nawrs include “Chwarae Mig” by Annes Glynn which seems to be mainly northern, and Gwendolin Pari P.I. by Meleri Wyn Jones, which seems to be a bit of a mixture.

There are also at least a couple of books by Manon Steffan Ros in the Story Sydyn series which are predominantly northern Welsh, and are quite short and not too difficult.

Actually though, I would not worry too much about differences between northern and southern, and just read as much as you can, from wherever you can find it (assuming reading is what you want to do).


I’ll be very interested in hearing how it goes for you - we’ve had previous examples of people with a lot of passive vocabulary getting most of it reactivated extremely quickly by putting themselves through the pain we offer… :slight_smile:

And welcome to the forum! :thumbsup:

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