Reading Welsh on a kindle

Back in 2013, there were no Welsh language books available for the Kindle and there was a bit of a stink about it. Now there are loads and loads and, if you’ve given in to the temptation to start reading and can’t buy books from a local bookstore, there are a few things about learning to read using a Kindle which I’ve found really useful, so I thought I’d share them.

Highlights. Rather than breaking the flow of reading, I’ve got in the habit of highlighting a word that I don’t understand rather than looking it up there and then. You can then view the words in a long list, along with the sentence in which they sit, so you can pick them apart at your leisure.

Search. I’ve got really bored of learning words from word lists. Using the search option you can find every occurrence of a word within a book and learn it by seeing how the author uses it in different contexts. (For example, my dictionary has eiddgar as fervent or zealous, but the novel I’m reading at the moment uses it more in the more tame sense of enthusiastically).

Changing font sizes. I still find it hard to keep my place on a page when reading in Welsh and the option to increase font size means the font isn’t so dense and I keep track of it easier, in the same way as the font in children’s books is bigger than adults. It means turning the digital page more often, but it still feels like a help.

There are, of course, disadvantages. You can’t give your books to another learner when you’re done, and you don’t have the benefit of a conversation with your local bookseller when you’re buying them, but some good comes out of it.


This is a brilliant tip. I’d recommend combining it with not bothering to check a word until it’s occurred often enough for you to be irritated by not knowing it - and then, when you do, go for this massive extra input of all the places it occurs.

Diolch, Steve - really great post… :slight_smile:


Really useful ideas.

Aran’s “look up once irritated” is basically my tactic! (Or when I’ve lost the plot because a series of new words all hit at once.)


Steve - what a good idea! But you say - lots and lots of Welsh books in the Kindle store…I can really only find educatonal books.What sort of things are you reading?

If you visit Amazon and search on Lolfa or Gomer (two of the main Welsh language publishers), then select “Welsh” from the book language options (on the left hand column), you can then search within the Welsh language books by category.

(There may be easier ways of doing this!)


I’ve often considered buying a kindle specifically in order to read foreign language books.

There is a feature of potential use which is the built-in dictionary … highlight a word and get instant look-up - if you have a built-in dictionary for the language of the book you are reading that is.

However, as far as I know, such dictionaries only exist for the “big” languages:

German, French, Spanish, maybe Italian (into English, that is).

I don’t think there is one for Welsh<=>English (but if there is, I will be very pleased to hear it).

Note that I’m not talking about just a normal E<->W dictionary that you can read as a book on the Kindle, but one that will enable the all-important highlight-a-word then look-it-up feature, which requires that it be built especially for the kindle.

Once upon a time, I asked Bangor University (specifically the department who produced Ap Geiriaduron) if they might one day produce a kindle-enabled W<->E dictionary, but I didn’t get a reply to my email. :frowning:

However, Steve’s tips sound very useful, even without a built-in lookup feature.

I suppose another way is to find a Welsh-language author that you like and see if they have produced any books that are available on Kindle.

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I can’t help with the dictionary side of things but there is a Kindle app so it’s possible to read books bought via Kindle on a mobile phone, which is what I’m doing while away from home.

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Yep - I tried that with Lois Arnold - nada! But I shall have a delve via the publishers.Diolch.

This is all really helpful…but I don’t actually have a Kindle. I have a Kindle app on tablet…brilliant. But very interesting, Steve. Diolch…I shall have a play.

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I had the same thought. It would be the icing on the cake if they could turn their attention to this. In the meantime bliubliu is the best on-the-fly translation method for Welsh novels that I’ve found. But I’m not keen on reading too much on a laptop / tablet screen. (E Ink has been a revelation to me :slight_smile: )


And another thing… The ability to download a sample of the first chapter of a book before you buy.

What a great way of checking the readability of a book before you commit to buying it… Too much dialect? Nothing wasted, just pick another one. Just unfathomably difficult? Pop it to one side until you’re a bit further along. (Yes, I’m coming for you Kate Roberts… :slight_smile: )

(As you may have guessed, I only got my Kindle recently and am still very attached to it, not least because it’s now harder for my wife to see how much I’m spending on my book habit :blush: )


Interesting stuff Steve.

I have in the past bought kindle books and downloaded them via the PC “app”. Once you have them in Kindle format on a PC one can use Calibre to convert them into different formats, and generally mess around with them. (e.g. one thing I’ve played with is using google translate for difficult chunks. Another is to try ot create a parallel text of English-Welsh, using a combination of google translate and my own “skill and judgement” :slight_smile: An interesting exercise, but quite time-consuming… :slight_smile: ).

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Thanks for reminding me about Calibre, Mike. I have a Kobo rather than a Kindle (mainly because I’m allergic to Amazon), but I haven’t used it for ages because I’ve been reading in Welsh (and when I looked I couldn’t find any Welsh books on there - but that was a couple of years ago). Of course, if I can get a different sort of file (even a Kindle one, if I really have to) I can convert it to read on my Kobo. First of all, of course, I have to clear the backlog of paperbacks I’ve picked up in the Oxfam bookshop…

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On the Kindle Fire:

  1. Go to the shop
  2. Select “Books”
  3. Scroll down to “More to Explore”
  4. Select “More Categories”
  5. Select “Foreign Languages”
  6. Scroll down to “Categories in Foreign Languages”
  7. Select “Other Languages”
  8. Scroll down to the list. Welsh is there.

On, select “Kindle Books” and follow the same steps with the menu on the left.

Right now there are 631 titles of varying quality. Many are Kindle Unlimited.
Those who are learning Southern Welsh might have a look at the novelettes by Colin Jones, who created the Cadw Swn course.


This is quite old but I haven’t seen another thread with the same issue, so thought I’d update here. I discovered a Welsh-English dictionary in kindle format (.mobi) here: and have been using it so far with moderate success. The kindle doesn’t have an option to select Welsh as your language, so you have to change the default dictionary for English to this one when you’re reading a Welsh book. The biggest downside is that if a word has been mutated, it won’t find a result. However, it’s helped me get through some reading that’s a bit out of my league vocabulary-wise without getting insanely frustrated, so that’s something!

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