Singing pronunciation of ei/eu

Just back from a concert by the Oxford Welsh Male Voice Choir, which was rather enjoyable (and, fittingly, as today was the anniversary of the disaster, began with a couple of minutes’ silence in memory of Aberfan).

But there was one thing about it that niggled me: throughout, in singing, they pronounced their ei and eu sounds as if they were ai and au.

Now, this isn’t just OWMVC - I’ve heard it before, and I’m fairly sure I was taught to sing plaidiol wyf i’m gwlad in the anthem. In fact, looking for online descriptions for non-Welsh speakers of how to sing Hen Wlad fy Nhadau turned up a couple of different barbarously misspelt versions on different old BBC web pages.

One of them has “cor-llar-sant ay goo-eyed… played-eeyol weave eem goo-lard,” while the other has “coll-ass-ant eye gwide…
Ply-dee-ol oiv eem gool-ard.”

So… is this a thing, that in singing ei can be pronounced ai - possibly because it opens the mouth more? Or is it just a weird misunderstanding that happens only when non-Welsh speakers sing in Welsh?


Yes, I’ve noticed it too and my impression from S4C’s Dechrau Canu, Dechrau Canmol is that it’s a pretty universal pronunciation in hymns etc when sung by choirs & congregations across Wales