Speakers' Regional Differences in Lessons

I’ve been doing SSiW for a while now, I’m halfway through Course 1 Lesson 21 (Southern), and am enjoying it (makes washing up much less boring!). But there’s one thing that annoys me slightly: the fact that the two speakers (Iestyn and Cat, I believe?) sometimes pronounce things differently. Iestyn even points out a couple of times that his accent makes him pronounce agor as akor and chwarare as ware; it also affects dechrau and gadael etc. I would just like to know what parts of South Wales would use this pronunciation? Is it quite common, or limited to whatever area he’s from? I’d hate to try out my Welsh in Swansea and find that I’ve unnecessarily picked up a Cardiff accent… :slight_smile:

I know it’s nitpicking, but I’d just like to know if I should copy Iestyn or Cat or the spelling… (and yes, I’m a perfectionist!)

David i can’t answer what parts of south wales use what but having grown up in Port Talbot myself i can assure you there are huge differences in the way people speak English.

Its the same in Welsh and you will be understood. I now live in the north… i say dallt not de-allt, i say deud not dwued. Others do the opposite. Sometimes i use hofio not licio, sometimes gallu instead of medru.

Aran says nesh i when i say nes i. Others say wnesh i or wnes i…others mi wnesh i or mi wnes i etc…we all understand each other.

Its just different pronunciation and different dialects. Felly paid â phoeni. Use whatever feels right for you.


I would absolutely trust Iestyn’s pronounciations, without any question and don’t worry about the East v West thing here it’s not relevant - cal for cael, cymrag for cymraeg, ware for chwarae, dychre for dechrau etc etc are pretty much everywhere in South Wales from what I can tell. I live in the Swansea Valley and people do talk like that “w ti wedi gweud da bo”, rather than “wyt ti wedi dweud hwyl fawr”. There are differences across South Wales, but not so much in these sorts of things. I think Cat offers the chwarae, Cymraeg pronounciations etc, because you will need to hear these as well, but I think even Cat mixes between the different ways of saying things.

The mix is really good and it sounds authentic, because it actually is authentic. The only dissapointment I have had is when Iestyn said that against the grain he was going to use disgwyl instead of erfyn, saying that erfyn was getting a bit rare, but I hear erfyn and wanted to hear that one a bit more.

I don’t know if Iestyn would use oifad at all outside of the lessons, but nofio is used on the courses and there are lots of little differences that could have been done, but I guess that there’s a balance between picking which form from time to time, but the course seems to play on the safe side and never seems to pick obscure bits of tafodiaith.

I don’t think what you have said is nitpicking - this is an important part of the journey - finding out what people actually say, but no need to have any doubts here.


Shwmae David!
I would add to what’s already been said with these different ways of saying these words are rather important from the perspective that should you ever hear these words pronounced slightly different to how you will expect, you will still understand the speaker when they use them. From a using perspective, it gives you an opportunity to try out and use what version of the word feels most comfortable when you use it. If you want to speak in the same way people from a specific region speak, the best way to achieve this is to immerse yourself in conversations with people from those regions and pick up those differences through this immersion process. Of course, you will need to live in such regions or at least visit them often to achieve this!

As far as perfection goes, as a bit of a perfectionist myself, it won’t work out for the best. If anything, it will make you sound more like a learner than a natural speaker in the long run. To achieve the most natural sounding Welsh when spoken is to speak it comfortably and confidently, using the words that come naturally to you. Make the language your own. As long as people understand you, you won’t go far wrong!

Pob lwc gyda’r gweddill o’r gwrs!


Oh diolch @Toffidil!! I had come to the conclusion that “Da bo’chi” or “Da bo” must be very old fashioned, because everywhere in SSiW was “hwyl fawr” and even a discussion about using it at a funeral!
To @DavidH Croeso! I sympathise with you enormously because I cannot get on with poor Iestyn’s accent, but a lot of that is the Gogledd influence in my life!! It is perfectly true that you will be understood, but I listen to Iestyn and Cat and say what comes naturally to me! I say Mae not Ma etc… I suspect my accent is just more ‘correct’. I can’t claim it as Gower, because South Gower doesn’t speak Welsh! I believe Cat learned Welsh so her accent is a tad more ‘correct’ too. I’m not sure it marks us a learners, but I am sure @Iestyn isn’t one!! Sounding like him will make everyone think you’re a native speaker!
I have a feeling @owainlurch is in Abertawe and he may be able to help if you want to chat there!!


It’s also worth pointing out here that Iestyn is in fact a first language Welsh speaker, so any Welsh words he uses, however pronounced, will be the most natural and authentic you’ll hear. :slight_smile:


The key thing to note here is that this will, I suspect, be true for any two speakers of any language - we certainly haven’t found any recording pairs so far who say everything exactly the same way as each other. The only reason you don’t notice this (most of the time) in English is because you’re accustomed to the variations - which will eventually be the case for you in Welsh as well… :slight_smile:


Diolch everybody!

Yes, I realise that Iestyn’s accent is genuine, and if it’s as widespread as @Toffidil says, it’s probably worth copying.
Part of my reason for asking is that I’m Swedish, and although virtually all Swedes speak English, many aren’t aware of accents and will happily claim to put their “garbage” on the “pavement”, not realising that they’re mixing US and UK English. Or they’ll pronounce “grass” to rhyme with “parse” and in the next sentence “grass” to rhyme with “lass” - perfectly understandable, but it sounds odd and makes you stand out as a non-native… So I’m just trying to be consistent!


I don’t think that’s a learner’s problem - I do that sort of thing (alternating long and short vowels) all the time and I’m first-language English (but someone who’s lived most of my life in the south and part of it in the north). The garbage/pavement thing I’ve heard among friends who have lived part of their lives here and another part somewhere else (e.g. USA).

In Welsh, I use mostly southern forms but with a northern-ish accent. Sometimes I’ll chop and change between forms/accents as well though - it depends on who I’m talking to.

I learned with the Iestyn/Cat combination (and meeting them in real life after hearing their voices for so long was a blast!) but I never say ‘moyn’ or ‘sa’n gwybod’ or ‘Cymrag’ or anything like that - I’ve always just used the northern versions that we use at home. So do copy Iestyn - he’s an excellent model - but don’t worry too much if you go your own way. It’s perfectly natural :slight_smile:


There is absolutely nothing wrong with sounding like a non-native, particularly if that’s what you are. In the past I’ve enjoyed speaking Welsh with people who have had American, German, French, Polish and Australian accents and all of them added colour and spice to the language.

Don’t worry about it at all. Seriously. :slight_smile:


@Iestyn has a West Walian accent and it was an unbelievable revelation how much spending a week with him and his family in West Wales sky rocketed my understanding of Welsh on the radio, in conversations, even reading!

I’ve learnt with @aran, live in Cardiff, my fiancee is from Cardiff but her mam is from North Wales, she went to school with a massive mix of kids from first language families from across Wales and from English speaking families who had chosen to send their kids through Welsh education. Believe me, she does not speak “South Welsh” (Hwntw) or “North Welsh” (Gog) she speaks a mixture.

Don’t be annoyed with the differences. You won’t sound weird if you speak like Iestyn, Cat, Aran or Catrin. You’re quite far away from developing your natural Welsh accent anyway (I don’t mean that in a derogatory way). It takes time. Like Sara I fluctuate loads. Sai’n, medru, gallu, hoffi, gyda, gen i…it goes on.

It’s not a negative to sound like a learner.


Hi David!

Congratulations on getting so far - you’ve done a lot of work to get to lesson 21 - that’s a lot of clean dishes!

Cat and I have had a number of discussions about variation between our pronunciations, and sometimes we d decide to change her pronunciation to be a bit more like mine, because we appreciate that it can be a bit confusing having to say a word but hearing it in two different ways.

It’s a good question as to which of us you should copy, and the answer is - you will find your own accent as you speak more Welsh. If you always copy one or other of us, then you will be fine. If you mix and match, no problem - Cat has mostly formed her accent from talking with me anyway, and even my accent is constantly changing. For instance, Anthony says that I speak with a west Wales accent, and I have certainly noticed a western twang, and the loss of some of my south eastern habits ove the 5 years or so that we have been in Llandysul. That’s how accents work, and as you speak more Welsh with people other than us, your accent will morph to suit.

The thing is, you will have to speak with an accent, and in Welsh terms, bearing in mind that many individual villages have their own accent / dialect quirks, it is highly unlikely that you will be speaking with exactly the accent of the person / place where you are using your Welsh. What you will find is that people will hear certain things, (like akor instead of agor) and say “oh, you’re from … are you?”, which is a brilliant outcome from speaking your second language!

I would advise you to try both ways of pronouncing any words that we say differently, and choosing the one that you find easiest to remember / say. I suspect that you will tend towards my pronunciation, because you will hear mine more (at least, if you are talking over Cat when she buts in too soon!), but choose one, “perfect” it if you need to, then try the other for a bit if (but only if!) you fancy a change. You will have two ways of saying something for the prce of one!


Thanks Iestyn - I really appreciate the possibility of asking these questions like this! I think I’m probably too influenced by fellow non-native speakers mixing US and UK words or pronunciation patterns - regional differences within Wales are probably not quite on that scale…
And I cheated, by starting with Memrise and a grammar book (yes, I’m a grammar nerd) before I discovered SSiW, which means I ‘see’ the spelling in my head. Not always helpful, but I can’t bear not understanding the structure beneath the sentences!
Diolch again, and I’ll press on till the bitter (?) end of Course 1 - a byddwn yn gweld beth fydd yn digwydd…

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Even less useful for Welsh when you realise (as I’m sure you have) that certain letters in Welsh sound different from English letters! Particularly the “u” and “y”. And then you get your head around “ll”, “dd” and “rh”. And where did “si” come from?? Didn’t see that one in the Welsh alphabet??!!
But then, you get used to them eventually, and before long you’re going crazy with it, saying even English words how you would say them if reading them in Welsh (or is that just me??!!).

I wouldn’t call that cheating though. Just merely conducting some research on the side like, all with the same kind of end game in mind - to be a fluent speaker…and reader!! :slight_smile:


Although once you learnt he rules, Welsh spelling is actually quite regular, at least compared to English and French. And I’m quite used to letters and combinations having different sound values in different languages - for starters, my native Swedish is spelled quite differently from English!

But the source of my greatest distress is that I still can’t get the “ll” sound right. Whereas my 14 year old son, who’s not even learning Welsh, seems to manage quite effortlessly…

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Focus on making the shapes for an ‘L’ sound, but a little more aggressively, with your tongue tight to your palate - as if you’re really trying to ‘pop’ an L sound - at that point, you’ve got the right structure for Ll, and all you need to do is practise letting a little air out of one (or both, if you prefer) sides of your tongue/palate… :slight_smile:


Thanks - I’ll keep practising!

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You’ll know you’ve cracked it (in terms of the sound production) when you can maintain the sound - in the same way that you can keep a vowel going for a while, and usually can’t (Finns excepted!) keep something like K going…:slight_smile:


Well, I can produce and maintain a number of interesting sounds - they just don’t sound quite like Iestyn’s Ll… :slight_smile:

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If you’re producing and maintaining and your tongue is pretty much where it would be for an L (including keeping the tip against the palate), then I’ll bet you’re a lot closer than you think you are… :slight_smile:

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