The "dd" sound in welsh

I know that “dd” is normally pronounced in Welsh like the English “th” (as in dydd, dda, Gwynedd, etc). But there seems to be some exceptions, where the “dd” sounds the same as the English “d”? Examples -

  1. The Country Duo John ac Alun singing “Bydd Gyda Mi” (“Abide With Me”). They pronounce “bydd” as “bead”
  2. Welsh native speaker Huw Edwards (BBC TV) pronouncing the Rhondda Valley as “Ronder”
  3. I’ve managed to get hold of a CD (“Sali Mali)” of children’s stories (my wife reckons that in listening to children’s stories, I’ve at last found my true intellectual level!) The narrator pronounces the word “Cwpwrdd” (cupboard) as [phonetically] “coo-poord” making it sound very much like the English “cupboard”.

So, my question…is there a rule, or pattern, or whatever, for when to pronounce “dd” as “th” and when to pronounce it as “d”? Or is it just completely random? Thanks!

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I think some of the instances where you have heard “dd” might have been where the speaker may have been using English prior to pronouncing the word/name with the “dd” in it (in Huw Edwards’ case). I’m not sure about the John ac Alun song without hearing it, nor the narrator of the Sali Mali clip.

Whenever I’ve used, and indeed heard, “dd”, it’s always been like the softer “th” sound you hear in , for example, the word “Scythe” (like “bydd” does), or the “th” sound you hear in the word “them” (like “ddim” does).

I can’t say I’ve ever heard “dd” pronounced in Welsh speech with a hard “d” sound before, but I guess there are instances where it is voiced as such my mistake perhaps??

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S’mae Gavin?

I don’t think there is ever actually a time when ‘dd’ is meant to sound like ‘d’, however it has seemed to me that sometimes, when people are speaking quickly there is almost a sound between ‘dd’ and ‘d’. A sort of very soft, partially voiced ‘d’ I guess this probably depends on the surrounding sounds and how carefully the person is enunciating.

But that’s just my impression from listening. Maybe a more advanced speaker would have more to say about it.

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I just listened to that song by the duo Gavin, and they definitely sing bydd with the correct dd sound, rather than “bead”… Maybe I heard a different recording to the one you have, or perhaps the sound is subtler than you are expecting?




First of all,kudos to you for listening so closely!

I really can’t imagine Huw Edwards ever pronouncing “Rhondda” as “Ronda”, under any circumstances! In fact, I can’t imagine monolingually English language Welsh people round this area pronouncing it like that, whatever the circumstances!

As Jeffanderson and Stu point out, it may be just that the sound can be only subtly different if people are speaking quickly.

“DD” is always voiced “th”, as in “though” rather than “thistle”.

When speaking quickly, the sounds can be hard to distinguish - but that’s the same for any similar sounds in any language, not just Welsh!

Having said that, I can imagine someone saying “cwpwrd” as an alternative word for “cwpwrdd”. Whether this actually occurs on the Sali Mali CD, I don’t know. :wink:

[Just checking, the GPC actually has “cwpwrd” listed as an alternative for “cwpwrdd”. (I may even have heard it. :wink: )So it may well be. But you are a better man than I am if you can regularly tell the difference!]

However, “bydd”, and “Rhondda”, yes- both a voiced “th”, but don’t worry if it sounds different, in quick speech stuff often gets mixed up, and it can be difficult to tell the subtle differences.

But yes, “Bydd” and “Rhondda”, both definitely “supposed to be” :wink: the voiced “th


Agreed! If it helps, there is a similar sound in Punjabi. My friends called one of their sons Dipinder and my friend tried to explain how to say it. There was actually a subtle difference between what he said and what I could manage. I finally said something to which he said, “That’s right!” But it wasn’t and I knew it. The correct sound is a very short “dd”. I learned it eventually!! I suspect Huw said the Punjabi ‘dd’ instead of the longer Cymraeg version!!! You have to have a very, very good ear to differentuate between a short ‘dd’ and ‘d’!!! from Jackie

I think with the Rhondda example, you do sometimes get (with some speakers at least) what we call ‘assimilation’ when the DD is directly preceded by N, a sound that is articulated in roughly the same place - it happens in English as well: if you say ‘that’ on its own, and then say ‘in that’, you may be able to hear a slight difference in the two th’s. Perhaps that’s what’s happening here with Huw and Rhondda - he is (of course) pronouncing the DD, but it is a slightly different quality because of the N.
The John ac Alun sounds like DD to me.
In the Sali Mali CD, it COULD just be that the narrator is using his/her own pronunciation, following the English origin of this loanword despite the official spelling - I’ve heard native speakers out in wild Ceredigion say ‘cwpwrd’, certainly.


Now this is fascinating.

I’ve never noticed the difference in quality between the dd of dda or blwyddyn, and the dd of Rhondda. But you’re right, there’s a definite hint of d in there. Very good listening.

This is the kind of thing that shows how much your lsitening is conditioned by your mother tongue. I “know” that Rhondda has a dd in it, so though I make a slightly different sound, I think it’s the same. You, on the other hand, are coming from a different language background, and you can hear a different sound to me.

I guess this is the same process by which people who have been speaking / learning for months or sometimes years, will suddenly start hearing a subtlety on the language that escaped them before, as your “new language” brain starts to make sense of the new patterns. It’s all part of a process that literally changes the structure of your brain, which is quite an exciting thought.

I always fancied myself as a brain surgeon…


This is all very, very interesting and helpful.

I’ve listened again carefully to Bydd Gyda Mi" by John ac Alun - this time through my Bose headphones, which have terrific, crystal clear sound quality. Yes, contrary to what I originally thought, they ARE pronouncing the “dd” of “bydd” as “th” - but sometimes (the word occurs quite often) it sounds to me like a cross between “th” and “d”!

Anyway, many thanks to all who responded - all comments taken on board. And good luck to Iestyn with his part-time brain surgering!

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Whereas I “know” (incorrectly, of course) that it’s a “d”, and even now after a fair amount of SSiW brain-reprogramming, I still have to work at pronouncing “Rhondda” correctly. I think it’s because I’m not even looking at the “dd” in the word. I see the whole word “Rhondda” and that immediately calls up from my memory stores decades of hearing other English speakers saying “Ronda”, and therefore, so do I. I even used to pronounce “Cwm Rhondda” (as in the hymn tune) as “Coom Ronda”, but that definitely sounds wrong to me now (as of course it should).

Hang on - changing the subject as is my wont - are you the Gareth King of “Modern Welsh” etc?

He is and has been on the site quite a lot lately, Huw, answering questions.

Diolch, Kim
Jiw, Jiw. Ni’n lwcus iawn 'nd yfe?

" 'nd yfe = isn’t it" Dw i’n clywed rhiwbeth fel hwn yn aml yn yr ardal Cardi, ond sut i sgwennu fe?



At least, that’s how I would spell it!

Diolch - seems reasonable to me :smile:

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