Ti a Chi, old and new use?


In the challenges (I’m just reaching the 4th, so excuse me for my very basic questions), I always hear “you” translated as “ti” (french “tu, ton, toi”, depends) ,and not “chi” (french “vous votre”, depends of sentences)

I of course understand that it is a choice, since modern english only have the “you”, but what I’ld like to know is if welsh is like breton (well, old people, not new speakers) :

Old native breton speakers much more frequently used the “chi” (breton “c’hwi”, french “vous”) even inside the family, when in french you will use the “tu”. And it is funny (or better said “it was funny”, because those old people are all dead) to hear them speaking french, because they would say “vous” to their children even babies. Funny, because the “vous” in french is a polite word that you use with unknown people, or somebody you met for the first time (well in this case it depends of ages, situation, etc) , or even a well known people but you’re not necessarely friend with (a simple neighbour for example). It would be the italian “Lei”, castillan “Usted”, third person singular catalan, etc Otherwise, the only place where you would hear “vous” said to babies or children in french, or between a man and his wife, would be the aristocracy. So it would give the use of “vous” (chi) by those old Bretons, not at all aristocrats (even if there are some !) a very funny side.

Well : all this, to ask you if welsh native speakers would rather use “chi” or “ti”. For my part, I love the “chi” (not for a supposed “polite form”, or snobish, but just for the sound, softer than “ti” ) , but of course, if eveybody now says “ti” I won’t stupidely stay with the “chi” !

So, diolch !

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For a native speaker to answer, I would throw this to @CatrinLliarJones - but if I missed you stating somewhere that you are studying the Southern stream, you might find a different answer.
I was speaking to a Southerner last night and he addresses his mother as ‘chi’; another De said her tutor strongly advised the ‘chi’ over the ‘ti’ in certain situations (showing respect or manners).
I hope that helps until a better answer comes along! :+1:

I’ve noticed on the soap opera Rownd a Rownd that even quite rebellious children would still address their parents as chi. My feeling with French is that it would have been normal a few years ago for children to vousvoie their parents, but that these days it’s probably quite ‘posh’ (but still not as aristocratic as doing the same to your own children), so I think Welsh is probably more conservative than French, but not as much as Breton.

Chi and ti are both still very much alive (in terms of the formal/informal axis, not just plural/singular) - but they’re increasingly flexible and unpredictable, and people are definitely faster to switch to ‘ti’ than was the case even just fifteen years ago, I’d say.

Our kids call us ‘ti’ (and to be honest, that’s the least of our worries… :wink: ).


Thankyou to all. Of course, to answer you, Aran, it’s not a worry at all. I was just wondering if it was like in breton. But anyway, new breton speakers would use “chi and ti” the way they are used in french, and not the way they were used in breton. More and more, french has an influence over new breto speakers, because there are no “native” anymore who only spoke breton. There are second generation, so the language is changing, and it’s probably normal. Evolution. French also evoluated).

Sean-0, what you noticed is very intereting : in Brittany also I supposed that the use of “c’hwi” and “te” would depend of the region. “My” breton is more “northern” and there I used to ear people saying “c’hwi”. I wouldf not say it’s a general breton way of saying, but earing Bretons from here and there, I much more often eared “c’hwi”" than “te”.

Richard, I don’t know what you call “a few years agao”, but to find a family (other than old fashioned ones) where children would say “vous” to their parents, you have to go rather far away in the XXth or XIXth centrury. (at least beginning of XXth century). Except, justement, in Brittany some years ago yet, because of the breton use I mentioned. But now it’s over…

Diolch yn fawr to everybody; Very interesting ! I love getting informations about the “story” of the language…


So, does that mean your name is ‘Aran ti’ or ‘ti Jones’? :joy:

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My neighbour is in her seventies and when I asked her she said that her children used chi with her but ti with her husband. This would be in the sixties. That was because she was a lot younger than her husband and he wanted to be more approachable and she have more authority!

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My mother tells me that when she was growing up ( in the 30s) most people used chi to adults and ti to children. But her father thought children deserved more respect, so used chi to her. Consequently, she has only ever used ti to talk to dogs!

Consequently I always try to remember to use chi to her, not because she really minds, but because I know it sounds so odd to her to use ti.

Her mother’s generation used to call even their closest friends Mrs this and Mrs that.


Mostly just ‘oi, chdi!’… :joy:


If it’s just for the sound, you could adopt the north-western alternative to ti - chdi - which I’m really quite fond of, and is the one and only reason that I regret not being more ‘northern’.


That’s GREAT; thanks a lot !!! And, indeed, I love learning special ways of saying, more local, or just “different”. Thankyou again, Robbruce !!!
And concerning other answers : yes it’s true that psychology also has a role to play in those uses : some people will prefer to be said “chi” or “ti” depends of what “chi” or “ti” suggests according to their age, or authority, or toher settings…

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Well, I suppose, now that you mention it, I was thinking that it would have been unusual in my generation, but perhaps less so when my parents were children… which means that I was thinking that it might possibly have been less unusual in France in about the 1940s. So, yes: “a few years ago” indeed :slight_smile:

Shhh, me too :face_with_hand_over_mouth:


pppssst…bara picelid ac cacen ac bisgedi :yum::yum::stuck_out_tongue::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: Come to the gog side!

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In fact, I just saw this “chdi” in challenge 4, in “with you” = “efo chdi”. But I thought this “chdi” was a mutation of “ti”, not a way of saying by itself.

As a big fan of the Celtic mutations, I’d very much support the introduction of such a wonderfully obscure grammatical feature into Welsh (t -> chd, but only after efo or gyda or â and only in the present tense when you’re talking to animals. Mammals specifically. Not fish or reptiles), but in fact it’s just Aran subtly slipping alternatives into the course with as little fanfare as possible!


:grinning::grinning::grinning: That’s why I love Rhod Gilbert sketch “learing welsh” when he speaks about mutation on the word “cat”, and I love the end of the sketch, when the dying man wants to tell his wife something but doesn’t succeed, because he forgot which mutation he must use !!!
Never mind… we have the same in breton. Well… NOT EXACTLY the same (so it will be much more funny, less boring… ). It would be a bit boring if our B for example, would mute the same as yours…
Ma breur (my brother), da vreur (your brother) Ho preur (your brother, tlaking with “c’hwi - chi”). And so on… :roll_eyes:
Well, that is for a masculine word. But of course, this B won’t mute the same if it concerns a feminine. word.
Ha ha ha, what a laugh !!!
…).:partying_face: :crazy_face: :grimacing::stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

Ah ; and I forgot to say that OF COURSE, this B (or other letters) won’t mute the same after a possessive and after a colour, or after a certain type of words, or after a certain letter ending the word before, or after a certain number (daou - two - for example will change the follwing letter, but not the same as willl do tri, pevar, pemp, c’wec’h… (and I’m not sure I’m caricaturising !!!)

Do welsh, breton, and gaelic native speakers know how lucky they are…


Reviving this thread to say that I’ve just started reading a paperback novel published in 1970, with very colloquial Southern dialogue, and the middle-aged married couple in it are calling each other chi!


Just to add something extra to the conversation, I am a native Scottish Gaelic speaker and have been studying Welsh for some years now. In Gaelic I used the formal word for you ‘sibh’ to my grandparents but used ‘thu’ for my parents. My dad, however used the ‘sibh’ to his parents so I think things might be changing slowly. And yes, we Celts love mutations or as we say in Scotland ‘lenition’.