Variations in spelling and pronunciation

Bore da cyfeillion newydd!

I’m a couple months into my Welsh learning. (So
I may have botched the above greeting.)
I’m enjoying how much I’m learning with the SSiW auditory method and pushing through the stumbles and frustrations.

However, variations in spelling are making me nuts! Yes, yes, I know this is an auditory course and I limit looking at vocab. And I’ve read in other posts about how Welsh is a ‘shape-shifting’ language … referring more to pronunciation than spelling.
But what’s with the G’s? Sometimes word starting GW or GN is later shown as just starting with W or N (“qwella” then “wella” for ‘to improve’ in my last Autotutor session)

I can’t do the audio bits everywhere and everyday, I also do a bit of Duolingo to keep the brain cogs greased. (You can roll your eyes at my mixing methods, but I learn better that way.)
It’s there more often that I’ve seen D’s and T’s interchanged. (tegenau/degenau),
Also F’s and B’s (bach/fach for small).
I’m trying to roll with it but it’s hurting my brain. I want to be able to read signs and information when I next visit Wales so I’d like
be familiar with the written forms of words too.

I chose Nortern dialect
so im thinking maybe there are regional variants?
BTW: American English is my first language.

Insights appreciated!
Thank you :blush:

Arrgggh, the dreaded mutations (Google?). Well done for spotting them!

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I do think your instinct to roll with it is the best course of action - don’t worry about it too much. You’ve noticed it which is a great start and they’ll become more and more familiar as you go on, but definitely don’t be concerned about getting them wrong, people will still understand.

I’m guessing other people on here will give you better explanations of how the mutations work but I find this sheet quite helpful;


As Charlie said, don’t overly worry about these variations. There is a lot to take in with mutations - knowing what letters change and to which other letter they change to is only half the battle, the trickier half is knowing what words or circumstances cause them to change, and that can take quite a long time to get your head around. But the good news is that that is the case for everyone!

As you go through the learning process and hear as much Welsh spoken as possible, patterns will start to stick, and you’ll start to build up the how and when mutations occur, but it will take time.

And yes, on top of that you have regional variants, but again, don’t overthink things because you’ll get used them :slight_smile:

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Ah… these aren’t just variations of spelling - they are sounded too. I started out by looking at the “rules”, which was really overwhelming. But the SSiW approach is “try not to worry about it” (I know, easier said than done). You start to learn where the word sounds softer or different, and if you press on with the course it will start to feel odd not to change the sound in those situations. And that’s the way that people learn when they are children - you ask most first-language Welsh speakers about why something has changed they won’t be able to tell you; they just know that it doesn’t sound right.

If you love to learn about grammar, then dive in - it’s fascinating stuff! But if you find it really tedious, or it puts you off (which is true for a lot of people), it honestly doesn’t matter if you get them “wrong” for now. People will understand what you’re saying. Except Duolingo isn’t a person and can’t infer your meaning, so will pick you up and mark you wrong (which is why I had to give up on my German learning on the app - the nitpicking was really getting on my nerves).

If there’s a particular instance that’s bugging you, and you want an explanation, come and ask on here and plenty of people will be happy to help. :slight_smile:


I think it’s an interesting question. I started with Say something because I wanted to chat…, and went through Level 1 and 2, did a Bwtcamp and went to lots of Coffi a CLONC in Aberaeron, and used my Welsh in the wild…

However, I failed to understand the grammar, or the logic of it- I had used Duolingo successfully to build up vocabulary… so I started an online Welsh course with Dysgu Cymraeg and have just done the Mynediadd exam. I have now started Sylfaen. I know find that I can hear, read, and write more with understanding. I’ve just started Level 3 with Say Something, and I listen to the radio, podcasts too.

Just my learning journey- I am a visual learner too and I wanted to understand more what I was saying… :joy: