Wanted: where do I find a guide to DIY materials in Welsh?

Trying to strike up a conversation in a supermarket or on the bus is a bit daunting but hasn’t been too bad so far. However, where I’d like to be able to have a more meaningful conversation in Welsh is more likely to be at the local builders’ merchants. I haven’t found a dictionary that would help me to ask, for example,
“What do you have in the way of 5016mm planed battens?", or,
“Do you have any 6.5mm sds masonry bits?”, or,
“I’m looking for 25kg bags of green slate for the garden”,or,
"Where will I find 5.0
50mm woodscrews?”.
The online catalogues I’ve seen so far are all in English.
Any suggestions?

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I don’t think this will be much help, Gerald, but I’ve noticed that when my wife and her father (both first-language Welsh) discuss anything technical like this, they tend to use English for words such as ‘battens’ and woodscrews’, interspersed in the Welsh for everything else. There probably are Welsh words for these things somewhere, but it’s entirely possible that the person you want to talk with at the builders’ merchants doesn’t actually use them themselves!

Disclaimer: I don’t get involved in the technical stuff myself (I just overhear the conversations), so someone who’s a bit more handy and with better Welsh than I have might be able to offer more helpful information.

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Hi Sara,
Thanks for that. The staff and customers at my local Huws Gray speak fel y diawl but I don’t usually recognise any English words being used. I had a shock when I saw your name because a neighbour of mine in Blaenau Ffestiniog has the same name Sara but is better known as Sally.

Ah, then there obviously are words that are too specialised for the DIYers in my family!

Perhaps it would be a good conversation-starter for you to ask the staff at your local what the names are for things in Welsh? I must say, I’ve found most people in the Gogledd to be really supportive when I’ve mentioned that I’m a learner.

(And I can’t believe that there’s someone using my name! At least she had the good grace to use a nickname instead :wink: )

Interesting. Certainly in this part of Ceredigion, people struggle to use the most basic of Welsh terms for technical DIY kind of things.

“Ga’i fag o nêls”,
“Nêls neu sgriws?”
“Wel, dylen i gael sgriws, ond does dim sgriw dreifer 'da fi”.
O iawn, co sgriw dreifer bit ar gyfer y dril. Rho fe ar slô, a sgriwith y sgriw mewn i’r timber yn nêt"…

You may need to hear it to recognise the English words, of course…


Surely, the fact that there is now a discussion about Welsh DIY terminology is a testament to how effective SSiW is! I don’t know even half the English terms when I walk into a hardware store…

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Hi and thanks.
My cottage in Blaenau is about 160 years old and needs lots of tlc so I need to make many visits to my local Huws Gray and spend quite a bit of cash on tools and other sundries. Obviously this is potentially fertile territory for striking up conversations. The downside is that any question about choice or use of tools etc is likely to result in replies using totally unfamiliar vocabulary that won’t be enlightened by my knowing about throwing balls away or sailing on the sea. My Modern Welsh Dictionary is no help either. Short of applying for an apprenticeship to a local builder (I’m 71 years old!) I had hoped that someone might know of a Welsh Language catalogue. However, it now strikes me that Blaenau library might have a DIY section. Thanks for your humorous insight anyway, Iestyn.