Welsh in Russia

Finding myself on a language plateau (which in my case is more of a language abyss of despair) I really need something to keep me going, so I thought I’d create a motivational thread here. It might be of interest for those who speak/are learning Russian and it shows that the Welsh culture is appreciated here. Or the future students of SaySomethinginRussian can try comparing Russian and Welsh:)

  1. Welsh poetry, especially the ancient one, has always been appreciated among Russian intellectuals, but “Cad Goddau”, “The battle of the trees” by the ancient poet Taliesin, actually became a part of the rock culture with this song: “Кад Годдо” (it’s the transcription of the words Cad Goddau in Cyrillic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7OLU5Hg5oQ
    The text is based on the original text of the Battle of the Trees, though it uses slightly different imagery: “I’ve been a shining wind, I’ve been a flying arrow…” (compare with: I have been a tear in the air, I have been the dullest of stars, I have been a word among letters - the original Cad Goddau). The song became very popular and there exist covers of it by other rock-musicians.
    It’s curious that there is a Belarusian folk group (yes, we here are not immune to the appeal of the Welsh culture either), that is called “Cad Goddeu” (spelled like this)

  2. Russian-Welsh translations. There’s a website for Russian students of Welsh. It has several textbooks, but what I think might be interested for some people here are the parallel texts of some Russian poems by our famous poets.
    “Бесы” by Alexander Puschkin, translated by T. Hudson-Williams

A poem by Michail Lermontov, translated into Welsh and Breton by Steve Hewitt

Welsh national anthem in Russian

Songs by the folk-group Plethyn translated into Russian

  1. Well, and, last but not least, our cinema has also paid its homage to the Welsh language. This is a short episode in the Russian film “Artefact”, where the Russian heroine speaks to her boyfriend in Welsh. It’s very quiet, I’m afraid, but it is Welsh. It’s a pity there’s no more of it, since the actress, they said, was rather good at pronouncing the difficult Welsh sounds.

Stella - you are a gold-mine of information. This is very inspiring. Didn’t we see an article where the Celts may have originated in the Steppes. So maybe it is perfectly natural that Welsh has a home in Russia and Belarus.

Have you had your DNA checked for a Celtic foot-print?


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Fantastic stuff. I’d really love to hear the old Soviet anthem in Welsh, it’s such a cracking tune!

I am as Russian-Greek as one can get - not a drop of Celtic blood. I wouldn’t mind to have those fine features, and pale skin and freckles, but, unfortunately, I can’t!
Thank you, I’m glad you found it interesting.

We kept the melody - only the words are different now. It’s a very uplifting tune, I love it, though I still mix the words up!

One more thing about Taliesin and his popularity here: there is a book by a Russian author Anna Korosteleva, called “A school in Carmarthen” (it’s about a book about a school of magic in Wales, with ironic, though kind, references to Harry Potter) which is rather popular. The students are described to play a game which is based on Cad Goddau and is called “Taliesin’s metamorphosis”. One of the students starts by saying a sentences that is similar in style to the poem, for example “I’ve been a star in the sky” and each student continues with a sentence that describes his/her imaginary state in the past, creating a collective poem.
When I was a student at university (10 years ago), I played this game too with my friends (I was rather impressed with how it was described in the book). It’s very fun and develops both imagination and the sensibility to poetry, because you are forced to speak in a very heightened language, as in the original poem.


What an awesome post… :sunny:

Now, this ‘language abyss of despair’ - what’s going on with that?

Thank you:) The most surprising moment, though, was when I when I found an article about Welsh poetry on a website about romantic novels for women! (I don’t know how one calls this kind of literature in the UK). Now, that is not exactly the place where you would expect to find some in-depth information about Welsh poets!

Oh, that was just a moment of frustration - I am pretty confident that I can say or write something in Welsh, even if my mutations, or the lack of them, can make one’s ears bleed. But my listening skills are not developing at all. I still can’t understand most of the things on S4C or even in the Growth Club. I am not giving up, though:)


Anyone on here familiar with the society Celto-Slavica - it seems to an active academic community with colloguia and forums annually - linking academics in the celtic countries, Wales and Ireland with the Slavik nations. They tend to publish things that go into myths and legends and etymology etc. The war like celts invaded the Balkans and strectched to Anatolia in the first millenia BC, pretty much ruling the carpathian basin holding Belgrade for many centuries and are sometimes referred to as the founders of it. It would be surprising if there wasn’t considerable links in mythology and folklore - since the origins of many legends and fairytales can go back 1000s of years. Also well before the celtic invasions - the origins of the so-called celtic cultures, the urnfeld, halstatt and la tene cultures were spread right acoss europe, including the slavic regions - Europe was fairly homogeneous at one time, although the germanic tribes always seem to be referred to as different!.

The words in welsh which are really old and have never really changed much are interesting - words like Gof in welsh for blacksmith and you will find similarities to that word in Polish and slovenian I think, because of the PIE ancestor Gwobhros.


Are you sure? Do you watch with subtitles?
Let me explain my question.
I am getting deafer due to age, mainly losing the higher registers… very frustrating when Iolo mentions the lovely song of aderyn hwn and I can’t hear a thing!! Anyway, I tend to watch most TV with subtitles, so as not to miss what I can’t hear clearly. I tend to record S4C on my Sky box to avoid having to watch the adverts. This means I can have English subtitles or none. Watching with English, I tend to think, “Oh, I’m not really understanding the Cymraeg!” Then, I’ll realise I’m laughing or ‘tut-tuting’ because the subtitles have boobed!
So I suspect I actually catch on to more than I realise. Maybe you do too??! :wink:

I am no expect, but I would say that linguistically and in terms of myths, behaviour and attitude, the Germanic tribes including the Saxons certainly seem different. I’m not sure where the Angles came from…Scandinavia? But they seem pretty Germanic too.
p.s. Your name fascinates me. I have a little poodle dog called Toffi!!

I normally watch with subtitles, yes, but when I turn them off I don’t understand a thing! Well, Bore da is ok, they are speaking clearly, there are lots of learners there who speak slowly and articulate well, so unless the subject is completely unfamiliar to me I can make out at least the gist of what they’re saying.
But Rownd a Rownd is just impossible. The problem is, when I turn on the subs, I understand that they’re using expressions that are totally unfamiliar to me. If I turn on the English subtitles, I think - I would say it like that in Welsh, and than the actors use a totally different expression or tense.
But I do have a very bad phonemic hearing. I always had to work twice as hard as my fellow students on my listening and pronunciation.

A completely made up pseudonym, rearranging some words from paid a rhoi’r ffidl (neu ffidil) yn y to - don’t give up, which is quite apt for this thread really.

Rownd a Rownd is tricky!

Especially some speakers. I can rarely hear exactly what Barry or Meical say, for example, and have to revert to subtitles if I want exactness. Some other speakers are easier, and there is a lot of repetition ( … “ti’n iawn?” etc).

I’ve been slowly catching up with “Byw Celwydd” (sorry, that’s not on the international list :frowning: ) and the speakers seem much clearer. I suppose they are supposed to be speaking a slightly more up-market form of Welsh - a bit “posher”, perhaps, but anyway, I’m glad of the clarity.



I’m afraid I have never even heard of them, but then I’m not linked with the academic world in any way, I’m just interested in folklore and literature.
Anyway, that is really interesting to know, thank you! I will try to find out more about them.

Just yesterday I was reading an article about comparative studies of folktales, which basically stated that all Europe, from Ireland to the farthest parts of Russia, is all closely related, and folktales can prove us that. I’m sure the motive from “The bonny swans” - a musical instrument that reveals a murder - can be found all throughout Europe.

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I noticed that “Dim ond y gwir” was much, much easier to understand - maybe because the characters are lawyers so they need to speak clearly, or perhaps because I was much more interested in the story - I generally prefer legal dramas to soaps.
Thank you, it’s a relief to know I’m not the only one struggling with Rownd a Rownd…



I have only seen subtitles for Pobl y cwm, because my wife puts them up, but they are certainly far from exact translations or at least from the bits that I have tried to read anyway, I tend to find them distracting most of the time and prefer watching programmes without them on.

this link for a celto-slavica symposium in Bangor - mentions a possible translation of the mabinogi into old russian


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Very interesting, thank you. I only have a translation into Modern Russian.

I didn’t realise there were slight differences in the anthem for each Soviet, I am so pleased to discover this. I can see how easy it would be to mix the words up!

I think if anything, the most useful things are the Welsh subtitles in case you just don’t catch the words (I have hearing issues which doesn’t help), and then you can interpret them how you will (or at least make a note or mental note of words to look up if you need to). (I can only see S4C via Clic, which offers both Welsh and English subtitles for a few programmes, including PyC and RaR - I’m not sure if subtitles in both languages are available in the broadcast version).

I agree generally. Without them, you are really forced to concentrate on the sound much more. However, occasionally it’s just too difficult to catch the words in which case Clic offers the luxury of going back and watching the same bit with the subtitles.