Why is SSi welsh different to what I was taught at school?

I grew up near Cardiff and was taught some Welsh at school in the 70s. Even in just this first session, I noticed some differences and I’m wondering if it’s a regional difference, the language has evolved or my memory is at fault, so any explantion would be good.

  1. Use of dw i’n . I assume this is a contraction of rydw i’n.

  2. Pronunciation of cymraeg. I learned the “ae” sound as being closer to the english “eye”.

  3. Use of ti. I’m fairly sure we were taught that although it was still used in north welsh, it was no longer used in south welsh. I remember hearing it in prayers and hymns, much like the english thou.

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Ssi teaches spoken welsh. Very different to formal written and also to cymraeg byw which was taught in schools and an attempt to standardise the language for learners.

Don’t worry. Ssi will bring you on leaps and bounds.

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SSi Welsh is Welsh as spoken by the teachers themselves (Iestyn and Catryn Jones are both first language speakers), which is different from formal written Welsh, and comes with different pronunciations of various words.

As for “ti” and “chi”, “chi” is a more formal way of saying “you” that’s primarily used for one’s elders and for groups, while “ti” is a less formal way of saying “you” which is used with one’s friends and close acquaintances and with children.


Oh, I feel for you @Ffi! We were not taught ‘ti’ because we were not that old and were students, so chances were we’d be addressing someone older and better (educated?) than us!! Also, teachers raised in English saw ‘ti’ as strictly for the Bible like ‘thou’!! I’m not sure what they thought Welsh speaking Mams called their babies!
The ‘ae’ is said as I heard it further east and I have never liked it, as ‘a’!! The Northern version - well Cat says ‘ae’ and @aran does when he is first teaching a word, but he has spent time in the south and often says ‘a’!!
In school, as @Pete2 says. you were taught a very formal ‘rydw i’ etc literary version and at the time, the ‘in’ idea was to teach a sort of neutral north/south mix. It was presumed you’d only want to read Welsh, not speak it! Even at the Eisteddod, you’d be singing or reciting something written!
ps Croeso to the Forum!


Eh? Only on international weekends or quick trips to lecture at Cardiff University…!

Oh, I jumped to conclusions based on your habit of slipping into ‘ah’ for ‘ae’!

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Hmmm… in what context?

Oh dear, some Challenges! I tend to copy Catrin because i noticed your vowels tend to slip. I’m not criticising - maybe I’m wrong, but I thought you must have spent time with people with Iestyn’s accent. I would have to,listen all through again to point out examples! Please take no notice of my comment. It may be a trick of my hearing.

I meant more ‘where in the word’ - I certainly have an e->a shift (which is a common thing in Gwynedd, and can lead to things like ‘Susnag’), and I have a faint trace of an estuarine English dipthong at the tail end of ‘i’, but while I’m always the first person to say ‘choose Catrin’s lovely accent ahead of mine’ (with occasional warnings about when she’s in ‘church mode’), I certainly don’t say a Iestyn-like ‘Cwmrâg’…


Sorry I thought I hear ma for mae!

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Finally, someone else with very similar issues to me! Croeso i SSiW. I did some Welsh at school in the 80s , which wasn’t terribly useful, but we did have Rydw i, Rwyt ti, Rydych chi rammed down our throats so hard it stuck and left us wandering around Wales and the wider world wondering why we never heard anyone say ‘Rydw i’ ever! So, SSiw will help you learn to speak Welsh and help you unlearn all the bad habits left over from old ways of teaching, well it did for me anyway. My understanding is that ‘Rydw i’ isn’t wrong, in fact it’s very ‘correct’, very formal, but no-one actually says it! [edit: Actually it could just be that your teacher was from North Wales]
There are broadly two ways of pronouncing Cymraeg, one of more Northern and the other more Southern. So back then they taught Cardiff people the Northern accent? No wonder we didn’t learn as much as we should have! Why teach people not to speak like the people in communities around them? Was there a justification?

Anyway, I believe that you have come to right place


@henddraig to my untrained Hwntw ear @aran sounds like a gog.

As a challenge i respectfully ask him to post recordings of the following english words…


If he posts more than one recording he is in no way a hwntw :wink:


Any chance it could be because Caernarfonshire and South East Wales both seem to have the “a” sound for “au” at the end of a word - Blaenau pronounced “Blaina”?

Here’s a couple more examples of “a” as spoken by locals (even non-welsh speaking locals) - I’ve just checked with my wife.
Blaentileri = “Blantileri”
Maesycymer = “Massycymer”.

I hope this helps.


I had also thought I had heard some “ae = a” pronunciations from @aran and had attributed them to his spending some of his formative time in Aberystwyth, which isn’t quite north.

I can’t remember the words where I first thought I had heard that – but a recent one is wnaeth = nâth.

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Let’s not get hung up on accents! Flowing natural welsh is our aim, not dweud v deud, not wnesh i v wnes i.

Accents and dialects are hurdles, not barriers.


Thank you to everyone for your explanations. It helps. Perhaps I should listen to both the north and south welsh versions.

Ah, Mr Prosser, where were you from? Actually, most of my secondary school teachers spoke welsh to some extent, so it could have come from someone else. Also, most of them would have qualified during the 50s or 60s so it could have been a carry over from some earlier directive. There wasn’t a local welsh-speaking community, so any welsh speakers would have come from other parts of Wales or through education. (The town was essentially a new town created during the C19th development of the coal trade and even if the indigineous people spoke welsh, they would have been swamped by the huge influx of people from England.)


Oh, @Pete2 bach, I never ever accused poor @aran of losing an ‘h’ or making ear sound like year, which all my relations from Gwent always did! I do have one query for you, I have never detected a difference in English between ‘here’ and ‘hear’, have you? It’s a bit like ‘Pete’ and ‘peat’!!! :wink:
Oh, I agree accents don’t matter per se, but when one is learning it is natural to want to learn ‘what is said locally’. OK, that can lead to embarrassing encounters with Parisian taxi drivers who insist you must be French because your accent is clearly not British, but generally on SSiW, our aim is to sound ‘right’. I recognised @Iestyn’s accent as totally authentic, but just not the one I wanted, because my affiliations are further south or west! So I switched to the Gogledd version and, because of all the time I’d spent there

  • found it easier to get one with
  • noticed every tiny difference between Catrin and Aran
    Hence what I said earlier in this thread.
    To @Ffi I would say try north and south and then decide, but I am in Scotland, so how I sound is pretty academic, if you are in south Wales, try to find local Welsh speakers and model on them. eg Llanelli accent, I love, but it’s very distinctive and may gain comment in Swansea!!!

Ah, right - both of those are very common informal usage, not north/south - when you hear Catrin hitting the fuller ‘ae’ sound there, that’s because being in front of a microphone feels like being in a pulpit to her…:wink:

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2.18 Gael sounds like gahl in 'beth am in ni gael ’

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Yup. Very, very common. Does Catrin actually say it as g-eye-l?

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