-wr neu -wraig ayyb

I’d love some thoughts on the following - in English we’re now (thankfully) moving away from manageress and actress etc to use the same neutral terms for everyone.
What’s happening in Welsh?
I’m currently living out of the country so am not using my welsh all the time but are we still talking about trydanwr and trydanwraig or is Welsh moving with the times to -wr for everyone (which will always feel a little odd as that’s a man or husband ending isn’t it, hmm!).
P.s I do see that was a limited, inconclusive discussion about this issue 5 years ago but I think society has changed a lot in these ast five years so I hope no one minds me raising this again

You can often get away with the more neutral ending -ydd these days. You could say trydanydd for electrician and llyfrgellydd for librarian without specifying gender, but it hasn’t extended to all words yet - “teacher” is still stuck at athro and athrawes as far as I know.


That’s a really interesting question that has also occurred to me in the process of learning Welsh. I think there are two ways (at least!) of seeing it. As a fluent German speaker, I can confirm that the same linguistic gender distinction is still alive and well over there. I’m very open to being persuaded otherwise, but I think there’s possibly an argument to be made for retaining the traditional fem/masc distinction, where these already exist in the language, as the words ‘actress’ / ‘actores’ / ‘Schauspielerin’, for example, convey useful, important factual information about the person being referred to that would otherwise be lost as a result of everything getting ‘neutered’. Surnames such as Baxter and Webster would presumably also have to disappear in favour of some kind of unisex alternative (possibly annoying any blokes with those surnames whose maternal forebears once earned their money by baking or weaving cloth). This is where the case to be made for avoiding the real, or perceived, threat of linguistic impoverishment perhaps clashes with the laudable aim of achieving a greater degree gender equality in our everyday speech. Another linguistic similarity between Welsh and German, by the way, is the retention in both lingos of the chi / ti and Sie / Du forms, depending on who is speaking to whom and on the nature of their relationship. English has no such problems (or possibly advantages) because ‘you’ is simply ‘you’, however many there are of ‘you’ and whatever your age or familial, hierarchical or social relationship. Believe me, I found out the hard way, when I sometimes got my ‘Du’ and ‘Sie’ mixed up in the early days. I imagine people in Wales are more forgiving of such faux pas (as a lowly Level 2 Dysgwr, I certainly very much hope so). When I returned to the UK, I found I sometimes missed the ability to say as much as the German language enables one to convey in this respect, while also welcoming the more democratic character and greater grammatical simplicity of English. All this musing has distracted me this morning from getting cracking on the next Challenge. Completing Her 25 (that’s obviously her, not him) before embarking on Level 3 is hopefully still going to be my Christmas present to myself.

brilliant, shame on me as I had forgotten about the -ydd ending (it’s hard when you’ve been living in the US for 15 years, some of my Welsh has definitely drifted away, hopefully not for ever!) and yes, I think that can be my go-to!!
dioch yn fawr iawn Deborah :slight_smile:

1 Like

Glad to have provided a good procrastination excuse Jason and thanks for taking the time to put all that great stuff down, you’ve now given me a lot of really interesting stuff to ponder.
Interesting, the ti/chi thing usage is super varied across Wales or is it across families? I was astounded when I realized my husband (native speaker from Pembs) uses “ti” with his parents - Welsh classes definitely taught me that that situation would be a “chi”!

Just to add that converting a formal ‘Sie’ personal relationship in Germany to one in which the more informal ‘Du’ form of address is used can be a really big thing. The first delicate step in the process is normally prompted by the more ‘senior’ person (in age and/or rank or whatever.) who suggests that ‘we should perhaps say Du to each other’ (‘wir sollten uns vielleicht duzen’). This is then sealed with a clinking of glasses and slurp, if proposed in a social setting where alcohol is handy. Difficulty can arise where the relative seniority to each other of the people in question is not mutually clear and obvious. Who goes first? Delicious! Conversely, any subsequent souring of a relationship beyond repair can see the two people involved reverting to ‘Sie-zing’ each other. The nuclear option! Younger Germans feel less bound by these conventions, thank goodness. I could go on and describe how Germans can work together very happily and harmoniously for years without ever crossing the threshold of daring to use the other person’s first name, unless invited. Surnames only is the rule. This can appear extraordinarily stiff and starchy to British ears. Then again, hearing BBC interviewers chummily addressing Government Ministers twice their age by their first names on tv programmes can seem slovenly and disrespectful. But, enough of this! Back to my SSiW challenge . . . .