With thanks to my mate, Glyn Davies, who is a fluent, degree holding Gog (someone from North Wales), who is buying a sailing boat (Hooray!). I've applied for a post as ship's cat or cabin boy.
First some hints on pronunciation. Pinched from the Clwb Malu Cachu site: http://clwbmalucachu.co.uk/cmc/cheat/cheat_alphabet.htm
The Welsh alphabet is:
a b c ch d dd e f ff g ng h i j l ll m n o p ph r rh s t th u w y
It's also a good tactic to practise all seven vowels separately - ah eh ee o eu oo uh - unless you live in North Wales where, of course, they only have one vowel: 'eugh'.
Pronouncing words in Welsh is pretty easy really - Welsh is a phonetic language, so what you see is what you pronounce.
|as in 'hat', never as in 'ball'
|as in 'bag'. Although is there really any other way?
|as in 'cat', never an s as in 'precise'
|like the ch
|in the Scottish word 'loch', but with more phlegm
|as in 'dog'
|never as in 'djinn'
|a buzzy 'th' sound
|as in 'this'. Think angry bees with a lisp
|as in pen
|This is very, very simple, and when you get really used to it, f will play hafock with your spelling
|Equally, you can ffind yourselff getting too used to ff as well
|as in 'get', never a 'j' sound as in the last g in garage
|as in 'song'
|where the g isn't hard, like in 'gig', but a soft glottal stop made in your throat
|as in hat
|always sounded and never silent
|as in 'pin'
|accepted now because of the loan words from English that use it, like 'garej'
|a 'luh' as in 'lava'
|but never an 'ul' sound as in 'milk'
|not as hard a sound to make as some would have you think. Raise your tongue to the top of your mouth as if you were going to say 'el', then make the 'ell' sound by blowing air round the sides of your raised tongue, instead of by using your voice. You should sound like an annoyed cat
|as in 'mithridatize'
|Or as in 'mum', if you want to be boring
|as in 'nanobot'
|as in 'hot', not round as in 'hotel'
|can I have a p please Bob?
|an English f
|or Welsh ff sound, as in 'phase'
|Some people just can't get a rolled 'r' - their tongues are unable to vibrate in the right way. It's a genetic thing, apparently, similar to being able to roll your tongue into a tube, or turn the end upside down. Honestly, some people can, but my tongue's not that prehensile. Roll if you can, don't if you can't
|Make a huffy, breathy sound before your rolled 'r'
|as in 'sit', never a 'z' sound as in 'juxtapose'
|as in 'top'
|Can it get any simpler?
|as in 'think'
|softer and less buzzy than dd
|ee in the South
|but not in the North . If you had stepped in something disgusting and made a kind of 'eugh' noise, the vowel 'eu' sound would about approximate the Northern 'u'. If you don't have access to a Gog who can teach you this noise, stick to the Southern sound - it's much easier
|uh or ee
|Ok, y breaks the rule that Welsh is phonetic. As a single syllable word, y is like 'uh', on the last syllable of a multisyllabic word it's an 'ee', and anywhere else it's like the unstressed, indeterminate noise of the final e in 'garden' or 'letter'. Ysbyty (hospital) is the perfect example.
Now for the words in Testimonies – I hope I haven't missed anything!
Working from the Flamingo paperback.
|Grandmother (in the North only, in the south we use Mam-gu)
|Grandfather (Dad-cu in the South)
|usually translated as 'church of', but more correctly refers to holy ground usually associated with some saint or other. (Celtic saints are 10 a penny, and often don't seem very holy by modern standards.) I'll use the 'church' version for ease.
|surname from 'ap Hugh', son of Hugh.
|Valley of the Shepherd.
|surname. An Anglicised version of 'Fychan' an ancient word for 'small'.
|pure/white breast (It's also a name for the weasel!)
|Summer place. Could be high ground that gets too cold, or low lying pasture that is flooded in winter.
|hay barn (literally 'Grass house').
|the Vale of Glamorgan.
|High Top , though literally Big head, top or end.
|surname from 'Llwyd' meaning 'grey'.
|a festival where competitions are held in various forms of poetry, storytelling, music, dance and the arts.
|a common name for streams/rivers but doesn't mean anything to me - we assume the Twr comes from dwr (water).
|Bridge of the Mill.
|from 'ab Owen', son of Owen .
|Cwm y Glo
|Valley of the Coal.
|literally little house (It causes much mirth when incomers name their houses 'Ty Bach', as it usually means 'toilet'.).
|Earthen Valley .
|the fort (caer) in Arfon (the land close to Mon (Anglesey)). The city where Edward I made his wife stay until his son was born. Then presented him to the Welsh as the Prince of Wales he had promised them, who was born on Welsh soil and spoke no English.
|from 'ap Richard', son of Richard.
|place name near Wrexam I think is an anglisation of Rhiw (hill/slope) + abona the old Welsh for afon (river) but again thats our guess.
|can mean desolate, rough or a steep slope
|Black Lake (rather like Dublin).
|short for David, Dafydd or Dewi.
|white/pure bare hill .
|Craig y Nos
|Rock of the Night.
|Place of the cuckoo.
|Daniel's stream .
|We have never heard of this - northern borrowing of stool?
|Church of St. Tudno.
|a form of Welsh poetry. Glyn says: 'Cynghanedd is explained by John Morris Jones in his excellent 250 page book - as long as you can read Welsh!
It is a strict set of rules concerning alliteration and rhymes internal to a single line of poetry, where the second half of the line will answer the first, there are 4 recognised types. It came to be during the 8th - 9th centuries and became formalised by the 12th and was used extensively by the professional bards. Each line in a poem must use one of the 4 types of cynghanedd for it to be considered a 'strict meter poem':
|'A cheerful evening', usually an organised village social event, taking place in a barn or hall. Everyone is expected to perform a party piece.
|Tan yr Onnen
|under the ash trees
|'Da iawn, diolch'
|'Very well, thank you.'
|serving boy. In the South this has become a bit of an insult. Calling someone "'wus" isn't very polite!
|the peninsular at the North of Wales