Most of our ‘Learning the language’ posts are a bit tongue in cheek, to say the least. Usually I would walk you through the finer points of a local accent, maybe add in a phrase or two, and then throw in some silly slang alongside a few audiovisual examples. However Cardiff, and therefore Wales, is a different case entirely. This time we have the entire complex and beautiful Celtic language to chew on. Here’s your guide on how to learn Welsh in Cardiff.
Inevitably we’ll only be able to scratch the surface, but at least we can send you somewhere for lessons this time! Nobody wants to see ‘Yorkshire Language Classes’ more than me, but until the East London College of Cockney Rhyming Slang opens for business, our blogs may still be your best bet.
Shamefully, knowledge of the Welsh language, and sometimes even Wales itself, can be sparse outside these islands (or outside the world of Rugby Union). So, let’s start with a little context.
The Welsh language
According to the 2011 census, Welsh is spoken by around 560,000 people, that’s just 19% of Wales’ overall population of just over 3 million.
Although the language is seeing something of a revival in some inner city areas, the major population centres of Wales: Cardiff, Swansea, Newport, etc. are all predominately English speaking. Unfortunately, despite plenty of government funding, the language is still in a slight decline. Compared to the 1960s, the decline is marked.
Strangely the language actually exists abroad, in a few far flung Welsh colonies in Argentinian Patagonia. Towns like Gaimen, Trelew or Trevelin still retain a small population of Welsh speakers. So much so that the British Armed Forces were unable to use Welsh as a ‘code language’ during the Falklands War.
Helpful Words & Phrases
Welsh can sometimes sound throaty in pronunciation but often sing-song in tone. It uses a ‘Tapped R’, which is a shorter version of the rolled ‘R’ common in Spanish. Of course Wales is Gales in Spanish, frighteningly similar to the pronunciation of Galicia in northern Spain, which forms part of the old ‘Celtic Triangle’.
The website Omniglot has a great list of basic Welsh phrases, with playable pronunciation too. This helps, as many letters in Welsh make different sounds to their English counterparts. Likewise, if you’re looking for a helpful guide to alphabetic pronunciation try this:
(The letter grouping ‘Ll’ is my personal favourite)
Like most distinct regions of the UK, Cardiff has its own slang and local terminology. As the city isn’t one of the hotbeds of the Welsh language, these might come in handy too.
|Adding an ‘s’ to the end of a word||You knows it/I loves cawl, I do (Welsh stew)|
|Butt (m) / Beaut (f)||Casual term of endearment|
|C’m year||Come here|
|Cwtch||Warm soft hug|
|ing shortened to in‘ at the end of words||Singing becomes: Singin|
|Mitcher||Skiving or skipping school or work|
|What’s occurrin’?||What’s going on/What’s happening?|
|Ych a fi! (uh-ka-vee)||That’s disgusting|
Learning Welsh in Cardiff
Here are a few options for any new Cardiff student looking to learn Welsh during their time in the capital:
Cardiff University runs it’s own Welsh courses for adults, starting from entry level all the way up to fluent.
Cardiff and Vale College has courses going all the way through the national curriculum, with GCSE and AS Levels on offer.
The Say Something in Welsh podcast can give you an online outlet in either North or South Welsh, depending on your preference.
Menter Caerdydd also provide a huge range of services for people in Cardiff in order to promote the use of Welsh outside of school. Aside from running childcare and family-orientated events they also focus on adult education and learning.
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