Category Archives: Cymraeg

Hyperpolyglots and Amikumu

If you’re a reader of the Welsh news site Cymru Fyw, you may have seen the magazine artlcle about Richard Simcock, who is very well known in the polyglot world – in fact, he speaks so many languages he’s known as a hyperpolyglot!

There is no magic number of languages you need to speak to be classed as a hyperpolyglot. Some put it at six, but having been to a Polyglot Gathering where I’ve heard people say, “I ONLY speak six languages”, I suspect it’s rather more than that; but whatever the number, Richard definitely qualifies.

In Richard Simcott: Y dyn sy’n siarad 25 iaith yn rhugl it explains that he has studied around 50 languages, but now speaks about 25 fluently. Interestingly, it was growing up close to the border with Wales and seeing bilingual children effortlessly switching between Welsh and English that helped to start Richard off on his journey of language-learning.

One of the points he makes in the article is how important it is to practise a new language as much as possible. To keep up his Welsh while living in Macedonia, for example, he tries to think in the language, and he listens to other languages every day.

Richard is also a user of the new app, Amikumu. This is available for Android and iOS, and can help you find language-learning partners in whatever language you want to practise.

It’s particularly useful to people learning Welsh in areas where they aren’t surrounded by Welsh speakers – both outside Cymru, and in parts of Cymru where English is dominant.

Here is a screenshot of Richard’s profile. You can only see the top 18 languages here, but Cymraeg is amongst them – not one that he considers he speaks to advanced proficiency, but certainly no longer a beginner.

How good it would be to travel all over the place – both within Cymru and to other countries – and find speakers of Cymraeg wherever you go.

The more people register to use Amikumu, the more possible that will be.

 

 

My little road trip

Never one for knocking back a chance to travel – especially through the beautiful Welsh countryside – I jumped at the opportunity to go to Derby recently for the One-Day Welsh School organised by the Derby Welsh Learners Circle. I was armed with a load of flyers for the new Amikumu app and the weather was stunning – Welsh autumn at its best – so I decided to make it a leisurely drive, calling in at libraries on the way.

I was a tad late leaving so Llanidloes Library had closed by the time I got there, but I carried on to Y Drenewydd (Newtown) and Y Trallwng (Welshpool). The librarians were very interested in the app and happy to receive flyers to promote it.

It was great to see the enthusiasm amongst the Welsh learners in Derby. They had come from Birmingham and Nottingham to spend the day learning and conversing in Welsh. There were enough for three separate levels – beginners, intermediate, and experienced (including some first-language Welsh speakers) – so something suitable for everyone. I had some nice surprises too – one participant was someone I knew from a recent SSiW bootcamp, and another was someone who had won a prize in this year’s Online Eisteddfod. I enjoyed chatting with a Japanese man who lives in Birmingham but loves Wales and hopes to live here in the future. (I didn’t miss the chance to practise a little Japanese with him as well, of course!)

I distributed the Amikumu flyers there and answered some questions about the app, before heading off down to Bae Caerdydd (Cardiff Bay) to stay a few nights with friends.

On the Sunday I headed into the city centre to meet up with Heather, the coordinator of the Cardiff Esperanto Group. I hadn’t seen her for quite some time so it was great to sit in Wally’s Kaffeehaus and catch up on all the recent events in the Esperanto world. Heather was one of the participants in a recent S4C item about Esperanto in Wales, which you can watch here on YouTube.

The next day the weather was absolutely stunning – cold, but sunny with a beautiful blue sky. I had arranged to meet up with a friend in Pontcanna but I was a little early, so I spent half an hour walking in Pontcanna Fields and really enjoying being out in the autumn sunshine. After spending a couple of hours catching up with my friend – all in Welsh of course – I walked back through Treganna (Canton) where I used to live towards the city centre. The water was like glass as I crossed the bridge over the River Taf, so I stopped to take a photo, which you can see above. A voice behind me said, ‘Shwmae Dee’, and it was another SSiW bootcamper that I’d arranged to have lunch with in the Hen Lyfrgell – the Welsh Centre in the old library building.

We walked there together, chatting in Welsh the whole time, and enjoyed our lunch, though more than just a bit disappointed to find that neither the staff member who greeted us at the door, nor the staff member who took our order could speak Welsh. The music playing in the background was not even from Wales, including Santana and Jimi Hendrix amongst others. Apart from a big poster saying ‘Shwmae’ on the wall, and bilingual menus (which were no use to order as the staff member couldn’t understand what I wanted and had to turn it to the English side), there was no other indication that it was any different to any other café in the city.

Still, we found a little Welsh conversation group going on in the corner and joined that after our meal. I handed out a few more Amikumu flyers, including a few to a retired Welsh tutor who still meets up with learners to help them. Apparently he goes to the Hen Lyfrgell every Monday and Friday around 1pm to give some conversation practice to learners who work in the city. Chwarae teg iddo fe!

The Central Library staff in Caerdydd were happy to have Amikumu flyers, showing me three different places they could put them on the Language and Literature floor. Hopefully they’ll be of use to people there.

Tuesday was Casnewydd (Newport) and Caerllion (Caerleon) day. I walked to the station and caught the train to Casnewydd where I was met by another SSiWer (and bootcamper), James. He is currently developing a website to show people where they can go to practise their Welsh, so that’s something to look forward to.

With James, I went to the Hanbury Arms Pub in Caerllion to meet a group of Welsh speakers. Apparently there has been a group meeting there every week for over 20 years! Amazing! I showed them the Amikumu flyers and one took an immediate interest in the Esperanto that is visible on the English language side of the flyer. It turned out that he used to be a Latin teacher many years ago. He asked questions about the pronunciation, tried out saying a few sentences, and asked me how to say other things in Esperanto. I suggested he use Duolingo to learn it, and the others said they wouldn’t be surprised if he did!

Next stop was back in Casnewydd to meet up with Mair from Stwff. After speaking with her at the National Eisteddfod back in August, she had offered to provide a prize for every winner in the SSiW Online Eisteddfod, so I met her to collect them. I can’t say what they are just yet as the winners haven’t received them, but as soon as I can announce that, there will be another post.

Wednesday was SSiW Stand day with Anthony and Ann in the Llandough Hospital. Anthony had obtained permission to have a stand there promoting SSiW so I took our popup banner along, as well as a few Welsh magazines and a pile of Amikumu flyers to make it more interesting. We were there for several hours and there was quite a lot of interest in learning Welsh amongst the staff. They were busy and couldn’t talk for long, of course, but it was encouraging how many of them said, “Oh I’ve always wanted to learn Welsh” and were pleased when we explained that they didn’t need to attend a class but could use SSiW to learn in their own time.

After farewelling Anthony, I was ready to head down to Y Barri (Barry) to relax with some more friends, but not before distributing a few more flyers in Chapter Arts Centre, Treganna (Canton) Library, Penarth Library and Wenvoe Library.

In the morning it was time to set out for home, but I called in to Abertawe (Swansea) on the way. First stop was Tŷ Tawe, where I explained about Amikumu to a representative of Menter Iaith Abertawe. He was interested to hear that Esperanto is gaining in popularity and asked me to send the flyer as an electronic version so it can be sent out with their weekly email. I had the same request from the Central Library, as they display material on large screens and they said they could promote it throughout the library like that.

Finally, I was back home at Nyth y Kiwi, Llandysul – tired, but really exhilarated after my little road trip. I used to wonder if I would ever get tired of travelling, but I don’t wonder any more. The answer is definitely NO.

Busy Times!

‘It never rains, but it pours’, they say. I’m not sure that really applies in Cymru as it mostly seems to drizzle very lightly here, but when it comes to working as a freelancer it’s certainly true.

There are times when I don’t seem to have enough work coming in and I start wondering if this freelancing lark is such a good idea, but lately it’s been more a question of ‘where can I get some extra hours to fit in all I need to do?’

Still, I’m not someone that likes to sit around twiddling their thumbs, so I’m not complaining. And I think I’m on top of everything now! Unless one of the agencies that sends me work produces something else out of the blue.

One of the work tasks I’ve had recently was hardly work at all – more an excuse to speak Welsh all day and enjoy seeing others becoming Welsh speakers. I was up in Bontnewydd, observing and helping out while four Welsh learners submitted themselves to a 10-day intensive Welsh course run by SaySomethinginWelsh and not only lived to tell the tale, but came out the other end as very competent Welsh speakers!

Next month will be my turn – my first time guiding another four people through their paces – and I’m really looking forward to it!

logoBut before I get to that I have another couple of language-based events to take part in. Amikumu is now available with a Welsh interface and is starting to take off, with more and more Welsh speakers of varying levels joining. Next weekend I’ll be heading over to the one-day Welsh school in Derby to tell all the participants about the app, and I’m really hoping I’ll be able to test it along the way by meeting up with a Welsh Amikumu user or two.

After that, I’ll be down in Caerdydd for a few days – catching up with friends, but also helping out with a SaySomethinginWelsh promotion event. So exciting!

So yes, finally after a lifetime of passion for languages, I’m finally starting to get somewhere!

And my dream of being a polyglot is starting to take shape as well. I’m having Skype conversations in German and French, and listening to the news in Spanish every day, plus reading in Esperanto and Welsh, and dabbling a little with Duolingo Swedish.

Now, shall I learn some Portuguese before I go to the Universala Kongreso de Esperanto in Lisbon next year? Silly question – of course I shall!

Looking Forward

So 2016 didn’t really turn out to be what I was expecting.

“No one expects the Spanish Inquisition”, as they say, but no one expects to get cancer either, so to say that I was stunned by a mammogram result back in May showing I had breast cancer is an understatement. Still, if I hadn’t gone for that mammogram I would have had no idea – it’s a very sneaky illness – so I’m glad I did, and I’m glad that we have amazing treatment that can knock cancer cells on the head. OK, the treatment kind of knocks everything around for a while, but you just cling on to the thought that, no matter how I feel right now, this is making me better!

I’ve made it through surgery and chemotherapy. Just a course of radiotherapy to go and I’ll be ready to tackle 2017!

So did my plans to become a polyglot get put on hold? Are you kidding? What better way to while away the hours in the Chemotherapy Unit than lots of language revision with Duolingo. Yes, while others were doing crosswords or listening to music on their iPods, I was blasting my way through lesson after lesson in French, Spanish and German.

I found my concentration wasn’t good enough to let me learn any new material, but revision was fine – especially languages that I had once been fairly confident in, such as Spanish or French. I doubt if anyone can actually say they enjoyed their chemo sessions, but I came close and felt I was making good use of the time.

All this concentrating on getting well has put my plans to become location independent in terms of work behind though, so that has to be my focus for 2017. I still have to have Herceptin injections every three weeks through to September, so I won’t be going a great deal of travelling this year, but I can certainly get myself in a position where that is more of a possibility.

My language-learning has carried on right through my treatment; in fact, it’s probably done more than anything else to keep me going. I set up several regular Skype conversations through Speaky so I’m gradually improving my conversational skills in German and French, and the people I chat with are starting to feel like friends. I enjoy Esperanto phone conversations from time to time, and I’ve started listening to news and podcasts in French, German and Spanish.

As I suspected, I can understand quite a lot of the French and Spanish, but German is still hard for me. I’ve completed the German ‘tree’ in Duolingo though, and more and more I hear those words being used in the Deutsche Welle Langsam Gesprochene Nachrichten (news spoken slowly). I’m also working through a Deutsche Welle interactive online course which is building my everyday vocabulary and adding to my cultural knowledge of Germany.

Did you know that in Cologne you can stand next to a parking machine, pay for the ticket using your mobile phone, and the ticket prints out of the machine? So much better than searching your pockets for the correct change!

But what about Welsh? Have I forgotten about Cymraeg? Of course not! I had just qualified as a Welsh tutor for adult beginners when I received the diagnosis, so no chance for me to leap into working in a classroom. I’m interested in doing online teaching though, or perhaps some translation work in the future so, with the help of a friend in Cardiff, I’m working my way through an old text called Cyflwyno’r Iaith Lenyddol. It gives practice at using the very formal Welsh of traditional literature with translation exercises, and I’m enjoying doing those.

So that’s it. 2016 is behind me, and after the radiotherapy, the cancer will be behind me. 2017 is the year I come a lot closer to my goals. Bring it on!

Colonial attitudes live on

I read this blog post – The Curious Case of An English Historian – yesterday and it really reflected the way I feel about the Welsh language.

I love the Welsh language. I love its history, its expressiveness, its connection to the country, the culture and the people, and yes, I even love its mutations! Time and time again I learn a new word or phrase and delight in its aptness and logic. It’s just so right to speak Welsh here.

So why do so many English speakers have a problem with Welsh? I’m lucky to know many people from outside Wales that share my love of the language and either speak it already or are learning it, but there are so many that seem to think they are somehow entitled to run it into the ground. They wouldn’t do the same about French in France or German in Germany, so why?

And why – for that matter – are there Welsh speakers that feel that if there is a single person within a 100 metre radius that just possibly might not understand Welsh, they’d had better speak English just in case? It’s NOT RUDE to speak your own language in your own country!

If you are dealing with customers, and one comes along that doesn’t speak Welsh, fine – speak to them in English, or French, or Polish, or whatever language that you might have in common. The idea of customer service is to respect the customer and give them the best service you can, isn’t it? And if they speak Welsh, then Welsh it is! Too bad if the customer standing behind them in the line doesn’t understand. What business is it of theirs anyway?

I’ve had Welsh speakers tell me that they couldn’t speak Welsh to me in the workplace because there were English speakers there – not visitors to Wales, but people who were born and bred in Wales, or had lived here for many years. My attitude to that is simple. If they are living in Wales and they have chosen not to learn Welsh, then they have chosen to exclude themselves from an important part of Welsh society. If they’re happy with that, fine. I would be the last person to force someone else to learn a language, but they must understand the consequences of their choice.

THEY have chosen to exclude themselves. THEY have chosen to remain outside the wonderful cultural experiences that open themselves to people that can speak the language. And having made that choice, they can’t insist that other people change their way of speaking just for them!

Cwcis – unrhyw un?

plate-of-cookies-clipart-2

Oes ‘na unrhyw un yn y byd ar lein sy ddim yn gwybod am gwcis? Unrhyw un sy ddim yn deall bod bron pob gwefan yn eu defnyddio i gadw tipyn bach o wybodaeth ar eich cyfrifiadur neu liniadur neu ffôn symudol clyfar er mwyn iddyn nhw wybod pwy ydych chi pan ewch chi’n ôl i’r un wefan?

Neu ydyn ni môr dwp bod rhaid i ni ddarllen tro ar ôl tro, gwefan ar ôl gwefan, bod nhw’n defnyddio cwcis, taw rhywbeth bach a diogel ydyn nhw, a digwyddith dim byd dychrynllyd os derbyniwn ni’r cwcis ‘na?

Wythnos ‘ma es i i un wefan ac yn syth daeth neges am y cwcis defnyddiwyd ynddi. Roedd rhaid i fi gau’r neges er mwyn darllen y wefan ond yr eiliad nesaf daeth neges arall i ddiolch i fi am dderbyn y cwcis! Pam?

Beth am i ni i gyd llofnodi rhywbeth sy’n dweud “Ydw, dw i’n derbyn cwcis arferol” fel rhan o ddechrau defnyddio porwr am y tro cyntaf, a chreu rhyw ddeddf sy’n mynnu bod rhaid i’r porwyr eu hunain sicrhau bod y cwcis yn ddiogel?

Dw i wedi cael llond bol o’r cwcis ‘ma!

Sioe Amaethyddol Llandysul

Pa liw yn gwneud y sedd tractor gorau?

Pa liw yn gwneud y sedd tractor gorau?

Pan ddihunais i’r bore ‘ma roedd yr awyr yn llwyd gyda glaw mân a thipyn o wynt oer. O na, meddyliais i, dim heddiw, dim dydd y Sioe Amaethyddol Llandysul! Ond diwrnod sych oedd rhagolygon y tywydd, ac ar ôl cwpl o oriau, diwrnod sych gawson ni!

Dw i ddim yn gwybod yn union ym mha flwyddyn dechreuodd y sioe, ond ffeindiais i un hysbyseb ar lein ar gyfer y drydedd sioe ar ddeg a oedd yn digwydd yn 1937, felly mae’n debyg bod rhyw fath o sioe wedi bod yn digwydd ers 1924 o leiaf! Yn y sioe honno doedd dim defaid neu wartheg, neu hyd yn oed ceffylau, ond cŵn ac ieir! Mae sioe heddiw yn dal i gael categorïau ar gyfer cŵn, ond yn anffodus dim ieir. Dw i’n dwlu ar ieir, felly mae hynny bach yn siomedig, ond dw i wrth fy modd i weld yr anifeiliaid eraill.

Ceffyl Gwedd

Ceffyl Gwedd

Wrth gwrs, nid sioe amaethyddol fyddai fe fod heb gystadleuaeth o gynhyrchion a sgiliau pobl leol. Blodau, ffrwythau, crefftau, teisennau, gwin – pob peth gall rhywun gwneud, mae categori arbennig ar gyfer nhw.

Dyw llysiau ddim yn tyfu fel 'na yn fy ngardd i!

Dyw llysiau ddim yn tyfu fel ‘na yn fy ngardd i!

 

Dw i ddim yn gwybod sut mae pobl yn tyfu llysiau fel yn y llun ‘ma, ond dw i’n hapus nad ydw i wedi ceisio cystadlu gyda beth dyfais i yn yr ardd!

Rhywbeth i anelu at ar gyfer flwyddyn nesaf!

 

 

Bisgedi wedi'u addurno

Bisgedi wedi’u haddurno

 

A pheidiwch ag anghofio’r plant!

Mae llawer o gyfleoedd iddyn nhw fod yn greadigol hefyd, fel bisgedi wedi’u haddurno ac anifeiliaid wedi gwneud o lysiau.

 

 

 

Heno, ar ôl y holl gystadleaeth wedi gorffen a phopeth wedi clirio o’r babell fawr, bydd y gerddoriaeth yn dechrau.

Pum mlynedd ar hugain mae Bryn Fôn wedi dod i ganu yn y sioe a bydd e yma eto eleni. Es i’r llynedd ac roedd e’n wych! Fe wnes i ddawnsio fel peth gwyllt, ond eleni croesi bysedd bydda i’n gallu clywed y gerddoriaeth o’r tŷ. Gyda gwesteion yn aros trwy AirBnB bydd rhaid i fi aros gartref, ond dw i’n gwybod bydd pawb yn mwynhau dros ben unwaith eto. Ymlaen i’r chwarter canrif nesaf!

Ffracsiynau yn Gymraeg

FfracsiynauDw i wedi sôn yn barod am y ffaith fy mod yn gweithio trwy llyfr “Welsh Rules” er mwyn fy atgoffa am bethau bach nad ydw i’n defnyddio’n aml iawn yn Gymraeg. Heddiw des i o hyd ffracsiynau.

Dw i’n gwybod am ‘hanner’ (yn bwysig iawn mewn tafarnau, wrth gwrs) a ‘chwarter’ ond beth am y gweddill?

Yn yr ymarfer roedd rhaid i fi ysgrifennu mewn geiriau ffracsiynau fel 3 7/9 a 8 5/6. Sylweddolais i fod dim clem gyda fi! Felly, amser i ofyn i Gareth King – Modern Welsh, A Comprehensive Grammar.

Ar ôl beth ddwedodd Gareth, yr atebion i’r cwestiynau uchod yw:

  • tri a saith nawfed
  • wyth a phump chweched (neu phum chweched ar ôl pob tebyg)

Ond ar ôl Heini Gruffudd, yr atebion yw

  • tri a saith rhan o naw
  • wyth a phum rhan o chwech

Felly, fy nghwestiwn i yw – ydyn nhw ill dau yn iawn?

Beth mae’r plant yn dysgu yn ysgolion Cymraeg y dyddiau hyn?

 

 

And then the Eisteddfod – Part 2

How to describe the National Eisteddfod? There’s a question.

Yes, it is a Welsh cultural festival that includes such traditional Welsh entertainment as harps, male voice choirs, folk dancing, and poetry, but it’s much, much more than that. It’s like getting a pass to another world – one where Welsh is the language of the majority, and everyone feels like part of one big community.

The Pink Pavilion

Pink PavilionThe Pink Pavilion is where most of the formal programme takes place.

A newcomer like me might think that the main performance pavilion has always been pink, but in fact it first appeared in its current alluring shade for the Eisteddfod of 2006, in Swansea. In early times it wasn’t even a tent, but took place in various different structures, sometimes tent-like but other times wooden structures of varying shapes and sizes. Over the past ten years though people have become rather used to the Pink Pavilion but the current contract came to an end with this Eisteddfod in Meifod so it will be interesting to see what happens next.

There are some who spend most of their time in the pink pavilion, avidly watching all the competitions and discussing whether they agree or disagree with the judges’ decisions, but I tend to just pop in there occasionally when there is something on I particularly like. The rest of the time I divide between volunteering in Maes D (the learners’ pavilion) or wandering about the rest of the Maes, the extensive area that the Eisteddfod covers – and it is extensive. Ceredigion is considering a bid to hold the 2020 Eisteddfod, but first we have to find a location that offers 140 acres of flat land … not an easy task in a hilly country like Wales!

Maes D

Every year I try to spend some of my time helping out in this special area for learners of the Welsh language. There are taster sessions for those that haven’t tried learning before, and other activities to encourage people to use their language. There is also a pod off to one side with a stage and the special competitions for learners are held there. Yes, the Eisteddfod is not just for the top class performers! It caters for all, and learners come from far and wide across the world to have a go.

Volunteering

This year my first task was as a llysgennad, a sort of wandering ambassador tasked with trying to encourage visitors to Maes D. I tried surreptiously listening in on conversations to see which language they were in, then bowling up to English speakers with what I hoped was an engaging smile and not the look of a lunatic. I would start with “Bore da! Ydych chi’n siarad Cymraeg?” and if they looked blankly at me or replied “Er, not really but I’m trying to learn”, then I would give them a little spiel about Maes D and encourage them in that direction.

Occasionally I found they were Welsh speakers who just happened to have slipped into English for a phrase or two, as bilingual people commonly do, and then I explained in Welsh that I was there to encourage Welsh learners. They were generally very helpful at that point, trying to think of any learners they knew that might be on the Maes, and one even immediately phoned his non Welsh-speaking wife on his mobile to tell her there was a lot happening in Maes D and she should get herself down there!

But it wasn’t the easiest of tasks, especially when I was only wearing a tiny identity badge that you had to be one foot away from me to read! A nice big Maes D t-shirt would make a difference!

I had the most success when I loitered near the main entrance and watched for people who looked a bit lost or bewildered when they came in, immediately going over to nearby tables to sit and study their Map of the Maes. A reasonable number of these turned out to be first-timers at the Eisteddfod, so I had a few successes, including a conversation with a very nice student from the Basque Country. He confessed he was really in the UK to improve his English but he found Welsh a fascinating language so he was soon on his way to Maes D for his first taster lesson.

Sali MaliMy other main duty in Maes D was taking care of the children’s corner – chatting with Welsh-speaking children while they coloured in pictures of Sali Mali, and characters from Cyw. I enjoyed that, and had some interesting conversations with their parents, some of whom could speak Welsh, but others who were learning in order to support their children’s education – a very positive sign for the future.

On the Maes

The rest of the time I spent visiting the various stands that dot the Maes – some selling their wares, but others giving information about Welsh services and organisations. I deliberately didn’t go into the Teithio Tango stand this year as I didn’t want to hear “You again! Are you ever going to go to Patagonia?” for the third year in a row – I will get there one day! – but I stood and listened to a great performance by a young choir called Mimosa who were leaving very soon for the 150 year celebrations of the founding of Y Wladfa, the Welsh colony in Argentina. They were introduced by Rhys Meirion and quite a crowd gathered to listen to them.

I dropped by the Tŷ Gwerin which is often bulging at the seams due to the popularity of the folk music and dancing that happens there, and I browsed the art exhibition. I attended a talk on the need to ensure that ALL children in Wales are confident in Welsh hosted by Cymdeithas yr Iaith, and I met up with lots of people that I knew through SaySomethinginWelsh.com or that I had previously met at other Welsh events.

For me the National Eisteddfod represents a wonderful week where everywhere you go speaking Welsh is normal and there are too many places in Wales where, sadly, that is no longer true. The Eisteddfod brings people together from across the country and beyond and, no matter what their background and where they come from, very soon everyone feels like family.

 

 

 

Cymraeg, Gymraeg neu Nghymraeg

Cymraeg

I’ve been working my way slowly through the Welsh Rules exercises by Heini Gruffudd for months now. I quite like the translation exercises as they make me think about how to say things differently and not just stick to the phrases and structures that I know well and tend to use all the time.

Occasionally I come across something completely new to me. Either I didn’t study it at all when I was doing Welsh for Adults courses or I wasn’t listening in that particular class, but somehow the point completely passed me by.

This week I realised that I didn’t have a very good grasp on when to use Cymraeg or Gymraeg, and when it should become yng Nghymraeg.

Spot the Difference

A quick hunt in my Modern Welsh – A Comprehensive Grammar by Gareth King and a search on Google didn’t turn up much, so I had to try and deduce the rules from translating the examples below:

  • The teaching of Welsh should be compulsory in the west of England.
  • What is ‘milk’ in south-Walian Welsh?
  • What is ‘grandmother’ in north-Walian Welsh?
  • Welsh is one of the small languages in Europe.

And from correcting the following examples containing errors:

  • Beth yw hynny yn Nghymraeg? Mêl?
  • Beth yw ‘nain’ yn Gymraeg y de?
  • Roedd y nofel wedi’i hysgrifennu yn Gymraeg da.
  • Rydych chi’n siarad Cymraeg dda iawn.
  • Dysgodd y myfyrwyr Cymraeg mewn mis.

The Answers

The correct answers to the examples above are:

  • Dylai dysgu Cymraeg fod yn orfodol yng ngorllewin Lloegr.
  • Beth yw ‘llefrith’ yng Nghymraeg y de?
  • Beth yw ‘mam-gu’ yng Nghymraeg y gogledd?
  • Mae Cymraeg yn un o ieithoedd bach Ewrop.
  • Beth yw hynny yn Gymraeg? Mêl?
  • Beth yw ‘nain’ yng Nghymraeg y de?
  • Roedd y nofel wedi’i hysgrifennu mewn Cymraeg da.
  • Rydych chi’n siarad Cymraeg yn dda iawn.
  • Dysgodd y myfyrwyr Gymraeg mewn mis.

Suggested Explanation

Perhaps someone else can find a proper grammatical explanation, but for the time-being I have surmised the following:

Cymraeg – the name of the language in its basic form. Cysill tells me that adjectives after the name of a language don’t mutate so you get ‘Cymraeg da’.

Y Gymraeg – an alternate way of saying the above. Cysill won’t let me get away with ‘y Cymraeg’ telling me that it’s a feminine noun, but it still wants an unmutated adjective – ‘y Gymraeg da’ … hmm

Yng Nghymraeg – used when there is something else qualifying it, e.g. ‘y de’, ‘y gogledd’, making it a particular type of Cymraeg

After ‘yn’ it seems to be always Gymraeg and after ‘mewn’ it’s Cymraeg.

Of course the best way is to just get used to using it in phrases and let it come naturally, which is what I’ve been doing until now, but interesting to think about it.