Cymraeg, Gymraeg neu Nghymraeg


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.




8 thoughts on “Cymraeg, Gymraeg neu Nghymraeg

  1. Robert Bruce

    Shwmae Dee? 🙂

    One of the things worth remembering is the colloquially missing definite article. It’s traditional to talk about the Welsh and even though the y is often left out in speech, it’s effect on mutations remains.

    So, with that in mind something like Beth yw ‘mam-gu’ yng Nghymraeg y gogledd? can be understood because we usually use only one y in a string of words where English would use many (The Welsh of the south). In this case there’s no ‘missing’ y before Cymraeg, so the usual nasal mutation applies. Whereas in Beth yw hynny yn Gymraeg? Mêl? the missing y is ‘there’ and thus causes the feminine-definite-article soft mutation.

    Does that help at all?

  2. Dee Post author

    That makes a lot of sense Rob, diolch. The only thing that I find a bit puzzling now is why is it Cymraeg da and not Cymraeg dda if it’s a feminine noun?

  3. Diane

    I can answer that one, as someone (Iestyn?) once explained it to me: it’s a consistent anomalous exception that Cymraeg is treated as a masculine noun when you are talking about its qualities — so, Cymraeg da, Cymraeg cain (elegant), etc.

  4. Diane

    Ooh, I thought of another consistent mutation exception that goes the other way!
    It’s Cymraeg da, Cymraeg graenus, Cymraeg glan, Cymraeg cain
    Hywell Dda, Llewelyn Fawr, ayyb.
    Isn’t Welsh fun?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Checking you're a human * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.