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north or south wales?

Just wondering if the Welsh on Duolingo is typical of North or South Wales?

March 16, 2016



,I believe it tries to teach both dialects.


thanks for that.


Duo does not really get into any of the 4-5 main dialects in Wales in any depth. It has a few examples from north-west Wales, such as using mi more often at the start of a statements and it shows a few pronunciation variations such as dach chi and isio (for eisiau) from north-west Wales. It introduces moyn as a verb-noun for 'wanting' which is common in some parts of south and south-west Wales. Hogan for girl in north-west Wales.

Pretty standard, middle of the road Welsh, really, and things that you will meet all over Wales in any case, especially in the media.


i hadn't realised there were so many variations. Welsh gets more and more interesting!


And alongside all the variation in words, words which are spelt the same will have variation in pronunciation. People in the South of Wales alone can't even agree on how my name is supposed to be pronounced, and that's often just described as "one dialect".


I am following the Wlpan Welsh Course (North Wales) and started duolingo to help me with this but I am getting very confused as South Wales is mixed in with North Wales Welsh so I keep getting things wrong. Very confusing indeed!


You should never get things wrong as the Duolingo course should accept all variants of Welsh.

(And if you don't understand a word in a Welsh-to-English translation exercise, it's one that you may encounter "in the wild" in Wales so one that you should be able to recognise anyway, even if it's not one you might use yourself or one that's common in the area of Wales you are focussing on.)


Well, it wont accept all variants - there are far too many dialect variations for it to do that! However, it will cope with the common variations taught in Welsh for Adults courses such as Wlpan and whatever is taught in schools these days.

If there is a particular word that you are being taught that Duo does not accept (geneth for 'girl', say, or crwt for 'boy', ŷch chi'n iawn? or whatever) then just use the 'report' button to ask for it to be added.


I've noticed that there is a certain amount of mixing of dialects that is a little confusing. For example, 'hogyn yw e' is weird because 'hogyn' is an northern word, but 'yw e' is southern. The same question (a multiple choice one) also offered 'bachgen ydy o' which again is mixed, but in the opposite direction.


Apparently 'dialect mixing' is becoming more common, especially among young people who have been in Welsh-medium secondary, further and higher education. Because they often travel to the place of education outside their normal dialect area, they get to hear other dialects and can then end up mixing them.

Radio Cymru and S4C may have a similar influence perhaps, as might travelling to work in different areas.


Even in Welsh Second Language GCSE we learn a mixture of dialects, instead of just the one local to us; we were taught allan, eisiau, e and short-verbs instead of the wnes i form all alongside eachother without being shown the alternatives.

From what I've heard this is partly down to lots of Welsh teachers in the South coming from the heartland areas, and taking their dialects along with them; how much truth there is in that I'm don't know, but it sounds plausible.


That sounds like an example of the fallacy that there are exactly two dialect areas and a border that when you cross it, everyone switches from "only south words" to "only north words" - instead of multiple dialects and gradual shifts in vocabulary usage, which is what I've heard the situation described as.


Sure, the dialect situation is not binary. But there are things that you are more likely or less likely to hear together. I'd be really surprised if someone whose go-to word for boy was 'hogyn' also used 'e' instead of 'o'. If you told me that there is a valley somewhere, or some string of villages, where they do, I'd believe you. But it rings strange to me.

I probably should have phrased my statement as a question. I really like how the course shows dialectical varieties through the multiple choice questions. It is brilliant. But I wonder if each sentence in those questions is a self-contained statement that some real-life Welsh person would be likely to say, or if maybe just individual words are switched out for a dialectical alternate.


So if my primary Welsh learning experience has been duolingo and I want to supplement it with another course, do I select South or North to get a better match with duo? (They all make me choose at the outset).

There's one called Say Something in Welsh that excites and terrifies me -- each lesson seems to be 30-40 minutes of two Welsh speakers building up vocabulary by telling you a word for something, repeating it, having you repeat it, snowballing more and more until you are stringing the words together in sentences (You are meant to do an entire lesson at once without stopping).

So, from an initial lesson on there, "want" is pronounced like EESH-uh. Is there a variant on "eisiau" or is my pronunciation way off? And should I pick Northern or Southern? (Have done the first section in each and don't know which to stick with)


So if my primary Welsh learning experience has been duolingo and I want to supplement it with another course, do I select South or North to get a better match with duo?

You get exposed to both North and South Welsh on this course, so you could go with either.

But there may be a tad more South than North, so if you're unsure, go with South.

There's one called Say Something in Welsh that excites and terrifies me

I highly recommend it.

It melted my brain, made me swear a lot and say "you have got to be kidding me" at the length of some of the sentences it expected me to put together -- but I found that if I trusted the course and did not use the pause button but just tried to get something, anything out, that it forced my brain to "chunk" and produce multiple words together as one unit, leading to more fluent Welsh.

I did North Welsh myself, since I planned to visit North Wales (and have done so twice since then).

Don't forget their very friendly and supportive forum as well: https://forum.saysomethingin.com/

So, from an initial lesson on there, "want" is pronounced like EESH-uh. Is there a variant on "eisiau" or is my pronunciation way off?

I'm not sure whether there's a region where eisiau is naturally pronounced the way it's spelled.

What you might be hearing is what I might write as ishe, which I believe is common in some parts of the south. Or perhaps isho, which I've heard quite a bit in the north-west. Both are valid regional pronunciations of the word that you would generally write as eisiau.

Which brings me to another point: SSiW teaches you Welsh as it's actually spoken, which is not always the same in terms of grammar as what many courses of "Welsh for Adults" (or the Duolingo course which is based on those) teach.

If in doubt: don't be confused; just go with what you recall, from whatever source.

should I pick Northern or Southern?

Do you think you will visit Wales at some point? Then pick the version that's used in the part you're likely to visit.

Otherwise, it doesn't matter much: "it's all Welsh".

Whether you pronounce "sister" as wâr, waer, chwaer, ...; whether you say mae gen i lefrith or mae llaeth gyda fi or even ma llâth 'da fi....

It's a little bit like picking between US and UK English: neither is inherently superior, and which one works better for you is usually subjective, and most native speakers will understand other variants just fine.

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