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  5. "Cymraeg" in English


"Cymraeg" in English

I've noticed that parts of this course, and various commenters here, refer to the Welsh language as "Cymraeg" even when writing in English. I'd be interested in what the thinking behind this is.

November 4, 2016


  • 2011

The issue here is that originally in Old English the word 'Welsh' meant a foreigner, the people on the other side of the historical border, Offa's ❤❤❤❤.

So for the majority English speaking population of Wales the reference to their native language implies something that is foreign to their own experience and cultural history.

In the absence of a more culturally and historically neutral word in English some people prefer to use the word Cymraeg.

This contrasts to, for example, the use of the word 'Gallic' in English, to refer to the Celtic language of Scotland, which is the same sound of the name of the language in its own tongue 'Gàidhlig'


Thanks, I wondered if it was something like that.

Seems many Northern European languages are adopting names derived from Cymraeg. In Swedish it's now called "kymriska" in all official contexts, though from experiment here most people don't know what that means and still use the older "walesiska", if they know such a language exists at all... From switching language on the relevant article on wikipedia many languages now have such a word, though only Swedish and Finnish have adopted it officially.

Could that work in English (adopting the word to fit the sounds and structures of the language in question)? It's harder, because everyone knows the language is there and is called Welsh. But "Cambrian" could perhaps work? Or "Cymric"?


Both 'Cambrian' and 'Cymric' have been used in the past, but not in the context of recent understanding of linguistics and history, and not for what we now call Modern Welsh.

  • 2011

That's very interesting and would be a great idea, unfortunately it's unlikely to happen in the near future because of the current almost parallel universes that the Welsh speaking and non Welsh speaking exist in, ie the almost complete lack of understanding of its native culture by the majority of the population.


Very interesting. Thanks.

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