Does anyone have any tips for four things:
1.) How to learn and memorize the gender of nouns?
2.) How to pronounce the voiceless lateral fricative sound, LL? I'm not sure if I'm doing it right...
3.) Learning the mutations so that it's easy to depict when it's needed? (Or should I just make flashcards and practice?)
4.) Good resources to practice said mutations?
The LL sounds is a bit like how Daffy Duck says his S's! Maybe toned down a little.
My advice on mutations is be aware of them, but don't focus on them. You'll find you get used to them very quickly. And, in truth, native speakers use some and not others.
saysomethinginwelsh.com is the best free resource for beginners that I could possibly recommend - you need to pick a North or South dialect, but don't let that worry you, you will be able to understand either dialect quite quickly.
Good luck learning this beautiful, ancient language.
P.S. I've also stumbled across this guy on youtube who's chronicling his Welsh learning journey. Worth a peak, his progress is reassuring and shows that a bit of effort is well well worth it.
The best explanation of how to pronounce the "ll" sound is to place your tongue in the position of an "l" an to blow out.
The gender of nouns has a couple of guidelines, but they often have exceptions. -aeth (common exception is "gwasanaeth" which means "service") and -en are almost always feminine and -iad, -rwydd and -yn are almost always masculine. Some people find French and German genders easier to remember because the definite article changes before them, which we don't do in Welsh but we do change the way of saying "this" (at least in formal Welsh). For masculine nouns "Y/Yr X hwn" e.g "Y ci/Yr afal hwn" and for feminine nouns "Y/Yr X hon" e.g "Y gath/Yr ardd hon", though of course with feminine nouns you have to remember the soft mutation after "y/yr/'r" which affects nouns that begin with T,C,P,D,G,B,M (In this example"Cath" and "Gardd" affected by a soft mutation).
Whilst I agree that you don't have to focus on mutations that much since they don't alter meaning very often, I don't agree with the idea that they'll 'just fall into place' (Believe me, 7+ years in Welsh medium education and I only really got them when I worked on them). If you want to learn them properly you are going to have to concentrate on them, firstly by learning the grid, and then I'd say learn about three rules for each type of mutation is a good basis though of course there are more of them. (I made notes on this a while back in a note book before my GCSE Welsh exam so I can post the rules I chose here if you want).
Diolch, and if you don't mind, I'd be up to see your notes! And thank you for a lovely explanation of the nouns!
Firstly, here's a link to a mutations grid (https://68.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m9ox8wy0rR1rw84ef.png), but what I'd recommend is that you write it down somewhere for easy access. I used a mnemonic to remember it: Tee Cee Pee, Doctors Go Bananas, Rhian Marries Llewelyn. This isn't the same order as the grid I showed you but this doesnt matter as long as you keeps them in their little groups of three.
First is the soft mutation where all nine letters mutate, though sometimes "Rh" and "Ll" don't which is called a weak soft mutation.
Rule 1, after the prepositions "Am, ar, at, dan, dros, drwy ,heb, i, o, gan, wrth, hyd", e.g Dw i'n eistedd ar gadair, where "ar" which means "on" in this instance which has softly mutated "cadair" to gadair".
Rule 2, After the posessive pronouns "Dy" and "Ei" (when it means "his", it can also mean "her" in which case it causes an aspirate mutation), e.g dy gadair or ei wraig ("Your chair" and "His wife", Gwraig-Wraig).
Rule 3, feminine nouns after "Y" and adjectives after feminine nouns which is an example of a weak soft mutation I mentioned above. e.g if we take "Merch" (Girl) and "Bach" (Little) and place "y" in front of it all we get "Y ferch fach" but if we take a masculine noun e.g "bachgen" (boy) we get "Y bachgen bach". Also "Rhaw" (Spade) is feminine but becasue "Y" causes a weak soft mutation it remains as "y rhaw fach".
Only six letter mutate nasally, T, C, P, D, G, B.
Rule 1, after the "Fy" (My), so to take cadair again it becomes "Fy nghadair" (My chair).
Rule 2, After "yn" but only when it means "in", so if we want to say "In Wales" we say "Yng Nghymru" (Cymru-Nghymru) and note that before "Ng" or "M" "Yn" becomes "Yng" and "Ym".
Rule 3, When forming negatives with the prefix "an" so "Teg" (Fair) becomes "Annheg" (Unfair) and "Derbyniol" (Acceptable) becomes Annerbyniol (Unacceptable).
Finally is the aspirate mutation, where only three letters mutate and even then it's becoming less and less common in the spoken language (I personally still use it a lot and it is still considered necessary for formal Welsh).
Rule 1, I mentioned this earlier, after "Ei" when it means "her". So "Ei gath" with a soft mutation would be "His cat" but "Ei chath" would be "Her cat".
Rule 2, After "a" (and) and "â" (which typically means "with" or "as"). For example "Te a choffi" (Tea and Coffee) or "Coffi a the" (Coffee and Tea).
Rule 3, after the numeral "Tri" (but note not after the feminine form "Tair"), so for example "Mae gen i dri chi a thair cath" (I have three dogs and three cats). In this sentence we have an example of soft mutation after "gen i" which is a form of the preposition "Gan", and two examples of aspirate mutation, one after "a" and one after "Tri".
Of course there are many more causes than this, though this is a good basis (one grammar book I own lists 28 causes of soft mutation, and only 3 for nasal and 5 for aspirate). Remember even native speakers sometimes struggle with mutations so no one will think you're silly for making a mistake.
"Learn Welsh with Will" on YouTube has a good video on pronunciation. Genders I think you just have to rote learn (in any language with genders).
For pronouncing the Welsh letter ll, go to the 'Welsh Plus' videos that we recommenend in the notes. You will also find them if you search the web for 'welsh plus youtube pronunciation'.
Note the position of your tongue when you say the 'll' in British English small, ball, hall. With your tongue in that position press up gently to keep your tongue in that place. Now breathe out gently through your mouth, letting the air pass either side of your tongue - this will make the fricative/hissing ll sound that you hear on the videos.