Learning Welsh Outside of the UK? Why?
Is anyone else learning Welsh outside of the UK?
I'm in New England. Part of me feels quite silly devoting so much time to Welsh--I should learn French (we share a border with Quebec) or Spanish. Practical choices. But I've never taken to either. I've already forgotten the French I forced myself to study over the weekend.
I discovered Welsh while planning a trip to Wales (I think I stumbled across the word gwdihw after a couple glasses of wine), and not only am I taking to it and retaining what I'm learning, I go out of my way to study, to listen to Welsh, and to read Welsh. It's not perfect but so far it has just...clicked. Dw i'n caru dysgu Cymraeg.
But there isn't a Welsh-speaking person for four thousands miles. I have absolutely no practical reason to continue learning Welsh. I need to come up with good excuses to justify my efforts. :) So:
Those of you also learning Welsh far from Wales...why are you learning Welsh?
Why? Hmm Well for me I don't have convincing reasons either. I speak Arabic as a native language (different alphabet and pronunciation) and live in Saudi Arabia (differnt continent) without any intentions to live in Wales or even UK. I know French (not as flunt as in English) and I am on my way to achive fluncy in French. If I live in Canada, I would focus on French more.
I have visited Wales and loved the country and their history. So I decided to start learning Welsh but I am like you questioning the benefit of this decision and effort. But I am still carrying on learning it. I guess I just got hooked. It is a beautiful language and the course on Duolingo is well made.
Shwmae, dw i'n byw yn Rhufain, ac Eidaleg yw fy iaith frodorol.
On a visit to Cardiff, some 30-35 years ago, out of curiosity, I picked up this flimsy booklet in a souvenir shop.
"Welsh with Ease" sounded to me as a joke, as Welsh is commonly perceived as a most obscure and mysterious language.
After a first attempt to learn a few basic words, I was so confused by the conjugation of bod that I gave up. But my curiosity never settled.
When two years ago I found the course in Duolingo, I decided to give it a try once again, this time with a more solid grammatical basis. I first quit again after having struggled with the conjugation of bod. Then after a couple of weeks I tried once more, and this time I finally overcame the obstacle.
What I enjoy most about learning Welsh are the several unexpected connections with Latin, as well as the dialect variants of words and constructions.
Mutations drive me crazy, but I guess that's a common problem.
I do appreciate the struggle by native speakers to keep this language alive.
I have the same booklet ! Got it from my mother who got it from a distant relative in Idaho. Like duo lingo better (duh).
hey!! i'm from the west coast, and would also love to learn welsh!
i feel the same with spanish, as far as not taking to it. for me, i think it's a combination of growing up surrounded by spanish, with people insisting that i needed to learn it, bad spanish teachers, and spanish speakers getting a tad upset when they find i can't understand them that kind of turned me off to acquiring the language (although it's definitely practical and i'm forcing myself to learn at a conversational amount). i'd love to learn it but i just can't find the motivation.
welsh doesn't click with me quite as well as norwegian does (which might be just as impractical for someone living in america, aha) but it's such a lovely language that i can't help but want to at least try to learn it. as odd as it sounds, i think it's the country's landscape and architecture that are really inspiring. i'm actually not quite sure.
Shwmae! Katie ydw i.
I've lived in South Wales all my life, and even learned it as a second language in school until I was 16 but alas, only the basic conversational stuff has stuck in my brain. Living in the South, Welsh is seemingly dead, but I took a residential trip to a Welsh speaking part of Wales with the school I work in a few weeks back and it was refreshing to hear the language spoken!! It gave me motivation to want to start again and revive my love for the language.
So, even as someone who lives in Wales, it isn't a popular language at all anymore (and a lot of people think the bilingual sign posts are just a waste of money -_-), so for me it's still hard to practice it in a conversation as I know few fluent people and I live here!
It's wonderful to see so many people keen to learn our language, and makes me as a Welsh person want to fulfil my heritage and speak the language.
Looks like I'll have to start travelling hours to the Welsh-speaking parts of Wales a little more. :)
S'mae Katie! Very interesting perspective. That Welsh is spoken by less than a quarter of people in Wales surprised me when I read about it. I live near the French-speaking province of Canada where they guard their French language heritage like a dragon sitting on a pile gold. I have the impression Welsh is seeing a bit of a revival, though. I hope that's true. Good luck to you!
If you don't mind me asking you a question: The South Wales dialect is talked about a lot, and is the one I'm studying. If Welsh is so rare in the south as you've observed, what towns/areas would you say speak "southern" Welsh? I do hope to visit, maybe next year, and if so I want to put myself where there's some spoken Welsh. ^_^
Yes, the Welsh government at the moment are hoping to increase the amount of Welsh speakers substantially over the coming years. Doing my teacher training at the moment is this becoming clearer with the Curriculum Cymreig, so yes, a revival (fingers crossed it works!) is how I would word it too!
South Wales and North Wales have different ways of saying certain words such as milk for example (SW: llaeth, NW: llefrith). In some ways, it's kind of like different dialects in the same language. For example, in England, people from Birmingham/Liverpool having local words for things that I wouldn't be aware of. In university, my friend from the midlands referred to a burger bun as a 'cob' and I had no idea what it was! It's kind of the same idea with certain words and terms in Welsh.
Might I suggest if you do visit, you'd be better visiting West Wales, places such as Carmarthen have a much higher % of people who speak Welsh. Unfortunately, Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and the South Wales Valleys have very few Welsh speakers these days. The areas speaking the South Welsh dialect you are learning would be more focused around the West of Wales. The West has lots of lovely coastal towns, tourist landmarks and views for you to see if you chose to stay there, and also all connected to South Wales through trains too for you to see the famous landmarks and cities of Wales! :D
There are many Welsh for adults classes all over South East Wales and many opportunities to practise outside lessons, chat clubs, cultural activities. Even Welsh language pop gigs in the most anglicised city, Newport.
I live in Texas and I have no connection to Wales, although my ancestors come from Y Hen Ogledd, I doubt I have any Welsh ancestry. I find the Welsh language to be charming and challenging and I do enjoy studying it, albeit I doubt I'll ever get the knack for it studying on my own.
I absolutely love the Welsh language. It is the language of my ancestors who came from Southern Wales. I am also from New England, and find the language to be not only absolutely beautiful, but historic in nature. The language needs to be preserved by people like you and I. Would love to chat with you, perhaps even in Welsh. :)
I live in England and am studying Welsh to help prevent the onset of dementia
I'm learning Welsh and I'm in the United States. I've always had a love of language. The Celtic languages were once a thriving family, half of which have become extinct and the other half in a steep decline (Scots Gaelic is spoken by fewer than 600,000). I see it as a mission to keep these languages from going into extinction.
half the Germanic languages have gone extinct too, but Gaelic only has 50,000 speakers these days. It's a shame. Welsh is fine though, it has the most speakers it has ever had (Welsh population is a lot higher these days hence the lower percentage than in the past) so don't worry about it going anywhere.
Shwmae, dw i'n dysgu Cymraeg yn yr Iseldiroedd (the Netherlands). Not because I have a special reason to learn Welsh, other than the fact that I am interested in (Indo-)European languages and I wanted to learn a Celtic language.
What I love about Welsh are the alien phonemes as ll, rh, mh, nh and ngh and the strange grammar. And on the other hand you will find several familiar Indo-European cognates as well.
And I already helped out a singer who wanted to sing a Welsh song, set by Benjamin Britten: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Jja5mJgbYk (so she could have a better pronounciation that the bariton in this video).
I live in southeastern Pennsylvania and there are a lot of places with Welsh names, like Bala Cynwyd, Bryn Mawr, etc. That got me curious about the language, and once I heard it, I felt I had to master these glottal sounds. I'm also interested in Cornish, and will pounce on that if Duolingo ever offers it.
We have a Bryn Mawr here in South Wales also! Translates literally to Big Hill :')
I'm living in the US. I have an ancestor from Wales. For me it's a heritage language. It also happens to be one of my favorite languages, I think it sounds beautiful.
Heritage, my mother's family had people who traveled from Wales to Ireland and then finally to the US. I'm from New England too :).
I live in Atlanta, and I don't know of anyone else speaking or studying Welsh in the area. I spent a semester in Wales over 20 years ago and took a night class in Welsh, but I dropped it after leaving. I still have the small pocket dictionary I bought in the student bookshop on campus. Years later, I found Irish and Welsh on Duolingo. Since my ancestry is Irish (Hogan), I decided to study Irish with no agenda other than fun, telling myself I'd do Welsh next so I could really explore differences and similarities in Celtic languages. I studied Irish for about a year or so, going through the duolingo tree 3 times and studying what I could find cheap or free online or in the library. I burnt myself out a bit. When I came back to duolingo, I decided to dip my toe into Welsh and really got into it. I don't really have a specific goal in mind. My wife's paternal family (Davies) are Welsh (from the Llandudno area), but she grew up in England and speaks no Welsh. I do have it in the back of my mind that we might at least visit the north of Wales at some point in the future. I also watch a lot of rugby, both English and Welsh teams, and I enjoy trying to pick out vocabulary and understand what's being said when I find highlight clips with Welsh commentary. I suppose I just do it for enjoyment and just to do it.
I'm a South Floridian so yeah... Similar in that finding another Welsh speaker in proximity is very limited.
I sort of fell in love with the language after a patient of mine would speak the language and showed me photos he had taken in the area.
I'm in Upstate New York, also sharing a border with French parts of Canada, and I too thought I'd better learn French out of utility, but it just never spoke to my heart the way Welsh does. I feel like learning Welsh is helping to keep a part of my heritage alive, maybe awaken some of my Welsh spirit, haha! It's the only language I've dabbled in that felt truly right.
https://www.duolingo.com/course/fr/en/Learn-French-Online might as well do this too on the side so you can get benefit of using a language as well.
Dw i'n byw yn Rwsia. Dw i ddim wedi mynd yng Nghymru ac yn debyg fydda i ddim yno erioed. Pam dw i'n dysgu Cymraeg? Dw i'n hoffi hanes a diwylliant celtaidd. Hen iaith ydy'r gorau yn ol fy marn. Dim ond cariad, am wn i. :)
It's scratching an itch :-P
Welsh is quite funny, and I have been interested in the celtic languages since I was little. Might continue to Scotish & Irish in years to come.
Seriously, Russian, Amharic, Filipino, Yiddish or Arabic will be more useful to me (last two are not in Duo and available free in my native tongue) .
I'm an American in Oregon. My last name is of Welsh origin, though I'm a typical American mutt and probably don't have any particularly large amount of Welsh blood in me. But that ancestral connection, however small made me feel a pull when I saw Welsh was an available language here on Duolingo. Russian for some strange reason was the language I've always wanted to learn, sounding like music to my ears. But the more and more I'm learning Welsh the more I really like it. It's such a fun language to figure out the grammar to, and the general sounds of it really flow through me in a wonderful way. Though I have no specific plan to travel to Wales any time soon, I absolutely have the desire to. If there's any "reason" I've dedicated so much time on here, I suppose I could say in case I ever get myself to Wales I'd be able to try out my knowledge with the native speakers. And if I never make it there, well, at least I can do my part to keep the language alive.
I'm glad you're enjoying learning Welsh, Sarah! I'm from Wales originally, and now live in Massachusetts. I knew bits of Welsh but could never speak it fluently - and now that I'm in Massachusetts I have decided to learn it! Like you, I thought that it might seem silly since there is nobody around here to speak to in Welsh, but it makes me feel more connected to my home :)
S'mae Jack! Eira yfory!! Dw i'n moyn aros gartref oooond...alla' i ddim. :( Stay safe out there. Looks like we're around the same level--if you want someone to practice small talk in Welsh (via messenger or something) let me know. :)
Dw i'n caru eira! Dw i mynd i chwarae yn y eira :P
You stay safe too! And have fun :)
Same goes to you, if you're looking for someone to practice with!
Dw i'n hoffi eira, ond, Duw, dw i ddim yn hoffi gyrru yn y eira!
I am absolutely looking for a victim to practice with! ;)
I am in central NYS and am learning Welsh as I am 100% Welsh by heritage (all grandparents from north wales). I would love to practice but I am so bad as yet I'm afraid I wouldn't have anything to say! But you're right... I'm a little tired of "gwisgo teits" and "smwddio crys" and the like. Duw mae hyn yn galed! Hywl fawr a chi.
Your use of "Duw" is perfect, haha. When growing up, I noticed that lots of older people (grandparents, etc) would say "Duwwww" when impressed by something - I never knew what it meant until I started learning Welsh!
What messenger do you use, Sarah? I think you might actually be a bit better at Welsh than I am, but that will motivate me to learn more!
Feel free to send me a message on Messenger, any time! My full name is Jack Roland Sarr - hopefully there isn't more than one :P
Good to know people in Wales use the word that way! I was guessing. :) Na, my Welsh is basic. I still need to think about each and every word, and had to look up "driving." But that's exactly what I hope to achieve--the ability to say things in Welsh I'd say in "real life." My preferred messenger is called Messenger. It's associated with facebook but being fb friends isn't a requirement for use to the best of my knowledge.
There is also the opportunity of learning online either formally via Skype (getting cheaper by the day as the value of the pound sinks) or with the various Say something in Welsh groups.
I am also learning welsh, and am from Niagara Falls :) My family lives in Wales so Id love to be able to understand posts they make when they use the language, but I'm in the same boat, no one anywhere close to me is a welsh speaker; super discouraging but I'm trucking on with it! Its a fascinating language and so much history along with it!
Shwmae! Sasha Lathrop dw i a dw i'n dod o California. Dw i'n hoffi siarad Cymraeg achos mae'n ddiddorol!
Hi! I'm Sasha and I'm from California. I like learning Welsh because it's interesting... but there's more than that and I haven't learned how to say it yn Gymraeg yet!
I started learning because I have recently learned about my ancestry after knowing nothing at all most of my life, not even my own name at birth or my own grandmother's name. Now, through DNA and genealogy, I have learned that I'm about 90% Celtic from the Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England as well, including Cornwall. I have always had an interest in endangered and extinct languages since I was a strange little kid, particularly Celtic ones once I learned about them - and now I have the perfect motivation to do something about it and do my part to preserve them while learning about my origins.
I love the Duolingo course, and I am using it in conjunction with Say Something in Welsh, which is an amazing course that has done wonders for my Welsh abilities in just the last two weeks! They also have Cornish and Manx, so there are two more Celtic languages I can work on! If you check out SSiW, make sure to have a look at their forum. I have never met a kinder, more welcoming bunch of people, and there are loads of opportunities there to speak with other Welsh learners both in- and outside of Wales!
Good luck on your Welsh-speaking journey! If you join the SSiW forum, feel free to send me a message! I would love to practice with you sometime too! I haven't really spoken Welsh to anyone but my cat yet! :)
Congrats on learning about your heritage! Fascinating, isn't it? I'm more French Canadian than anything else--only a couple generations removed--but I also have great-grandparents from Switzerland (Italian-speaking) and Germany. Too bad the closest brush my past gets to Wales is through my English ancestors who came over on tiny wooden ships like the Fortune. Yet, the more I learn about Wales the more I feel it's my kind of place and my kind of people, for what it's worth. But it's the history that gets me the most. The age of the language. The castles, the dragons ;)...
I've spent a little time on SSIW. It is a fabulous resource but it's not the best for me--I think I'm what they call a "high repetition learner." Despite that, it's a great way for me to practice speaking, and I should use it more.
Good luck to you, and I'll see if I can send you a hello on the SSiW forum. Cheers! Sarah
Thanks for responding and for the add! Most of my ancestors seemed to have left Wales some time ago, but I still have so many branches that I have to trace down, so who knows!?! It's an adventure.
I definitely follow my own schedule with the SSiW material. I need a lot more repetition, and I am very visual, so I repeat the lessons more than once in an overlapping fashion and add to the written notes.
I did Challenges 1 - 5 a bunch of times before pressing on, then I started a review pattern where I will review 2 or 3, or even 4 lessons in between each new lesson I start - and I don't attempt a new one every day as a result. My next lesson is 13 so I went through 11 and 12 today and might attempt 13 tonight. If not, I will try tomorrow - and if it's a flop five or ten minutes into it, then it's back to 12 and possibly 11 again, before returning to 13... 3 steps forward, 2 steps back, 3 forward... that's been working for me.
I also go through the written notes and use the pause button a lot during my review, and I add more structures and examples to the vocabulary list when I find new phrases and constructions that are really blowing my mind so I can study them even more later.
Good luck and thank you!
Ooops... one more thing I wanted to say about why I love SSiW and I put in the extra work - I love the feeling when I get a long sentence right - especially because as you get going you will oftentimes here these long sentences for the very first time in your own voice because you have formed the sentence yourself by putting the pieces together. Happy dances and fist-pumps abound. ;)
That's an awesome feeling, for sure! Happy dance for you! ^_^ Those sentences are where SSiW and I don't work well together. I'm a reasonably intelligent person, but as those sentences get longer and more convoluted--"I think I still need to try to remember to practice learning to speak Welsh now"--I can't remember every word even in English, let alone remember what I'm supposed to be saying in Welsh. It would be easier for me to have English text prompts, or real sentences, such as, "Bore da! Mae'n oer iawn heddiw. Ga i baned, os gwelwch yn dda? Oh, diolch, diolch!" Sentences I would use in real life would not only be naturally easier to remember, they would hold my interest more. That being said, I do agree SSiW is anhygoel, and I recommend it to others. For me, it's just one of several invaluable resources!
What other resources do you use, if you don't mind me asking? I have been listening to a lot of Welsh music and watching programs on S4C in Welsh (especially the kids' shows like Deian and Loli hahaha... working with what I have), looking at Parallel.Cymru (way above my level, but interesting nonetheless), and generally trying to get as much exposure as I can.
Sure! Duo is my foundation, of course. :) I supplement Duo lessons with writing vocabulary lists because writing things by hand is effective for me. I have the *Welsh Learner's dictionary which I use to supplement those lists.
I listen to music every day. I can't sing, but I'm practicing speaking the Garth Celyn lyrics out loud for pronunciation practice. (I chose that song because the diction is so clear and the video shows the English and the Welsh.)
I also like to listen to Welsh audio on BBC Wales.
Parallel.Cymru has some helpful content for learners. BBC Bitesize has some terrific content, such as "socializing day to day." https://www.bbc.com/bitesize/subjects/z8qmhyc
I watch every Welsh learning video I can find on YouTube.
The Use Your Welsh website has a few good videos too, such as "In a shop." That site also set me up with a mentor, a native speaker from North Wales. (Awesome!)
I'm always on the lookout for good books, too. I like "Rarebits for Welsh Learners" by Colin Jones. And the other day I was amusing myself browsing the websites of Welsh business that can be viewed in either Welsh or English.
Last thing I can think of, I just started watching Bang, a crime drama set in Port Talbot. It's supposed to be a good representation of the bilingual reality of the people living there. I found it on Acorn TV through Amazon prime.
Nos da! :)
I am also from New England. I started learning Welsh recently as a curiosity. It seems relatively obscure so I'm driven by what sorts of things I have to learn from the study of the language.
Learning a language is good for your brain, keeps it nice and active - and if you like the language that gives you more reason to keep learning it.
I studied Japanese for many years despite living in the UK and I still remember most of it to this day, in my life I have been to Japan only once and that was it - but I still learnt it anyway. Same thing, I guess?
Whip out the pronunciation of Llanfairpwll........gogogoch on someone and it will be all worthwhile!
I am Flemish (which is someone from the Northern state of Belgium called Flanders, where we speak Dutch).
Our state and even Belgium in general doesn't have any Celtic orginin. Well, atleast modern Belgians don't. There were Celtic tribes here around the time of Caesar but those were almost all killed or mixed in with the Romans and later the Germanic tribes that came here and stayed (which are our ancestors).
So going from that point of view, learning Welsh doesn't have any benefits here other than being that one guy that happens to speak a strange language.
But to end the story here, I mainly started learning Welsh as a result of my parents "obsession" with Celtic culture. They look at (mainly Irish music) as pure. Due to my mother, I always listened to Irish music while studying which caused with me to grow a love for Celtic culture.
I tried learning Irish Gaelic but it was just too hard and too random so I switched to another Celtic language known to be quite easy to learn once you got used to its spelling.
I also want to learn Welsh as a way to help keep it alive because since the English language is such a dominant language, it causes the Welsh language to be under attack, so I want to keep it alive.
Yes, I am trying it. Because I love learning languages Rwy'i n hoffi dysgu ieithodd
S'mae! Dw i'n byw yn Illinois. I started learning Welsh to help me approximate a Welsh accent, assuming that knowing what Welsh sounded like would help me with my portrayal of a Welsh character at the renaissance faire. The more I learned about Wales and her culture, the more I started to fall in love with the language. Then I found out I'm 1/16th Welsh, so when the ren faire season was over, I just kept going. I'm sure my relatives would prefer that I brush up my Spanish instead (I'm half Puerto Rican), but I had a difficult time with Duolingo's Spanish course, so I am pursuing other avenues to revive my fluency in that language. Both Welsh and Spanish are beautiful languages and if I ever visit Patagonia, I will be all set!