What is Welsh like?


I am interested in the Welsh course, could anyone tell me what it is like? Is the grammar hard? Is the speaking hard, what is it like overal?


January 19, 2019


Another member gave me some good advice when I first started learning Welsh. I was finding it quite difficult and he suggested that the way to approach it was to think of it as 'different, not hard'.

Once I embraced that concept, I found it easier to accept what I'd thought of as the quirkier elements of the language (eg how to say 'yes' and 'no', spelling changes in formation of plurals, mutation, word order).

I'm so glad that I've persevered with the course. It's a fascinating language and sounds beautiful when spoken. I would definitely suggest that you give it a go!

January 20, 2019

I like the "different, not hard" advice, too.

January 20, 2019

Algebra too!

July 26, 2019

I think Welsh is a pretty hard language. Mostly because of grammar, but someone unfamiliar with languages might find the speaking slightly more difficult too. The grammar isn’t that complex but it doesn’t work like most languages: Welsh words will go through sound changes called mutations in order to make the entire sentence sound better for the context (such as when asking “May I...?”, automatically the words need to sound softer). Welsh also has a VSO word order (usually) and gendered nouns (like Spanish does)

Would I recommend that someone learns Welsh? Absolutely, but not because of the difficulty. Welsh is a very beautiful language (especially when spoken) and learning Welsh will support efforts to preserve the language. There are currently more Welsh learners on Duolingo than there are Welsh speakers in Wales, so over 200,000 people already find value in learning it. Tolkien also loved the way Welsh sounded and used Welsh phonology as inspiration for some of his Elvish languages. (Most notably Sindarin.) You might start having flashbacks to the Lord of the Rings movies when hearing Welsh to try to decipher Elvish spells like they’re Welsh. :D

On the easy side, everyone who speaks Welsh also know English if they are from Wales or Spanish if they are from Argentina (yes, Argentina has a Welsh-speaking community!), and you will find a lot of words are either English loanwords or sound like they they are from English (like “bacwn”, bacon, and “ysgol”, school, and “newydd”, new) or sound very similar to Spanish (like “llyfr” looks and almost sounds like “libro”, and they both mean “book”). I think this makes a hard language a little easier to learn, to be honest.

Dw i’n mynhau desgu Cymreag, mae hi’n hardd. (I am enjoying learning Welsh, it is beautiful.) I hope this answers your questions!

January 19, 2019

Welsh words will go through sound changes called mutations in order to make the entire sentence sound better for the context (such as when asking “May I...?”, automatically the words need to sound softer).

Thanks, now this passerby wants to learn some Welsh.

January 19, 2019

There are about 500,000 welsh speakers in Wales (that regard themselves as fluent or first language speakers) so Duolingo's fantastic efforts and 200,000 active learners don't quite dwarf the numbers.

Ysgol of course is related to Latin schola (like pont and llyfr, and dysgu are loans from Latin); newydd is a cognate rather than a loan.

January 20, 2019

The course structure and content itself is excellent. I can imagine that it's a difficult language to begin having never learnt it before (I learnt it in school), but I would recommend learning it. I really enjoy it.

Edit: I just noticed that someone mentioned Say Something in Welsh. I agree - it's excellent, and actually teaches you to speak the language.

It's also worth noting that there is no indefinite article in Welsh - that can take a bit of getting used to.

January 20, 2019

No indefinite article - i don't think that's very difficult. It means you have one less thing to learn in Welsh. For comparison, some languages don't have a true definite or indefinite article.

January 21, 2019

Learning any language is difficult. My personal take on Welsh: it's one of the easier languages. I might have a shot at fluency if I keep at it--although I'll never be able to trill an R. ;)

For example...I have studied French in the past and a little on Duo, and I've been working hard to learn Welsh since September. I don't know much science behind learning styles, but for whatever reason, I find Welsh to be tremendously easier than French. In French, sometimes the last letter is silent. Sometimes the last five letters are silent. Sometimes an entire sentence has two syllables. I can't even master the basics. Very sad. :(

Meanwhile, in Welsh, words are pronounced as they as spelled. YAY! Yes, the alphabet is a little different--but the history behind that is very interesting.

I don't mean to say I'm having a truly "easy" time. I'm still struggling with the pronunciation of some vowel combinations and I find the pronouns difficult to remember. And even though I still make mistakes with the mutations, the concept and the patterns make sense to me. I'm actually learning a second language for the first time, and that's a wonderful feeling.

Give Welsh a chance, and put it in context. Take a few minutes to visit Wales on YouTube and read a little bit about the history of the Welsh language and of course Wales itself. It's fascinating and bittersweet. If you study Welsh, you'll learn more than a language. You'll be told a story.

Pwb luc i ti.

January 20, 2019

The biggest difficulty with Welsh for me is the vocabulary because most of it bears little resemblance to those of Western Europe. You can often guess a word in, for example, French because it'll have some similarity to either the English word or to that of Spanish or Italian, but with Welsh, because it's from a different language branch, there's often not that ability.

January 23, 2019

Yes that's probably right. Nevertheless it does get easier as you go along. Abstract words tend to be built from root words, so gwybod (to know) gives gwybodaeth (knowledge); cachu (to excrement) gives Cachiad and Cachgu (a wretched person, coward). Just for instance.

January 23, 2019

I find the lack of resemblance to be beneficial in some cases as I don't have to worry about false cognates.

May 28, 2019

The difficulty of a language really depends on the person. For example I find some languages difficult that others find easy and vice versa. So I would suggest for you to try it out and see for yourself!

There are a few new sounds for you to learn, and in my opinion the grammar is a bit of a hurdle to jump over, but try it out and see!

January 19, 2019

I can't agree with those people here saying Welsh is hard, or even harder than something like German. I think Welsh is far easier than German, and probably easier than French.

  1. Gender. Gender isn't nearly as important in Welsh as it is in German or French (or Spanish, Italian, etc). There's no indefinite article (a, an) so no need to worry as you would for "un garçon, une fille" in French.

  2. Less need to conjugate verbs. At the basic level you need only know the conjugations for the verb "bod" (to be). This serves as an auxilliary in past, present and future sentences and the second verb (really a verbnoun) does not change:

Dw i'n bwyta afal - I am eating an apple

Wyt ti'n bwyta afal - You are eating an apple

Maen nhw'n byta afal - They are eating an apple

In all cases, the verb "bwyta" (to eat) does not change.

  1. Phonetic spellings. Welsh spellings might look daunting, but spellings are actually phonetic. Letters have a set sound (with some regional variations) so if you see a word, you know how to pronounce it.

There are several other reasons that currently escape me, but I have to say I was surprised at how easy getting started with Welsh is.

January 21, 2019

I think embarking on any new language is always going to be tricky. But the trickier it is, the better the accomplishment.

So far I've been doing it without the course notes

January 22, 2019

if you can learn Polish and Spanish, you can learn Welsh. It's not easy, but there are no cases like in Polish.

February 2, 2019

I will say that if you are interested in a Celtic language, Welsh seems easier to me than Irish (they are, of course, from two different branches of the Celtic tree, which I won't go into here). That could be because Irish introduced me to some of the grammatical differences between Celtic and Germanic languages, but I think it's also because Welsh is pronounced as it is spelled (don't think of the letters as English letters - they're not always pronounced the same way). Irish pronunciation is much, much trickier. Generally, once you know the pronunciation of the letters in Welsh, you will know how each word is pronounced.

The Welsh course on Duolingo is also more systematically structured than the Irish course, which helps immensely.

Bottom line: either language is great, but I think you'll find Welsh a little more approachable if you're looking for a Celtic language to study.

February 4, 2019

I have been working on Welsh intermittently for about 9 months. they "upgraded" the system and now its hard ot go aback and review. I am bilingual in Spanish and English and I think those languages are harder than Welsh in terms of grammar. But motivation for me comes from my ancestry. I am planing a trip to Wales next summer. they all speak English, but I want to try using some Welsh while i am there!

February 18, 2019

It's lovely. Very different rom English construction . A bit challenging at first, but well worth the effort. I am nearly eighty and have been learning Welsh on Duolingo for about a year and a half and am really enjoying it. My initial purpose in learning the language was because my grandfather, a child who grew up on a hill farm and at 5 spoke virtually no English was forced to wear the "Welsh not" sign at school if caught speaking any welsh, even with his friends in the playground. I had always intended learning Welsh, but as granny spoke no welsh at all, was not ever taught the language. Then a friend introduced me to DuoLingo and now as well as welsh, I'm learning Spanish, Portuguese, German Italian and brushing up my French that I last learned at the age of 18. I'm having a ball, so you see it is never too late to start . You go for it. I'm sure you'll really enjoy it. Pob lwc a mwynhad! ( which I think means Good luck and enjoy! Beryl

June 8, 2019

I love this. ❤

June 8, 2019

I started the welsh course .. and I didn't go far ! My problem was the hard spelling and also a lack of motivation of course . To me the sentences were only : gwyhhwhyyrh (!) I'm exagerating but the simple questions like : how are you ? who are you ? were a struggle to me because of the spelling . I couldn't figure out where was the verb and where was the subject and everything else .

I don't think the pronunciation was difficult to me , you just need to listen and to repeat . What can be a little bit difficult is to make the connection with the writing . I suppose I would feel the same with Irish.

I wanted to have a first taste of a celtic language, specifically from the brittonic branch; I was more interested in Breton and now that I've started it, I find Breton so much easier ! ;)

If you're motivated and feel dedicated to the learning of this language , don't hesitate . I've seen your other post about learning other languages, not easy to just pick one , is it ? :)

January 19, 2019

The spelling is very easy, in fact: it is very different from English, but it is phonetic, so once you understand the spelling, then you can always spell a word from how it sounds, or read it accurately off the page. I guess Duolingo doesn't take you through that, though, so I can see it is confusing if you're not presented with the vowel and consonant values first.

January 20, 2019

I agree, not long after I started the Welsh course I discovered an external source for the phonetics which made reading, comprehending the spoken word and spelling far easier and gave me more confidence to move forward.

I really think that the phonetics of Welsh should be introduced as a stand alone lesson or failing that be explained in detail within early lesson notes.

I'm sure a proportion of learners must give up not knowing the phonetics and thus finding it difficult rather than finding it as it is, different but following it's own logical pattern.

January 25, 2019

Completely. The first thing I did (well before I tried learning Welsh) was to learn to understand how to pronounce it / read placenames etc.

It's the most important thing to get right when you start like you say, this goes in fact for any language.

Longer term, getting your accent and colloquial language right is also important for convincing Welsh speakers that you are confident and familiar with the language so they feel they aren't inconveniencing you by speaking Welsh to you … but that's another thing.

January 25, 2019

I didn't put enough efforts in it , that's for sure ; I could have overcome my difficulties and found other websites to explain certain things but as I said : not enough motivation. It's ok , I still like the language and enjoy watching a tv serie in welsh when I find one ("Hinterland" !)

January 20, 2019

Also the first level on Say Something In Welsh, the other 2 levels are subscription based, but the first level gives you invaluable training and does complete speaking, giving you another way to hear how Welsh is spoken, cadence and that sometimes you learn Welsh in phrases to get the sentences right. It sounds complicated, but It is a fairly easy language to learn. I love learning it. Duo is my go to for really delving into vocabulary and sentence structure. But I like the constant repeating and hearing the language spoken in Say Something In Welsh. You can get the app or go to the main website, Say Something In Welsh, to test it out. If you have never done VSO, where the verb comes before the subject, it takes a little getting used to. But I started in Irish, where it does it on steroids. LOL Welsh is a piece of cake compared to Irish, IMHO. LOL Love both languages though. Don't let mutations scare you, it eventually sounds normal to soften the words for easier speaking. And they have rules on how it works, so it is not being thrown in at the deep end and get used to it. But they do address it pretty early into the course.

January 20, 2019

Welsh -- probably harder than e.g. German, but don't be intimidated. Be brave and go for it!

January 20, 2019

No cases (well, you know what I mean), only two genders, no indefinite article, consistent verb order (i.e. the second and subsequent verbs don't just magically to the end of the sentence)... I find Welsh quite a bit easier than German.

January 24, 2019

I'm doing German at the moment and I would say that Welsh grammar is easier. The bit that is harder is the unfamiliar vocabulary - German words often have some relation to English, sometimes obvious, sometimes a bit more obscure or archaic; but the bulk of Welsh words don't have cognates.

June 8, 2019

Go on !! ;-) Welsh is an enchanting language and the duolingo course is rather complete. It contains more items and crowns than any other languages... as far as i have counted... So i think you can achieve a rather high level with motivation and regularity.

January 20, 2019

Charming language and very different from germanic, slavonic and latin-based languages. Easy to pronounce but the rules of grammar are elusive. Things you expect to be nouns turn out to be adjectives. There can be at least four ways for some of the personal pronouns to indicate who is doing something, mainly so the listener is mentally prepared for what the sentence will contain, I assume. The beginnings of words can morph a bit into a different sound. If you think of grammar rules you might find it frustrating. I try to think of the structure as a bunch of flowers with the speaker choosing a particular bloom as a gift to the listener. So it needs a lot of patience and appreciation but is a truly beautiful and mellifluous language. I have been at it a year and am not giving up.

January 30, 2019

It's relatively easy, though I've found that the Duolingo course for Welsh makes learning the language easy (compared to the Irish Duolingo course...). Two hard things about Welsh, though: gender (always a pain when learning the language) and irregular plural forms. In addition, if you eventually decide to study the formal variant, be aware that it's very different from the colloquial form of the language.

May 29, 2019
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