Can anyone evaluate the complexity of the Welsh language?

Which category from the website

I know many Welsh speak more English than their primary language... Which category would the Welsh language belong? How many hours to be fluent? Anyone can come up with a brief explanation?

Thanks so much for your time! Diolch!

Raymart Lipat

April 7, 2019


Celtic languages are all usually left off charts noting difficulty however when they are included, I have usually seen them in or beyond the hardest ranking. Usually stating over 1500+ hours are needed to become proficient, placing them at a level V (5) plus in usual rankings. This is usually considering the learner is a native English speaker, so for those who speak other languages, Welsh could become harder (or easier!) depending on the similarities and differences. Either way, Welsh is SO SO SO worth it!

April 10, 2019

Welsh is super complex just like Japanese! Ok, you made my day and you made me feel excited to learn Welsh! Diolch yn fawr iawn!

April 11, 2019

Due to the easy way to read Welsh (the letters mean what they say), it is probably easier to start with / get a base pronounciation and vocabulary than with other language of Category III and up. And it is culturally close to English, as you find many words between the two languages, that are similar / sound similar or are even written similar. But it is still a language with a mostly foreign vocabulary being neither romance (lots of the category I) or germanic language (the rest of the category I and all of category II). In addition it has a rather different word-order / structure, some sounds foreign to the English language (ll, the rolled r, ch) and gramatical specialities (like genders) that are rather foreign to English-speakers. I took a look at Czech and while i do not find it easy, I would argue, that it is not harder than Welsh. If it would not be for the cultural border and the long history together I would not have a doubt antput Welsh in category IV. But III. can be argued, as far as I am concerned

April 7, 2019

If you're familiar with other European languages, Welsh is uninflected and has a very simple verbal paradigm, with an easy phonology. Its only real sticking point is its syntax and grammar being mildly complex, but not moreso than English to a non-native speaker. I'd say about as hard as French or Norwegian for an English speaker, certainly easier than Irish, Russian, or Latin. I'd say category I to II

April 12, 2019

First of all, I do not speak Welsh fluently or any language fluently except my own. However, we're talking about working proficiency so I feel able to make sweeping pronouncements on the matter, because I have studied Latin, German, French, Welsh and Italian to GCSE standard or equivalent or beyond. For non-Britons, a GCSE qualification in supposed to be A2/B1 on the CEFR ladder, and I have similar grades for all of these languages.

There is NO way Welsh is a category V language for an English speaker. It has a similar alphabet to English, with just a few extra letters. You don't have to learn to write all over again. Orthographically, Welsh is consistent in pronunciation, and the letters aren't pronounced wildly differently to the pronunciations an English speaker will already be familiar with. Biggest issues, pronunciation-wise, for an English speaker like me were rolled/trilled R's (which also feature in German, French and Italian, so hardly unique to Welsh) and the sound for the letter LL. And honestly, the LL sound isn't that hard.

For the R's, I gave up, as I always do in any language, but I'll note here that many English-speakers have rhotic (rolled R) accents, so they're not going to be perturbed by Welsh R's.

There isn't really a significant cultural barrier between Wales and the English-speaking world, so it comes down to how significant the linguistic differences are.

Welsh is definitely different from English, but is it honestly terribly more difficult than French (cat I) or German (cat II)?

Welsh has only two genders, like French, whereas German has three, so that is hardly a big issue.

However, Welsh doesn't share vocabulary with English, unlike French and German, so that is an obstacle. Interestingly, I do sometimes notice French cognates, though.

For example, in English, Welsh and French, in that order: bell, cloch, cloche and church, eglwys, église.

Anyway, for that reason alone, Welsh cannot be a category I language. You have to put actual work into learning vocabulary. In French, you can occasionally correctly work out the word you want on the spot by adding a characteristically French suffix to an English word. This does not work in Welsh!

Welsh doesn't inflect for case much, unlike Latin or German, and that is a huge plus for it, because it's something English language learners really struggle with the first time they encounter it. However, it does have mutations, and I personally thought learning when to apply the mutations was least as difficult as learning what the ablative case was and when to use it or learning how to use German adjective endings. So I'm going to say Welsh is category II, maybe category III.

EDIT: I have been revising Welsh for the last week, and I am going to amend my assessment down to category II.

April 15, 2019

Welsh is not closely related to English. Based on the location of other Indo-European languages I would expect it to be in Category IV on the attached list. However, the long association between the languages means that English has acted as a superstrate on Welsh and therefore there is some overlap in vocabulary and syntax. Based on that, it might move up to a II or III - but I think the underlying grammar (not to mention the mutations) make it sufficiently alien that it is likely to remain down the list.

May 5, 2019
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