Welsh North vs South
I am disappointed to find that there is no option to choose North Welsh unlike there is on Saysomethinginwelsh.com
The mods would have to write and maintain two entirely different courses! Besides, many languages have regional variations, but you don't see all the variations here. There's no option for learners of English to choose British over American, for example, or the many different versions of Spanish.
They do highlight some of the differences between regions, but I think it's entirely unreasonable to expect them to maintain two entirely different courses.
For what it's worth, I'm also doing SSIW and I think DuoLingo's Welsh course complements it nicely. If anything, the broad nature of the Duo course is useful alongside the more regionalised SSIW course. After all, the Welsh you hear on BBC Radio Cymru or S4C is not limited to one region; you need to understand the variations.
While it's possible that teaching Northern and Southern Welsh would be two different courses, I wouldn't compare it to American and British English. Those two variants mostly differ in spelling rather than words.
When speaking Welsh you find that a lot of words differ. Duolingo has "Dialects" as a course segment that teaches you multiple words for the same thing, but continuing onwards from then, it pushes focus on South Welsh.
I'm not sure how, but there must be a way to make this course either give equal focus to both, or potentially give people an option to choose between them - and maybe just have mods for the different choices.
I'm not attempting to say that the course is bad by any means, it's definitely given me a good grounding in sentence structures and vocabulary.
With that said, there is a clear bias to be found when it is looked at by a fluent Welsh speaker which should be taken into consideration.
This course is based on the older Mynediad and Sylfaen courses for adults in Wales. Those, and the ones that are now replacing them, come in generic 'north' and 'south' variants - they do not really reflect the 5-6 actual main dialect areas of Wales, although the 'north' course seems based on the general dialect of north-west Wales.
Patterns from both sets are accepted on this course, along with a few other common variants. This course also has separate sections, for example, for the simple past tense with gwneud and the short-form past tense, for using gyda in possession and using gan.
We are slowly adding new sentences using different forms where we are able to. This is limited by the constraints of the Duolingo course maintenance system and the time we can spare.
We are just starting on version 3 of the course, which will reflect the patterns in the new Mynediad and Sylfaen courses in both flavours recently developed by the national DysguCymraeg centre for learning Welsh. It will again be a generic course, with a few examples of some basic dialect variations. The aim is to provide a basic framework from which people can move on to intermediate and advanced Welsh, when they can cover formal registers of Welsh and the dialects of particular areas where they spend time.
Thanks for the info Ibisc,
Do you know if it has been considered to be able to set a "preference" to north vs south, so that at least we-who-want-North spend more time listening to dach over dych, "ydy o'n" instead of "yw e'n" etc. etc., given how the voice stuff appears to be mostly constructed(?).
I've found Duolingo a hugely useful tool for getting me started actually learning Welsh when I didn't in my first 10yrs there (long story), but I have found it somewhat frustrating getting the southern pronunciations all the time when I know I'll be living permanently in the north (as of like... next week! (still a long story)) - it has already made me start wondering whether I need to go for a different learning tool, but I have found that the Duolingo method is making stuff stick in my head very well so I'm somewhat loathe to jump ship.
No, it is not possible to set a preference for some forms over others.
In the long term you will need to be able to understand a wide range of accents and patterns, but that will come with further study and practice.
Only when you are regularly in a particular area will you pick up the local dialect and accent. Knowledge of the basics of the language will make that easier.
Thanks Gary, I may have to give it a go, since going by the reply above Duo's dead-set on not allowing the basics to be learned in a more North-friendly way.
It's a shame. I like Duo's game-like structure that's easy to digest, I have learned a lot from it, but the repeated "dych"s etc. have been getting under my skin since day 1. I'm almost never going to hear things said that way and so it's a near total waste of my time teaching me that way. Yes I'm getting a lot of the "basics", but if the "basics" are kinda-wrong then... well... bad foundations and all that.
I had the same problem when I first tried to learn Welsh... even though I was in the north, the "class" came with a southern book and language tape (you heard me... tapes... it was a while ago!). The "teacher" (there's a reason these are in quotes) was having to tell us to ignore so much of the material that almost the entire class quit after a few weeks...
At least I've managed to stick with Duo a lot longer and a lot further than I managed with that "course". I am learning stuff, I'm just not clear how much is going to be met with "that's not the right word" etc etc.
Honestly, I know that most of my dysgu Cymraeg is going to be in the deep-end once I'm there again... if I can bring myself to attend the pub-sessions hosted by the good folks from Canolfan Bedwyr in their spare time. :D
It really depends what you want to do with your Welsh, when you go there. When I started with saysomething, I started my own little dictionery, writing down all the words in their vocabulary list. However, their method of learning (High intensity language), is geared towards being able to hold a conversation first, then learn about the grammar etc. Much the way, in which a child learns to speak. They have a very good forum, support groups, bwtcamps etc. I have learnt more in 3 months than I did in my whole time in school
My only problem with SSIW is that it's listening based. You don't really get something to read, and when I tried using it, words looked different in my head when they said them, than they did when I then read them. I think potentially if you do as Yottskry, and use the two different courses to compliment each other, you'll have a better experience learning Welsh.
I'm hopeful that Duolingo at some point develops into something where people can set preferences, but I still think there's a little way to go yet, before that happens.
Those two variants mostly differ in spelling rather than words
That's just not true.
Nappy vs Diaper
Tap vs Faucet
Bonnet (of car) vs Hood
Dummy vs Pacifier
Lorry vs Truck
Rubber vs Eraser
Torch vs Flashlight
In American, collective nouns are followed by a singular verb; in English they're followed by the plural verb ("England has beaten Wales" vs "England have beaten Wales")
In American, "Should we go?" would be the normal way of asking the question; in English "Shall we go?" is more common.
In English there are many words in the past tense that end in -t that in American end in -ed (e.g. Learnt, Dreamt, Burnt, etc).
The point is, there are plenty of usage differences too.
And that fails to account for the many regional dialects within Britain itself. Is a bread roll a roll, a bap, a bun or a cob? Should the English courses on DuoLingo account for all of these differences too? After all, someone visiting the UK may need to know at least some of the dialect of the area they're visiting.
The differences between North and South Welsh are not much more pronounced that the differences in English I've highlighted above: different words for objects ("bachgen" vs "hogyn", for example) and some structural differences (gan vs gyda; efo vs gyda) but on the whole you should be understood and should understand others where ever in Wales you go.
Given the small number of contributors to the course, I repeat that it is unreasonable to expect two separate courses to be maintained, and, as Ibisc points out, there are really more than two main dialects anyway. Produce separate North and South courses and people will start saying "What about a North-West course? What about mid-West course?"
I stand corrected. I guess my knowledge of the English language is quite lacking. I don't even stick to one type of English myself, as my teachers were influenced from all over the place. Eventually though I think Duolingo should account for all the differences when it comes to English. Duo is constantly evolving and eventually I don't see why those changes won't come.
And yes, you're right, there's more than just north and south welsh, but this is where "demand" comes into the picture. I see a lot of posts about North and South but I don't see many regarding the other dialects. I know that it might be unreasonable to expect two separate courses to be maintained - at least by the same people. If it's possible to find more mods for the Welsh course, surely it would be less unreasonable?
A sidenote: where you say that we - as learners - should be understood wherever we go in Wales, that doesn't necessarily mean that we will understand everyone we meet in Wales.