Appendix:Welsh pronunciation

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Welsh[edit]

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The Welsh language[edit]

The Welsh language (called Cymraeg in Welsh) has 28 letters. The Latin alphabet is used (i.e. as in English, French, Polish, etc.), but letters sometimes represent different sounds in Cymraeg. It is this variation that sometimes confuses English speakers when they see "impossible" combinations like bwr or words such as chwyddwydr ('magnifying glass'). Fortunately, the pronunciation of Welsh words is regular and phonetic. Only two sounds, ll and ew, will be difficult to master.

There are no silent letters. Every letter has a sound, and the sound is vocalized in spoken Welsh. The letters J, K, Q, V, X and Z are not included in the Welsh alphabet, but are sometimes found in borrowed words. When present, these letters have their English sounds.

There are regional differences in Welsh pronunciation, but standard Welsh is understood by Welsh speakers everywhere. The pronunciation guide below approximates the Welsh letter sounds by using standard English examples.

IPA for Welsh[edit]

The charts below show the way in which the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) represents Welsh pronunciations in Wiktionary entries.

See Welsh phonology at Wikipedia for a more thorough look at the sounds of Welsh.

Consonants
IPA Examples English equivalent
b bach, cwbl, mab be
d dydd, cadw, tad do
diawl, garej just
ð ddydd, deuddeg the
f ffenest, cyffredin, corff, phen find
ɡ glân, cegin, cig get
h haul, gwahanol have
j iaith, geiriadur you
k cig, acw, ac can
l leicio, ei lyfr, Alban, bol like
ɬ llyfr, cyllell No English equivalent; similar to the voiceless l in please but with considerably more friction
m mab, cymaint, dim me
fy mhen, cymharu wormhole
n nerth, anadlu, gwyn no
fy nhad, brenhines unhappy
ŋ fy ngwely, rhwng, dangos[1] thing, finger
ŋ̊ yng Nghymru, anghywir Shanghai
p pen, copa, map please
r radio, ei restr, garw, r right but trilled
rhestr, diarhebion Voiceless r as in pretty but trilled
s Saesnes, swsus see
ʃ siop she
t tatws, at time
wats chance
θ thad, athro, peth think
v faint, ei fab, afal, arf very
w wedyn, ei wraig, cywir was
χ chwaer, ei chath, bwlch No common English equivalent; Scots loch or Yinglish chutzpah
Monophthongs
IPA Examples English equivalents
a sant, pàs pant, fan
ɑː mab, sâl father
peth, trên face (but monophthongal, as in Welsh English)
ə ysgrifenyddes about
ɛ perth well
hir, sgîl
tŷ, llun (South Wales)
be
ɪ tipyn, dim
gwyn, punt (South Wales)
it
ɨ̞ gwyn, punt (North Wales) fin, pinch
ɨː tŷ, llun (North Wales) tea, keen
bro, côt roar, thaw
ɔ bron cloth
cwch, dŵr, mwg you, fool
ʊ cwm, mg good
Diphthongs
IPA Examples English equivalents
ai̯ tai
cau, nesáu, hael, cae (South Wales)
I
aɨ̯ cau, nesáu (North Wales)
au̯ llaw around
ɑɨ̯ hael, cae (North Wales)
ɛu̯ llew
əi̯ Seisnig
gwneud (South Wales)
say, make
əɨ̯ gwneud (North Wales)
əu̯ bywyd
ɪu̯ lliw
Duw, menyw (South Wales)
ɨu̯ Duw, menyw (North Wales)
ɔi̯ osgoi
coeden (South Wales), ymarhous (South Wales)
boy
ɔɨ̯ coeden (North Wales), ymarhous (North Wales)
ɔu̯ rhowch
ʊi̯ mwy, gŵyl (South Wales)
ʊɨ̯ mwy, gŵyl (North Wales)
Other symbols used in transcription of Welsh pronunciation
IPA Explanation
ˈ Primary stress (placed before the stressed syllable), for example ysgrifenyddes [əsɡriveˈnəðes]
  1. ^ dangos has a voiced velar plosive, ɡ, after the velar nasal, ŋ, as in English finger

The Welsh alphabet[edit]

Vowels[edit]

The vowels are A, E, I, O, U, W, and Y. All the vowels can be lengthened by the addition of a circumflex, called to bach in Welsh.

a is always as in can, ham, or man, never long as in may. The Welsh words am and ac are pronounced as they would be in English.
e by itself is always as in get, pet, and let. However, the letter E has a different sound in the three diphthongs.
i has the I sound as in bin or pin, or a long E sound as in seen or queen.
o has the O sound as in hot or the long sound as in toe.
u has the sound of long EE, as in see.
w has the sound of OO as in boot and shoot, or of U as in pull. Note, however, that W can also be used as a consonant with the English W sound.
y has two different sounds. In one-syllable words (llyn), and in the last syllable of polysyllabic words (estyn), it is a shortened EE sound as at the end of happy. (Note the different sound in ywy, however). In other contexts (in non-final syllables of polysyllabic words) it is pronounced as the obscure vowel schwa, as in the first syllable of the English word about (e.g. ystyr, pronounced uh s t ii r, where uh represents schwa).
The preceding rules for y apply to South Welsh accents. In areas of North Wales, the non-schwa pronunciation of y is less like English EE and more of a guttural sound, formed further back in the mouth.

Diphthongs[edit]

Ae, Ai and Au are all pronounced as English eye.
Aw has the sound of ow as in how and now.
Eu and Ei are pronounced as long A, or the ay sound in say.
Ew is difficult for English speakers because there is no direct equivalent. It is approximately eh-oo or ow-oo, but the correct sound is between those examples.
Iw or I'w is ee-you with the ee sound very short. It is similar to the English yew.
Oe has the sound of Oi or Oy.
Ow is pronounced the same as English row, tow, or throw.
Wy has the sound of oo-ee or a short Wi sound as in win.
Yw or Y'w is the same as Iw above.
Ywy (considered a diphthong even though it has three letters) has the sound of ow-ee as in the name Howie.

Consonants[edit]

  • B is the same as English B as in beer.
  • C is the Welsh K. It is always hard, as in can or cane, never soft as in once.
  • Ch is a glottal Kh sound, as in the Scottish loch.
  • D is the same as English D as in dog.
  • Dd has the sound of voiced TH, as in this or there.
  • F always has the sound of V, as in have or very.
  • Ff is the same as English F as in first.
  • G is always hard as in go or good, never soft as in manage.
  • Ng has the English NG sound as in singer, though in some words it has the NG+G sound of finger.
  • H is the same as English H, but it is always pronounced, never silent.
  • L is the same as English L as in long.
  • Ll is a sound with no English equivalent. It is a voiceless alveolar lateral fricative formed by pronouncing L while allowing air to escape around the tongue; the English thl of athlete (or slat pronounced with a lisp) is vaguely similar.
  • M is the same as English M as in many.
  • N is the same as English N as in no or never.
  • P is the same as English P as in poor or party.
  • Ph is the same as ff
  • R is the same as English R as in right, but rolled.
  • Rh is pronounced as HR; that is, a slight H sound comes before the R sound.
  • S is the same as English S as in say.
  • Si is the same as English Sh as in show.
  • T is the same as English T as in turn.
  • Th is English voiceless TH, as in think or three. Note difference from the voiced Dd.
  • W, when used as a consonant, has the English W sound as in work.