Welsh Pronunciation

“Names are not always what they seem. The common Welsh name BZJXXLLWCP is pronounced Jackson.”

Puddinhead Wilson (Mark Twain, Following the Equator)

For an English speaker, Welsh is not easy.  The following is a quick guide:

a  ‘ah’ as in ‘rah’ (Caradog)

ae  ‘eye’ as in ‘my’ (Cadfael)

ai  ‘eye’ as in ‘my’ (Owain)

aw  ‘ow’ as in ‘cow’ (Alaw)

au  ‘eye’ as in ‘my’ (Dau)

c  a hard ‘c’ sound (Cadfael)

ch  a non-English sound as in Scottish ‘ch’ in ‘loch’ (Fychan)

dd  a buzzy ‘th’ sound, as in ‘there’ (Ddu; Gwynedd)

e  ‘eh’ as in ‘met’ (Ceri)

eu  ‘ay’ as in ‘day’ (Ddeufaen)

f  ‘v’ as in ‘of’ (Cadfael)

ff  as in ‘off’ (Gruffydd)

g  a hard ‘g’ sound, as in ‘gas’ (Goronwy)

i  ‘ee’ as in ‘see’ (Ceri)

ia  ‘yah’ as in ‘yawn’ (Iago)

ieu  sounds like the cheer, ‘yay’ (Ieuan)

l  as in ‘lamp’ (Llywelyn)

ll  a breathy /sh/ sound that does not occur in English (Llywelyn)

o  ‘aw’ as in ‘dog’ (Cadog)

oe  ‘oy’ as in ‘boy’ (Coel)

rh  a breathy mix between ‘r’ and ‘rh’ that does not occur in English (Rhys)

th  a softer sound than for ‘dd,’ as in ‘thick’ (Arthur)

u  a short ‘ih’ sound (Gruffydd), or a long ‘ee’ sound (Cymru—pronounced ‘kumree’)

w  as a consonant, it’s an English ‘w’ (Llywelyn); as a vowel, an ‘oo’ sound (Bwlch); wy has been known to be ‘oy’ as in ‘boy’, but wyn is ‘win’.

y  the only letter in which Welsh is not phonetic. It can be an ‘ih’ sound, as in ‘Gwyn,’ is often an ‘uh’ sound (Cymru), and at the end of the word is an ‘ee’ sound (thus, both Cymru—the modern word for Wales—and Cymry—the word for Wales in the Dark Ages—are pronounced ‘kumree’).

Some useful web pages for pronunciation:  http://www.kc3.co.uk/~bicycle/sideways/welsh.html



While reading about what these words sound like is useful, hearing it is even more so.  Below are some places where you can actually hear how this all is supposed to sound:

Basics:  http://www.heart-of-wales.co.uk/welsh.htm

Place names:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/whatsinaname/sites/howdoisay/


Video:  http://mylanguages.org/welsh_alphabet.php

Gwd lwc. Ai hop ddat yw can ryd ddys and ddat yt meiks sens tw yw. Iff yw can ryd ddys, dden yw ar dwing ffaen and wil haf no problems at ol yn lyrnyng awr ffaen Welsh alffabet.


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