Pronouncing Welsh Words and Place Names - Sarah Woodbury

Pronouncing Welsh Words and Place Names

During my trip to Wales last spring, I finally had the chance to really see how bad my Welsh pronunciation was. After two weeks, it was really getting better, but I am by no means an expert. If you want to pronounce the names accurately, the following is a good start.  I can testify that the pronunciation below for Llangollen, for example, is exactly right.  Remember, in Welsh, the emphasis in on the second to last syllable in a word.

This post is to follow up on the pronunciation guide.

First off are two fabulous maps with audio place names for Wales:

Below is a quick guide to just a few Welsh place-names:

Cymru:  kum-ree

Caernarfon:  kyre-nar-von

Beddgelert:  beth-gel-airt

Llanberis:  /sh/-an-ber-ris

Llangollen:  /sh/an-go/sh/-en

Felindre:  veh-leen-dreh

Gwynedd:  gwin-eth

Afon Dee:  av-on dee

Bwlch:  boolch

Castell Coch:  kas-te/sh/t koch

Dinas Emrys:  dinnass emm-riss

Ynys Mon:  un-iss mon


English Welsh Rough Pronunciation
thanks diolch dee-olck
thanks very much diolch yn fawr dee-olck unn vowr
please plis please
OK iawn ee-yown (rhymes with gown)
good morning bore da bor-eh dah
good afternoon prynhawn da prin-hown dah
good evening noswaith dda noss-wythe-ah
good night nos da noss dah
hello helo hello
cheerio, goodbye hwyl who-ill
currant bread bara brith barrah breeth
leek soup cawl cennin cowl kennin

4 Replies to “Pronouncing Welsh Words and Place Names”

  1. The pronunciations for ch are wrong i.e. diolch is not dee-olck – the ch sound comes from the back of the throat, like clearing your throat! Also LL is not pronounced ‘thl’ , but I can’t think of a way to write down the sound (push the tip of your tongue against the back of your top teeth and make the sound come from each side – best I can explain!). Other than that the pronunciations are quite good!

    1. I agree completely with both of those. The problem is trying to convey the sound using written English! Thanks for your comments. Hopefully people will click on the audible links and get a better idea of what those should be.

  2. Just wondering if you could recommend a good site to research my Welsh ancestry. Like you did, my mother named us all Welsh names, Peter, Pamela, Roxanne, Kendrick, Megan, Brian.

    Enjoy you books in general but especially with the Welsh connection.

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