A Welsh Pronunciation Guide - Sarah Woodbury

A Welsh Pronunciation Guide

I have other pronunciation guides to Welsh elsewhere (here, and here and Welsh Idioms here), but I made up a cheat sheet for some common names and places and thought I’d share. This is a rough approximation or English speakers. Remember, the /ll/ sound is not known in English and is something of a breathy ‘sh’ sound where you kind of blow out your cheeks while your tongue is on the roof of your mouth.

Abergavenny –Ah-bare-gah-VENN-ee
Aberystwyth –Ah-bare-IH-stwith
Afon Arthog – AH-von ARE-thog
Angharad –Angh-AR-ad
Anglesey – (this is a Viking name, so not a Welsh pronunciation)
Berwyn – BEAR-win
Bleddfa –BLETH-va
Bryn Glas –Brinn Glahs
Builth – (in Welsh, this is really Buellt, prounced BEE-e/sh/t):  http://www.forvo.com/word/buellt/
Cadair Idris – CAH-dire EE-drees
Cadwaladr –Cad-wall-A-der
Caerleon –Kire-LAY-on
Caernarfon – Kire -NAR-von
Caerphilly –Kire -FILL-ee
cariad – car-EE-ahd
Conwy – CON-wee
Cwm Llanerch – Coom  /SH/AN-er /ch/
Cymru – CUM-ree
Cymry – CUM-ree
Dafydd – DAH-vith  (this is with a ‘th’ that in English is the same as in ‘the’)
Darogan – Dar-O-gan
Deheubarth  – de-HAY-barth
Dewi – DEH-wee
Dinas Bran – DEE-nahs Brahn
Dolbadarn – Dol-BA-darn
Dolgellau – Doll-GE/SH/-eye
Enid – EH-need
Gethin – GEHTH-een
Glyndwr – GLUN-door
Glyndyfrdwy – Glun-duv-ER-dwee
Gruffydd Fychan – GRIFF-ith VUCK-an
Gwenllian –Gwen-/SH/EE-an
Gwladys – GooLAD-iss
Gwylim ap Tudur –  GWULL-eem  ap TIH-deer
Gwynedd – GWIN-eth
Hyddgen – HUTH-ghen
Ieuan –YAY-an
Iolo Goch – YO-lo gawk (with the ‘k’ barely heard and aspirated)
Laugharne – Lawn
Lechrydd – LECK-rith
Llandovery –/shl/an-dovery (this isn’t really a Welsh word, except for the beginning /shl/an)
Llyn Peris – /sh/in  PER-eess
Llys Bradwen – /sh/eece  BRAHD-wen
Llywelyn – /sh/ew-EL-in
Lowarch – LOW-ark (ow as in cow)
Mab – Mab
Machynlleth — Mack-/SH/UN-eth
Madoc – MA-doc
Maelgwn – MILE-goon
Maelienydd – Mile-ee-EN-ith
Maredydd – maar-ED-ith
Marged – MAR-ged (hard ‘g’)
Myfanwy –Muhv-AN-wee
Mynachdy –Minn-ACK-dee
Myrddin Emrys –MER-thin EM-riss  (th as in the)
Owain – OH-wine
Penmaenrhos – Pen-MINE-ross
Plynlimon – Plun-LEE-mon
Powys Fadog – POW-iss VA-dog
Pwll Melyn –Poo/sh/ MEL-in
Rhiannon – Ree-AH-non
Rhys Ddu – reese thee
Ruthin – RITH- een
Shrewsbury –as spelled in English
Sion – Shawn
Sycharth – SUH-karth
Tomos – TOM-oss
Treffgarne – TREFF-garn
Tywi –TUH-wee
uchelwyr –  ick-EL-weir
Usk – Isk

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/livinginwales/sites/howdoisay/map/howtosay.shtml


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 haFf no problems at ol yn lyrnyng awr ffaen Welsh alffabet.

13 Replies to “A Welsh Pronunciation Guide”

  1. Welsh born and in early stages of getting used to it. The village of Llanfair is a challenge. front and back third are ok! the middle is going to take time. Being in Australia for 57 years has taken its toll. Cheers people

  2. Is there an online (or even printed) dictionary that distinguishes between short and long vowels in spoken Welsh?

    1. In Welsh, ‘th’ is sound like in “three”. ‘dd’ is a sound like in ‘the’. We have the same sounds in English, but we just use the same letters to indicate it. Aberystwyth ends in a ‘th like three’ sound.

  3. Not sure what part of Wales you are from but some of your phonetics are way off. I have never said Dolgellau with an sh in the middle. Where did that come from?

  4. What a fun site you have here. I am enjoying reading it.
    Welsh is a very phonetic language & the alphabet has more letters, including groups of letters, & more of those letters being vowels, than English. ‘y’ is pronounced ‘uh’ when it is not the last syllable; as the last syllable it is pronounced ‘ih’. So, ‘Yn y’ would be pronounced ‘Un uh’ but ‘Celyn’ would be pronounced ‘Cel-in’.
    ‘W’, is a vowel, & is pronounced ‘oo’, but when in combination with ‘y’ (i.e. ‘wy’) is pronounced either ‘ooih’ or ‘oy’. ‘ll’ is pronounced more like ‘hl’. ‘rh’ tends to be pronounced ‘hr’ . ‘f’ has a ‘v’ sound but ‘ff’ is ‘f’. ‘ch’ is like the German or Scottish ‘ch’ (not sure how to write that sound in English). ‘u’ is pronounced ‘ih’. ‘e’ & ‘i’ are pronounced ‘ee’ . ‘ai’, ‘ae’ & ‘au’ are pronounced ‘ae’; ‘si’ is pronounced ‘sh’ for instance ‘siarad’ is pronounced ‘sha-rad’. ‘g’ is hard ‘g’ (as in gate), ‘dd’ the ‘th’ as in ‘this’ ‘th’ is ‘th as in ‘think’. There are probably more.
    Welsh word for Anglesey is ‘Ynys Môn’, pronounced ‘Un-ISS Mon’. (Where the Romans trapped the druids).
    A pronunciation for Machynlleth could be written ‘Mach-UN-hleth’. Aberystwyth more accurately ‘Ab-er-UST-ooith’. Cadair, ‘Cad-AER’. ‘Plynlimon’ is the Anglicised word for ‘Pumlumon’ pronounced ‘Pim-LI-mon’
    BTW I say ‘Shroesbury’, but, in my experience, most of the locals seem to say ‘Shroosury’ but he Welsh word for Shrewsbury is ‘Amwythig’ pronounced ‘Am-OY-thig’ 🙂

  5. Dyfrdwy always gets me tongue tied for some reason

    I like the way you avoided Shrewsbury – would you join the Sh-roo-sebury or the Sh-roe-sbury team ? 🙂 I prefer the second myself

    1. I’m American, so I can’t help but say “Shroosbury”. But I’ve heard the other. We were just there, too. I’d have to ask a native next time we visit 🙂

      1. If you haven’t found out yet, it’s Sh ROES bury.
        Wanna try Leominster? 😉
        (…and yes, I’m American too…)

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