Author Topic: Welsh pronunciations  (Read 5693 times)

Ed Lecuyer

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Welsh pronunciations
« on: January 08, 2009, 01:56:56 AM »
MODERATORS NOTE:
Welsh pronunciations has been converted from the pre-July 2008 WW&F Discussion Forum.
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James Patten wrote:
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Pronunciation of welsh words used to stymie me before I went over there.  Now it's moderately easy to figure out how something is said.
However, one combination of letters continues to stump me: The double l.  What is the sound to use?  Words like Talyllyn, Llandudno, and my favorite unpronuncable, Pwllheli.
Frank Knight was told to use kind of "shh" sound, but it seems more complicated than that.

Glenn Christensen replied:
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Hi James,
As I was instructed by several of the Welsh during our trip ...
Tal-y-llyn is pronounced Tal  (like "pal"); Y is pronounced "ee" (as in "week");  and llyn is pronounced "Th-linn"
Llandudno is pronounced "th-lann"; "dood" (as in good), "no" (as in no).
Best Regards,
Glenn

jlancasterd replied:
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Hi James,
As I was instructed by several of the Welsh during our trip ...
Tal-y-llyn is pronounced Tal  (like "pal"); Y is pronounced "ee" (as in "week");  and llyn is pronounced "Th-linn"
Llandudno is pronounced "th-lann"; "dood" (as in good), "no" (as in no).
Best Regards,
Glenn
Glenn
I think that you will find that most *north* welsh people (there are considerable  differences between the welsh spoken in the north and south of the country) will pronounce 'Y' as 'uh' with a hardish 'u'.
The 'll' sound is more difficult to describe as it is a throat sound - rather akin to the sound of clearing ones throat in fact... ( ). It is probably best described as a combination of a throaty hard 'c', and th.
In welsh the 'u' is pronounced like an 'i' in english, so the middle section of Llandudno is pronounced 'did'.
At one stage the Ffestiniog Railway terminated in the middle of nowhere at a place called Dduallt - the pronunciation of which caused all sorts of amusing attempts by english visitors when they didn't just resort to asking for 'a ticket to the end of the line'. The closest I can do in print is 'Thiacht' with a hard c.
John Dobson
Editor FR Magazine

Glenn Christensen replied:
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Thanks John!
Always looking to improve.  I think I understand what you're saying about the "ll" sound.  The hard "C" followed immediaye;y by the 'Th" does sound like someone clearing their throat.
How do you pronounce, Duffws?
Best Regards,
Glenn

jlancasterd replied:
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Thanks John!
Always looking to improve.  I think I understand what you're saying about the "ll" sound.  The hard "C" followed immediaye;y by the 'Th" does sound like someone clearing their throat.
How do you pronounce, Duffws?
Best Regards,
Glenn
The double ff is the welsh f (a single f is pronounced as a v) and the 'w' is a double 'o'  (oo) sound
Duffws is therefore pronounced approximately 'Difoos'
Regards
John

Steve Klare replied:
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My favorite of them all has always been Tan Y Bwlch, since I've never, ever seen another word without a vowel in my entire lifetime.
It was a complete mystery to me until I got a a film on the Ffestiniog and actually heard it pronounced. It is something like "Tan Y Boocch" with the "oo" being as in "foot", and the "cch" being as in "I'm trying to clear my throat."
What do the "Tal Y" and "Tan Y" prefixes to place names mean?
In the 1970s, the British Film Board produced a series of short films about railroads all over the UK.  They had to hire a new narrator when they did the films on the Welsh narrow gauge lines because the English narrator couldn't handle speaking the Welsh place names.

jlancasterd replied:
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My favorite of them all has always been Tan Y Bwlch, since I've never, ever seen another word without a vowel in my entire lifetime.
It was a complete mystery to me until I got a a film on the Ffestiniog and actually heard it pronounced. It is something like "Tan Y Boocch" with the "oo" being as in "foot", and the "cch" being as in "I'm trying to clear my throat."
What do the "Tal Y" and "Tan Y" prefixes to place names mean?
In the 1970s, the British Film Board produced a series of short films about railroads all over the UK.  They had to hire a new narrator when they did the films on the Welsh narrow gauge lines because the English narrator couldn't handle speaking the Welsh place names.
Ah! But 'w' *is* a vowel in Welsh!
Tan  Y Bwlch is another of the FR's names that causes the eyes of English visitors to glaze over... The most common effort is 'Tanny belch'...
Bwlch is actually pronounced 'Boolch' with a hard c.
Tan y Bwlch means 'under the pass' - i.e just below the summit of the road through the pass leading to Rhyd and Croesor.

Steve Klare replied:
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"W" becoming a vowel gives me the idea that Welsh originally was written in another alphabet and that the Roman alphabet was kind of adapted to substitute for the characters in the old one. Is this true?

petecosmob replied:
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I think you may be on the right track there Steve.
I'll have to check "The Philosopher And The Druids," but I belive it made serious note of the Welsh dialect being the closest to the original Celtic language. I'll look it up tonite. 

Jon Chase replied:
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Steve,
ENGLISH was originally written in another alphabet!  You can read a bit of an overview of the subject here:
http://www.omniglot.com/writing/oldenglish.htm
Eventually, in the case of English as with so many other languages, you are correct that "the Roman alphabet was kind of adapted to substitute for the characters in the old one."   As a result, some Welsh words may appear to be written with no vowels but are pronounced with one, just as some Maine words are written with one vowel but pronounced with at least three.
Ed Lecuyer
Moderator, WW&F Forum