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A Collection Of Curious Words From The Welsh Language

Discover some of the unusual terms offered to the world by the Welsh language. Contains pronunciation guides and popular culture references!

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Dwarf + Dog = Corgi

Via giphy.com

CORGI is a Welsh word which other languages like English have borrowed.

It translates to 'dwarf dog'.

For a pack of more than one, the Welsh use the plural form 'corgwn' where the second syllable rhymes with 'moon'.

Hollywood: four words.... Welsh: one word

Centropolis Entertainment / Via centropolis.com

TRENNYDD translates to 'The Day After Tomorrow'.

Pronounce it 'tren-ith' where the final sound is like the 'th' in the word 'with'.

Useful time-related term

s3-ak.buzzfeed.com / Via walker.co.uk

The Welsh word ECHNOS translates to 'not last night but the night before'.

For example, if it's Monday morning, echnos would mean Saturday night.

It's pronounced 'ech-norse' where the 'ch' is made with the throat as in a Scottish 'loch'.

Cappuccino / Pyjamas / Ffilm / Blog / Bidet

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Like any other modern language, Welsh borrows the best words in other languages - from Europe and beyond.

Don't bother asking somebody from Wales what 'cappuccino' is in Welsh. They're likely to respond, 'well, what is cappuccino in English?'.

Here’s champion poet Rhys Iorwerth and his ode to the joys of the household bidet (which starts at 1:05 in the video).

The rhythms of Welsh poetry

S4C / Via s4c.co.uk

This is T.H. Parry-Williams, one of the masters of CYNGHANEDD which is a distinctive form of rhythmic alliteration found in many Welsh poems. Anyone can hear it - but even those fluent in Welsh may struggle to write it.

Pronounced 'kung-han-eth', where the final sound is like the 'th' in 'with'.

Sylfaen

Microsoft / Via microsoft.com

SYLFAEN translates to 'base' or 'foundation'. It's also a globally popular serifed font, although it's unclear why its Canadian designers chose a Welsh word for the name in 1998.

Many mispronunciations result from the 'f', which should be a 'v' sound. Pronounce it 'sul-vine'.

Welsh surnames that begin with 'P' and 'B'

Walt Disney Pictures / Via movies.disney.com

You may wonder why so many Welsh surnames begin with 'P' and 'B', as in the name of the actor Jonathan Pryce.

The key to this is 'ap' or 'ab' which translates to 'son of'.

'Owain son of Hywel' would be Owain ap Hywel (the name of two different kings who ruled parts of Wales in the 10th century).

The surnames you see today were based on these patronymic forms. Some examples:

Parry = ap Harri

Powell = ap Hywel

Price or Pryce or Preece = ap Rhys

Protheroe = ap Rhydderch

Prichard or Pritchard = ap Richard

Probert = ap Robert

Beynon = ab Eynon

Bowen = ab Owen

As easy as A, B, C, CH

Menter Abertawe / Via menterabertawe.org

LLYTHRENNAU are letters and there are 28 in the Welsh alphabet including CH, DD, NG, LL, PH and RH. Yeah, those are individual letters.

Any time you see LL just form your mouth as if to make an 'L' and just blow air instead. It's a voiceless sound. There are two of them in the town name Llanelli.

Cawl

Via thelibraryisnowopen.tumblr.com

CAWL is a tasty Welsh stew containing onion, leek, carrot, potato and often lamb meat.

As it happens, this English music mogul has an alternative Welsh interpretation to his name.

In south Walian dialect, 'Simon Cowell' sounds very much like 'I don't want tasty stew'.

Hwyl

Dyfal Donc / Via dyfaldonc.com

There is no direct translation of HWYL in English.

The dictionary offers:

A healthy physical or mental condition, good form, one’s right senses, wits; tune (of a musical instrument); temper, mood, frame of mind; nature, disposition; degree of success achieved in the execution of a particular task etc; fervour (especially religious), ecstasy, unction, gusto, zest... (Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru)

Pronunciation-wise, it sort of rhymes with 'oil'.

Goodbyes often use this word. At the end of the conversation it's like wishing a bunch of hwyl on your friend, e.g. 'pob hwyl!', 'hwyl fawr!' or just 'hwyl!'.

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