The Welsh alphabet consists of twenty simple letters and eight digraphs (two letters combining to produce a different sound, as with ch and th), an unusual feature to include in an alphabet. Welsh has no j, k, q, l, x or z. Most of the simple letters present no difficulties, but it should be noted that c is always pronounced to correspond with the English k, f with v and s with ss.
The Welsh alphabet:
a b c ch d dd e f ff g ng h i l ll m n o p ph r rh s t th u w y
Pronunciation of digraphs:
ch as in loch ll ch followed by l
dd as in that ph as in pharmacy
ff as in fair rh as in Rhein
ng as in singing th as in thin
In almost all Welsh words, the stress falls on the last syllable, but one: gorymdaith; athro; ammnydifуad. In those cases where the stress falls on the last syllable, it is usually the result of a contraction in the word: Cymraeg was originally Cym-ra-eg, and paratoi pa-ra-to-i. Some words borrowed from English also retain the original accentuation: apel; polisi; paragraff.
The noun has two genders, masculine and a feminine. The "it" of English doesn't exist.
As an French everything is either "he" or "she". Some adjectives have masculine and feminine forms. Thus gwyn (white) is (g)wen when following a feminine forms. Some adjectives also have singular and plural forms. Dyn tew is a fat man, dynion tewnion fat men. Where plurals are concerned, Welsh recognises that some things come in pairs. Thus llaw (hand) has the plural dwylaw (two hands). To anyone used to English plurals, with almost universal addition of s, the variety of Welsh plural forms can appear wilfully multifarious. There are seven ways of forming the plural.
Plural forms in Welsh:
adding a termination: afal (apple) afalau
vowel change: bran (crow) brain
adding a termination with a vowel change: mab (son) meibion
dropping a singular ending: pluen (feather) plu
dropping a singular ending with a vowel change: hwyadden (duck) hwyaid
substituting a plural for a singular ending: cwningen (rabbit) cwningod
substituting a plural ending for a singular with vowel change: miaren (bramble) mieri
The numerals in Welsh also have distinctive features. Twenty is the basic unit in counting: ugain (twenty), deugain (two twenties - forty), trigain (three twenties - sixty), pedwar ugain (four twenties - eighty), followed by cant (a hundred) and sometimes by chwe ugain (six twenties - a hundred and twenty). The teens offer interesting complications: fourteen is pedwar ar ddeg (four plus ten), and eighteen is deunaw (two nines).
In English, the order of the words in sentence is subject, verb, object, indirect object. (The girl gave a book to her friend) In Welsh it is verb, subject, object, indirect object:
Rhoddodd y ferch lyfr i'w chyfaill
Gave the girl a book to her friend
This order can be varied for the sake of emphasis or to ask a question:
Ceffyl a welodd y plentyn?
Horse saw the child (Was it a horse the child saw?)
The adjective is almost always placed after the noun. When it is not, the meaning may be different. Ci unig means a lonely dog, but unig gi means the only dog; hen gyfaill means a friend of long standing, but cyfaill hen means an aged friend.
The genitive expressed in English by an apostrophe s, is expressed in Welsh by putting what is owned immediately before the owner: ci Lowri - Lowri's dog; ty y dyn - the man's house.
It is very interesting to say that written Welsh and spoken Welsh are very different. For a example, it is continued use in written Welsh of the ending nt in the third person plural of the verb, as in daethant (they came), which in speech becomes daethan. Another example is hwy, which in speech becomes nhw.
"I sing" in standard written Welsh is canaf, but the usual spoken form is yr wyf i canu (I am singing). This use of the verb to be (yr wyr) with the verb noun (canu) may have been inherited by the incoming Celts from the pre-Celtic population. The construction has been copied in English to give the form "I am singing", a construction not found in other Germanic languages.
Although Welsh has no indefinite article. Thus, the dog is y ci, but a dog is simply ci. This a feature Welsh shares with the other Celtic language, as is the conjugation of prepositions and the absence of over purpose words for years and no.
Although Welsh has absorbed words from other languages, Latin, French and particularly English among them, its basic vocabulary is still largely of Celtic origin. This is also true of more technical words. Thus, while English words such as national, political, industrial and philosophical have equivalents in French, German, and other European languages which are very similar, Welsh uses its own indigenous words - cenedlaethol, gwleidyddol, diwydiannol and athronyddol. Indeed, it has a very considerable ability to coin words from its resources, although the sloppy speech of many Welsh-speakers, overloaded as it is with unnecessary English borrowings, can give the contrary impression.
The Welsh language has survived at all. Since the act of union in 1536 when it was virtually banned, it has been subjected to direct and indirect bombardment which should have demolished it once and for all. It has been neglected and discouraged for over four hundred years yet it is still very much alive. Today it is tolerated by many, rejected by many. It is used by a large number of people as a natural means of communication.
Now the scholars discussed the problem of the position of the Wales language. It could be claimed that its position is precisely in the centre, a point emphasised by Tom Nail in his analysis of the non-state nationalities of Europe. Although the Welsh-speakers are by no means among the larger groups, Welsh has a far higher status than several of the more widely spoken languages. Although the density factor if fairly low, Welsh-speakers live in a country, the other inhabitants of which recognise their kinship with the language, a bonus of immerse importance. The centrality of Welsh is interesting in itself. It may also be important, for if Welsh can solve its problems, other languages can hope to do so too
1. Davies Janet, The Welsh language, Cardiff, 1993.
2. Green Mirinda, The Celtic World, London, 1996.
3. Williams Stephen, A Welsh grammar, Cardiff, 1995.
4. McDowall David, An illustrated history of Britain, London, 1995
5. Khimunina T.N., Customs, traditions and Festivals of Great Britain, Moscow, 1984.
6. Zaitseva S. D., Early Britain, Moscow, 1975.
7. Discover Welsh, London, 1997.
8. Clementiyev A.G., English literature, Moscow, 1968.