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Language Reference Guide For Welsh
Posted on Saturday, October 13 @ 03:35:03 EDT
Topic: Lingustics

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1. Grammar and Spelling
2. Punctuation
3. Measurements and Abbreviations
4. Hyphenation
5. Miscellaneous Peculiarities
6. Geographic Distribution
7. Character Set

Section One - Grammar and Spelling

There are 28 letters in the Welsh alphabet and it is a phonetic language. Therefore, there are specific letters for sounds which are not to be found, for instance, in English, e.g. ll, ch. And being a phonetic language, only c is used to convey the k sound, for instance. U is a vowel in Welsh (similar to the German umlaut). W can be either a vowel or a consonant.

1. Accents: These are used in Welsh to indicate a change in the position of the stress - normally on the penultimate syllable - and in the length of a vowel. The most common accent is the circumflex, which lengthens a vowel which is normally short. The word then will have a different meaning, e.g, tan (under), tân (fire); gwen (white - feminine form), gwên (smile). They are used with both lower and upper case.

2. Genders: Welsh has two noun genders: masculine and feminine, but no neuter. Some adjectives also have masculine and feminine forms which are used according to the gender of the nouns as in French. The gender of nouns is also an important consideration in the 'mutation' system peculiar to Celtic languages, in which the initial letters of words 'mutate' in particular circumstances, e.g. feminine singular nouns mutate after the definite article, but masculine singular nouns do not. (See notes on mutations later).

3. Word order: The noun normally precedes the adjective, apart from some notable exceptions like 'hen' (old), e.e. hen ddyn (old man) causing a mutation even in plural nouns and masculine singular nouns. This happens also in poetic instances.

4. Cases: There aren't any in modern Welsh. Some numerals also have masculine and feminine forms which also have to 'agree' with the gender of the nouns. These might appear strange as you might get dau (masculine two) and dwy (feminine two) in the same sentence.

5. Plurals: There are many ways of forming plurals in Welsh but the most common is the adding of the suffix 'au' to the singular form, e.g. llyfr - llyfrau. This is not always as simple as it looks since the adding of 'au' sometimes causes a change in the vowel of the word stem, e.g. drws - drysau. Other common plural forms are formed by adding - 'iau', 'ion', 'od', 'i', 'oedd'. 'ydd' generally becomes 'yddion'. Some words change a vowel to form the plural, e.g. porth - pyrth, fforc - ffyrc.

Other languages mostly take the plural form of the noun after a numeral or ordinal. But Welsh uses the singular of the noun, as the numeral/ordinal is considered to be an adjective, e.e. deg merch (ten girl).

6. One-letter words: There are many common one-letter words in Welsh, including 'y' (the definite article), which becomes '’r' after a vowel and 'yr' before a vowel, and 'a' the Welsh word for 'and'. There are also common one-letter prepositions - i, o and â.

7. Capitalisation: The use of upper case is generally as in English, but care should be taken not to run an English spell check or Microsoft's autocorrect in case a Welsh 'i' is corrected to an upper case 'I'. Office 2000 now has Welsh as one of its language options.

In general capitalisation is the same as in English. As for headings, titles and bullets, the same pattern as that of the English document is used. However, one- or two-letter words in Welsh titles sometimes look better in lower case, e.g. Daily News - Newyddion y Dydd.

8. Apostrophes: The apostrophe is used as in English, for instance, that is, to indicate the elision of two vowels.

Section Two - Punctuation

Welsh punctuation generally follows the same pattern as English, but should not do so slavishly. Helping to clarify the meaning should be the main consideration.

Section Three - Measurements and Abbreviations

1. Measurements: Both Imperial and metric measurements are used.

Decimal points and thousands separators, same as English text.

Currency: same as in English, except for C (ceiniog) for P (penny).

Times and dates: the same abbreviated forms are used as in English.
However, if the date is written in full in English, e.g. 25th, the abbreviations which refer to the English 'th' vary greatly according to the number and can be af, il, edd, ydd, ed, eg, ain.

When the time is expressed in whole words, the equivalent Welsh wording is used, e.g. noon = canol dydd, midnight = canol nos.

2. Abbreviations:

Equivalent abbreviations:
N/a = Amh (Amherthnasol)
No. = Rhif or rhifau (would not abbreviate)
e.g. = e.e (er enghraifft)
i.e. = h.y.
Q&A = C ac A (Cwestiwn ac Ateb)
WxLxHxD = hyd x lled x uchder x dyfnder (would not abbreviate)

Other abbreviations:
D.S. = N.B.
O.N. = P.S.
Etc. or 'ac ati' (Ayb should NOT be used) = etc.

The only abbreviations of measurements which might look strange would be those used for Imperial distances and weights:
Tr (troedfedd) = Ft
Mt sg = square metre
M (milltir) = mile
Ps (pwys) = lbs (pounds)
C (ceiniog) = pence (lit. penny)
However, since these words are becoming less familiar, it is generally likely that they would be written out in full.

Section Four - Hyphenation

1. Hyphenation: Hyphenation is quite common in Welsh. Compound words are often formed with the following prefixes ail/ad/dad/di/prif/cam/ and if the remainder of the word is one syllable, then a hyphen is used, e.g. Ail-ddweud (to repeat, literally to re-say). In other words, it is used to indicate that the stress is not on the normal penultimate syllable. This happens very frequently in placenames, e.g. Pen-bryn and Penbryn, Llanycil and Llan-y-coed. Hyphens are also used within words to separate a 'd' from a 'dd' (e.g. hyd-ddi).

2. End-of-line hyphenation: The rules for this are as follows:

- In splitting words over a line, one basic rule which might not be clear to a non-native speaker is the fact that some double consonants in Welsh are actually one letter. (See character set). These double consonants should never be split by a hyphen.
- It is a good idea to split a word with a hyphen after the prefixes listed above and as a general rule, the first syllable of a long word is often a prefix, and splitting after the first syllable between two consonants is a pretty good bet (as long as those two consonants aren't a single character).
- The last syllable in a monosyllable is often the suffix and can be inserted after a hyphen.
- The plural suffixes listed under plural of nouns above can follow a hyphen.
There are so many exceptions to these rules that it is very difficult to generalise. For example, the rule regarding hyphenating before a plural suffix is generally sound, but a road sign to a place called Tremeirchion caused uproar locally because it was hyphenated according to this rule: Tremeirchion. The natural hyphenation would have split the word into its two natural components: 'tre' and 'meirchion' and hyphenated between them.

In general, however, the common sense do's and don'ts that apply in English also apply in Welsh, apart from the double consonant rule in relation to the particular Welsh character set.

Section Five - Miscellaneous Peculiarities

The main peculiarity of the Welsh language is the mutation system. In brief, it involves the changing of initial consonant of words in particular circumstances. There are three types of mutation: soft mutation, aspirate mutation and nasal mutation.

The soft mutation is the most common. There are 32 rules for its use! In a soft mutation -
c >g
g> -


[These changes occur for many reasons but the most common are:
- To feminine nouns after the definite article, i.e. cadair (a chair) becomes y gadair (the chair)
- To adjectives after feminine nouns
- After the possessive pronouns dy (2nd sing) and ei (3rd sing masculine)
- After the following prepositions - ar/am/at/gan/heb/i/o/dan/dros/drwy/wrth/hyd
- The direct object of a verb also often mutates in this way]

Aspirate mutations occur as follows:

These are not so common.

Nasal mutations:

These also occur less frequently than the soft mutation.

It is very important for anyone proofreading Welsh to be aware of these because the word Cymru (Wales), for example, might appear as Cymru, Gymru, Chymru or Nghymru - depending on the grammatical construction of the sentence.

Section Six - Geographic Distribution

Welsh, the language of Wales, is spoken by about 600,000 people, or less than 25 percent of the Welsh population. Like Gaelic, which is spoken in Ireland and parts of Scotland, Breton in Brittany, Cornish in Cornwall and Manx in the Isle of Man, Welsh is one of the Celtic languages which constitute one of the many branches of the Indo-European family. There is still a close resemblance between these Celtic languages, but Welsh is by far the strongest of the group. Celtic tribes entered Britain sometime after the 5th century B.C. The Anglo-Saxon invasions many centuries later drove the Welsh into the west, where they retained their Celtic speech and remained a distinctive people.

Welsh is spoken/used in the following countries:
United Kingdom, Wales; Patagonia in Argentina.
Welsh and English have equal status within Wales.
Language Family: Indo-European
Subgroup: Celtic
Branch: Brythonic

Source: http://www.worldlanguage.com/Languages/Welsh - Copyright © Kenneth Katzner, The Languages of the World, Published by Routledge.

Section Seven - Character Set

[ ] = Alt key codes

a â [0226] à [0224] á [160] ä [0228]A Â [0194] À [0192] Á [0193] Ä [0196]
c C
ch Ch
e ê [0234] è [0232] é [130] ë [0235] E Ê [0202] È [0200] É [144] Ë [0203]
g G
ng Ng
h H
i î [0238] ì [0236] ï [0239] I Î [0206] Ì [0204] Ï [0207]
n N
o ô [0244] ò [0242] ó [162] ö [0246]O Ô [0212] Ò [0210] Ó [0211] Ö [0214]
p p
s S
t T
u û [0251] ù [0249] ü [0252]U Û [0219] Ù [0217] Ü [0220]
w w ? ? W W
y ý [0253] ÿ [0255] ? y Y Ý [0221] Ÿ [0159] ? Y

By Wordbank Ltd,
TEL: +44 (0) 20 7903 8800, FAX: +44 (0) 20 7903 8888,


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