welsh language

The Welsh language, although one of the oldest surviving languages in Europe, is still very much alive and healthy. This celtic language is spoken by around 70% of the inhabitants of Snowdonia, so don't be suprised if you hear it spoken - you are not being talked about, people are just going about their everyday business! You will, however, have no language difficulties, as everybody can speak English.

Here are some phrases that you might hear (click on the yellow speaker to download a .WAV file and hear the phrase):

Bore da   click to hear Good morning P'nawn da   click to hear Good afternoon
Noswaith dda   click to hear Good evening Nos da   click to hear Good night
Sut dach chi ?   click to hear How are you? Da iawn, diolch   click to hear Very well thank you
Sut mae ?   click to hear How are you? Reit dda   click to hear Fine thanks
Hwyl or Ta ra   click to hear Good bye Wela i chi eto   click to hear See you again


The Origins of the Language ...

In the early part of the 1st millennium BC a powerful and brilliant society emerged in West Central Europe around the headwaters of the River Danube - these people were the Celts. By the 5th century BC the British Isles were Celtic with the existing native population being absorbed into the new culture.

The Celtic language in the British Isles consisted of two distinct groups; Giodelic (Gaelic or Q-Celtic) and Brythonic (British or P-Celtic). Gaelic was spoken in Ireland, the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and the Isle of Man. The rest of Britain including Wales spoke Brythonic. With the Roman Invasion in 43AD onwards, the Brythonic language survived alongside Latin, and some Latin words were added to the language.

celtic language speaking areasAfter the Roman withdrawal in the early 5th century AD, Germanic tribes came across the North Sea to colonise Britain. These groups (generally known as the Anglo-Saxons) spoke a language that was the precursor of the English language, and the Celts in south-eastern Britain were absorbed into their culture. The Celtic west resisted fiercely, but Anglo-Saxon victories at Dyrham near Bath in 577AD, and Chester in 616AD, isolated the Celts of Wales from the Celts of south-west Britain and Cumbria respectively. Many Celts fled from Britain to Brittany in France.

From then the Brythonic language developed separately in Wales, Cornwall, Brittany and Cumbria, and the Welsh language was born. The Celtic language in Cumbria died out in the 14th century, but Welsh and Breton are still widely spoken, and Cornish having nearly died out is now experiencing a revival.



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