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
|Sut dach chi ?
||How are you?
||Da iawn, diolch
||Very well thank you
|Sut mae ?
||How are you?
||Wela i chi eto
||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
After 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
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.