Gogs a Hwntws

The other day I was talking to a native Welsh speaker from South Wales who has lived in North Wales for many years. I mentioned that people in shops here sometimes switch to English when I talk to them in Welsh, and she told me that the same thing happens to her sometimes.

Apparently the South Wales accent is associated with Welsh learners, and this applies not just to actual learners, but also to native Welsh speakers from South Wales like my friend, who speaks North Walian dialect with a South Walian accent and therefore sounds a bit like a learner. She also told me that she tries to speak North Walian dialect because people round here find South Walian dialects difficult to understand.

In colloquial spoken Welsh and informal written Welsh there are plenty of differences between northern and southern varieties. Some examples of grammatical differences include:

North Walian South Walian Formal Welsh English
Mae gen/gin i … Mae … ‘da fi Mae gynnyf … I have …
Sgin i … Sdim … ‘da fi Does gynnyf … I don’t have …
Mi (w)nes i dweud Mi/Fe ddwedes i Dwedais I said…
Ti isio …? Ti moyn …? Yr wyt ti eisiau …? Would you like …?

The auxiliary verb gwneud (to do) plus the main verb (in this example, dweud – to say) are used to form the past tense in North Wales. In South Wales and in formal Welsh the past tense endings are applied to the main verb, and the personal pronouns are not used in formal Welsh.

Differences in vocabulary include:

  • llefrith (NW) llaeth (SW) = milk
  • pres (NW) arian (SW) = money – [pres = brass & arian = silver]
  • agoriad (NW) allwedd (SW) = key
  • cenllysg (NW) cesair (SW) = hail
  • dodrefn (NW) celfi (SW) = furniture
  • crio / wylo (NW) llefain (SW) = to cry
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This entry was posted in English, Language, Welsh.

4 Responses to Gogs a Hwntws

  1. Yenlit says:

    It’s the same with the North/South divide in England. It might rain or have heavy snow in London and the rest of the country has to go on red alert! As the British media is so London-centric so too is the Welsh media centred on hwntw Cardiff which causes a bit of animosity with Gogs. In very simplistic terms Gogs consider the Hwntws affected, posh, urbanite and in the reverse Gogs perceived as rural, unsophisticated etc. by the Hwntws much the same between the North and South in England. All very insular and silly of course!

  2. Macsen says:

    Gog – from the Welsh word Gogledd (north)

    Hwntw – I believe from ‘tu hwnt’ (beyond)

    Gog seems to be quite a recent invention, from the 1960s maybe. Before then Welsh people would refere (in English) to people from ‘North Wêls’ or ‘Sowth Wêls’ … Why in English? Maybe it subconsciously underlined how devided the country was and had been forced to view itself through the prism of the metropolis?

  3. Adam says:

    Sorry to be pedantic but its Mae gennyf i in formal welsh not gynnyf.

    Also it’s nonsense about there being a problem understanding. I think it’s snobbery in an extent where many north walians believe their welsh to be purer from some silly reason which isn’t true hence they turn to English. I have never had this problem however but I live in a Welsh speaking community in the south and therefore my accent is only welsh I suppose. It depends on where youfr from, I wouldnt dream of talking English to anybody who spoke welsh to me but you can tell sometimes whether they are native or not.

  4. Harri Drwmwr bach says:

    As a Gog learner from the gororau (borders) i can say the worst i’ve ever had to deal with is brummies in chip shops and such, I’ve no problem with it mostly. I would like to say though that I have had a higher success rate speaking in the north than in the south. And i learnt north walian, i think the north south thing is being recognised by the education system now