Wfftio

wfftio [‘ʊftɪɔ] verb – to flout, dismiss, criticise

I’ve encountered the Welsh word wfftio quite a few times in things I’ve read and heard, but wasn’t quite sure what it meant. I heard it again this morning on Radio Cymru and decided to look it up.

Here are a few examples of wfftio in action:

Mae dadlau chwyrn wedi bod yn y cynulliad wrth i’r Prif Weinidog, Carwyn Jones, wfftio honiadau nad oedd safonau glendid bwyd wedi gwella yng Nghymru ers cyfres o achosion E.coli yn 2005.

There has been a fierce debate in the Assembly since the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, dismissed claims that food hygiene standards have not improved in Wales since the series of E. coli outbreaks in 2005.
[Source]

Gweinidog Addysg yn wfftio arolwg.
Education Minister criticises survey
[Source]

Mae Alun Pugh y Gweinidog Diwylliant wedi wfftio at y syniad o gyflwyno Deddf Iaith Newydd.

Culture Minister Alun Pugh has dismissed the idea of introducing a new Language Law.
[Source]

I think wfftio comes from the exclamation wfft [ʊft], which means ‘For shame!’ or ‘Fie!’ according to Y Geiriadur Mawr. Other Welsh exclamations include:

  • Ew! – Yuck!
  • Wb / Wbwb – Oh! Alas!
  • Wel – Well!
  • Wi – Oh! Alas!
  • Ych-a-fi! – Yuck! Urgh!
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This entry was posted in English, Language, Welsh, Words and phrases.

9 Responses to Wfftio

  1. Gleydson Macedo says:

    Hey Simon! Sorry for using this space for that, but an interesting report – worth mentioning, albeit we have known about it already (YAY!) – came on bilingualism and Alzheimer – http://www.canada.com/health/Bilingualism+delays+onset+Alzheimer+Study/3805915/story.html

    Cheers!!!

  2. mike says:

    This word really looks like it is some kind of internet slang, derived from ‘wtf’.

  3. Yenlit says:

    Wfft as the exclaimation of rejection and dissatisfaction is used in such phrases as ‘naw wfft i …’ (to hell with …) and ‘gweiddi wfft i’ (shout wfft to ie. protest against).
    Wfftio when meaning a sense of ‘despise’ is used in the bible ‘Peidiwch wfftio proffwydoliaethau.’ – Do not despise prophecies. (Thessalonians 5:20)

  4. @Mike – I was totally thinking the same thing. On a side note, I don’t speak any Welsh at all. But it seems to me that there’s a striking absence of vowels in the language.

  5. Christopher Miller says:

    Zachary-

    Your impression probably comes from the unusual double letters in Welsh and the ‘w’ and ‘ŵ’ that are used to spell the sounds we spell as short and long ‘oo’ in English. Welsh ‘u’ spells either a [i] sound or a more central high vowel, depending on the region. And depending on its position in a word, ‘y’ stands for the same sound or a neutral vowel like ‘a’ in ‘about’.

    The double ‘dd’ spells the consonant of ‘the’, the double ‘f’ spells our usual ‘f’ whereas a single ‘f’ spells ‘v’ like the ‘f’ in ‘of’ exceptionally does in modern English. (Old English used to spell the [v] sound with ‘f’, like Welsh still does.) And double ‘ll’ stands for a voiceless equivalent of [l].

    So Welsh isn’t really short of vowels – it actually has a relatively large inventory –, but just uses letters we reserve for consonants as vowel letters.

  6. @Christopher

    That’s fascinating :) Thanks for the breakdown. I figured that there had to be more vowels than immediately met the eye. And I suppose it was rather Anglocentric of me to not realize that what might be used as a consonant in other languages is, in fact, used as a vowel in Welsh. Regardless, it seems like a seriously difficult language.

    Thanks for taking the time to explain!

  7. Yenlit says:

    Some words adapted in to Welsh phonetics demonstrating the point which Christopher concisely stated above:
    cangarw
    Wranws
    alwminiwm
    mercwri
    plwtoniwm
    I don’t think I need to add the English for these words as they’re pretty easily recognizable.

  8. Macsen says:

    I’m always baffled by this. It was only a few years ago that I realised that English speakers didn’t see w and y as vowels. They’re so obviously vowels to a Welsh-speaker that I’m at a loss to why anyone would think they’re consonants. How can you look at a ‘w’ and ‘y’ and not think of it as a vowel?

  9. Yenlit says:

    Macsen – especially curious considering a common English word is ‘why’?