Mynd i’r afael

Mynd i’r afael is a Welsh expression I’ve noticed quite a bit recently on Radio Cymru, and from the context in which it is used, I think it means something like “to try hard to deal with something”.

Here are some examples:

Angen i Brifysgol Cymru fynd i’r afael â dilysu canolfannau newydd, medd y Gweinidog Addysg, Leighton Andrews.
The University of Wales needs to address the validation of the new centres, said the Education Minister, Leighton Andrews.

[Source: BBC Newyddion]

Mae ‘na lawer o gymorth a chefnogaeth ar gael i bobl sy’n poeni am droseddu ac i’r rhai sydd am helpu i fynd i’r afael â throseddu.
Plenty of help and support is available to people who are worried about crime and those who want to help tackle crime.


NB. In both these examples mynd has mutated to fynd.

From these examples it seems that mynd i’r afael, which literally means “go to the grip/grasp/handle/hold”, means “tackle” “address” or perhaps “get a grip on”. Google translate gives “(to) address” for this term, as does the BBC Welsh dictionary. I got the impression from the context that quite a bit of effort was involved, but perhaps this is not always the case.

These days I tend to learn new words and expressions in Welsh, and in my other fluent languages, through extensive listening and reading. If I notice a word or phrase that crops up frequently, I’ll try and work out its meaning(s) from the context, and sometimes it takes a while to hone in on exact meaning(s). When I learn things in this way I tend to remember better than if I just look them up in a dictionary, though I do remember dictionary words if I use them quite a bit after looking them up.

How do you learn new vocabulary?

This entry was posted in English, Language, Language learning, Welsh, Words and phrases.

8 Responses to Mynd i’r afael

  1. Christopher says:

    I’ve long noticed that I don’t learn new vocabulary in Danish until I recognize the word as a word and not just as a random series of letters. To do that, I generally need to see the same word in different contexts. For example, I might hear the word bølge (wave) in a song about a whale, but then forget about it until I read a narrative about a sea journey, or even a description of mikrobølger. Then when I need look it up the word again I remember that I’ve looked it up before, and I remember the association. At that point if I’m lucky the word means what it means.

    This is why I do my best to vary my media and switch back and forth from books to movies to radio and so on. It takes longer when there are multiple similar words that are not so concrete, but eventually I hit upon a memorable context and it all clicks together.

  2. Jayan says:

    I too tend to learn words in Danish (my most fluent L2) by repeatedly hearing them used in context. For some reason, looking things up in a dictionary doesn’t really work for me, unless I really use the work or expression _alot_ right after looking it up (this means making up contexts to use it in–a little artificial). I think the contextual learning helps me understand the nuances of meaning better, and (hopefully) then I use the word or expression more like a native would.

    I need to try varying my media like Christopher does. Maybe that will help increase the rate at which I acquire new words.

  3. Jayan says:

    oh, and Christopher: hvor finder du sanger der handler om hvaler?? xD

  4. Laurits says:

    Jayan, her f.eks:

    PS the plural of sang is sange 😉

  5. Christopher says:

    That’s the one–I learned a bunch of words from that song. Amazingly enough, once I recognize a new word, I instantly begin to see or hear it in other places. So much so that my biggest challenge now is not vocabulary, but understanding the Copenhagen youth dialect. They don’t speak so much as gargle. 🙂

  6. Jayan says:

    Tak Laurits. Du bestod prøven ;p Har stadig svært ved at holde styr på flertalformerne

    @Christopher: I’m convinced they don’t really understand each other either :p They just gargle and pretend they’re saying something :p

  7. Petréa Mitchell says:

    I’m usually following one or two subtitled Japanese shows at any given time. (My Japanese vocabulary isn’t extensive enough to manage without them.) I can’t help matching the Japanese words I do understand with the subtitles, which then leads to sometimes matching up words I didn’t know.

  8. Yenlit says:

    There are lots of Welsh expessions and phrases using the verb “mynd” (to go) including some bizarre idiomatic ones like “mynd i fyny’r ffordd bren” (‘go up the wooden road’) and “mynd i fyny’r mynydd pren” (‘go up the wooden mountain’) meaning “go to bed”?

    Here’s the dictionary entry for:

    mynd i’r afael
    1. mynd i’r afael â (matter, affair, subject, topic, problem) get to grips with, deal with, confront (task, problem, work, etc)

    mynd i’r afael â phwnc – get to grips with a topic, get to work on a topic

    Aeth y cynllunwyr i’r afael â’r can erw o dir diffaith
    The planners got down to (the matter of) the hundred acres of waste land

    2 mynd i’r afael â’i gilydd – come to blows with each other

    Gwelwyd dau Siôn Corn yn mynd i’r afael â’i gilydd ar ganol stryd
    Two Father Christmases were seen to come to blows with each other in the middle of the street

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