Word of the day – Crychydd

Picture of a grey heron / Llun crychydd glas

Today’s word, crychydd (‘krəx.ɨð) is one of the Welsh words for heron. Other words for heron include crëyr, crehyr and crŷr, which appear to be immitations of the sounds herons make. The Irish word for heron is similar – corr.

Whenever I go for a walk by the sea here in Bangor, I often see a heron or two, as well as various other kinds of birds. They are usually grey herons (crëyr glas), but I did see a white one the other day, or it might have been a white egret. I’d like to learn a bit about these birds and their names in Welsh (and English, if I don’t already know them). I’ll see if the Welsh language bookshop in town has a book on local birds the next time I’m there.

One of my Welsh dictionaries, Y Geiriadur Mawr, has a section on birds with their names in Welsh and English. Many of the names are translations of their English equivalents, e.g. aderyn du – blackbird, asgell goch – redwing, and gwylan benddu – black-headed gull. Other names are based on the sounds the birds make, their appearance, or their habits or habitats, e.g. wid-wid – rock pipit, gwidihŵ – owl, bronfraith (speckled breast) – song thrush, Harri-gwylch-dy-big (Harry wash your beak) – little grebe, aderyn yr eira (snow bird) – starling.

10 thoughts on “Word of the day – Crychydd

  1. Funnily enough I was just wondering earlier what sparrow is in Welsh… maybe you can help me 😀

  2. According to my Geiriadur Mawr, House Sparrow is ‘aderyn y to’ or ‘llwyd y to’. Tree sparrow is ‘llwyd y mynydd’ which is a bit odd as mynydd is mountain. Hedge sparrow is ‘llwyd y berth’ but I thought that was the Welsh name for the dunnock, which although might be related to the sparrow, doesn’t look like the sparrows I know. I watched a dunnock chick in the garden yesterday being encouraged, unsuccessfully, to fly by its parents. They kept bringing it food and flapping at it, and I chased some cats away, but I have no idea if it survived the night. There are also some magpies (pioden, plural piod) about so the chick’s chances were not good.

  3. When I started studying Japanese, I noticed that a number of Japanese verbs are based on sounds, as in onomotapeia(sp?). I found that quite interesting, so I think it’s interesting the Welsh language has named birds similarly.

  4. I think the most common name for this bird in Arabic is “Karki”… which seems to be also derived from the sound of this bird.

    “glas” in Welsh means “Grey” ?
    so far away in meaning from “green” as it is in Irish, isn’t it?

  5. TJ – glas in Welsh can mean blue (sky), green (grass), grey (horses & herons) or transparent (saliva). The Irish word glas can be used in a similar way to describe ‘grey’ horses and green grass.

  6. oh my goodness!

    then how would I say … “green wall” in Irish!?

    my whole room is green so I better ask about “green room” 🙂

    you know, of the weirdest coicedences (for me) to see some weird similarities between Celtic languages and Semitic ones. I used to language that Use definite and/or indefinite articles … while celtic languages and semitic ones use only a definite article I suppose (and for the indefinite case of course no article is used as simple as that). The difference maybe lies in, semitic languages do not use a special article for plural nouns like celtic languages do.

  7. [’krəx.ɨd]: dd is really pronounced [d] at the end of word, or is it a typo? I thought it should be [ð] or [θ] (if devoiced).

  8. This bird also appears in Brazil, and we call it GARÇA CINZA. it is always seem near bulls and cows, or at small lakes.

  9. Simon – this is a good little book with some beautiful Welsh names of birds … I think the names of birds in all languages posess a poetic quality. http://www.gwales.com/bibliographic/?isbn=9781845271480&tsid=2

    Now that you’re in Wales you’ll also find that Iolo Williams seems to be on S4C or the English language Welsh services every other night! He’s very popular, especially as he’s always seen on television wearing his infamous tight shorts … a big hit with Welsh women … and it seems the the Welsh gay community.

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