Northern Welsh vs. Southern Welsh -- how to choose? [Archived Material]

Hi, folks

I see on several of the online Welsh language lesson sites that they want you to choose either "Northern" or "Southern" Welsh.

Can you give me any guidance/insight into how to choose?

It looks like "Southern" Welsh might be the more commonly spoken, but maybe the "Northern" Welsh is a purer/older form?

Any advice?

-- Celeste


Replies to This Discussion


Reply by Ceri Shaw on March 1, 2010 at 9:04pm

Personally I would opt for Northern Welsh. I am a non-Welsh speaker from South Wales ( currently learning but very slowly ). The simple fact is that there are far more communities in the north where Welsh is the first language and if you ever go to Wales to practice Gwynedd is where you should head for.

Reply by Alexander Vaughan Ames on March 1, 2010 at 9:26pm

I certainly haven't spent enough time in north Wales to comment as definitively as Ceri can but I know that if you go the Black Boy pub in Caernarfon you may well be the only one who doesn't speak Welsh there. You can certainly find similar pockets of Welsh speakers in the south (e.g. Y Mochyn Du in Cardiff) but outside of the home of my friends in Cardiff, I've never heard so much Welsh spoken in one place (in Wales) as that truly excellent pub (perhaps a good place to practice).

Good luckl,

Reply by Ceri Shaw on March 1, 2010 at 9:36pm

I suppose what we need is S4C to impose a standard a bit like 'BBC English'. I dunno's a big problem and I'm a little bit squiffy ( St David's Day and all ). One thing is for sure ...we have to not only preserve , but also extend the use of the language . With that thought in mind I am making a St David's Day resolution ( not traditional ). I will make a real effort to get half way fluent in the coming year:)

I learned a Northern version because my first teacher was from Llanberis, and I think I have an easier time understanding southern dialects because they're closer to English, whereas if I'd learned southern Welsh I'd have a lot of trouble following the more obscure northern accents.

Reply by William A. Parry on March 1, 2010 at 9:40pm

Celeste - i know very little Welsh, but from what i have studied, I'd have to agree w/ both these 2 posts..... from about mid-Wales northward, Welsh is increasing the predominant and native language.... a few differences such as "Sutmae" vs. "shwmae" for north vs. south, etc., but I think these 2 (below are right)....

ps - interesting note, too, about Caernarfon and the Black Boy Inn... (had a couple of the best meals of my life there), really is an excellent family is from that area, and EVERYBODY is a native Welsh speaker there in the deep Northwest of Wales, and don't even start to learn English until a few years in to elementary school....happy learning.


Reply by Alexander Vaughan Ames on March 1, 2010 at 10:43pm

Agreed, William. My wife and I enjoyed the food at the Black Boy so much the first night we ate there that we went back the second night we stayed in Caernarfon. We were absolutely the only folks speaking English (I could only manage to order a pint yn Gymraeg) but everyone was very nice when they had to switch to English to communicate with us. -Lex

Reply by Vicky Loving on March 2, 2010 at 5:02am

I asked my teacher, a professor of Gaelic languages, the same question and she indicated a slight preference for Northern. Are you doing the Say Something in Welsh lessons?

Reply by Emyr on March 2, 2010 at 5:43am

There is not that much difference between north and south dialects,only a few words and the accents.It would be the same going from west to east.The vast majority of Welsh spoken in south Wales is mostly in the south West in the counties of Carmarthenshire Ceredgion and North Pembrokeshire

Reply by Celeste on March 2, 2010 at 9:53pm

Thank you so much, everyone, for all your thoughtful replies!

I was leaning toward Northern myself, but it is nice to know if I go that route I will have an easier time with the Southern version than vice-versa.

Ceri: Let me know if you want someone to practice with (via long-distance). I really, REALLY want to learn Welsh.

Vicky: there are several online lessons. There's the "Say something in Welsh" you cited; and there's a BBC site:

And I don't know if this is Northern or Southern, but here's another good one
with lots of other Welsh Language links:

(I wish there were more hours in the day!)

-- Celeste

Reply by Ceri Shaw on March 2, 2010 at 10:20pm

I may well take you up on that at some point. Are you on skype?

Reply by Leanne Lewis on March 13, 2010 at 2:27pm

Hi being a welsh speaker from down South I would recommend southern Welsh..Northern Welsh can be difficult for Welsh1st Lanuage speakers to understand, My mother in law is 84 and is from Ceredigion and she can find the northern dialect difficult. I hope this helps.....

Reply by John Gwynfor Jones on March 12, 2011 at 1:12pm

I went out with a girl from Plynlumon a long time ago and could understand her perfectly, her mother was a little difficult but her Nain, yes , not a word.There again ,84????. She probably had never been north of Aberystwyth!! By the way , I'm from Machynlleth.18 miles further up the road

comments powered by Disqus