Yr Wyddor - The Alphabet [Archived Material]




Yr Wyddor - The Alphabet






Here's a famously romantic poster showing Yr Wyddor (the alphabet) neatly illustrated around a 'bardic' (en, cym), or 'druidic' (en, cym) theme, including many of Iolo Morganwg's (en, cym) famous inventions, such as the nod cyfrin (en cym) and 'coelbren y beirdd' (en, cym).

Underneath the poster I've given the names of the letters in Welsh.



Here are the names of the letters in Welsh


The pronunciations are given in Welsh, since it is to all intents and purposes a phonetic alphabet (or a WYSIWYG!) - and in any case, in what other language could they be!?. For guidelines, see the Pronunciation discussion.

The first three are "a", "bi" and "c", which are pronunced like the (British) English 'are', 'bee', 'eck'. (The symbol "" represents a short vowel sound; all other vowels are long)

A a; B bi; C c; Ch ch; D di; Dd dd; E e; F f; Ff ff;
G g; Ng ng; H aits; I i dot; J je; L l; Ll ll; M m; N n; O o;
P pi; Ph phi; R r; Rh rhi; S s; T ti; Th th; U u bedol; W w; Y y

This list includes "j" which is absent from the poster for various intriguing reasons.



Replies to This Discussion



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Reply by aquafortis on May 10, 2009 at 4:50pm

Very nice--I especially like the Ogham and the Coelbren y Beirdd included at the bottom. I didn't know about the latter, so it was interesting to read the info at the link you provided.

Reply by Trefor Duane Roberts on May 10, 2009 at 7:01pm


I can understand most of the pronunciation (a, be, ec, ech, di, etc) however 'i dot' and 'u bedol' have me confused. Used to seperate one 'ee' from another 'ee' ? But what does that have do to with pronunciation ?
Ychydig o gymorth i fi, os gwelwch yn dda.

Reply by Ymwelydd anfynych on May 10, 2009 at 7:13pm


Indeed, the names are there to distinguish the signs.

In a 'southern' dialect there's no difference between the sounds of 'u' and 'i' (northerners will pronounce them quite distinctly).

So I guess the distinction is there to help us hwntws know what's going on!

"i-dot" is self explanatory


a "pedol" is a horse-shoe. (so also self-explanatory!)

Reply by Trefor Duane Roberts on May 10, 2009 at 7:25pm


self explanatory ?? I chi efallau, ond dim i fi (pen plocyn (block head)).
dot = dot = .
Does pedol imply umlaut ?

Reply by Ymwelydd anfynych on May 10, 2009 at 7:39pm


I might be missing something here.

The 'dot' in i-dot is the dot over the 'i' (by the way - Turkish has an 'i' without a dot!)

The 'pedol' in 'u-bedol' just refers to its shape.

But I suspect that might not have been your question...!

Reply by Trefor Duane Roberts on May 10, 2009 at 7:52pm


OK. I also was definitely missing something. From the above discussion I conclude
that 'i-dot' and 'u-bedol' suggest the physical appearance of the letter and they have nothing
to do with pronunciation as the others do. Sorry to be such a bother..

Reply by Ymwelydd anfynych on May 10, 2009 at 7:59pm


No bother at all! A pleasure to talk about these things.

You're entirely correct - the names refer to the shape of the signs, and don't (at least to a hwntw) concern pronunciation. A gog would pronounce them differently, of course (their 'u' is distinct from their 'i').

Sorry that our wires seem to have been a bit crossed there for a bit. I hope things are clear on both sides now, and I look forward to your next question.

Diolch ichi!

[Concerning Turkish - I should perhaps have added that it has an 'i' with a dot as well. I've been trying to learn how to pronounce the dotless one for quite some time now and can't get it right even 30% of the time!]

Reply by Trefor Duane Roberts on May 11, 2009 at 4:13pm


Aled, Merhaba, ahbap.
We should not turn this into a Turkish session, but I do have some questions about your experience with Turkish. Questions like why, where, for how long, at what level, etc, etc. If you would like to continue and take this offline feel free to drop me an e-mail direct to trefor.duane@comcast,net

Reply by Sarah Owen on May 27, 2009 at 5:24am

I have this on my wall at home. My mum bought it for me!

Reply by Pauline Waddell on June 3, 2009 at 8:41pm

I didn't think there was a j in the Welsh language. I'll ask my sister in law who lives in Cardiff and is a Welsh speaker.

Reply by Ymwelydd anfynych on June 4, 2009 at 10:03am


It could be interesting to take a vote on whether 'j' belongs or not, to see where people's allegiances lie!

It's true that it's pretty much only in borrowed words that it's used (mainly borrowed from, or imposed from, English), though many of these are now quite solidly in the language: jam, jac-y-do, joch, jiwbili, Jones, Jim, Jac, jo^c, jwg, etc. To be able to spell words like these we need to have a name for the letter, so I'm in favour of accepting it, for the time being anyway.

Of course, if we go back just a few generations we'll find the letters "v" and "k" used in Welsh books and manuscripts, as well as other symbols which are no longer in use (such as the dotted "y" and the "6", not to mention ligatures and intriguing diacritics like dots under letters) - all these aspects have a habit of being fairly flexible over time (give it another fifty years and who knows what will be in and what will be out of our alphabets!?).



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