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North v South - 'sdim ots

Postby Owain » Sat Aug 15, 2009 2:50 am

When I first started learning Welsh, just over 2 years ago, I questioned the differences in north and south Welsh and the many different dialects. We are always told not to worry about it; I have just spent a week staying/travelling in north, mid and west Wales and as someone who does not have much confidence in actually speaking Welsh thought my experience may be of some use.

I knew that at some stage I would have to overcome my irrational worrying about making mistakes so just went for it - and was I delighted with the results :smile: Everyone that I spoke to understood me, even when I deliberately used a, so called, south Wales construction when speaking to a person in north Wales. I also went into a Wetherspoons pub in Caernarfon and asked for 'dau bysgod a sglodion, os gwelwch chi'n dda', the girl at the bar didn't bat an eyelid and just responded with 'Pa fwrdd?'

Of course, almost everyone I spoke to would speak way too fast for me so adopted my opening lines as "esgusodwch fi, dysgwr dw i, allet ti'n siarad yn araf â fi, os gwelwch chi'n dda'". Invariably when I reached the "dysgwr dw i" bit, everyone would break out in a big smile and/or say 'da iawn', which really encouraged me to keep going, and indeed they all took their time when speaking to me, so much so that I understood 90% of what was said to me. I thoroughly enjoyed it :D In just one week I have spoken and listened to more Welsh than the last two years that I have been learning.

These are the places in which I spoke Welsh and was perfectly understood by all: Ynys Môn, Conwy, Caernarfon, LLanberis, Betws y Coed, Dolwyddelan, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Portmeirion, Harlech, Machynlleth, Aberaeron, Llanarth, Tyddewi and Caerfyrddin.

Roedd amser gwych 'da fi :smile: :smile:
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Re: North v South - 'sdim ots

Postby Dee » Sat Aug 15, 2009 7:11 am

That is SO brilliant and SO encouraging! What a great trip! I sure hope I get an opportunity to venture a little further into Cymru soon, and with that positive report I will be trying out my Cymraeg wherever I can. :clap:
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Re: North v South - 'sdim ots

Postby Aran » Sat Aug 15, 2009 9:28 am

Llongyfarchiadau mawrion mawr, Ow!

A very well-deserved success, and an important story for anyone worry about a) north/south etc or b) making mistakes.

Mistakes are the life blood of a language - the more you make, the closer you are to holding a conversation...:)

Hmm...

I wonder if we could do some SSIW field trips at some point... :idea:
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Re: North v South - 'sdim ots

Postby Iestyn » Sat Aug 15, 2009 1:59 pm

Da iawn ti, Owain.

D'you know, I'm starting to get quite parent-ish about 'my' SSIW leaners. I get a little buzz of pride everytime somone reports that they have achieved a new level, taken their first steps, moved up the ladder to real speaking withe real (scary) Welsh speakers. And just like a proper parent, I'm even proud when it's had nothing really to do with my personal intrervention!!!

Well done to Owain, and to everyone who is getting out there - let us know about it, because your stories are a real inspiration to everyone on the site.
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Re: North v South - 'sdim ots

Postby SJ » Sat Aug 15, 2009 4:46 pm

Hi Owain,

Its great to hear that you had such a positive response! I will be going to Tyddewi for a few days soon. How much Cymraeg did you hear spoken there and did you get plenty of opportunities to siarad Cymraeg?

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Re: North v South - 'sdim ots

Postby Owain » Sat Aug 15, 2009 8:17 pm

Thanks to everyone for your positive responses.

I would honestly say that in Welsh speaking areas the people are as patient with learners as the first language speakers that I know in my hometown in the valleys.
The areas that I visited are all popular tourist areas and as such have many, many different nationalities visiting, including lots of Welsh speaking people from all around Wales. No matter what version or dialect you speak, they will understand you - just as they go visiting other parts of Wales and are understood just as well. Welsh speakers from non-tourist areas go on holiday, visiting etc. around Wales so they too are exposed to and understand whatever Welsh is used. I deliberately went out of my way to test this theory by using south Wales constructions in north Wales and to try out pysgod a sglodion v ffish a tsips. Ffish a tsips, from what I have read, is more popularly used but as stated an eyelid wasn't batted when I used pysgod a sglodion.

No-one questioned my Welsh, indeed the only question I was asked (by 2 people) when I spoke Welsh was 'Where are you from?' because they didn't recognise my accent. They recognised I was from south Wales but couldn't pin down exactly where from.

I've only been learning for 2 years and had absolutely no intention of learning any north Welsh but you can't help but pick up and remember some of it subconciously, so when I was asked in Machynlleth 'O lle wyt ti'n dod' I had to ask the lady to repeat what she had said; when she did, a litttle wire connected in my brain and remembered 'oh yeah, they say lle here not ble as I would have said. Although it seemed a stupid question for me to ask I couldn't resist coming back with 'O ble wyt ti'n dod', the lady grinned as if she knew what I was doing and just answered 'Machynlleth'.

The only disappointment on my travels was that ALL the bar staff, shopkeepers, hotel staff etc. would speak to me in English first. On my first night, which was in Ynys Môn, I was spoken to, in English, by the girl serving behind the bar, I strongly suspected that she spoke Welsh so just asked her in Welsh ‘Wyt ti’n siarad yn y Gymraeg?’ she flashed a big smile and answered ‘Ydw’ and never spoke to me in English again. She went on to explain that they have so many visitors of differing nationalities who can all speak at least some English that she finds herself automatically speaking in English to people she doesn’t know. Armed with that information, from then on, whenever a shopkeeper, bar/hotel staff etc. spoke to me in English I would just answer in Welsh - you'd have thought it was my first language :lol: . Only twice did I come across a person who did not speak Welsh, they were both shopkeepers; one in Betws y Coed and the other in Tyddewi.

As a very proud Cymro you can’t believe just how wonderful it is to, at last, be able to speak my mother tongue, yr hen iaith, in my own country – and be understood.

Rygbigal:
To answer your question, in Tyddewi I came across a lot of first language Welsh speakers, a learner (working in a shop) – she was more nervous about speaking Welsh than I was! But also a shopkeeper who couldn’t speak any Welsh; so quite a variety – but then that’s life, hey?
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Re: North v South - 'sdim ots

Postby Aran » Sat Aug 15, 2009 8:40 pm

Owain wrote:As a very proud Cymro you can’t believe just how wonderful it is to, at last, be able to speak my mother tongue, yr hen iaith, in my own country – and be understood.


I can believe it - remember it - and still feel it on a regular basis...:D

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Re: North v South - 'sdim ots

Postby RobertBruce » Sat Aug 15, 2009 10:32 pm

I was going to start my own thread, but this seems a good enough one to hijack.

I've just got back from a week of family camping holiday in Pen Llŷn - Uwchmynydd, just by Aberdaron to be exact - about as far west in the north as it's possible to go without being in Ireland*.

Here are a few things that I've learned:

I can speak Welsh. I should have known this already, really, but my self-confidence didn't let me quite believe it. Every chance I got, I spoke Welsh; even when I thought the other person might not be a Welsh speaker. This can be frustrating and unrewarding in my part of Wales, but I figured that it's got to work on the Llŷn. And, yes, I was able to conduct virtually all of my holiday in Welsh. As Owain found, people seem naturally to start everything in English, but switch to Welsh quickly and naturally once you've said a couple of words to them. I know it's a bit sentimental, but the pride I feel from being able to do something as simple as asking for six sausages and then responding that, no, I don't need a bag because I've got one already, still makes the hairs on the back my neck stand on end. And I also know I can speak Welsh because the two nice ladies at the Lloyd George museum told me that my Welsh was very good - who am I to argue with that? :smile:

I can speak Welsh a bit too well. I've been aware for some time that my ability to say stuff is way ahead of my ability to understand stuff. Add in a really unfamiliar accent like that of Pen Llŷn and I found that I almost never understood what was being said to me first time round. I realised that I was starting the conversation so fluently and so convincingly, that the other person was launching straight into their natural, full-blown Welsh with the assumption that I'd be able to understand every single syllable. Almost every time I had to ask them to repeat what they had just said. Fortunately, telling people that you can't understand their accent isn't an insult when they're proud of their accent - it plainly reflects badly on you rather than them.

I really don't like Abersoch. It seems to have been entirely taken over by the English boating classes. And when I asked in the tourist office if there was a bike shop in the town I'm not sure the person behind the counter even knew what language I was speaking - if you'd have stuck a CyIG membership form in front of me at that moment I would have signed it unhesitatingly.

If Aran owes you a pint and you're going to be in his 'hood, but you have a holiday rule about no internet access and no mobiles (try it!), it's probably best to fix up a meeting with him beforehand, because you'll never be able to do it otherwise. Sorry Aran, my disorganisation, but you still owe me one - I'll be back up there before too long!

BTW, the owner of Cob records in Porthmadog today said - I think - "Dwi'n tybedu" - is this the same as just plain "tybed", or what? :?:

*There's a theory that Llŷn and the name of the Irish province Leinster directly on the other side of the Irish Sea come from the same pre-Celtic root.
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Re: North v South - 'sdim ots

Postby SparkyCola » Sat Aug 15, 2009 11:22 pm

I wonder if we could do some SSIW field trips at some point...


That's such a great idea!

Owain, Robert- thanks so much for those reports from the field :mrgreen: What Dee Said:

That is SO brilliant and SO encouraging!


:clap: I know I'll be shy when it comes to speaking Welsh to...well, anyone else to be honest :oops: I'm sure the pressure will make me forget the tiny amount of Welsh I do know! But reports like yours are really encouraging to people like me :) so thanks!

I've convinced my mum to learn Welsh now, and she's picking it up from my daily usage :mrgreen: They'll be an outbreak of English Welsh-learners soon :lol:

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Re: North v South - 'sdim ots

Postby Owain » Sat Aug 15, 2009 11:25 pm

Aran wrote:
Owain wrote:As a very proud Cymro you can’t believe just how wonderful it is to, at last, be able to speak my mother tongue, yr hen iaith, in my own country – and be understood.


I can believe it - remember it - and still feel it on a regular basis...:D

Llongyfarchiadau o waelod calon, Ow - ti wedi llwyddo i wneud rhywbeth hollol fendigedig!...:D


Diolch yn fawr iawn, Aran.

I am so happy at the moment that I may have got carried away in the impression I have given in my previous posts; I still have a very long way to go in learning Welsh. I still have to think about what I am going to say before I say it, but now I know I am going in the right direction and that everyone can / will understand me.
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