I grew up in Wales and although I went to an English-speaking school, I had lessons in Welsh up to the age of thirteen. Twenty-five years later, I have only a handful of phrases and the ability, if drunk enough, to sing the national anthem.
However, as a word-nerd, I’m grateful to have been brought up in a bilingual society and for the gems added to my vocabulary.
Today I’d like to introduce you to one of my favourites: Cwtch. The closest translation is probably ‘safe place’ but it’s most often used to mean ‘cuddle’ (when you are creating a safe place with your arms).
Here’s the pronunciation (with thanks to Forvo.com):
It’s such an affectionate, friendly-sounding word and it takes me right back to my childhood.
Incidentally, the image is from a genius range of cards produced in Wales. You can buy online here.
Carl Markham says
Although not Welsh I had a number of family connections in North Wales (Grandmother Welsh and Uncle/Aunt Moved to Wales from my (native) nearby city of Liverpool to run a Post Office and village store – so of course the whole family had to learn Welsh! I used to visit them regularly, so picked up quite a bit of the lingo – enhanced in later years when I began rock-climbing there, joining the mountain rescue team (where of course everyone spoke Welsh!) Alas, over the years since I’ve lost most of it. However, I’d say the first pronunciation sounded the most ‘realistic’ to me.
The funny thing about the Welsh language to me is that if there isn’t a ‘Celtic’ derivative for a word they seem to just ‘Welshify’ the nearest-sounding word to it (eg ‘sausage’ becomes ‘sosage'(with typical Welsh uplift on the last syllable!) Of course (as in any language) there’s the small matter of dialect – even in a country as small as Wales, so someone from (say) Barry down in the South will sound completely different from s person from Pentrefoelas in the North – less than a hundred miles away! Nice post, Sarah. Like you, I’m also a ‘wordy’ person (but the, I’m also a fellow writer!)
Yes, absolutely! I grew up in South Wales and the difference in accent between there and North Wales, is huge… And I also love the ‘adapted’ words and the slang. Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Carl!