Teaching Welsh to the Lost Astronomer: Problems Encountered


Translation: I’m learning Welsh.      Image from: National Training Federation Wales

Slowly but surely over the last few years I have been attempting to teach my hopelessly English husband to speak Welsh. And so I’ve decided to write a weekly, (possibly fortnightly?) blog post about how this is going.

Problems encountered (in no particular order):

  1. Abysmal pronunciation (cue a fit of the giggles from his loving wife – I am so not a good language teacher)
  2. We live in deepest darkest England actual formal lessons are impossible – though if you want to learn languages from far away that’s easy. This annoys me.
  3. The Open University – my husband is to be fair ridiculously busy with his silly science and maths stuff. Doesn’t he realise a Physics degree is far less useful than the ability to speak Welsh? Honest.
  4. He has a strange liking for certain words. His current favourite is Gwydd – Goose. I can’t figure this out.
  5. He’s picked up enough Welsh to use “Rwy’n dy garu di” – I love you as a get out of jail free card. Although unfortunately for him this is starting to wear off.
  6. Welsh has so many regional variations. I’m attempting to teach him the Welsh that we (that is myself and my family use) but I worry he’ll get caught out with people from other regions.
  7. After learning the colloquial Welsh which has a fair bit of Wenglish in it. There is the more formal Welsh my brother tends to use when he doesn’t want anybody to pick up on what we’re talking about.
  8. There are SO MANY WORDS that don’t have a direct translation.
  9. English is back to front when it comes to sentence structure. Most of the time but not all. This is so frustrating.
  10. Mutations – the first letter in a word will change depending on context, the word before, the sex – so many different reasons.The worst thing about this is that despite my teachers best efforts I was never very good at the reasons behind them and mostly did it by ear. My father taught me more about where a mutation should go than my Welsh teacher he just never used reasons as he’d never been taught them himself. He just knew. The same as I just know now. How on earth do I teach this?
  11. The husband has decided that the Welsh alphabet is wrong – this seriously doesn’t help him learn the language. And he just can’t cope with the fact that letters which in English are consonants are actually vowels in Welsh. Honest! The Welsh vowels are  a,e i,o,u,w, y – it’s only an extra two it’s not that difficult…

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