Welsh Wednesday | Learning the Welsh Language

Learning Welsh was more fun that I ever expected.

I always knew that I wanted to learn a Celtic language when I went to college. I was naive enough to believe that it would be easy and accessible–it’s college, they have all the languages taught there, right? Thankfully, I was lucky enough to go to BYU, which offered Welsh. By one professor. Who went to South Wales on a mission for the LDS Church when he was in his early twenties. He had fallen in love with the culture and wanted to learn the Welsh language (he spoke English on his mission). Then, he got hired by BYU and started teaching.

Learning Welsh was more fun that I ever expected.

There were about 5 people in any of my classes (BYU only offered 101, 102, 201 study abroad, and 305 reading/translation/choir). I mean, why does an American need to know Welsh, a dying language in its own country?

[ctt title=”Why would an American want to learn Welsh? @themorrelltale” tweet=”Why would an American want to learn Welsh? @themorrelltale” coverup=”oD568″]

But, it was so much fun! We used workbooks shipped over from Wales. We watched documentaries. We found Welsh videos to help us practice dialogue (like the videos you would use in high school Spanish class).

When I went on Study Abroad, we took two weeks out of the time there to enroll in a very intensive Welsh course for adults. Most of the adults who were in this class took it every summer. Either, they wanted to connect with their past and genealogy, or they wanted to help their children who were in Welsh immersive elementary schools with homework. We were the only Americans. They could tell by our accents. They asked the same question: “Why does an American want to learn Welsh?”

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For me, it was my obsession with medieval Britain, and the fact that I am about 1/16 Welsh. I do have a lot more Danish and Swedish blood in me, but I’ve never felt an affinity for those cultures.

This course was grouped together by levels. My Welsh professor even attended, to keep his language skills intact. He would always do the level below the fluent level. I remember the most anxious time my friends and I had…we were in level 3 out of 8. But, there was always an hour in which the different levels were paired together to help practice conversation. We were paired with the 8’s! The fluent speakers! But, I remember how smoothly the Welsh rolled off my tongue when I spoke to this nice old grandpa. He was so patient, always smiled, and never once talked down to me or patronized me. He even complimented me!

When I got back to BYU, I took the 305 class. We read different articles in Welsh and translated them. We did the reverse for recipes and interviews. Then, we got a special assignment! There was a Welsh minister (not Mormon), who wanted a Welsh hymnal for his congregation. So, we began to translate his hymns for him. We also started translating some LDS hymns for the LDS Church to have in their database. Then, one day, he came to America and we were able to meet him.

The LDS Church has a program they run on BYUTV every Sunday called Music and the Spoken Word. It is a half hour devotional program, basically. And, this week, their music was gong to be the songs this minister had written. He was to be their special guest, and we were to be his +1’s. It was so excited to hear the music that we had helped translate. It was also so much fun to be recognized by the program for what he accomplished for this Welsh minister!

red — coch (coke)
blue — glas
yellow — melyn (melon)
orange — oren (or-in)
purple — porffor (pour-for)
green — gwyrdd (gwerth)
pink — binc (bink)
black — du (dee)
white — gwyn (gwen)

Where is the goat? It’s time for milking
Off among the craggy rocks
The old goat is wand’ring.
Goat white, white, white
With her lip white, lip white, lip white
With her tail white, with her tail white
With her tail and flank white,
White, white, white.
(On repeat increase speed of melody
AND follow with all preceding colors).
2. Goat black, black, black
With her lip black, lip black, lip black
With her tail black, with her tail black
With her tail and flank black,
Black, black, black.3. Goat red, red, red
With her lip red, lip red, lip red
With her tail red, with her tail red
With her tail and flank red,
Red, red, red.

4. Goat blue, blue, blue
With her lip blue, lip blue, lip blue
With her tail blue, with her tail blue
With her tail and flank blue,
Blue, blue, blue.

Oes gafr eto, oes heb ei godro?
Ar y creigiau geirwon
Mae’r hen afr yn crwydro.
Gafr wen, wen, wen,
Ie fin wen, fin wen, fin wen,
Foel gynffon wen, foel gynffon wen,
Ystlys wen a chynffon,
Wen, wen, wen.2. Gafr ddu, ddu, ddu,
Ie fin ddu, fin ddu, fin ddu,
Foel gynffon ddu, foel gynffon ddu,
Ystlys ddu a chynffon,
Ddu, ddu, ddu.

3. Gafr goch, goch, goch,
Ie fin goch, fin goch, fin goch,
Foel gynffon goch, foel gynffon goch,
Ystlys goch a chynffon,
Goch, goch, goch.

4.  Gafr las, las, las,
Ie fin las, fin las, fin las,
Foel gynffon las, foel gynffon las,
Ystlys las a chynffon,
Las, las, las.

Welsh Wednesdays--the last Wednesday of every month! Come learn more about the Welsh history, culture, and language!

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Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.

  • My sorority big married a Welshman and his family is from one of the pockets of Wales that is primarily still Welsh speaking. It’s what he spoke in school and his dad doesn’t know much English at all. It’s super fascinating, and I love the sound of Welsh being spoken!

    • That is so cool! I’m sure you have visited Wales as well since you ARE only 3 hours away from it!

      • Yep- I’ve spent time with their family at their home as well as spent time in Cardiff. Sam’s dad lives right up against the water beyond Bristol and on a clear day you can see Wales from his house. 😉 X

  • This is SO COOL. I never knew this about you but I found this post so interesting!!

    • Thanks! It’s a big part of my personality.

  • I really wasn’t expecting to see my college on Bloglovin today! I went to Coleg Gwent (Crosskeys Campus) Also didn’t know you care so much about Welsh culture when I subscribed to you not too long ago. I am Welsh. I am from the gateway city, Newport South Wales(although now living in London) So looking forward to see where you take this series next. If you have any questions about Welsh culture/what it’s like to grow up in Wales please get in touch!

    • That is so neat that you went to Coleg Gwent! I never had the opportunity to visit Newport while I was in Wales. I’d love to get in touch! Have you heard of Llinos from the Lilac Linnet? We actually do this collab together and she is from Anglesey!

  • Before I clicked ‘play’ I glanced at the lyrics and yes, I do know it! Although I have only ever heard it performed by rugby players before today haha.

    • I knew you should know it! That would be hilarious to watch rugby players sing Oes Gafr Eto!

  • I think this is so awesome!

    And it’s really funny because I have ancestors from Wales, too, but also from Sweden and I’ve always identified more with the Swedish side.

    • And I have more ancestors from Denmark and Sweden than I do Wales, but I’ve never really identified with my Scandinavian blood.