by David Winlo
Welsh is a Celtic language spoken by around 0.7 million people, 5,000 of whom don’t live in Wales, or even the UK, but in the far-flung Chubut province of Argentina, known in Welsh as Y Wladfa. This is the first reason you might wish to learn Welsh, and this very reason is universal among languages – you’ll be able to talk to new people, not just in the country or countries where the language you’re learning is an official or main language. You’ll also be able to listen to Welsh folk music, and other genres, as well as reading Welsh books and poetry, as well as gaining a small amount of understanding with its related languages: Manx, Cornish, and to a lesser extent Scottish- and Irish Gaelic.
When learning Welsh, I would advise keeping the following in mind:
- Not all of those consonants are consonants. Welsh is famous for its distressing lack of vowels, in words like ‘chwech’ (six), ‘buwch’ (cow), and in various place names, such as ‘Amlwch’. Don’t worry about these. Certain letters which look like consonants are actually vowels, like the letter w in the above examples, which sounds approximately like an English ‘oo’, and y, which sounds a bit like a sound English speakers make when hesitating, namely ‘err’.
- Welsh is an X-Man of a language, a mutant. The letters at the start of a noun can change based on what is happening to the noun in the sentence, for example, ‘in Wales’ in Welsh is ‘yng Nghymru’, even though ‘Wales’ on its own would be ‘Cymru’. This means you might well recognise words that look similar to ones you’ve already learned if their ending is similar.
- Spelling, whilst initially seeming insane, makes much more sense than in English. Welsh has dropped some letters from English, such as k and x, but also has letters English doesn’t, which are made up of two characters, such as ‘Ll’, or ‘ll’ in lower case, and the above ‘Ng’, or ‘ng’ in lower case. Once you’ve worked out what these sound like, with a couple making sounds which don’t exist in English, Welsh is almost entirely phonetic in spelling, meaning words are spelled how they sound, something which non-native speakers of English would find very refreshing when trying to read words like.
- There are plenty of free resources out there for learning Welsh! Here are just a few: Duolingo, Omniglot, and various BBC materials.
I hope this is enough to convince or help you to learn Welsh. If so, pob lwc i chi!
Image ‘Welsh flag’ by Matthew Wilkinson is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.
by David Winlo
So, you’ve been to Berlin on holiday, tried some bratwurst while there, come back and listened to some Rammstein, and now you’re intrigued – perhaps you could learn this language, and get more out of these things. Maybe find out what more the German-speaking world has to offer.
Continue reading How to Learn German – Useful Tips and Resources
by David Winlo
So, you are a student now. A student of… biology? Or history, or English literature. You don’t need to know another language for that, do you?
Well, it might help quite a lot actually. Another language will enable you to read about your subject in other languages, talk to more people working or interested in your field and help your brain perform better, whatever you’re doing.
Depending on your subject you may well find some of the most useful literature is not written in your language. Reading foreign scientific literature may seem impossible, but it needn’t be. You may never have studied another language, or you may never have enjoyed studying another language because it wasn’t taught well in your school, but rest assured that now is a good time to start.
If you can’t decide what language you want to learn, what country you want to learn about, what nation’s studies will benefit yours the most, pop along to the languages fair. There you can hear more about why languages are important for your studies, career and more. You’ll see what languages UEA can offer you, how you’ll fit them in with the rest of your subjects and get advice on which language you should learn.
The languages fair will be in ARTS 0.24 (James Platt Centre) on Thursday 29th September from 13:00-14:00 and free to all first year students
by David Winlo
Staving off third-term boredom.
We are now in the third term of the year, and much of what there is to explore in town and on campus right now may have already been explored. No matter how much or little there is going on this term, learning a foreign language is a sure-fire way to keep yourself entertained while waiting for something new and interesting to surface. Those familiar with GCSE and perhaps A-level foreign language lessons may be sceptical of this reason, but if you’ve decided entirely by yourself to learn the language, it is virtually guaranteed to interest you.
2. De-stress during the exam period
Far from cramming your head full of extra information when it is already struggling to keep up, an additional language can be an excellent way to escape your everyday stresses and get you thinking in different ways or about other things. It has been shown that people who speak multiple languages have a slightly different personality in each – perhaps you’ll see things differently when speaking Spanish, and exams will seem less stressful or be further from the forefront of your mind.
3. The holidays are approaching
Thinking of going abroad this summer? A foreign language on holiday can rescue a stressful situation, and add to the fun of any holiday activity. If you’re not sure how to get somewhere, you won’t have to worry about asking for directions and you’ll be there in no time. Wherever you are, you’re likely to get very friendly responses from the locals – in The Netherlands for example, I spoke to a waiter in Dutch and was responded to with friendliness, extra portions of dessert, and free beers!
(image courtesy of © Michael Jastremski / 2008-02-06)