Conditional confusion


I find it more remarkable that Welsh has kept its regional variations given the geographically small area in which it’s spoken!


Didn’t they also attempt to simplify the spelling with “modern” Irish?


There have been a swag of changes over the years since Dev (de Valera).
The latest revised versions in 2012/2017 try bringing the intentions of the Standard/Caighdeán closer to the spoken dialect of Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking regions).
As for simple; Irish can mutate at the beginning, middle or end :expressionless:
The spelling (no surprises here I am sure) is still theoretically fluid as the Celtic languages were all originally verbal. Regionally speaking- an O’Neill is an Ui Niall is an Ui Neill :wink:


Maybe its important? There are dialects in Germany around Cologne which can accurately place people to a small village or district. Not all languages need to be global. Standardisation is a noble aim, with importance, but the most precious thing for any minority language are it’s existing speakers and parental transmission. Any change has to derive from and with that speaker base and expanding the speaker base should take second place. I get the feeling Welsh seems to be striking the right balance at the moment, but with hindsight Cymraeg Byw was possibly a step too far, rolled out too quickly and many I suspect viewed it as some quirky sort of posh Welsh, which can easily lead to people questioning their own Welsh, which, if that happens, is a really bad situation.


It’s terrain that is (until the age of electronic communications, at least) the factor with dialects, not area. Russian is spoken over a vast but flat area and yet has little dialect variation really; Italian is spoken over a much smaller but hillier area and has numerous quite distinct dialects.


Interesting…and is it to do with a distinct sense of place?..or practical, mobility/ ability to communicate issues ?

Rich :slight_smile:


The latter, I’m sure. Lack of communication between communities leads to language divergence


So I’m now wondering why is Middle Welsh still reasonably intelligible to most Welsh speakers, wherever they come from i.e. why haven’t the dialects drifted away in more distinctly different ways - the bible could account for some of that, but it didn’t happen until quite a few centuries after the early writings of the mabinogi etc and there was ample time before the bible for them to diverge. I just have a feeling that Welsh has changed quite slowly over the centuries and the geography factor today, giving the quite small regional differences was a factor in the 12th century, perhaps more so even, than it is today and yet the dialects are still very close and have changed in much the same way and to the same extent from the earlier Welsh.


I hope, @Timj, you aren’t sorry you asked your question! I think ‘Conditional confusion’ is a perfect description of how many of us feel learning Welsh. It’s fine once you get used to it.


@rich @stephenbranley
…ah, but if you ask an Italian where they are from you will commonly be told the region/city-state: Bari, Bologna, Cagliari, Catania, Firenze, Genova, Messina, Milano, Napoli, Palermo, Reggio Calabria, Roma, Torino, Trieste, Venezia. Generally if you ask a Cymro/Cymraes you will first be told the Country and then the locality (if you are outside of Cymru) rather than the other way around.


Indeed. Largely due, no doubt, to the unified tongue across the people. The largest and most drastic change to impact Welsh was the invasion of and deliberate dominance of the actual *Wealh*
Bless the people of Cymru for their pride and identity has kept the language in the face of once singular opposition.
O bydded i’r hen iaith barhau.
Please note, I am not trying to polemicise…but history is history and is of itself apolitical.


Bronwen, no I’m very pleased indeed that I asked. I got an answer to my immediate question and a lot more besides. Placing it all in the context of Cymraeg Byw etc was really useful and interesting. I have studied other languages, but always through a more formal grammatical approach, so SSIW has been very refreshing. But I can’t shake off old habits and I check everything against my various grammar books and I get uneasy when things don’t match. But I’m learning to relax and enjoy it. It’s part of the fun of Welsh. Thank you everybody!


Am in (very hilly) Provence at the moment, and although standard French is everyone’s mother tongue here nowadays, from what I’ve read, Provencal was still spoken around here not so long ago, and similarly with Occitan, just a bit further west. Unfortunately, the ruling elites in France have not been kind to regional languages / dialects over the centuries. If that were not so ,then la belle France would be even more linguistically varied today than it is, je crois.


No, they have a very poor record on these matters, unfortunately.


OK, I’m biting my tongue about English dialects being no problem. I’ll leave you with this gem.
Click on the blue text.
If you are short of time, perhaps jump in at 01:00 :smiley:
Bearing in mind that many of the speakers are fairly mild TV presenter types and trying to be understood, well some of the time anyway.


Too true.I vividly remember a conversation with the proprietor of a Basque language bookshop in Maule in the Basque province of Zuberoa in southern France who was close to tears when he explained to me that the number of Basque speakers there was down to 10% (this was 10 years ago) and that the government was not adhering to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages…


We often do. But differences in dialects go way beyond that. I know Piedmont better, although it’s certainly true for several other regions: there used to be different words and accents in tiny villages that are just 5 miles away. It wasn’t so much a matter or identifying with one place or the other, it’s mostly that people rarely moved!