SSi Forum

Level 2 Challenge 6


I have some random sample sentences from the challenges, but unfortunately it’s not in any of those. I’ll keep it in mind though and if I need to listen to any of the Level 2 challenges for any reason, I’ll see if it pops up.


I don’t know where it is in lesson 6, but it’s reviewed in lesson 25 at 11:50 into the audio.

What do they want to do? - Be’ dyn nhw isio gneud?

The Glossika course is in line with what Gareth King said above. It has sentences like:

Beth mae o’n ei wneud rŵan?
Beth mae’r plant yn ei wneud?

I’m not thrown by that “ei” and the associated soft mutation as Aran explained what that was in Old Course 2. I’m also not bothered that level 2 of the new course uses a non-textbook structure with “ydyn” rather than “maen” for this (I think it’s a plus that the SSi course teaches everyday things natives might say rather than the textbook forms). It was the specific claim that no native speaker would say this sentence that really threw me.


That’s useful information, diolch. You’ve made me very curious about this now, so I’m going to ask a few “native” speakers to see what they think - starting with you @siaronjames :slight_smile:


I’m glad you put native in quotation marks :laughing:

All I can offer is that I’ll have to listen out for it when talking to friends and colleagues - I honestly can’t remember if I’ve noticed any native speakers say it this way or not.


I guess what I’m looking for is reassurance that this is a legitimate dialect thing and not a mistake. I mean I can literally hear a native speaker saying it on the audio. It doesn’t matter if it is a mistake BTW. I still highly rate your method (as a native speaker of English, I sometimes make mistakes in my classes, so I understand it happens). I just want that reassurance for whatever reason.

Sorry to be a pain.


It would appear it’s more widespread than people think. I’ve just come across it in the southern course as well where “What do they want to do now?” is given as beth ŷn nhw’n moyn gneud nawr? - definitely reflecting the way it’s said amongst first-language speakers using casual Welsh.


Thanks, Deborah!

I wonder what the underlying logic of the colloquial grammar actually is (as opposed to the logic of the formal standard). It’s going to be fun trying to figure it out!

Thanks again.


The underlying logic would almost certainly be (perhaps unconscious) influence of English syntax, I suspect. The English uses the question format in these types of sentences, inverting the subject and verb as normal for questions. In Welsh mae and maen can’t be questions (except focused - separate issue and not relevant here), and so the question equivalents ydy and ydyn are substituted, despite going against all the rules.

So perhaps, Martin, I was indeed a little enthusiastic in saying ‘no native speaker…’. After all, come to think of it, many native English speakers say nucular, esculate, exscape and the like, don’t they? :rofl:

By the way, there is nothing particularly formal about the standard phrasing Beth maen nhw eisiau… :slight_smile:


The underlying logic would almost certainly be (perhaps unconscious) influence of English syntax, I suspect.

That makes perfect sense as a diachronic analysis (and thank you); but I’m also quite interested in the underlying logic in the synchronic sense. I mean, it obviously has an underlying syntactic structure which is different from that of both the standard language and of English. I find that kind of thing kind of quite interesting. For example how Estonian acquired a kind of V2 structure under the influence of V2 Germanic languages/dialects; but its underying syntax is apparentlyquite different from both non V2 languages from its own family (such as Finnish) and from Germanic V2 languages.

By the way, there is nothing particularly formal about the standard phrasing Beth maen nhw eisiau…

Duly noted. :slightly_smiling_face:


Note: I’m not a linguist, just a standard learner, so I might be missing something obvious to you here.

But out of curiosity: what do you see as different than English in the structure of Be’ dyn nhw isio gneud?


I’m not a linguist either, so take anything I say with a pinch of salt.

The answer to your question is that I don’t know yet. I am deliberately avoiding reading the relevant books (though I have them bookmarked!) as I am enjoying trying to figure it out myself and also because I do want to end up a Welsh speaker and IMHO there’s such a thing as studying grammar too early (fun though it is!).

I have guesses that I’m happy to share with you, but Mr (Dr?) King is the man to give you actual answers.

So what do I see as different so far?
Well, firstly the Welsh finite verb is above the subject in the clause by default (I know that things like focus change that) unlike English. In English, being above the subject is the marked situation (for auxilliary verbs only, except in a VERY few extremely formal constructions) and limited to things like questions and so-called “negative inversion”. There’s no reason to assume that the Welsh finite verb and English auxilliaries in interrogative questions are actually pronounced in the exact same place. Being in an interrogative also doesn’t force English auxilliaries to change their form, so that is another clear syntactic difference.

As to what is actually going on, I don’t know yet. Welsh is complicated! Manx seems a bit more transparent and there the interrogative forms are the dependant forms as far as I can see (I may be wrong- I’m not an expert on Manx either ha ha!). My guess so far is that “ydyn” is also some kind of dependant form, the fact that it also seems to crop up in identification sentences after the subject seems somehow to make this feel more plausible to me. Could there maybe be some kind of unpronounced particles involved here? Like kind of how “mi” can leave behind a soft mutation even when it isn’t pronounced in Course 3 (of the old course).

That’s a complete guess as I’m still a beginner and I look forward to being put right by members such as Gareth King (though I would ask them to please just say why it can’t be right and not tell me the real structure- no spoilers, please!).

Edit: Manx uses a different verb (the copula) for identification sentences, but I figured that presumably couldn’t be the case in Welsh as I’ve never come across anything about Welsh having two “be” verbs in general reading and I’ve come across that claim loads for (e.g.) Irish.

Further edit: This got me thinking about Manx again. Surely the dependant form in Welsh has to be stuff like “fy mod i” and its variations and I was on the wrong track completely above. This kind of realisation is a lot fun when you haven’t just posted something dumb on the internet. :sweat_smile::sweat_smile:


I agree that’s more fun (and in my experience, more effective) starting to learn languages trying to figure out what’s going on, first by intuition. And adding details and a deeper knowledge of grammar later.

I don’t know any Manx nor Irish, and I have to admit I got a bit lost in your examples.

However sticking to the original example only,and hoping not to involuntarily spoiler anything. In my understanding/guess:

Be’ dyn nhw isio gneud?
Could be considered influenced by English, cause in English you always have to do something to turn a sentence into interrogative form (like adding do/does/did or inverting the order with auxiliaries, if I’m not forgetting something!)

In this case, despite being a question, the “bod” form shouldn’t change (Mae/maen). Which is perceived as unusual by English first language, anyone learning Welsh through English like me too - and that’s why we, or at least I tend to get it wrong! :sweat_smile: and maybe also became common among first language speakers sometimes, in colloquial Welsh. And I think SSiW often tries to get us used to not getting too worried nor shocked about little mistakes when speaking).

Not sure anything I wrote is understandable by anyone else but me, but oh well, I tried! :rofl:

p.s. When I read Dr.King, I was confused for a moment! :open_mouth: