SSi Forum



To be fair, that wasn’t what the thread was about originally. It was about loan words.

I understand the pressure and the perceived hollowing out. English has so many idioms and idiomatic structure that are so easily slipped in. Hence why the same has happened in Slovenia, as Tatjana mentioned.

My issue is simply with the loan words and their origin.


apologies if I got the wrong end of the stick… just on my mind and I assumed this was a discussion about validity of loan words as OP said he wasnt happy with lico etc


I’ve expressed this view before, but while loan words are one thing (and inevitable I suppose), the real danger of hollowing out is the industrial-scale importation of whole phrases and structures into Welsh, even if (literally) translated from English into Welsh.

I would guess that it makes first-language speakers wince with pain to hear such importations, but I fear that there is nothing that can be done about them.

Over time, it will change the nature of Welsh much more than the importation of single words.
Bad? Good? Some might say “it just is”.

As Anthony has said, it’s not just Welsh that has to worry: The French have long been worried about this sort of thing, and more recently, the Germans as well. The difference is that Welsh is a much smaller language, and Wales is much smaller economically as well. So I think Welsh needs a bit more special protection.


Who was it who accused the French for having no word for ‘entrepreneur’?
Ignorance is often bliss. I know I have jumped to conclusions about licio when apparently hoffi is less genuinely Welsh. I also know I followed a conversation in Punjabi because of the number of English words that slipped in. It happens everywhere. Bremsstrahlung is ‘English’ for a kind of radiation first discovered and named in Germany! I believe, to a German, it literally means ‘stopping radiation’ but it is the word we learn in English physics classes!


I believe that was George W. Bush.
I’ve sat through the whole licio/hoffi debate quite a few times now. I think the difficulty we have as learners is having some choice in which word to use. I’m at the point now where sometimes I say hoffi and sometimes licio, without overly thinking it. Sometimes borrowed words perhaps take over from older words because they make more sense. Languages constantly have words falling into and out of use:
I used to live in Manchester and adopted some Mancunian (bobbins = rubbish/ poor quality - is such a great word!). At the time there was a series of adverts for a cheese based spread, with the telly adverts using the phrase ‘well cheddarie’. In the Manc accent it just works really well. Somehow Mancunians adopted to this word to mean ‘Naff but oddly cool’.
The thing is Welsh speakers do just seem to chuck in so many English words and us learners, trying so hard to be proper and correct often intimidate natural speakers.
Someone once used the word tent when talking to me, and I replied with a sentence containing pabell (I blame the Arfon ales group) and the Welsh speakers apologised to me for using the English word. I’ve started using lot a ‘lot’ more than llawer, because it so often works better? It’s just a minefield us poor learners have to navigate, it’s like there are four versions of the language, North and South and ‘proper’ and colloquial. it’s the same in English , I think kaputt, works really well in English, but the word was originally German.


Sch*iss is my expletive of choice these days … :slight_smile: (also German)

(although, if only slightly annoyed, it’s "ych a fi…! )

I’ve just heard “Meical” (a very Welsh Welsh speaker on Rownd a Rownd) use the word “telefisiwn” (or maybe “television”). But he was referring to the physical apparatus, rather than the broadcasting service. Perhaps “teledu” may be more commonly used for the latter.


English and a few romance languages have imported a Graeco-Latin hybrid based on Tele = far and Video = I see. German, however translates television into fernseher. If Welsh were to follow the German practice, I guess we’d have something like “gweldobell” as in the lovely hymn - 'rwyn gweld o bell y dydd yn dod …
Any takers? :laughing:


Bit of a tangent (for which I apologise), but I thought a few people here might be interested. I’ve taken a year off to study this year, and one thing I’ve found very interesting is the discussions that arise around terminology. Just yesterday I was in a discussion forum about gender and (initially) literature (although it then branched off to become more cross-curricular). There was a fair amount of discussion about terms like ‘intersectionality’ and ‘queer theory’, and what Welsh scholars are using to discuss the concept. It’s quite a common thread when Welsh academics get together, and the Coleg Cenedlaethol Cymraeg is starting to collect a corpus of academic terms, which is useful.

Not really germane to the discussion in hand (which is about using English for terms that already exist in Welsh), though!


I still mourn the loss of use of ‘teliweli’ or was it spelled, ‘telewele’?


As indeed does Cornish, with pellwolok and pellgewsel… :slight_smile:


Rhyming slang: Bobbins of cotton = rotten


Wasn’t Tellywelly simply the nickname of TWW (Television Wales and West) an early ITV regional franchise holder?


My wife’s family lived in North Wales from about the middle of the '50s to about 1961, My father-in-law (technically English, but at least half Welsh by adoption (I mean he adopted the Welshness, not that he was adopted by Welsh parents…)) often used the word “tellywelly”. I was always amused by it, and when I started learning Welsh (many years later), expected everyone to know it, but when I mentioned it on the then forum, I got only the equivalent of blank looks, and also could never find anything useful on google.

He’s not around to ask, sadly, but I thought he meant “television” rather than TWW. Could be wrong, of course.


Got there before me :slight_smile:

I suppose that would be something like “pellolwg” in Welsh (wolok in the Cornish is soft mutated from golok “look, vision” i.e. golwg), and perhaps “pellsiarad”.

I think I’ve heard that “pellwolok” was calqued into Cornish from Breton.

Coming from German, though, while we do have lots of calques for technical terms, most people just use the loanwords. Fernsehen “far-sight” has established itself but Fernsprecher “far-speaker” is just officialese while the man on the street will simply use the Telefon. You never know which calques will establish themselves and which won’t. (Though you can probably try to influence that through schooling.)


When I previously mentioned telewele on the Forum, someone told me his Unlcle used to say it and remembered it! I certainly knew it as meaning ‘television’ not TWW which nobody I knew watched!


Then there is that interesting German usage “das Handy” for “mobile phone”. It usually throws English-speaking learners of German, because although it’s an English word, we simply don’t use it like that.

I did hear a story that it actually came from before the mobile-phone generation, from some kind of military field communication equipment. The story I heard (or mis-remembered) was that it came from WW1, but if the following article is true, it’s from WW2, but was from the military:

I think most native English speakers are a bit taken aback when first confronted with the German word Handy. We know it variously as mobile or cell phone amongst others. But the germans have taken an English adjective meaning useful or convenient and created a German noun. I’ve asked german friends and colleagues about the history of the word, but nobody seemed to have a good idea from whence this word came.

Like many words of foreign, and especially English, origin it has simply become eingedeutsched and accepted. It is no more of a curiousity to germans than the the verb managen’s past participle form “gemanagt.”

A lazy Sunday of surfing put me across a mention of the Motorola HT 220 Handie Talkie which prompted a quick google. It turns out the word Handy comes to German from English after all. In fact, it seems to come from Motorola’s Handie-Talkie.

The Handie-Talkie was introduced during the Second World War by Motorola as a handheld successor and companion to its already successful Walkie-Talkie (or “breaky-backy” as it was known to the troops) - a backpack based radio transmitter.

It seems this image of the American GI with his Handie-Talkie took hold in Germany and the usage has been around ever since. It has been used for various mobile radio devices from companies like Bosch and Siemens either as Handie or Handy.

So the next time the topic comes up, you can confidently inform your German colleagues of the origin of the German usage of the word Handy for a wireless radio. An advertising exec in Chicago invented it for Motorola in 1940 and it’s been knocking around Germany since its arrival with U.S. Forces.

Sounds plausible. But does not really explain the difference in spelling.

One question that I’ve not so far had 100% answered is whether it is also used in Austria (although I think the answer is yes), and the German-speaking part of Switzerland (to which I’m still not 100% sure of the answer. They tend to go their own way a bit in Switzerland, so I gather).


I believe the traditional word in Switzerland is “Natel”, from a brand name:

But I’ve heard that the German-from-Germany word “Handy” is starting to make inroads in Switzerland as well.


I totally agree. I was just thinking the same thing. And of course there are Gaelic roots to many English words. I mean obviously English would have influenced Welsh more than other languages having been forced on the nation But there are so many English loanwords all across the globe now because English has become an international language and I don’t hear people complaining about English loanwords in other languages. There’s bound to be some crossover is after all we are all on the same island! As it least 80% of Welsh seems to be completely different from English and far more different from English than other European languages I can’t really see why anybody is worried about it!


No, Telewele (sort of “Tele-Look-Here”) was a Welsh-language BBC Television children’s programme in the 1950s to 70s. The title became fairly well known to viewers in those parts of England served by Holme Moss (BBC North) and Sutton Coldfield (BBC Midlands) because those transmitters would relay / repeat Welsh-language programmes at midday for the benefit of viewers in those parts of Wales who at the time got their TV signal from those sites. It became something of a (very annoying, because ignorance-based) “joke” among the kind of people who derive pleasure from scoffing at Welshness to insist that it just proved how thick Welsh-speakers were that they called TV “telly-welly” :grimacing:


Whatever the word’s origins in German, pseudo-anglicisms (Beamer for projector and Rowdy for hooligan are other examples) inevitably come across as irritating. And it would be a lot more handy if Germans did not insist on pronouncing the word as “hendy” :slightly_smiling_face: