SSi Forum

What emotions have you experienced while learning Welsh?


Me too! And one of my earliest memories is my mother telling me to say U to my grandparents. That was the first time I learned U even existed and it felt like an artificial distance was created, and it hurt! When my nieces were born I asked my parents to just let them say je, with that early memory in mind. I’m glad they did.

Edit: I’m glad this is one of those forums where going off-topic isn’t that much of a problem. :smiley:


Just wanted to add that before starting to learn Welsh I was a very shy and private person. Meeting with strangers and sharing on the course was definitely outside my comfort zone but I did it and my confidence has soared. Meeting people now in social settings is much more manageable and I know i now have an interesting topic of conversation to use “did you know about this great group of people who are leading the way in language learning …” So learning Welsh has made me a lot more outgoing.
Ps some Welsh visitors to where I work today I was so pleased to chat a little with them in cymraeg


That’s so fascinating - thanks for sharing! I’ve heard people say that about talking Welsh before, but not previously about their whole life, even when they’re talking English… :star: :star2:


I am absolutely certain you are right. Its the main barrier to speaking a language. You can know everything in your head but if you are too scared/embarrassed to start speaking it stays in your head. I have gone from pure elation when i came back from bootcamp and managed two hours only in welsh with the welsh teacher (because no one else had turned up to the lesson) to feeling tearful and angry this morning. I popped into spar for a few things and I knew the girl serving speaks welsh. So I put everything on the counter and asked for a bag in welsh, which she understood but then she proceeded to ask if I wanted a receipt in English and I felt completely useless and couldn’t even manage a ‘please speak Welsh with me’
Its the emotions that help of hinter progress. Thats why I know that without SSIW and most importantly Arans gentle encouragement and kindness I wouldn’t be continuing this journey.


This girl serving in the shop probably wasn’t even aware that speaking Welsh meant so much to you. These people have to say the same things over and over again, for hours and hours, so, she just asked you if you wanted a receipt in English. Just like a robot, you know. Maybe she was bored to death and her thoughts in another world…maybe she didn’t even notice that you spoke to her in Welsh. It’s easier said than done, but often, it’s better not to let such things get to you, as other people’s reactions don’t always have anything to do with you, but just mirror their own emotions and state of mind.

Honestly, I “envy” you for your passion and love for Welsh, for the deep and strong connection you feel for this language and culture. I, too, think that emotions are the most important thing…the strongest motivator to learn a language. I’m painfully aware of the fact that I lack any real connections to Wales. I just feel a diffuse interest in Celtic cultures since I was a child. Since then, I’ve tried to learn Gaelic. I failed and started anew countless times and still got nowhere. I hate to admitt this, even to myself, but I just feel exhausted and totally fed up with learning. I try my best to fight and overcome this feeling, but maybe it’s just a waste of time and energy.

I hope that next time, the woman in the shop will answer you in Welsh! :cherry_blossom:


I went to the Celtic exhibition in the national museum of Scotland last year you might be able to find links on a Google search. Its main premise was that there weren’t necessarily Celtic nations but certainly a very widespread Celtic culture that extended from the northernmost fringes of Scotland in a wide swathe through a large part of Europe and even as far as half way into Turkey. So maybe you are more connected than you realise?:grinning:


Yes, I found the link to the Museum of Scotland, and they offer more links on Celtic culture on their website. Diolch yn fawr! :sunflower: Maybe you are right and I’m more connected than I think. Right now, I can hear Darth Vader’s voice in the back of my head, whispering: “Search your feelings, you know it to be true…” :nerd:


I think I would agree with you about English (and suspect you are right about using “chi” for anyone you’d call Mr, Mrs, Ms, or Miss - or any formal title like “Dr”, etc).

However, apparently this does not translate to German, which people probably know is a language where formality is the rule, rather than the exception. Politeness dictates that you call (almost) everyone except close relatives, close friends, children, and animals “Sie”, rather than the famliar “du” (like “ti”).

There may come a time in friendships when people decide to call each other “du”, and when this happens, it’s irrevocable. If you were to revert to “Sie” afterwards, it would be a sign of rudeness, or that the friendship has fractured for some reason. There is even a verb to express this process (of switching from Sie to du"): “duzen”.

Now, you’d think that this would coincide with people calling each other by their first names, but apparently, this isn’t necessarily so. People can be on first name terms, but still address each other by “Sie”. It appears that these are different levels of formality, and something that native speakers know instinctively, but learners just have to learn.

There are exceptions to the Sie/du rule, but again, anyone but a native speaker has to carefully feel their way, and err on the side of formality, i.e. stick to “Sie” among adults unless asked to do otherwise.


I have mentioned elsewhere my learning experience when we first moved to York and the stable lads exercising racehorses called to me - eventually I realised after many repeats that they were asking “Wha’d’they call thee?” and cried, “Oh, you want to know my name!” I was of an age where I would certainly have been ‘ti’ in Cymraeg to everyone, but, in English you had to be north of a lot further than Watford before ‘thee’ kicked in. I don’t know if this is still true. @yorkshireend, Do they still use ‘thee’ in your neck of the woods? Anyone from Lancs?


It’s very, very common for learners to interpret this sort of situation as a negative comment on their Welsh - but it almost NEVER is! Much more that the person on the till has a tendency to switch to English for anyone they don’t know well/automatically box as a Welsh speaker - but even without ‘please speak Welsh with me’, if you just carry on patiently in Welsh, at some point she’ll get the message… :wink:


The older people do sometimes, but the younger ones don’t say it even though they understand it.
But I’m a Lancastrian, not a Yorkshireman. When Liverpool FC come to play Huddersfield AFC I’ll be the one wearing a red scarf amongst all those others in blue and white.



I came across similar situations quite often when I first moved to Llandysul. People who didn’t know me would assume I couldn’t speak Welsh and seemingly not even notice when I did speak Welsh to them. They just kept going in English and I kept going in Welsh. Eventually it dawned on them that I could speak Welsh and they started addressing me in Welsh. You have to wear them down :wink:

On a side note, I was quite intrigued today when I stopped to buy petrol in Powys, not far from the English border. I spoke Welsh to the woman who was serving, telling her which number pump, which she accepted without hesitation but replied in English. Then I asked in Welsh if they had any toilets, to which she replied no, but said I could use the ones in the Burger King nearby. So she obviously understood Welsh. Whether she could speak any herself, or could only understand, I wasn’t sure, but I just kept going nevertheless.


I just finished challenge 24 of Level 2, and I am feeling a LOT of things about it, so I’m going to use this thread to get them off my chest :wink:

I have felt:
Joy and pride: when I know exactly how to say something Welsh in a lesson!
Blank terror: when Aran says a sentence that starts complicated and then goes on… and on… and I’ve forgotten half of it by the end (which is what I just experienced in challenge 24)
Surprise: when I didn’t think I knew how to say something, but it just comes out of my mouth anyway
Bleak confusion: when I have no clue how to say something and my mind goes utterly blank
Annoyance (at myself): when I knew something but I got it wrong
Exhaustion (is that an emotion? I think Level 2 broke my brain)


Sounds as though you got the full range in there :star: :star2:

Particularly glad to hear about the joy, pride and surprise :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

But please recognise how MUCH you have achieved, and try to let go of the annoyance… :slight_smile:


That’s interesting because that’s where I am, about 8 miles from the border in Powys. Perhaps there are more people that can use Welsh than I think.


Respect. It was always there, but it has deepened.


When you’ve been through a couple of lessons or challenges that worked with patterns that haven’t sunk in yet, so your brain is seeping out and you feel like you are climbing slowly and working so so hard… then the next challenge seems to make sense, and you open your mouth and Welsh tumbles out!
Utter delight!
Feels like you are strolling down a hill. To the pub.


Ah, I must find a way to quote that at some point… :star2:


@aran! Further to the previous emotions of swimming in cottage cheese and strolling downhill to the pub, I have just been floored by a new one.

Whilst I was waiting for the new level three, I embarked on the old courses. I have just finished course three, and I am so utterly SAD to have done so - with a proper tug in my middles!
I feel like my best friend left!

Interestingly, my rational brain is telling me that there is the new level three to move on to, plus all the recapping I promised myself (but have really got the hang of just moving on, so have never gone back), and that there will be so much more to do, and that is fact, so why the sadness?
I’ve just suddenly come to realise that good learning processes might, or even, must elicit emotional responses in us.

You probably knew that, didn’t you?

But now, my learning world has been blown open AGAIN!

When the kids were learning to speak, I remember reading an article (parenting skills via google, oh help me) about language acquisition and wild toddler emotions. The author suggested that whilst the gates are open to absorb language, there cannot be controls or filters for emotions, and that the lack of emotional regulation is necessary for optimum wordiness.
At the time, it helped me survive the absolute wildbeast state of small children… but what if this stuff applies to learning language as an adult? Or learning anything at all?
What if my utter sadness (in the face of evidence that suggests I should feel otherwise) is my brain being unable to clamp down on such feelings as it normally would, because it has been swamped with Welsh?
Did I feel a little bit sad because I had finished, but found it hard to keep that feeling in its proper perspective, because those normal checks were folded up and put out the back for a short while?

Is one of the biggest hurdles to sucking up a language not what we think it is - the actual learning of words and patterns, but the easing away of our emotional safeguards that stop us going over the top as adults?
What if there are only two choices - absorb language OR listen to your inner critic?
Not that I’m suggesting that we all turn into toy lobbing narcissists or anything…

Reading this back suggests to me that my sadness has been mitigated somewhat by a bit of overexcitement. :grin::grin::grin:
Oh, and I really like being swamped in Welsh!


I’m very early in my journey at the moment, having moved to North Wales in July this year and deciding that living here I want to speak the native language of the majority of my neighbours. So far I have felt elated to have remembered a few things, disappointed in myself at forgetting so much and frustrated with locals who will not humour my attempts but just speak English to me anyway even when I tell them. Dw i’n trio dysgu siarad Cymraeg".