Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Yma o hyd - Dafydd Iwan (Still here)

The next song we're going to tackle is the famous Welsh song Yma o hyd by Dafydd Iwan. I'm sure this is a song that we've all heard at some point, most likely at times of national pride. Think: Rugby. 

So, let's kick things off ;)
Here's the first verse, let's break it down into more digestible chunks: 

Dwyt ti'm yn cofio Macsen,
Does neb yn ei nabod o;
Mae mil a chwe chant o flynyddoedd
Yn amser rhy hir i'r cof
Pan aeth Magnus Maximus o Gymru
Yn y flwyddyn tri-chant-wyth-tri,
A'n gadael yn genedl gyfan
A heddiw: wele ni

Dwyt ti'm yn cofio Macsen: You don't remember Macsen (proper noun, some guy's name)
So, in Welsh we all know that 'rwyt ti' is equivalent to the English 'you are'.
It's simply the second person singular form of verb 'bod' ('to be').

'Rwyt ti'n cofio' means 'you remember'

So what about 'Dwyt ti'? Well, 'dwyt ti (ddim)' means 'you don't'. To form the negative, you need to add the particle 'ddim' immediately after the subject 'ti'. This leaves us with, 'Dwyt ti ddim yn cofio'

Look closely: 'Dwyt ti'm yn cofio' - here the 'ddim' has just been contracted, just like 'do not' becomes 'don't'. 

So, here, 'dwyt ti'm cofio' means 'you don't remember'.

'Cofio' - 'to remember' (in the infinitive i.e, unconjugated verb form that you'll find in a dictionary)  

So, who's Macsen? Macsen Wledig AKA Magnus Maximus was the Western Roman Emperor (commander of Britain) from 383 to 388. As well as featuring in important Welsh texts, legend has it he married a Welsh Princess named Elen. This guy wanted to grant Wales more autonomy, and left having largely done so. Dafydd Iwan is using Macsen as a symbol of the Nation, urging the Welsh to resist our subjugation at the hands of England, just as we had done with the Roman Empire. 

Does neb yn ei nabod o - Nobody remember him

Think about 'does' like the negative of 'mae'. 

'neb' - nobody 

'nabod' (or 'adnabod') - 'to know/recognize' (Welsh has two verbs for the English 'to know' - 'adnabod' is mainly used for people - 'gwybod' is the other. Romance languages such as Spanish have two forms too, 'conocer' & 'saber').

'ei' - 'him' 

'o' - emphasizes the subject

Mae mil a chwe chant o flynyddoedd - A thousand six hundred years

'mil' - thousand

'a' - and 

'chwe chant' - six hundred - 'chwe(ch)' ('six') + 'cant' ('100') ('chant' after 'six' - some numbers cause 'treiglo' or 'mutation') 

'Treiglo' (mutation): 'c' changes to 'ch' after 'a' (meaning 'and')

Yn amser rhy hir i'r cof -  lit. Is too long a time for the memory (too long ago to remember)

'Yn' - 'is' 

'amser' - time

'rhy' - 'too'

'hir' - 'long' 

'i'r' - 'for the' -- 'i' + 'y' ('for' + 'the') becomes " 'r " - easier to pronounce than two vowels side-by-side - that would leave an awkward gap in pronunciation which would sound something like 'ee--urgh' --> 'i'r' (eer = easier)

'cof' - 'memory' -- this word is hidden inside 'cofio' ('to remember')

Pan aeth Magnus Maximus o Gymru - When Magnus Maximus (Macsen) left (went from) Wales

'Pan' - 'when'

'aeth' - '(he) went' ('bod')

'o' - 'from'

'Gymru' ('Cymru' - 'Wales') - after the prepostion 'o' verbs mutate (treiglo yn feddal) 'C' becomes 'G'. In a forthcoming post, I'll post a table of the mutations ('treigladau'), and try to explain them a little. 

Notice the weird word order: Welsh is a VSO language - Verb-Subject-Object language -- English an SVO - Subject-Verb-Object language. These two word orders are among the more common in world languages. 

So: VSO - Aeth (verb) + Magnus Maximus (subject) + Cymru (object)

Yn y flwyddyn tri-chant-wyth-tri - In the year three hundred and eight three

'Yn' (preposition) - 'in'

'y' - 'the'

'blwyddyn' - 'year' ('y flwyddyn' -- All singular feminine nouns mutate softly in Welsh: 'b' --> 'f') 

A'n gadael yn genedl gyfan - And leaving us a full nation

'A' - 'and' (again)

'ein' - 'us'

'gadael' - 'to leave'

'yn' - purely grammatical here, no 
Notice: in an earlier post I mentioned 'yn' is sometimes a particle that links verbs with other parts of speech.

'cenedl' - 'nation' (another soft mutation - 'c' --> 'g')

'cyfan' - 'whole' -- words mutate softly after single feminine nouns -- 'c' --> 'g'

A heddiw: wele ni! - And today: we'll see!

'a' - 'and'

'heddiw' - 'today'

'wele ni!' - 'we'll see' -- an interjection of sorts, 'wele' is from the verb 'gweled' (to see) & 'ni' means 'we' / 'us'

Now time for the Chorus!:

Ry'n ni yma o hyd,
Ry'n ni yma o hyd
Er gwaetha pawb a phopeth,
Er gwaetha pawb a phopeth

Ry'n ni yma o hyd.
Ry'n ni yma o hyd,
Er gwaetha pawb a phopeth,
Er gwaetha pawb a phopeth
Er gwaetha pawb a phopeth
Ry'n ni yma o hyd.

Ry'n ni yma o hyd,

'Ry'n ni' -- 'we're' (contracted)  *Remember 'ni' from a moment ago? 'Ni' = 'we'/'us'

'Rydym ni' - 'we are' is the uncontracted version - it's the verb 'bod' ('to be') again!

'yma' - 'here'

'o hyd'- 'still'

so, literally, 'we are here still'.

Er gwaetha pawb a phopeth

'er gwaetha(f)' - 'despite'

'pawb' - everyone

'a' - and

'popeth' - everything ('pob' + 'peth' = 'every' + 'thing', haha) *Notice p --> ph after 'a' (meaning 'and' - Treiglad llaes - a mutation)

Lots and lots of repetition here in the chorus!

Stay turned for Part Two and explanations of the Second and Third verses. 

Hwyl am y tro! :D (Bye for now)

Tuesday, 28 June 2011


Right, to begin, I would like firstly to explain (briefly) my intentions for this blog. 

This blog should NOT be used as your PRIMARY source for learning Welsh.

I assume, that any visitors here have already delved somewhat into the beautiful language and know at least some basics. My goal is to IMMERSE you in modern/essential Welsh culture, current Welsh culture! Therefore, I have decided to aid all of your learning by teaching aspects of the language through Videos/Music etc. Short, engaging clips that you SHOULD watch OVER & OVER... and with my help you WILL come to UNDERSTAND their meanings. 

I set the idea out, knowing that this EXPOSURE to Welsh IS very beneficial. Studies have been conducted PROVING that exposure to the target language (i.e. Welsh in this case) improves language acquisition, or, the rate it will take you to grasp the language. Although incomprehensible initially, YOU WILL start to know the media clips on this site WELL. You therefore will have a REPOSITORY or a WELL of available vocab etc. you can SQUEEZE into your conversations!! 

One point I would like to stress.... ENJOY the clips! Have fun! Don't worry if you don't understand at first... YOU WILL BE ABLE TO. Good, so... relaxed??

Now For Some (unintentional) Comedy!

This clip is from a Welsh film that is taught at GCSE every year... It's sooo good, because it's sooo bad!:L
It had quite a cult following now, it's very funny:L
We will use entertainment to good use!

Man:- Be' ydw i wedi 'neud i chi, pam?

Beth - What?

Ydw i wedi - have I done ("wedi" makes it 'did', makes it be in the past, "have done" something)

i.e. rydw i wedi ysgrifennu llythyr - I have written a letter

'neud = gwneud = (to) do / make

i chi - to you (respect, plural)

Pam? = why?

Be' ydw i wedi 'neud i chi, pam?
What I have done to you, why?
Or, in question order...
What have I done to you, why?

  Woman:- Pam lai?

Pam - why

Pam lai - means, why not?

Man:- Just dudwch pam?

Just- Just
dudwch (North Wales accent) = dywedwch - you say ("chi" version - dywedwch chi) 
pam - why

Woman:- Pam? (bad evil laugh)  

Pam? - why?


Woman (being straggled):- Dyna 'dych chi isio te?

Dyna - There (that it)

'dych chi - ydych chi - you do/do you (cause its a question)

isio - eisiau (pronounced with North Wales accent)

te - then

Woman:- Eii? Come on!

no explanation needed

Man:- Chi ddim yn call

chi - you (plural, polite, formal)

ddim - not

yn - "is" (in the state of.. i.e. yn frown - is brown)

call - sane (should be "gall" but, just everyday speech)

... You're not sane!


Y Corryn a'r Pry' - Cerys Mathews

Here, we have our next video, a nice little song on Cerys Mathews acclaimed album "Awyren=Aeroplane!"


The song is entitled, "Y Corryn a'r Pry'" - The Spider and The Fly

Let's start!... Remember listen through it first... then chunk by chunk! The language in this, represents well how people speak Welsh now, and in a sense is more useful that "Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau." It's less formal, slangy, more realistic usage!

Dwi am ddangos paradwys i ti (I am going to show you paradise)

'Dwi - Rydw i, I am

am - conveys "going to" - in the future

Rydw i am - I am going..(in the future, *not future tense, just its gonna happen)

dangos = show,
"dd" - like "the" because it follows "am" a preposition, mutates softly

therefore, (ry)dw i am ddangos

Paradwys = Paradise

I ti = to you (remember "i mi" (to me) from the other post?)

Dwi am ddangos paradwys i ti
I am going to show paradise to you/  - either "to you" at end or 
I am going to show you paradise                  "show you" in English

Meddai'r corryn wrth y pry' 

Meddai - (it/he/she/Gareth) said.. meddai exists only in a few forms, use like this

'r = meddai + y = two vowels, 'r (apostrophe)

y= the 

corryn - spider

wrth - to ("wrth" used after "dweud" "to say" and "meddai" "said")

y = the

pry(f) = fly

Meddai'r corryn wrth y pry'
Said the spider to the fly

Ti am aros 'da fi

Ti - you (singular, informal) 
am - are going (in the future sometime)

aros - (to) stay

'da = gyda = with

fi (like mi) = me

Ti am aros 'da fi
You are going to stay with me


Mynd â chwmpawd drwy'r ddinas...

Mynd - (to) go

â - with (gyda, used after verbs) mynd gyda (mynd â) (circumflex "^" stretches vowel)

cwmpawd = a compass (after "â" and "gyda", c, p, t mutate - c -> "ch" "loch")

therefore, ...â chwmpawd

drwy - through 

'r - drwy + y = drwy'r (two vowels)

y = "the"

dinas - city (note, ddinas, after "y" (dinas is singular, feminine!, like "Gwlad" from other post.)

Mynd â chwmpawd drwy'r ddinas
Go with a compass through the city


...Bydda' i'n disgwyl 'na i ti, 
i ddangos y ffordd.

Byddaf i = I will (be) (future tense)

disgwyl = wait/expect you

'na, yna = there

i ti = to you (singular, informal)

i - to (in order to)

ddangos - (to) show  (after "i" - "to" (in order to) soft mutation) d-- dd

y - the

ffordd - way

Bydda' i'n disgwyl 'na i ti, i ddangos y ffordd.
I will wait there for you, to show the way. or, re-ordered,
I will wait for you there , to show the way

...'Dwi am droi y gofod rhyngom,
a'i wneud e yn gan gradd.

'Dwi, rydw i am - I am going

troi - (to) turn (droi - after "am", soft mutation, t->d)

y - the

gofod - space

rhyngom - between us

a'i wneud e - and make it:- "a", "and" + "gwneud" "(to) make" "e/ef" "he/it"

a+ei - a'i (you need "ei" before the "e/ef"

yn - ("is") 

can - 100 (soft mutation after "yn" "is")

gradd- degree (think compass, degrees, as in 360 with a circle)

'Dwi am droi y gofod rhyngom, 
a'i wneud e yn gan gradd

I am going to turn the space between us,
and make it a hundred (100) degrees...

Am i ni fod 'da'n gilydd

Am i - for (in order to)

ni - we/us

bod - "(to) be" (infinitive - like it'd be in a dictionary):-
soft mutation after "ni" (same with fi, ti etc.)

'da - gyda = with

'n - ein (latches onto the vowel on the end of "'da", shortens)

i.e. 'da + ein = 'da'n

gilydd = together

Am i ni fod 'da'n gilydd.
In order that... we be together
/so that

...Wyt ti'n barod am noson fel hon, fel hon.

Wyt ti - Are you?

yn barod - to be (is) ready - yn fawr (is big)

ti + yn = ti'n (vowels together merge)

am - for

noson - a night

fel - like

hon - this (feminine "this", because "noson" is feminine, like "dinas")

Wyt ti'n barod am noson fel hon, fel hon?
Are you ready for a night like this, like this?


Os rhoi di bopeth sydd gen ti,
mi gei di bopeth sydd gen i...

Os = if

rhoi di = you give (you- ti/di) (rhoi = (to) give)

popeth - everything (mutates softly after "ti/di" remember? Like "ni" and "fi/mi'

sydd - which

gen ti - I have ("gen" is a conjugated form of "gan" = "have - posses, own")

Mi or Fe - adds more emphasis

gei di - you can have ("gei" has mutated softly after "mi/fe" from "cei", 

cei di - you can have (you informal, "di/ti" - conjugated form of "cael" "to have"

bopeth - everything - everything - same mutation "popeth"

sydd - which

gen i - I have (conjugated "gan" again, this time for "fi/mi" (gennyf fi- gen i)


a chymaint mwy

a = and

cymaint - so much

a chymaint... after "a" meaning "and" - mutates c - ch (loch)

mwy - more

a chymaint mwy
and so much more

This is rather amusing...

...Mae'n cymryd dau i wneud y tango...
mae gennym wahaniaethau mawr, ti byth yn gofyn dim.

Mae - remember this just sits nicely at the start of such sentences, that just state something.

yn cymryd - (to) take (yn cymryd - does take, "being")

dau - 2 (plural unknown gender, always 'dau' if at least 1 male, even if there's a 1000 women, 'dwy' for 1 or more females only.) 

i - to (in order to) (remember softly mutate after this, g drops!, disappears!)  

gwneud - (to) do/ make

y - the

tango - tango!

Mae'n cymryd dau i wneud y tango
It takes 2 to do the tango

...mae gennym wahaniaethau mawr.

Mae - same goes, (stating the fact they have big differences)

gennym - we have ('gan' - possess, have conjugated preposition) *you treiglo after 'gan' - and this is a form of that! - Softly :) Gs drop!

gwahaniaeth - difference

gwahaniaethau - differences 

mawr - big...

Mae gennym wahaniaethau mawr
We have big differences


Ti byth yn gofyn dim

... ti - you (singular, informal i.e. friends etc.)

byth - never

gofyn - (to) ask *yn gofyn... why 'yn?':- 

For the curious, http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Welsh/Verbs#Group_1_-_yn

dim - nothing but anything, unless in English you wanna double-negative! 

So... Ti byth yn gofyn dim
       You never ask anything





Fflamau, fflamau
Yn fy mhen, fy mer, fy nghalon
Fy enaid, tyrd yn 'gosach
Gad imi deimlo dy fysedd arnaf.

Fflam - Flame (f - v, ff - f (fun) )

Fflamau - Flames 

Yn - In

Fy - My

Now here's a good bit to see how different letters mutate after 'Fy' - Nasal

Learn this well!!
It will be handy to be able to refer to a melody with examples!

Pen -> Mhen = Head  P - Mh

mêr -> mêr = Marrow (in bone) - M - M

Calon -> Nghalon = Heart --> C - Ngh

Tyrd! = Come...  "dod" is (to) come, however this is the command form! (imperative) - informal, singular

agosach - closer ('gosach - slangy)

:D Learn these you'll look impressive ;)

Gad - from Gadael = (to) leave/allow

i mi - (for) me

teimlo - (to) feel - Mutation! after "mi" - Soft!


dy - your (possession) (singular, personal) - Treiglo like with after 'My' = 'Fy'
But SOFTLY now! 

B-F (f=v sound) 

bysedd - fingers

arnaf ---> ar = preposition, "on" - arnaf, conjugated "on me" (many prepositions conjugate like 'am' 'ar' and 'gan' etc.)


Flames, flames
In my head, my marrow, my heart, 
Come closer! Let/Allow me feel your
fingers on me!

VÓILA, There we go... Now, sit back relax, take your time, and read over and over, and try and try to sing along... You will get there!

Remember, doing a little bit every day, is far better than doing 3 hours on a Monday and nothing for the rest of the week!!

Learning Welsh from Music: Let's Start With the Anthem!

Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau
(Old Land of My Fathers)

Let's begin!


This is the Welsh National Anthem: Listen to it in its entirety :)

Right, so... I would like to explain the meaning and words in this song, chunk by chunk. 

So, I will firstly deal with the FIRST STANZA, so after I've walked you through it, play just this part again, NOT the whole thing... Just to where I've explained. This will be the pattern through the whole song.

The first lyrics are...

Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi,

So, firstly you'll notice the word 'Mae'.

'Mae' is a very common word in Welsh. Why? Well, because it is the third person singular form of the verb 'to be', AKA 'is'. Simply put, 'mae' means 'is'.  

Simply, and let's NOT COMPLICATE this, shove 'MAE' at the start of a positive, indicative statement, i.e. a sentence that says something is something (positive). Just use it... it goes at the beginning, when we simply state (not question) something. 

Next, Hen means OLD and this is one of the very few adjectives (describing words, green, small, long etc.) that comes BEFORE the thing it is describing... most, most, most come after, 

i.e. Gwlad hir (long country)

So, Hen means Old,

Wlad means Country/Land - in the dictionary it would have a 'G' at the start (GWLAD) but the word Hen comes before (exception not rule), so the letter G get's dropped, left out.


Therefore, Mae hen wlad - The old land (we see how Mae is at the front, it Starts statements like this.) If it isn't a question or negative statement (there are NO, Doesn't etc.) 
There's a good chance you'll simply need to shove 'Mae' at the start. SIMPLE, really, think of it as simply as that! :D

So, Mae hen wlad
     The old land

Next, fy nhadau...

tad = dad (father) (simple enough!)

tadau - dads (fathers) the plural.

FY means My - it's possessive, i.e. belongs to, it's MY fathers, Mine!

So, Fy tadau = My Fathers

Howver... like with Hen... the word after mutates, or changes. 

So... after Fy it gets nasal, all nosey, like a blocked nose version, 

T goes to Nh after 'FY'

That's quite simple, don't worry, just remember that! Trying to say 'T' through your nose comes out that way!:L

So - Fy tadau, becomes..... Fy nhadau (my fathers)

Quite simple. T -> Nh. 

It will get shorter...

Next, "yn annwyl" meaning "is dear"

Yn - Is  (Wait, wasn't 'mae' 'is' too?) Well, technically speaking, 'yn' has no independent meaning, it's just a particle (geiryn) that's required to link an adjective to a verb. Thinking about it like the English 'is' can be helpful, but, it's role is purely grammatical.
annwyl - dear

"i mi" - "to me" 

The old land of my fathers is dear to me.

Mae Hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi. 

Notice... how we don't need OF... as in, Gareth's bag (the bag OF Gareth) it's his! 
In Welsh is "Bag Gareth" ...bag = bag ;) SEE!, NOTHING for this OF. Just Bag Gareth, Gareth's bag! :) 

Easy!... The explanations will get shorter and shorter, TRUST ME!...

I'll continue, shorter, in the next post... We Will fly through it!... Remember the START was always gonna be the most detailed. 

Just listen to the song, relax, read the lyrics, over and over :D... Until soon!