Is Welsh an ugly language?

Here’s butler Edmund Blackadder’s opinion on the Welsh language:

“You need half a pint of phlegm in your throat just to pronounce the placenames. Never ask for directions in Wales Baldrick, you’ll be washing spit out of your hair for a fortnight.”

It’s a very funny programme so we’ll forgive Blackadder this slight (he’s just as rude about the French, Scots and Germans, so we won’t take it to heart).

This is another matter that arises out of the marked differences between English and Welsh. Although both use the Roman alphabet, the letters are tied to different sounds in Welsh. One frequent gag about Welsh is that the language has no vowels. In fact Welsh has seven while English has five. It’s just that some letters that represent consonants in English, sometimes represent vowels in Welsh – such as w and y. Welsh also makes use of diagraphs such as Ll, Dd and Ch, which represent just one sound. If you read something written in Welsh and try to pronounce the letters as you would in English, it would be hard to imagine how they could be said without a myriad of facial contortions, and as Blackadder said, a fair amount of mucus.

But if you know what the letters mean, it’s actually easy. Take this name: Bedd Gelert

Very difficult to get your tongue around if you pronounce the letters as they’re said in English. But if you read them as you would in Welsh, it’s easy: Beth Geh-leart.

However, you needn’t take my word for it. The best way to prove that Welsh isn’t an ugly language it just to play a sound clip. Here’s the very non-ugly Katherine Jenkins with a taster:

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3 thoughts on “Is Welsh an ugly language?

  1. You think English is easy??

    I think a retired English teacher was bored…THIS IS GREAT!

    Read all the way to the end……………..
    This took a lot of work to put together!

    1) The bandage was wound around the wound.

    2) The farm was used to produce produce.

    3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

    4) We must polish the Polish furniture..

    5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.

    6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert..

    7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

    8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

    9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

    10) I did not object to the object.

    11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

    12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

    13) They were too close to the door to close it.

    14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.

    15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

    16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

    17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

    18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear..

    19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

    20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

    Let’s face it – English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France . Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

    And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

    If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?
    How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

    English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

    PS. – Why doesn’t ‘Buick’ rhyme with ‘quick’?

    Thank you Brian

  2. Very true, pwyllpendimbyd. As well as all existing English words, we have many words we’ve imported from other countries from Spain to China. Some west African languages have provided a few words, and of course we have some imports from a number of American Indian languages. Not to be Gung-ho about it, but I’ve got to go eat some succotash before my banjo lesson. 😉

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