Cymraeg/Welsh: Beth ydi ‘a fain’?


Senior Member
English (Southern England)
Just a quick question: on this page on Amgueddfa Cymru’s website, which has an underwhelming number of Welsh-dialect maps, one of the maps on offer shows distribution of ‘a fain’. It shows how the letter ‘a’ is pronounced in a certain context or contexts in different parts of the country, but I don’t know what ‘fain’ (presumably ‘main’ meaning slender?) is in this context?
  • If you remember, @Stoggler, parts of the country refer to your language as 'yr iaith fain' - 'the thin language'.

    You will also recall that 'a' is usually pronounced as /a/ when short and /a:/ when long. For example, tan /tan/ 'until' but tân /ta:n/ 'fire'. (The long vowel is not always indicated by the circumflex.)

    In parts of the south-east (Gwent) and also in Mid-Wales along the border with England (Powys), /a:/ has an allophone [æ] which occurs in monosyllables and stressed final vowels: [kæ] cae 'field', [kəm'ræg] Cymraeg 'Welsh language', [tæd] tad 'father', for example. It's this [æ], similar to Northern English 'short a', which is pronounced what is called 'thinly' which gives rise to 'the thin a'.
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