Cymraeg (Welsh): Cymru

Myllira

New Member
Dutch - Belgium
Hi everyone!

I'm having some problems with the pronunciation of the word 'cymru'. I understand that it can mean 'Wales' or even 'the Welsh people' (and maybe there are some other translations) but it also seems to have different pronunciations according to the context. I know that in general the 'y' and 'u' in Welsh can be pronounced in different ways, but is there a certain rule? And what is the rule with 'cymru'?

Thanks in advance for the help!!!
 
  • Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    You can hear sound recordings in various websites, for example this one. As I understand, the pronunciation of the letter "u" is different in southern and northern Wales.
     

    alanking

    Member
    English - UK
    In Welsh the word Cymru means "Wales" (the country), and the word Cymry means "Welsh people", "(the) Welsh". Cymry is actually the plural of Cymro which means "Welshman" (there is also Cymraes for "Welsh woman").

    The two words Cymru "Wales" and Cymry "the Welsh", "Welsh people" are pronounced in exactly the same way, which I will now describe.

    The first syllable almost sounds like the English word "come" but the vowel is a bit higher (technical phonetic term). In other words, the vowel in "Cym-" sounds rather like the last syllable in "AmeriCA". But this syllable is stressed in the Welsh word.

    The second syllable sounds roughly like the last syllable in "canaRY". But the "r" is pronounced with the tip of the tongue and lightly trilled in Welsh, and the vowel is a purer "i" sound than in found in many dialects of English.

    So non-technically we can describe the pronunciation as "Come-ry", or a bit more scientifically as ['kEmri] where the capital E represents a schwa-like sound.

    Actually this is the pronunciation in southern Wales. In northern Wales the second vowel (the "u" of Cymru) is an unrounded BACK or CENTRAL vowel - a sound not found in many European languages, but encountered in Turkish (the letter "i" without the dot). In theory this can be described as the vowel you get if you try to say "u" (or the "oo" in "moo") without rounding your lips. In practice this may be hard to get right without hearing a model, and even after you've heard one it takes practice to imitate! The best advice to non-Welsh-speakers who are unable to do this is to use the southern pronunciation described above, which is easier.

    There are some rules for how to pronounce the written Welsh vowels (and some exceptions too...), but it would take an even longer reply to give them here.
     

    Myllira

    New Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    Thanks! Those differences between Northern and Southern Welsh got me a bit confused, but now I'm enlightened ;-)!!!!
    Thanks again!
     

    alanking

    Member
    English - UK
    Pronunciation rules (I'll try to be as brief as possible):

    Welsh "u" is always pronounced as described above for "Cymru" (i.e. in the south, or a high back unrounded vowel in the north), except that in some words it is long (e.g. in "du" 'black') and in others (and always when unstressed, as here) it is short.

    Welsh "y" in some words represents the same sounds just described for "u", e.g. in "dyn" 'man'. In other words "y" represents the schwa sound described for the first syllable of "Cymru".

    The basic rule as to which sound "y" represents is as follows: in the last syllable of a word and in stressed monosyllables it has the same sound as Welsh "u" (either long or short); in non-final syllables and most unstressed monosyllables, it has the schwa sound.

    Another relevant point to note is that the regular place for stress in words of more than one syllable is on the second-to-last syllable.

    So in the word "Cymru" 'Wales', the first syllable is stressed because it is second-to-last and the "y" is pronounced as a (stressed) schwa because it is not in the last syllable of the word. The second syllable is unstressed and the vowel has the sound always given to the Welsh letter "u".

    The word "Cymry" 'Welsh people' is pronounced the same as "Cymru" because the second "y", being in the last syllable, is not pronounced as schwa but with the Welsh "u" sound.
     
    Actually this is the pronunciation in southern Wales. In northern Wales the second vowel (the "u" of Cymru) is an unrounded BACK or CENTRAL vowel - a sound not found in many European languages, but encountered in Turkish (the letter "i" without the dot).

    Yes Alan, that is "ı", it is actually like the sound of "e" in the English word "the" bit closer though.

    PS: Just out of curiosity Alan do you speak Basque?
     
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