Cymraeg (Welsh): Pronunciation of 'ae'

Curt Jugg

Senior Member
English - England
I am a beginner in Welsh. I have several books for learners and they all state that 'ae' is pronounced to rhyme with English 'I'. However, I discovered this is not the case and that this rule only applies if 'ae' appears in the last (or only) syllable of a word; otherwise it rhymes with English 'day'. This is confirmed, for example, by reference to Wiktionary for numerous words. At least, I thought I had understood the rule correctly, but now I have come across 'cyrraedd' where this does not appear to be the case: inflected forms of the verb like 'cyrhaeddaf' still show the 'I' pronunciation of 'ae', at least according to Wiktionary. Is this an exception to the rule or have I misunderstood? Grateful for any advice.
 
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  • Welsh_Sion

    Senior Member
    Welsh - Northern
    My pronunciation of <ae>- as a native North Welsh speaker. (Southerners will do other things).

    1. In monosyllables - like monosyllabic Welsh <au> or English 'I'. e.g. 'cae', 'maeth'/'ffau', 'gwaun'. (The first part of the diphthong is fairly long.)

    2. In polysyllabics in the unaccented final syllable - like Welsh <au> or English 'I' e.g. 'chwarae', 'hiraeth'/'dau', 'haul', 'pethau' (The first part of the diphthong is fairly short.)

    (Plur. ending <-au> and final syllable usually pronounced /a/ in my dialect - 'peth-a', 'cor-a', 'chwar-a').

    3. In polysyllabics in the accented penult. syllable - like the formal, full pronunciation of Welsh 'ei' or English 'day' e.g. 'caeau', 'maethlon'.

    (Based on Peter Wynn Thomas, Gramadeg y Gymraeg, 1996: 764)
     
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    Curt Jugg

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Thanks for your replies, AndrasBP and Welsh_Sion. So you would pronounce 'cyrhaeddaf' , for example, with the penultimate syllable rhyming with English 'day', Welsh_Sion?
     

    Welsh_Sion

    Senior Member
    Welsh - Northern
    I would, @Curt Jugg, but as we noted, other pronunciations are available - and so long as you understand what is said to you (and we understand you), there should be no problem.

    Are you studying North or South? Where are you studying? What are you reference materials?
     

    Curt Jugg

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Thanks for the info. Don't know whether I'm studying North or South. I'm studying in England at home, and at the moment using "Welsh in Three Months" and Wiktionary. Have several grammars.
     

    Welsh_Sion

    Senior Member
    Welsh - Northern
    Welsh in 3 Months = Hugo. Essentially, more Southern than Northern. Some grammars better than others. Pleased I can 'talk' to you as a linguist. (Some don't know, e.g. what a verb ids)
     

    Curt Jugg

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Welsh in 3 Months = Hugo. Essentially, more Southern than Northern. Some grammars better than others. Pleased I can 'talk' to you as a linguist. (Some don't know, e.g. what a verb ids)
    Wouldn't go so far as to call myself a linguist but I do know my verbs from my adverbs.

    I like the Hugo as it gives the IPA transcriptions for all vocabulary items. However, it also gives transcriptions using the Hugo system of imitated pronunciation. I have noticed that where the same word is transcribed using both systems there is sometimes disagreement. For example, the word 'aelod' is transcribed as /əilɒd/ in IPA but as 'ey-lod' in Hugo, where 'ey' is described in the pronunciation section as being like the 'ey' in English 'prey'. What's a poor learner to do?
     

    Welsh_Sion

    Senior Member
    Welsh - Northern
    What's a poor learner to do?

    __________

    Listen to native speakers!

    My <ey> is more at the back of the throat as <y> is a 'barred i' for me. The preceding vowel of this diphthong is schwa. (You can get by sufficiently if you think of the Welsh pronoun 'ei' (full-blooded pronunciation. This is closer to SW pronunciation.)

    I haven't got round to loading IPA symbols on this computer yet - I work mainly as a translator. Once I get the latest big piece out of the way, I'll check out SIL and download from there. Then we'll be able to 'speak and understand' each other better.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    That Hugo book is pretty good, and it looks as if it has a good IPA transcription too - until you notice enough inconsistencies and mistakes that mean you can't rely entirely on it, you have to check it against other sources.
     

    Welsh_Sion

    Senior Member
    Welsh - Northern
    It's one of the few textbooks of WFL (what I call myself when I teach adults is a 'Waffler' [sic]) to have IPA and as such is to be commended for it. Yes, there are mistakes and inconsistencies, but it's passable if you don't have other resources. I know of a few textbooks which are utterly appalling for learning Welsh as Foreign Language from.

    Hugo also covers some of the literary language, but seems to err towards 'colloquial' Southern forms. This is only to expected from its authors and is not meant as a criticism. I am a native north westerner/Gwynedd, essentially.
     
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