Welsh English

Welsh English

Welsh English, Anglo-Welsh, or Wenglish (see below) refers to the dialects of English spoken in Wales by Welsh people. The dialects are significantly influenced by Welsh grammar and often include words derived from Welsh. In addition to the distinctive words and grammar, there is a variety of accents found across Wales from the South Wales Valleys to Monmouthshire to West Wales.

Some people use the same word to refer to any form of English spoken in Wales.

Pronunciation and peculiarities

Some of the features of Welsh English are:

* Distinctive intonational differences, including a rising intonation at the end of statements; the accent is often characterised as "sing-song".
* Lengthening of all vowels is common in strong valleys accents.
* The vowel in English words such as "bus" is not that of Standard English but that of the obscure sound of the letter "y" in Welsh. Thus, in Welsh English, the vowel sounds in "bus" and "the" are identical.
* In some areas, pronouncing IPA| [ɪ] as IPA| [ɛ] e.g. "edit" and "benefit" as if spelt "edet" and "benefet".
* A strong tendency (shared with Scottish English) towards using an alveolar trill IPA| [r] (a 'rolled r') in place of an approximant IPA| [ɹ] (the r used in most accents in England).
* Yod-dropping is rare after any consonant, so "rude" and "rood", "threw" and "through", "chews" and "choose", "chute" and "shoot", for example, are usually distinct.

Influence of the Welsh language

As well as borrowing words directly from the Welsh language (e.g. "cwtch", "bach"), Welsh English is influenced by the grammar of Welsh and Welsh intonation. Placing something at the start of a sentence emphasises it: "furious", she was". Repetition for double emphasis is not uncommon : "It was a little-little car, a Fiat". Conversely, structures that would indicate emphasis in Standard English, like "He does go there", or "I do do it", might be used in neutral contexts, where no emphasis is intended. This derives from the common use of periphrasis and auxiliary verbs in spoken Welsh.

There is also evidence of semantic influence. For example:

# The Welsh verb "dysgu" means both "learn" and "teach", and sentences like "He "learned" me to drive" in place of Standard-English "He taught me to drive" are not uncommon.
# Question tags. In Standard-English question tags are common, seeking agreement from the listener. e.g. She's a good teacher, isn't she? Notice that the question tag always uses the same verb and in the same tense, but is put as a negative, or a negative statement has a positive tag, 'That wasn't kind, was it?' He looks hungry, doesn't he? etc, but in Welsh-English they frequently say: She's a good teacher, "isn't it"? / That wasn't kind, "is it"? / He looks hungry, "isn't it"? The question tag is always the verb 'to be', and in the present tense. This can be very confusing to learners of English, but the explanation is that the expression 'isn't it?' is short for 'isn't it true?' thus seeking agreement/confirmation from the listener, i.e. the meaning is the same, but the actual words used are different from Standard-English.

Regional accents within Wales

There is a very wide range of regional accents within Wales.


The Cardiff accent and dialect is somewhat distinctive in Wales. People from the capital include Charlotte Church, Colin Jackson, Ryan Giggs and Shirley Bassey. In colloquial language, Cardiffians tend to use a 3rd person singular verb conjugation when referring to the 1st person singular or plural. For example, "I knows it/We knows it" rather than "I know it/We know it". A more general and distinguishing feature is the pronunciation of /ɑː/ as /æ/. Taking this into account with the general Welsh English feature of pronouncing /ɪ/ as /ɛ/, Cardiffians would say they're from "Caaardeff". Cardiffians also commonly use a glottal stop instead of /t/, for example, "water" would be pronounced as "wa'er". Futhermore, there is a tendency to use the present indicative form of a verb when the imperfect form is required, such as "I come in and sit down" rather than "I came in and sat down".

The city itself has different dialects, with people from the eastern and western districts of the city having a stronger and broader accent. They also tend to pronounce "here" as "yur", "all right" as "orraye" and use the word "lush" to mean "great", "fabulous" or "attractive".

The accent is so broad that a speech software company worked with Cardiffians to improve such software. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/4860334.stm BBC NEWS | Wales | Computers to learn Cardiff accent ] ] Although based in nearby Barry, accents heard in the sitcom "Gavin & Stacey" are not Cardiff or Barry accents, with the exception of the character Nessa.

outh Wales

The 'sing-song' Welsh accent familiar to many English people is generally associated with South Wales and the South Wales Valleys of the old South Wales Coalfield, most notably in the "mid-west" area from Port Talbot to Llanelli. Somewhat reduced South-Wales accents can be heard from serious Shakespearian 'theatre' actors Richard Burton and Anthony Hopkins, or on recordings of Dylan Thomas. Such accents are prominent in the film "Twin Town" and heard from Tom Jones and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

The accent of Newport is also distinctive, quite different from that of nearby Cardiff and has some of the influence of rural Monmouthshire, "i.e." some Newportonians going shopping go "down town", which may be pronounced as "Dewn tewn", for 'into town'.

An online survey for the BBC, [cite web |title=Welsh proud of 'unpopular' accent |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/4179629.stm | accessmonthday=June 30 |accessyear=2005 ] reported in January 2005, placed the Swansea accent in the bottom ten accents likely to help a career, although "Cardiff folk ranked only a few places higher".

North East Wales

In North East Wales, the accent can sound like those of Cheshire and Merseyside (the latter most evident in Flintshire). Towns nearer the border or with substantial populations tend to have Scouse-like accents, due to the preference of the urban youth and Liverpudlians living thereFact|date=July 2007, as well as the high population of families having moved there from the Liverpool area in recent centuriesFact|date=July 2007. It is not unusual to find that someone whose first language is Welsh speaks English like a Liverpudlian. More 'sing-song' accents are often found in Welsh speakers in the Northeast.

Western Wales

In the South of Pembrokeshire, the accent is similar in some respects to Cornish speech patternsFact|date=July 2007. Certain Welsh words such as 'crwt' and 'pwdu' are used, despite the low number of Welsh speakers in the area. Owing to the high number of English migrants to the area, South Pembrokeshire is sometimes claimed to have an almost English accentFact|date=July 2007; however, this is incorrect.Fact|date=November 2007. There is a distinct South Pembrokeshire accent and terminology used, although this is now in retreat.

Accents in Wales vary even over relatively short distances. The Neath accent is different again. Within Carmarthenshire, there is a noticeable difference between the Carmarthen, Llanelli and Ammanford accents. As in many other areas of Britain, the strength of different south-Walian accents is frequently related to social class, with the pronunciation of more educated speakers often closer to RP.

Influence outside Wales

While English accents have affected the accents of English in Wales, influence has moved in both directions. In particular, Scouse and Brummie accents have both had extensive Anglo-Welsh input through immigration, although in the former case, the influence of Anglo-Irish is better known.

ee also

* Regional accents of English speakers


External links

* [http://www.bl.uk/soundsfamiliar Sounds Familiar?] ndash Listen to examples of regional accents and dialects from across the UK on the British Library's 'Sounds Familiar' website
* [http://www.talktidy.com Talk Tidy] : John Edwards, Author of books and CDs on the subject "Wenglish".
* [http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/wal/Thoughts.html Some thoughts and notes on the English of south Wales] : D Parry-Jones, National Library of Wales journal 1974 Winter, volume XVIII/4
* [http://www.ku.edu/~idea/europe/wales/wales.htm Samples of Welsh Dialect(s)/Accent(s)]
* [http://www.undermilkwood.net/prose_umw1.html The Life and Work of Dylan Thomas] Radio performance of Under Milk Wood, with many Welsh accents. Narrated by Richard Burton.
* [http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=tPwYt3gVbu4C&oi=fnd&pg=PA130&dq=%22welsh+English%22+transcription&ots=G0PNdy_-Sp&sig=BwgabVXAbnBIqC8aPpSM9fuXYzo#PPA134,M1 Welsh vowels]

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