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The Sounds of Welsh[edit | edit source]

This is enough to get you started. For a fuller guide, please see the reference work at Pronunciation of Welsh.

Consonants[edit | edit source]

We will start with learning the consonant sounds of Welsh. We've split them into 4 groups. Consonants in Welsh can only make one unique sound, as opposed to English which can make several sounds per consonant. For example, the c can make a k sound as in cat or a s sound as in city. When you learn the sound a consonant makes in Welsh, it will only ever make that sound you learn.

Consonant sounds same in English and Welsh[edit | edit source]

These consonants look the same in English and Welsh, and sound the same.

  • b /b/ Like b in boy. Welsh example: bachgen (English: boy)
  • c /k/ Like c in cat. Welsh example: cath (English cat)
  • d /d/ Like d in dog. Welsh example: drwg (English bad)
  • g /g/ Like g in gun. Welsh example: gardd (English garden)
  • h /h/ Like h in happy. Welsh example: hen (English old)
  • l /l/ Like l in lake. Welsh example: calon (English heart)
  • m /m/ Like m in mad. Welsh example: mam (English mother)
  • n /n/ Like n in none. Welsh example: nain (English grandmother)
  • ng /ŋ/ Like the end of the English word sing. In Welsh, this letter can come at the front of a word. In Welsh, it is never pronounced with a hard g, as in the English finger. Welsh example: angau (English death)
  • p /p/ Like p in poker. Welsh example: pen (English head)
  • s /s/ Like s in sad. Welsh example: sebon (English soap)
  • t /t/ Like t in tar. Welsh example: tŷ (English house)
  • th /θ/ Like th in think. Welsh example: methu (English fail)

Consonant sounds in English, Different letter in Welsh[edit | edit source]

These sounds are found in English, but they are assigned to a different letter in Welsh. Train yourself to read them differently now.

  • f /v/ Like v in violin. Welsh example: gafr (English goat)
  • ff /f/ Like f in friend. Welsh example: ffrind (English friend)
  • dd /ð/ Like th in then. Welsh example: hardd (English beautiful)

Consonant sounds in English, Not in Welsh[edit | edit source]

These sounds are in English, but you will not hear them in Welsh.

  • The c in Welsh only makes a hard /k/ sound. It will never sound like an s, such as in the English city.
  • The g only makes a /g/ sound. It will never sound like an English g, like in the English gender.
  • The th in Welsh represents the th in English think. The dd represents the other th in English, like the word then.
  • There is no z sound in Welsh.

Consonant sounds only in Welsh[edit | edit source]

These consonant sounds may be new to you.

  • ch /x/ Like the Scottish loch or German composer Bach. Welsh example: chwech (English six)
  • ll /ɬ/ The ll is a hard Welsh sound to make. It is best described as putting your tongue in the position of l and then blowing out air gently. Like saying a h and l simultaneously, but with more puff. Welsh example: llyn (English lake)
  • r /r/ The Welsh r should always be trilled. Welsh example: ar (English on)
  • rh /r̥/ The Welsh rh should be trilled with aspiration. Like saying a h and r simultaneously, but with more puff. Welsh example: rhan (English part)

Vowels[edit | edit source]

There are seven vowels in Welsh. Most vowels can be two different sounds. The y can take three different sounds. There are clear patterns on when to use which vowel sound, but for the beginning level: learn how to pronounce each word as you go along, and you'll eventually be able to logically deduce which vowel sound to use.

  • a
  • e
  • i
  • o
  • u
  • w
  • y

Alphabet[edit | edit source]

Welsh Vocabulary • Alphabet • audio (upload)
Yr Wyddor Gymraeg The Welsh Alphabet
Letter Name of letter Corresponding sounds as in
a â /a, ɑː/ hat, Am. hot
b /b/ bag
c èc /k/ cat
ch ech /x/ like Scottish 'loch'
d /d/ dog
dd èdd /ð/ the
e ê /ɛ, eː/ pen
f èf /v/ veil
ff èff /f/ field
g èg /g/ get
ng èng /ŋ/ song
h âets /h/ hat
i î /ɪ, iː/ pin
l èl /l/ lava
ll ell /ɬ/ no equivalent
m èm /m/ mother
n en /n/ name
o ô /ɔ, oː/ hot, Am. pole
p /p/ please
ph ffî /f/ field
r èr /r/ rolled r
rh rhî, rhô /r̥/ same as above but unvoiced
s ès /s/ sit
t /t/ top
th èth /θ/ think
u û /ɨ̞, ɨː/ (N), /ɪ, iː/ (S) sit, seat
w ŵ /ʊ, uː/ put, loot
y ŷ /ɨ̞, ɨː, ə/ (N), /ɪ, iː, ə/ (S) kit, about
  • The names of the letters above are in Southern dialect. In the North, the letters are pronounced differently.
  • h indicates voicelessness in mh, nh, and ngh.
  • ph occurs occasionally in words derived from Greek (e.g. phenol) but more commonly as a result of aspirate mutation (e.g. ei phen-ôl)
  • y indicates /ə/ in unstressed monosyllabic words (e.g. y "the", fy "my") or non-final syllables, but /ɨ̞, ɨː/ (N) or /ɪ, iː/ (S) everywhere else.
  • The digraphs (letters consisting of two characters) are treated as a single letter (with the collation order as listed above), although the same combinations of characters can sometimes also arise as a juxtaposition of two separate letters. For example, the digraph ng representing /ŋ/ is alphabetised between g and h (alphabetical order llegach, lleng, lleiaf), but when ng is two letters representing /ŋg/ it is alphabetised between nf and nh (alphabetical order danfon, dangos, danheddog).
  • si indicates /ʃ/ (as in English sheep) when followed by a vowel.
  • di and ti sometimes indicate /dʒ/ (as in English joke) and /tʃ/ (as in English church)respectively when followed by a vowel. Otherwise /dʒ/ and /tʃ/ are spelled j and ts, but only in loanwords like jẁg "jug" and wats "watch".
  • To pronounce the ll sound, blow while placing your tongue on the roof of your mouth.
a b c ch d dd e f ff g ng h i j l ll m n o p ph r rh s t th u w y
A B C Ch D Dd E F Ff G Ng H I J L Ll M N O P Ph R Rh S T Th U W Y

And saying it out loud : ah bee ec ech dee eh edd ef eff e.g. eng aetch ee jay el ell em en o pee phee er rhee es tee eth eu oo uh