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The Welsh Language

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The Welsh Language

Welsh is a Celtic language, related to Breton, Irish and Scots Gaelic.  Its roots are lost in time, but it is regarded by some scholars to be Europe's oldest living language.  Welsh and English enjoy equal validity in Wales and approximately one-fifth of the population speaks Welsh fluently.  In many part of rural Wales at least 7 out of 10 people are Welsh speaking.  In these areas, Welsh is spoke as an everyday language, in the home and at work.


Welsh place name can tell us a lot about the town, village, area or mountain in question.  Many Welsh place-names are based on local physical or geographic features, such as rivers, hills, bridges, woodlands and so on.  Aber means "mouth of", so Abersoch mean "The mouth of the River Soch".

Local councils and the Welsh Government use Welsh as an official language, issuing official literature and publicity in Welsh as well as in English. Road signs in Wales are in English and Welsh, including the Welsh versions of place names.


The Welsh people are keen to keep the language alive so Welsh is a compulsory subject for all school pupils up to the age of 16 in Wales. Welsh medium schools are also increasingly popular.


We have a Welsh language television channel, S4C, and a Welsh language radio station, BBC Radio Cymru. There is no daily newspaper in Welsh, but there is a weekly national paper as well as Welsh language magazines and regional monthly papers.


Words that you may come across on signs in Wales



  • Aber - mouth of the river
  • Afon - river
  • Blaen - head, end, source
  • Bryn - hill
  • Bwlch - pass
  • Caer, gaer - fort, stronghold
  • Cefn - ridge
  • Craig, graig - rock
  • Cwm - valley
  • Dinas - fort, city
  • Dyffryn - valley
  • Eglwys - church
  • Glyn - glen
  • Heol - road
  • Llan - enclosure
  • Llyn - lake
  • Merthyr - church, burial place
  • Moel, foel - bare hill
  • Mynydd, fynydd - mountain, moorland
  • Plas - hall, mansion
  • Pont, bont - bridge
  • Tre, tref - home, town
  • Ystrad - valley






Some useful words and phrases



  • Bore da - Good Morning
  • Dydd da - Good Day
  • Prynhawn da - Good Afternoon
  • Noswaith dda - Good Evening
  • Nod da - Good Night
  • Sut mae? - How are you?
  • Iechyd da - Cheers
  • Os gwelwch yn dda - Please
  • Diolch - Thanks
  • Diolch yn fawr iawn - Thanks very much
  • Croeso - Welcome
  • Croeso i Gymru - Welcome to Wales
  • Da - Good
  • Da iawn - Very good
  • Ar agor - Open
  • Ar gau - Closed
  • Allan - Exit
  • Dim parcio - No parking
  • Dim Smygu - No smoking
  • Merched - Ladies
  • Dynion - Men


Useful Links - Nant Gwrtheyrn Welsh Language Centre, located in a former quarrying village of the Llŷn Peninsula specializes in Welsh for adults and residential courses - Welsh for Adults Centres often welcome international students on their summer courses - The Welsh Language Commissioner


  • UKInbound Member
  • Association of Group Travel Organisers
  • ETOA Member
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