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The World of Funny Welsh Words
Put on your humour hat and waltz into the world of funny Welsh words!
Welsh is a beautiful, ancient language. It is the language of beautiful poetry and is mesmerizing when you hear it spoken well, but even the most patriotic Welsh person must admit that some of the words in Welsh can be idiosyncratic and sometimes giggle-worthy!
This is a lighthearted lens written by someone who has been learning Welsh over the past few years who respects the language but also sees the funny side of learning Welsh as a complete beginner.
On this page, you will find a wealth of wacky Welsh words that will tickle your funny bone. From the infamous "popty ping" to the humorous Welsh word for "carrots," Welsh and non-Welsh speakers alike will be able to savour the comical string of sounds this lovely language boasts.
Cornelius Rooster or "Ceiliog Cornelius' - The Welsh Connection
I am always on the lookout for interesting and amusing connections to the wonderful Welsh language and as I write this, June 2014, have justI stumbled upon an interesting story involving the official harpist to Charles, Prince Of Wales and Mr. William Keith Kellogg of breakfast cereal fame.
Nansi Richards Jones (May 14, 1888 to December 21, 1979 ),who was born on the Welsh borders became so proficient at playing the Welsh and pedal harps that she was known as "The Queen Of The Harp."During one of her visits to America, she visited the home of William Keith Kellogg in Battle Creek, Michigan. At the time Mr. Kellogg was looking for an interesting way to market his Corn Flakes cereal. Nansi, noticing the similarity between the Welsh word 'ceiliog' (pronounced kayleeog) meaning"cockerel" or "rooster"and the surname,' Kellogg' , she suggested he use a picture of a cockerel on the Kelloggs Cornflake package and so the rest is history.
Dylan Thomas October 27, 1914 - November 9, 1953
Dylan Thomas is the world famous Welsh poet born 100 years ago October 27, 2014. Unfortunately, he died at the young age of 39 many miles from his beloved Wales in New York City but he hasn't been forgotten. There have been many celebrations throughout 2014 celebrating the man and his writings.
He wrote the most amazing melodic, rhythmic poetry and plays and created many unforgettable, amusing characters. If you haven't yet encountered Dylan's works, check him out. He was a master with words as you will discover when you read his work or hear his words spoken.
I have written a capsule entitled 'Dylan Thomas: Centenary which tells you a bit about the man and his works and includes some videos of the man himself reading his own works which you may find interesting. Please see the "link" section at the end of this hub article.
Are you learning the Welsh language?
The Welsh Word for Microwave
Pop your tea into the "popty ping"!
We learn a lot in our classes but a lot of time is spent drinking piping hot cups of tea and chowing down on shortbread biscuits. When my tea became chilled, due to too much conversation and not a lot of sipping, I asked if I could put the tea in the microwave. What is the Welsh word for a " microwave", I asked and she said... "put it in the popty ping"! I fell in love with the word and, when my English friends ask me to teach them a Welsh word, this one never fails to impress.
"It goes into the popty ping!""The....whaaaat?"
"The popty ping. Popty is the word for "oven" in Welsh, and ping is the sound the microwave makes when it has finished its business!
To this day, popty ping is still my favourite Welsh word, though I was rather miffed to discover that microdon is actually the far more common term. Unfortunately, English words often crop up in a Welsh conversation. I will spend a bit of time on this subject a little later.
More Serious Information About Wales - And Resources To Help You Learn The Welsh Language (If You Are That Way Inclined)
The Longest Word in Welsh
siliogogogoch is not only a funny Welsh word, but it is also the longest place name in Europe!
It actually translates as Saint Mary's Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of Saint Tysilio of the red cave
This ridiculously long, tongue-twister of a word refers both to a large village on the island of Anglesey and the train station located within. The village was so named in the 1860s as a publicity stunt to attract tourists to the village after the creation of the Britannia Bridge and the North Wales Coast Railway Line between Holyhead and London. The villagers hoped that the attraction of such a long name would be cause enough for travellers to stop in their town and purchase goods. It turns out that their predictions were correct. Even today, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysilio
gogogoch is a very popular destination for tourists in Wales, who arrive by the hundreds to take pictures by the railway station sign and purchase souvenirs at the gift shop.
If you are interested in learning how to pronounce the longest word in Welsh, click on this link. It will take you to the town's official website where they provide you with a sound file to imitate, pronunciation instructions, and an Anglicised spelling of the name.
Other Very Long Welsh Words and Expressions - Try twisting your tongue around these troublesome terms!
Try saying, "ddiddordebau", the word for interests or hobbies; "llongyfarchiadau" -" congratulations"; "cyfrifiadur", the word for "computer". By the time you say ' pleased to meet you', " braf eich cyfarfod chi", the person has probably disappeared rownd i gornel, round the corner.
If you ever feel the earth move you are probably experiencing an earthquake which in Welsh is daeargryn. However if there is more than one then the word is 'daeargrynfeydd'. This happens a lot in Welsh where the plural substantially lengthens the word. So different to the English 's'.
You are not being rude if you say, "Esgusodwch fi!", which is a very polite, 'Excuse me' and if a Welshman says,"os gwelwch yn dda", they are only saying ,'please'. That is probably why many Welsh speakers often say, plis instead.
ofnadwy expresses the word, 'awful' very well as does the word, bendigedig!for 'excellent'!
(A train station in Wales which actually has more letters than the officially recognised longest word in Welsh.)
(The unofficial name for the village of Llanfynydd in Carmarthenshire)
More Welsh tongue twisters and idioms.
We have to give credit to Ruth, our Welsh teacher, Anthrawes Cymraeg, for these gems. She loves language and history, especially Welsh History and Welsh Folklore. She makes our classes interesting by passing on her knowledge of the sayings, tongue-twisters and idioms that she has known since childhood that have been passed down from her parents and from her grandparents. As we learn them, I will pass on the information to you so keep posted.
In English we have a saying, "close the door after the horse has bolted", obviously meaning that you have left it too late to do something. In Welsh the expression is a little more risque. They say,"codi pais ar ol piso" or "lifting your petticoat after having a wee". The meaning is the same but expressed in quite a different way.
To say "too much of a good thing" the Welsh have a great expression, "gormod o bwdin dagith gi", translated as "too much pudding chokes the dog"!
Here are two wonderful tongue-twisters:
"Codi cyn codi cwn Caer" - "get up before the dogs of Chester". This expression goes back to when the Welsh would rustle the sheep from their English counterparts and Chester, being very close to the Welsh border, was one of their targets, so they had to get up before the dogs of Chester became aware of their presence and warned their masters.
"Beibl i bawb o bobl y byd" - I love this one. It really rolls off your tongue. It can be translated as "a people's bible for everyone in the world".
The Welsh Word for Tired - Are you feeling a bit "wedi blino" today?
Isn't the word "wedi blino" just so much more evocative than the word "tired"? Just think of bushed, blah, and blasÃ© - blino doesn't really appear out of place at all among these tired expressions, now does it?
Plus, wedi blino is made up of a grand total of two words, not one! Double the words, double the emphasis! And...double the exhaustion?
Funny False Friends in Welsh - Welsh words that sound like English words
The Welsh words listed here look and even sound like English words, but are actually "false friends." In other words, they sound the same, but have a completely different meaning.
For instance, don't go saying that you are hurt in Welsh if you fall down the stairs. All you'll be saying is that you are "silly" and that is hardly cause to ship you off to the hospital!
- English: Carrots = Welsh: Moron
(Not the English "moron" meaning stupid.)
- English: Nothing = Welsh: Dim
(Not the English "dim" as in slow or dim-witted.)
- English: Old = Welsh: Hen
(Not the English "hen" as in chicken.)
- English: Crows = Welsh: Brain
(Not the English word for the organ that keeps us thinking!)
- English: Exit = Welsh: Allan
(Not a name)
- English: Children = Welsh: Plant
(not the ones that grow in the ground but, come to think of it, children do grow like plants.
- English: Dough or Pastry = Welsh: Toes
(not those little digits on the end of your feet.
- English: Challenge = Welsh: Her
(Sounds like the English word, "hair")
Homoffonau Wales from 'Hwb'
As in English, the Welsh language also has homonyms that can be very amusing as shown in this youtube video from the 'Hwb' program shown on S4C on Sunday afternoons.
English words often used in Welsh
and other quirky words
You will often hear English words cropping up in conversations between Welsh speakers and in the media. Very often there just isn't a Welsh equivalent for the word so you will hear: 'compact disc', 'i-pad', salad, handy and bws (bus).
Trio (to try) is often used to replace 'ceisio' and licio (to like) is used instead of 'hoffi'. One of my favourites is gesio (guess) which often replaces dyfalu.
Also did you know that 'hi' means 'she' and 'caws' is not a 'cow' but the word for 'cheese', which makes sense as cows do give milk for cheese.
Butterflies and Bugs
What's in a name
Welsh is a very romantic language with its language steeped in poetry and longing (Hiraeth). It is also a very ancient language with word patterns based more often on ancient Celtic than Roman. Thus there can be a poetic name, a Celtic name and very often a name closely related to English.
"Pili Pala" which appears to have some link to the French Papillon while "Gloyn Byw" is more often used in the specific name of a butterfly. For example Gloyn Cynffon Wennel is a swallowtail.
"Buwch Goch Gota" which literally translates as "Little Red Cow" ! While the more romantic "Prif Bach yr Haf" translates as "First Small (creature) of Summer"
"Cennin Pedr" or translated literally, "Peter's Leek", is commonly worn on St. David's Day on March 1st about the same time that daffodils either start appearing or are waving in all their glory, depending on whether it is an early or late Spring. By the way, some people actually wear leeks, the other symbol of Wales, on 'Gwyl Dewi Sant', (Saint David's Day).
Welsh - A living language
I have had several discussions about the above word and the general consensus is that the word comes from modern young Welsh people wanting a Welsh equivalent to the English 'Amazing'. Something that their parents did not use. Amazing is a popular word in English pop culture probably used out of context from its original meaning. So too 'ansbaradigaethus 'has come to do the same in the Welsh language. Indeed most online Welsh dictionaries do not even list it. But that does not make it invalid. It simply shows that the language lives.
Photo copyright Peter Broster
More Funny Welsh Words
Have you ever eaten 'woolly plums'? My guess is that you have. The word, 'eirin', is the word for plum in Welsh and 'gwlan' is the word for, 'wool'. 'Eirin gwlanog' aptly describes 'peaches', don't you think? - brilliant!!
Cawl is the Welsh word for 'soup' and 'cawlio' means 'confused'. It is like having a soup in your brain, many ingredients all mixed up together like thoughts swimming around in your head. I think 'cawlio' expresses this state brilliantly.
Coffee House Or Tea Room?
We stopped for a drink one afternoon the other day at a 'Ty Coffi'. One would assume that the sign outside the restaurant meant 'tea and coffee'? No, 'ty' means house so the sign says, 'Coffee House'.The moral is: never assume anything when it comes to the Welsh language!
More Welsh Language Books On Amazon
If your interest in the Welsh language has been sparked, here are some more books and learning tools available through Amazon.com. Welsh seems like a very challenging language to learn but we have found that it really does make sense when you look deeply and it has proven to be an amusing experience as well so give it a try, Pob lwc!!
Laughing Out Loud !
Mobile Phone Idioms
Everyone knows that modern words and idioms are being created out of necessity in the mobile phone world but some lead to unexpected results. An example is LOL which is used by everyone to express 'Laughing out Loud' ( not lots of love like many parents interpreted the word. But in Welsh there is another twist. Lol means rubbish, its an old word but the meaning still exists and for Welsh users putting LOL at the end of their comments, the word can be taken two ways. I am sure this happens with other languages too but this is definitely a good one.
Other Welsh Language Sites
- Dylan Thomas: Centenary
Recognised as the greatest Welsh Poet, Dylan Thomas spoke little Welsh and by all accounts was not the nicest person. Yet his poetry stands with the greats That kings for such a tomb would wish to die (John Milton).
- Wales: The Cambrian Coast
Beautiful Wales in all her ancient glory is represented in this article about the Cambrian Coast.
- The Longest Welsh Word...is much too long for this title!
Welsh is a beautiful language with a penchant for long words or words that sing and rhyme. Initially strange to the ear, it is a language to fall in love with. Here are some of its endearing quirks.