xxxii WALES AND THE WELSH LANGUAGE.
Wales is similar to travelling in England, and the tourist requires
no special directions. Except in the remoter districts English is
everywhere understood, but a few data in regard to the Welsh lan¬
guage are given below to aid in the pronunciation of proper names.
— The national Welsh costume is now rare.
Language. Welsh (Cymraeg) is a branch of the great family of
Celtic languages to which the Armoric of Brittany, Cornish, Manx,
and the Gaelic of Scotland and Ireland also belong. Its orthography
is at first somewhat startling to Saxon eyes, but with the exception
of one or two characteristic sounds, the difficulty is not so form¬
idable as it appears on the surface.
Most of the consonants of the Welsh alphabet are pronounced as in
English; but / is pronounced like v, while c and g are always hard. Dd
is pronounced like th in thus, th like th in think, ff like /, and ch like
the German ch (guttural). The sound of 11, perhaps the most difficult for
a stranger, is produced by forming the mouth as if to pronounce I and
then blowing. This sound bears the same relation to 2 as / does to v.
A passable imitation of it is thl (e.g. Llangollen = Thlangothlen). The vowels
a, e, i are pronounced as in the Continental languages (ah, eh, ee), o almost
as in English, and u is a kind of wide sound, the nearest approach to it
in English being i as in fit. When used as a vowel (more often than not)
w is pronounced oo; y is invariably a vowel and is equivalent to the
Welsh « in the last syllable of a word and to « (as in but) in other positions.
Tbe circumflex (A) is often used to denote a long vowel. The letters
j, k, q, x, and z do not occur in Welsh. In combination the initial
letter of a word is often transmuted; thus d and t interchange; also f and
b, and f and m. This change of letter often corresponds to a change of
gender. In pronunciation the accent is always on the penultimate, except
in a few cases when it is on the last syllable.
The following list of Welsh words occurring in the names of places
will be useful. Aber, month of a river, confluence of rivers; afon, river;
bach, bychan (fern, fach, fechan), small; bedd, a grave; bod, a dwelling;
bryn (fryn), hill; bwlch, pass, defile; caer (gaer), fort; cam, carnedd,
cairn, heap of stones, rocky mountain; cefn, back, ridge; clogwyn, precipice;
crib (pi. cribau), comb, crest; cwm, valley (comp. combe); din, dinas, a
fortified post; dries, door, passage; du (ddu), black; dwr, dwfr, water;
eglwys, church; ffynnon, a well or source; glyn, glen; gwy, water; gwyn,
wyu (fern, gwen, wen), white, fair; llan, church or church-village (lit. en¬
closure); llyn (pi. llynnau), lake; maen, faen, vaen (pi. meini), a stone;
maes, faes, a field; mawr, fawr, vawr, great; moel, foel, hare, bald; mynach,
monk; mynydd, mountain; nant, brook, valley (also common in this sense
in French Switzerland); newydd, new; pant, a hollow; pen, top, head; pislyll,
spout, cataract; plds, palace, mansion; pont, bont, bridge; porih, borth,
port, harbour; pwll, pool; rhaiadr, waterfall; rhiw, steep, slope; rhos, moor;
rhudd, red; rhyd, a ford; sych, dry; tal, front, high, head; tan, under;
tomen, a mound; traeth, beach; Irwyn, a point (lit. nose); twll, a pit; ty,
a house; tyddyn, a farm; uchaf, highest, upper; y, yr, the; yn, in, into;
ynys, island; ystrad, vale.
If an opportunity presents itself, the traveller in Wales should not
fail to attend an Eisteddfod (pron. eiatethvod; lit. a 'sitting'), or gathering
for c .mpetition in music, literature, etc. The best is the National Eisteddfod,
held once a year; but the local 'Eisteddfodau' are also interesting.
The following is a small selection of the most recent, the most
interesting, and the most easily accessible topographical and other
books relating to England and Wales. Bulky works, such as county