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The Welsh Language


The Welsh Language, or Cymraeg, a form of Brythonic Celtic, is spoken widely in Snowdonia. Around 20% (around 600,000) of the Welsh population now speak the language.

Welsh can be traced back in written form to the sixth century and was a thriving language until the coming of the Normans into England in 1066. In contrast to English, Welsh has evolved little and early Welsh would still be understood by a modern Welsh speaker, in contrast to the modern English man would fail to understand an Anglo-Saxon script.

After the conquest of Wales by Edward I in 1284 all official business was carried out in French. In 1588, William Morgan first translated the bible into Welsh, which ensured the survival of the language.


The National Eisteddfod of Wales

The National Eisteddfod is the largest and oldest celebration of Welsh culture. The name Eisteddfod means literally 'to sit', and is possibly refers to the hand carved chair awarded to best poet in the 'Crowning of the Bard' ceremony.

The first recorded Eisteddfod was held in 1176. The popularity of the festival suffered a decline in the eighteenth century but underwnt a revival in the the early years of the nineteenth. An Eisteddfod has been held annually since 1880, with the exception of the war years 1914 and 1940.

The Gorsedd of Bards (Gorsedd y Beirdd) made its first appearance at an Eisteddfod in 1819. . The head druid is called the Archdruid and is elected every three years.

The National Eisteddfod of Wales, Swansea and District 5 Aug - 12 Aug, 2006, is to be held at the old tin works, Velindre.



Toward the turn of the nineteenth century, the number of users of the language had gone into serious decline, at a rate which would inevitably have resulted in its extinction within a few generations. The rise of Welsh nationalism rallied supporters to the cause of reviving the language. The introduction of Welsh television and radio encouraged its upkeep. It became compulsory for Welsh schoolchildren to learn the language up until the age of sixteen.

Welsh has enjoyed a further revival due to the introduction of the Welsh Language Act of 1993, which provided the basis for equality with English.


Some frequently used Welsh terms

    aber - estuary, river mouth

    araf - slow

    bala - joining of a lake to a river

    afon - river

    araf - slow

    Bala - joining of lake to river

    coed - wood

    craig - rock

    creoso - welcome

    cwm - valley

    cymru - wales

    din, dinas - fort

    eglwys - church

    fawr - large, extensive

    fechan - small

    fford - road

    glan y mor - seaside

    llan - church or enclosed space

    Lloegr - England

    llyn - lake

    maen - stone

    maes - field

    mawr - great

    moel - hill

    mor - sea

    morfa - coastal marsh

    mynydd - mountain

    pant - hollow, valley

    pen - head

    plas - hall

    porth- port

    rhaeadr - waterfall

    traeth - beach

    tre - town

    twyn - hill

    ysgol - school



Welsh Traditions