Welsh English ( cy|Saesneg Gymreig) comprises the dialects of English spoken by Welsh people. The dialects are significantly influenced by Welsh grammar and often include words derived from Welsh. In addition to the distinctive words and grammar, a variety of accents are found across Wales, including those of North Wales, the Cardiff dialect, the South Wales Valleys and West Wales. Accents and dialects in the west of Wales have been more heavily influenced by the Welsh language while dialects in the east have been influenced more by dialects in England. In the east and south east, it has been influenced by West Country and West Midland dialects while in north east Wales and parts of the North Wales coast, it has been influenced by Merseyside English. A colloquial portmanteau word for Welsh English is Wenglish. It has been in use since 1985.



Short monophthongs

* The vowel of ''cat'' is pronounced either as an open front unrounded vowel or a more central near-open front unrounded vowel . In Cardiff, ''bag'' is pronounced with a long vowel . In Mid-Wales, a pronunciation resembling its New Zealand and South African analogue is sometimes heard, i.e. ''trap'' is pronounced * The vowel of ''end'' is a more open vowel and thus closer to cardinal vowel than RP * In Cardiff, the vowel of "kit" sounds slightly closer to the schwa sound of ''above'', an advanced close-mid central unrounded vowel * The vowel of "bus" is usually pronounced ref name="bare_url_a"> and is encountered as a hypercorrection in northern areas for ''foot''. It is sometimes manifested in border areas of north and mid Wales as an open front unrounded vowel or as a near-close near-back rounded vowel in northeast Wales, under influence of Cheshire and Merseyside accents, and to a lesser extent in south Pembrokeshire due to the absence of the foot–strut split. * The schwa tends to be supplanted by an in final closed syllables, e.g. ''brightest'' . The uncertainty over which vowel to use often leads to 'hypercorrections' involving the schwa, e.g. ''programme'' is often pronounced

Long monophthongs

* The trap-bath split is variable in Welsh English, especially among social status. In some varieties such as Cardiff English, words like ask, bath, laugh, master and rather are usually pronounced with PALM while words like answer, castle, dance and nasty are normally pronounced with TRAP. On the other hand, the split may be completely absent in other varieties like Abercraf English. * The vowel of ''car'' is often pronounced as an open central unrounded vowel and more often as a long open front unrounded vowel * In broader varieties, particularly in Cardiff, the vowel of ''bird'' is similar to South African and New Zealand, i.e. a mid front rounded vowel * Most other long monophthongs are similar to that of Received Pronunciation, but words with the RP are sometimes pronounced as and the RP as . An example that illustrates this tendency is the Abercrave pronunciation of ''play-place'' * In northern varieties, as in ''coat'' and as in ''caught/court'' may be merged into (phonetically ).


* Fronting diphthongs tend to resemble Received Pronunciation, apart from the vowel of ''bite'' that has a more centralised onset * Backing diphthongs are more varied: **The vowel of ''low'' in RP, other than being rendered as a monophthong, like described above, is often pronounced as **The word ''town'' is pronounced with a near-open central onset *Welsh English is one of few dialects where the Late Middle English diphthong never became , remaining as a falling diphthong . Thus ''you'' , ''yew'' , and ''ewe'' are not homophones in Welsh English. As such yod-dropping never occurs: distinctions are made between ''choose'' and ''chews'' , ''through'' and ''threw'' , which most other English varieties do not have.


* Most Welsh accents pronounce /r/ as an alveolar tap (a 'tapped r'), similar to Scottish English and some Northern English and South African accents, in place of an approximant like in most accents in England while an alveolar trill may also be used under the influence of Welsh * Welsh English is mostly non-rhotic, however variable rhoticity can be found in accents influenced by Welsh, especially northern varieties. Additionally, while Port Talbot English is mostly non-rhotic like other varieties of Welsh English, some speakers may supplant the front vowel of ''bird'' with , like in many varieties of North American English. * H-dropping is common in many Welsh accents, especially southern varieties like Cardiff English, but is absent in northern and western varieties influenced by Welsh. * Some gemination between vowels is often encountered, e.g. ''money'' is pronounced * As Welsh lacks the letter Z and the voiced alveolar fricative /z/, some first-language Welsh speakers replace it with the voiceless alveolar fricative /s/ for words like ''cheese'' and ''thousand'', while ''pens'' () and ''pence'' merge into , especially in north-west, west and south-west Wales. * In northern varieties influenced by Welsh, ''chin'' () and ''gin'' may also merge into * In the north-east, under influence of such accents as Scouse, ''ng''-coalescence does not take place, so ''sing'' is pronounced * Also in northern accents, is frequently strongly velarised . In much of the south-east, clear and dark L alternate much like they do in RP * The consonants are generally the same as RP but Welsh consonants like and (phonetically ) are encountered in loan words such as ''Llangefni'' and ''Harlech''

Distinctive vocabulary and grammar

Aside from lexical borrowings from Welsh like ''bach'' (little, wee), ''eisteddfod'', ''nain'' and ''taid'' (''grandmother'' and ''grandfather'' respectively), there exist distinctive grammatical conventions in vernacular Welsh English. Examples of this include the use by some speakers of the tag question ''isn't it?'' regardless of the form of the preceding statement and the placement of the subject and the verb after the predicate for emphasis, e.g. ''Fed up, I am'' or ''Running on Friday, he is.'' In South Wales the word ''where'' may often be expanded to ''where to'', as in the question, "Where to is your Mam?". The word ''butty'' ( cy|byti, probably related to "buddy") is used to mean "friend" or "mate" There is no standard variety of English that is specific to Wales, but such features are readily recognised by Anglophones from the rest of the UK as being from Wales, including the (actually rarely used) phrase ''look you'' which is a translation of a Welsh language tag. The word ''tidy'' has been described as "one of the most over-worked Wenglish words" and can have a range of meanings including - fine or splendid, long, decent, and plenty or large amount. A ''tidy swill'' is a wash involving at least face and hands.


Spellings are almost identical to other dialects of British English. Minor differences occur with words descended from Welsh that are not anglicised unlike in many other dialects of English. In Wales, ''cwm'', valley, is always preferred over the Anglicised version ''coombe''. As with other dialects of British English, ''-ise'' endings are preferred: ''realise'' instead of ''realize''. However, both forms are acceptable.


As Wales has become increasingly more anglicised, code-switching has become increasingly more common.


Welsh code-switchers fall typically into one of three categories: the first category is people whose first language is Welsh and are not the most comfortable with English, the second is the inverse, English as a first language and a lack of confidence with Welsh, and the third consists of people whose first language could be either and display competence in both languages. Welsh and English share congruence, meaning that there is enough overlap in their structure to make them compatible for code-switching. In studies of Welsh English code-switching, Welsh frequently acts as the matrix language with English words or phrases mixed in. A typical example of this usage would look like ''dw i’n love-io soaps'', which translates to "I love soaps". In a study conducted by Margaret Deuchar in 2005 on Welsh-English code-switching, 90% of tested sentences were found to be congruent with the Matrix Language Format, or MLF, classifying Welsh English as a classic case of code-switching. This case is identifiable as the matrix language was identifiable, the majority of clauses in a sentence that uses code-switching must be identifiable and distinct, and the sentence takes the structure of the matrix language in respect to things such as subject verb order and modifiers.

History of the English language in Wales

The presence of English in Wales intensified on the passing of the Laws in Wales Acts of 1535–1542, the statutes having promoted the dominance of English in Wales; this, coupled with the closure of the monasteries, which closed down many centres of Welsh education, led to decline in the use of the Welsh language. The decline of Welsh and the ascendancy of English was intensified further during the Industrial Revolution, when many Welsh speakers moved to England to find work and the recently developed mining and smelting industries came to be manned by Anglophones. David Crystal, who grew up in Holyhead, claims that the continuing dominance of English in Wales is little different from its spread elsewhere in the world. The decline in the use of the Welsh language is also associated with the Welsh Not policy, designed to discourage everyday use in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

Influence outside Wales

While other British English accents from England have affected the accents of English in Wales, especially in the east of the country, influence has moved in both directions. Accents in north-east Wales and parts of the North Wales coastline have been influenced by accents in North West England, accents in the mid-east have been influenced by accents in the West Midlands while accents in south-east Wales have been influenced by West Country English. In particular, Scouse and Brummie (colloquial) accents have both had extensive Anglo-Welsh input through migration, although in the former case, the influence of Anglo-Irish is better known.


"Anglo-Welsh literature" and "Welsh writing in English" are terms used to describe works written in the English language by Welsh writers. It has been recognised as a distinctive entity only since the 20th century. The need for a separate identity for this kind of writing arose because of the parallel development of modern Welsh-language literature; as such it is perhaps the youngest branch of English-language literature in the British Isles. While Raymond Garlick discovered sixty-nine Welsh men and women who wrote in English prior to the twentieth century, Dafydd Johnston believes it is "debatable whether such writers belong to a recognisable Anglo-Welsh literature, as opposed to English literature in general". Well into the 19th century English was spoken by relatively few in Wales, and prior to the early 20th century there are only three major Welsh-born writers who wrote in the English language: George Herbert (1593–1633) from Montgomeryshire, Henry Vaughan (1622–1695) from Brecknockshire, and John Dyer (1699–1757) from Carmarthenshire. Welsh writing in English might be said to begin with the 15th-century bard Ieuan ap Hywel Swrdwal (?1430 - ?1480), whose ''Hymn to the Virgin'' was written at Oxford in England in about 1470 and uses a Welsh poetic form, the ''awdl'', and Welsh orthography; for example: :O mighti ladi, owr leding - tw haf :::At hefn owr abeiding: ::Yntw ddy ffast eferlasting ::I set a braents ws tw bring. A rival claim for the first Welsh writer to use English creatively is made for the diplomat, soldier and poet John Clanvowe (1341–1391). The influence of Welsh English can be seen in the 1915 short story collection ''My People'' by Caradoc Evans, which uses it in dialogue (but not narrative); ''Under Milk Wood'' (1954) by Dylan Thomas, originally a radio play; and Niall Griffiths whose gritty realist pieces are mostly written in Welsh English.

In popular culture

* The Welsh comedy-drama series ''Stella'' is set in a fictional South Wales valley where Welsh English can be heard throughout. * The Anglo-Welsh comedy series ''Gavin & Stacey'' features extensive Welsh English throughout and has helped to popularise the word "cwtch" (cuddle, hug) around the UK.

See also

* Cardiff English * Abercraf English * Gower dialect * Port Talbot English * Welsh literature in English * Regional accents of English speakers * Gallo (Brittany) * Scots language Other English dialects heavily influenced by Celtic languages * Anglo-Cornish * Anglo-Manx * Bungi creole * Hiberno-English * Highland English (and Scottish English)



* * * * * *

Further reading

* *

External links

Sounds Familiar?
isten to examples of regional accents and dialects from across the UK on the British Library's 'Sounds Familiar' website
Talk Tidy
: John Edwards, Author of books and CDs on the subject "Wenglish".

: D Parry-Jones, National Library of Wales journal 1974 Winter, volume XVIII/4
Welsh vowels

David Jandrell: Introducing The Welsh Valleys Phrasebook
{{English dialects by continent Welsh English Category:Languages of Wales Category:English language Category:Dialects of English