The Info List - Welsh English

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Welsh English
Welsh English
refers to 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. In the east and south east, it has been influenced by West Country dialects due to immigration,[citation needed] while in North Wales, the influence of Merseyside English is becoming increasingly prominent.

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v t e


1 Pronunciation

1.1 Vowels

1.1.1 Short monophthongs 1.1.2 Long monophthongs 1.1.3 Diphthongs

1.2 Consonants

2 Distinctive vocabulary and grammar 3 Orthography 4 History of the English language
English language
in Wales 5 Influence outside Wales 6 Literature 7 Popular culture 8 See also 9 References 10 Bibliography 11 Further reading 12 External links

Pronunciation[edit] Vowels[edit] Short monophthongs[edit]

The vowel of cat /æ/ is pronounced as a more central near-open front unrounded vowel [æ̈].[1] In Cardiff, bag is pronounced with a long vowel [aː].[2] In Powys, a pronunciation resembling its New Zealand and South African analogue is sometimes heard, i.e. trap is pronounced /trɛp/[3] The vowel of end /ɛ/ is a more open vowel and thus closer to cardinal vowel [ɛ] than RP[1] The vowel of "kit" /ɪ/ often sounds closer to the schwa sound of above, an advanced close-mid central unrounded vowel [ɘ̟][1] The vowel of hot /ɒ/ is raised towards [ɔ] and can thus be transcribed as [ɒ̝] or [ɔ̞][1] The vowel of "bus" /ʌ/ is pronounced [ɜ][4] and is encountered as a hypercorrection in northern areas for foot.[3] It is sometimes manifested in border areas of north and mid Wales
as an open front unrounded vowel /a/ or as a near-close near-back rounded vowel /ʊ/ in northeast Wales, under influence of Cheshire
and Merseyside accents.[3] In accents that distinguish between foot and strut, the vowel of foot is a more lowered vowel [ɤ̈],[4] particularly in the north[3] The schwa tends to be supplanted by an /ɛ/ in final closed syllables, e.g. brightest /ˈbɾəi.tɛst/. The uncertainty over which vowel to use often leads to 'hypercorrections' involving the schwa, e.g. programme is often pronounced /ˈproː.ɡrəm/[2]

Long monophthongs[edit]

Monophthongs of Welsh English
Welsh English
as they are pronounced in Abercrave, from Coupland & Thomas (1990:135). The NURSE vowel /ɜː/ is not shown.

Monophthongs of Welsh English
Welsh English
as they are pronounced in Cardiff, from Coupland & Thomas (1990:93, 95). Depending on the speaker, the long /ɛː/ may be of the same height as the short /ɛ/.[5]

Diphthongs of Welsh English
Welsh English
as they are pronounced in Abercrave, from Coupland & Thomas (1990:135–136)

Diphthongs of Welsh English
Welsh English
as they are pronounced in Cardiff, from Coupland & Thomas (1990:97)

The vowel of car is often pronounced as an open central unrounded vowel [ɑ̈][6] and more often as a long open front unrounded vowel /aː/[3] In broader varieties, particularly in Cardiff, the vowel of bird is similar to South African and New Zealand, i.e. a lowered close-mid front rounded vowel [ø̞][7] Most other long monophthongs are similar to that of Received Pronunciation, but words with the RP /əʊ/ are sometimes pronounced as [oː] and the RP /eɪ/ as [eː]. An example that illustrates this tendency is the Abercrave
pronunciation of play-place [ˈpleɪˌpleːs][8] In northern varieties, /əʊ/ as in coat and /ɔː/ as in caught/court may be merged into /ɔː/ (phonetically [oː]).[2] In Rhymney, the diphthong of there is monophthongised [ɛː][9]


Fronting diphthongs tend to resemble Received Pronunciation, apart from the vowel of bite that has a more centralised onset [æ̈ɪ][8] Backing diphthongs are more varied:[8]

The vowel of low in RP, other than being rendered as a monophthong, like described above, is often pronounced as [oʊ̝] The word town is pronounced with a near-open central onset [ɐʊ̝] Welsh English
Welsh English
is one of few dialects where the Late Middle English diphthong /ɪu/ never became /juː/. Thus you /juː/, yew /jɪʊ̯/, and ewe /ɪʊ̯/ are not homophones in Welsh English.


A strong tendency (shared with Scottish English
Scottish English
and some South African accents) towards using an alveolar tap [ɾ] (a 'tapped r') in place of an approximant [ɹ] (the r used in most accents in England).[10] Rhoticity is largely uncommon, apart from some speakers in Port Talbot who supplant the front vowel of bird with /ɚ/, like in many varieties of North American English[11] and accents influenced by Welsh[11] Some gemination between vowels is often encountered, e.g. money is pronounced [ˈmɜn.niː][12] In northern varieties influenced by Welsh, pens and pence merge into /pɛns/ and chin and gin into /dʒɪn/[12] In the north-east, under influence of such accents as Scouse, ng-coalescence does not take place, so sing is pronounced /sɪŋɡ/[13] Also in northern accents, /l/ is frequently strongly velarised [ɫː]. In much of the south-east, clear and dark L alternate much like they do in RP[11] The consonants are generally the same as RP but Welsh consonants like [ɬ] and [x] are encountered in loan words such as Llangefni and Harlech[12]

Distinctive vocabulary and grammar[edit] See also: List of English words of Welsh origin 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.[12] 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" ("byti" in Welsh orthography, probably related to "buddy"[citation needed]) is used to mean "friend" or "mate"[14] 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
Welsh language
tag.[12] 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.[15] Orthography[edit] 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, the valley is always "cwm", not the Anglicised version "coombe". As with other dialects of British English, -ise endings are preferred: "realise" instead of "realize". However, both forms are acceptable. History of the English language
English language
in Wales[edit] 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.[16] Influence outside Wales[edit] While other British English
British English
accents have affected the accents of English in Wales, influence has moved in both directions. 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. Literature[edit] Main article: Welsh literature in English

Dylan Thomas' writing shed.

"Anglo-Welsh literature" and "Welsh writing in English" are terms used to describe works written in the English language
English language
by Welsh writers. It has been recognised as a distinctive entity only since the 20th century.[17] 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,[17] Dafydd Johnston thinks it "debatable whether such writers belong to a recognisable Anglo-Welsh literature, as opposed to English literature in general".[18] Well into the nineteenth century English was spoken by relatively few in Wales, and prior to the early twentieth century there are only three major Welsh-born writers who wrote in the English language: George Herbert
George Herbert
(1593–1633) from Montgomeryshire, Henry Vaughan (1622–1695) from Brecknockshire, and John Dyer
John Dyer
(1699–1757) from Carmarthenshire. Welsh writing in English might be said to begin with the fifteenth-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 poet, John Clanvowe
John Clanvowe
(1341–1391). The influence of Welsh English
Welsh English
can be seen in My People by Caradoc Evans, which uses it in dialogue (but not narrative); Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas, originally a radio play; and Niall Griffiths whose gritty realist pieces are mostly written in Welsh English. Popular culture[edit]

In the UK TV series Thomas & Friends, the narrow gauge engines Skarloey, Rheneas, Sir Handel, Peter Sam and Duke speak in a Welsh dialect, as do the two characters Merrick and Owen. The Welsh comedy-drama series Stella is set in a fictional South Wales valley where Welsh English
Welsh English
can be heard throughout.

See also[edit]

accent and dialect 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)


^ a b c d "English in Wales: Diversity, Conflict, and Change - Google Books". Books.google.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-02-22.  ^ a b c "Accents of English: - John C. Wells
John C. Wells
- Google Books". Books.google.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-02-22.  ^ a b c d e "A Handbook of Varieties of English: CD-ROM. - Google Books". Books.google.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-02-22.  ^ a b "English in Wales: Diversity, Conflict, and Change - Google Books". Books.google.com. Retrieved 2015-02-22.  ^ Coupland & Thomas (1990:95) ^ "English in Wales: Diversity, Conflict, and Change - Google Books". Books.google.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-02-22.  ^ "English in Wales: Diversity, Conflict, and Change - Google Books". Books.google.com. Retrieved 2015-02-22.  ^ a b c "English in Wales: Diversity, Conflict, and Change - Google Books". Books.google.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-02-22.  ^ Paul Heggarty. "Sound Comparisons". Sound Comparisons. Retrieved 2015-02-22.  ^ "English in Wales: Diversity, Conflict, and Change - Google Books". Books.google.com. Retrieved 2015-02-22.  ^ a b c "English in Wales: Diversity, Conflict, and Change - Google Books". Books.google.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-02-22.  ^ a b c d e Crystal, David (2003). The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language Second Edition, Cambridge University Press, pp. 335 ^ "Accents of English: - John C. Wells
John C. Wells
- Google Books". Books.google.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-02-22.  ^ "Why butty rarely leaves Wales". Wales
Online. 2006-10-02. Retrieved 2015-02-22.  ^ [1] ^ Crystal, David (2003). The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language Second Edition, Cambridge University Press, p. 334 ^ a b Raymond Garlick An Introduction to Anglo-Welsh Literature (University of Wales
Press, 1970) ^ A Pocket Guide to the Literature of Wales
University of Wales
Press: Cardiff, 1994, p. 91


Coupland, Nikolas; Thomas, Alan R., eds. (1990), English in Wales: Diversity, Conflict, and Change, Multilingual Matters Ltd., ISBN 1-85359-032-0 

Further reading[edit]

Penhallurick, Robert (2004), "Welsh English: phonology", in Schneider, Edgar W.; Burridge, Kate; Kortmann, Bernd; Mesthrie, Rajend; Upton, Clive, A handbook of varieties of English, 1: Phonology, Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 98–112, ISBN 3-11-017532-0  Podhovnik, Edith (2010), "Age and Accent - Changes in a Southern Welsh English Accent" (PDF), Research in Language, 8: 1–18, doi:10.2478/v10015-010-0006-5, ISSN 2083-4616  Wells, John C. (1982), "5.1 Wales", Accents of English, 2: The British Isles, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 377–393, ISBN 0-521-28541-0 

External links[edit]

Sounds Familiar? – Listen 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". Some thoughts and notes on the English of south Wales : D Parry-Jones, National Library of Wales
journal 1974 Winter, volume XVIII/4 Samples of Welsh Dialect(s)/Accent(s) Welsh vowels David Jandrell: Introducing The Welsh Valleys Phrasebook

v t e

Dialects and accents of Modern English by continent


United Kingdom

Received Pronunciation


Varieties by common name

Barrovian Black Country Brummie Bristolian Cheshire Cockney


Cornish Cumbrian East Anglian East Midlands Essex Estuary Geordie Kentish Lancastrian Mackem Mancunian Multicultural London Norfolk Northern Pitmatic Potteries Scouse Southern Suffolk Sussex West Country


West Midlands Yorkshire

Varieties by geographic location

East of England

Essex Norfolk Suffolk

East Midlands North

Cheshire Cumbria


Lancashire Manchester Merseyside Northumbria

Sunderland Tyneside Pitmatic



Kent Thames Estuary; London

Multicultural London


West Country

Bristol Cornwall Dorset

West Midlands

Black Country Birmingham Stoke-on-Trent

Northern Ireland

Mid Ulster Ulster Scots


Glasgow Highlands


Cardiff Gower Port Talbot






Supraregional Ulster

Channel Islands

Alderney Guernsey Jersey


Gibraltar Isle of Man Malta

North and South America

United States

Varieties by common name

African American Appalachian Boston Cajun California Chicago; Detroit; Great Lakes Chicano Mid-Atlantic

Philadelphia; South Jersey Baltimorese

General American High Tider Maine Miami Midland Midwestern New England New Mexican New York Old Southern Pacific Northwest Pennsylvania Dutch Pittsburghese Rhode Island Southern Texan Upper Midwestern Western Vermont Yat Yeshivish Yooper

Varieties by geographic location

Delaware Valley; Mid-Atlantic

Pennsylvania Dutch Philadelphia; South Jersey Baltimore

Midland Midwest

Great Lakes; Inland North Upper Midwest Upper Peninsula of Michigan

New England

Boston Maine Rhode Island Vermont

New York City; Northeastern New Jersey

New York Latino

North South

Acadiana Appalachia Chesapeake; Pamlico Miami New Orleans Texas


California New Mexico Pacific Northwest

Western Pennsylvania


Aboriginal Atlantic

Cape Breton Newfoundland Lunenburg


Ottawa Valley Pacific Northwest Quebec


Bahamas Barbados Dominican Republic Jamaica Puerto Rico Trinidad


Bermuda Falkland Islands Guyana



Aboriginal Broad; Strine General South Australian Torres Strait West Australian


Fiji New Zealand Palau Solomon Islands

Other continents


Cameroon Ghana Kenya Liberia Malawi Namibia Nigeria Sierra Leone South Africa


Cultivated General Broad Cape Flats

Black Indian



Bangladesh Brunei Burma or Myanmar Hong Kong India Malaysia Nepal Pakistan Philippines S