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Welsh Bible Welsh BiblePhoto: Public domain

In 1536, the Act of Union made English the official official language, and with it the dominant language. The language has been preserved thanks to Bishop William Morgan's literary Bible translation into Welsh (16th century). Welsh has been equated with English as an official language since 1967, and is spoken by about 20% of the population, mainly concentrated in the rural areas of the northwest, where about 60% of the population still speak Welsh. In the southwest, 44% of the population still speaks Welsh, in the border region of the north and mid-20%, in the Swansea region and in the Valleys between 6.5 and 15% and in the southern Wye basin and Usk only 2.4%.

However, more and more primary and secondary schools are bilingual. Mastery of Welsh is increasingly seen as a precondition for obtaining good employment, and there has been some stabilization over the past ten to fifteen years.
Since 1982 Wales has even had its own television network, S4C (Sianel 4 Cymru = channel 4 Wales), which broadcasts in the Welsh language.

Traffic Sign in Wels and EnglishTraffic Sign in Wels and EnglishPhoto: Still ePsiLoN CC BY 2.0) no changes made

Celtic Welsh or "Cymreag" is one of the oldest living languages in Europe, along with Irish and Scottish Gaelic. Although it belongs to the Indo-Germanic languages, there is little relationship with English and Dutch, much more with Breton. The pronunciation is also completely different, partly due to the use of many consonants in a row. It is also confusing that many sounds have a different script than our usual script, for example "ll" is pronounced "gl". Welsh has no j, k, q, v, x and z. The stress always falls on the penultimate syllable.

One of the longest place names in the world is:


("the Church of St. Mary in the White Hazel Valley, close to the rapid vortex of the Red Cave of St. Tysilio": abbreviated to Llanfair P.G. ")

Some Welsh words:

Good morning = bore da
Good evening = noswaith dda
Thank you very much = diolch yn fawr
Welcome = croeso
How do you do? = sut mae?
Health! = lechyd da!
Best wishes = dymuiniadau gorau
Welsh = Cymreag
Welshman = Cymro
Wales = Cymru
Pool = pwll
Bend = ystwyth
Berg = mynydd
Cave = ogof
Intersection = croesffordd

Many cities and villages also have both an English and a Welsh name:

Cardiff = Caerdydd
Swansea = Abertawe
Brecon = Aberhonddu


Beeftink, A. / Zuid-Engeland en Wales
Van Reemst

Berkien, G. / Wales

Berkien, G. / Wales

Danse, W. / Midden-Engeland en Wales

Fröhlich, D. / Wales

Hendriksen, B. / Wales
Van Reemst

Hestler, A. / Wales
Marshall Cavendish

King, J. / Wales
Lonely Planet

Westphal, U. / Wales
Van Reemst

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated June 2024
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