Wales’ culture has been shaped by its tradition of sharing poetry, song and magic-filled tales by word of mouth, so it follows that its language is full of beautiful, sing-song words. Here are our picks…
Owl. This word, pronounced good-ee-hoo, pays perfect homage to the noise owls make.
Butterfly. Similar to the above, pila-pala makes you think of light fluttering wings. You say it pill-ee pall-ah.
Heavens/heaven/bliss. Pronounced ‘NEH-foy-thuh’. The two letter ‘Ds’ together is something you’ll see a lot with Welsh words. They’re pronounced as you would say the ‘th-‘ in ‘there’.
A sweet-sounding word meaning wheel barrow.
Ling di long
Lackadaisical which means: ‘lacking enthusiasm and determination; carelessly lazy’. Ling di long is spelt phonetically and the sound of it poetically encapsulates the sense of aimlessness.
This popular word and concept has no direct English translation. It describes ‘a longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness, or an earnest desire for the Wales of the past‘. Or rather for your homeland. Not to be confused with homesickness, it refers to your connection to your homeland when you’re away.
Cynefin has no direct English translation. It can be loosely translated as meaning ‘habitat’, but, as artist Kyffin Williams explained, it’s more nebulous than that. He said: ‘It describes [a] relationship: the place of your birth and of your upbringing, the environment in which you live and to which you are naturally acclimatised.’ (Sinclair 1998).
Also spelt ‘cwtsch’, this popular word was voted as the nation’s favourite in 2007 and is one of the most well-known Welsh words among non-Welsh-speaking people. It has two meanings: a cupboard/cubbyhole or (and this is the translation most people know) a cuddle/hug. Really there is no direct English translation, the word cuddle doesn’t quite demonstrate the affection of a cwtch. Using the word’s former meaning – an enclosed space to safely store something – as a clue however, we can understand it as providing someone with a safe place in your arms.
A gift given for the new year. What a nice idea.
Learn more about the Welsh language here.