Welsh Word of The Week

mamgu/nain – grandmother

I’ve been having some crazy dreams these last couple of nights; and last night I had a dream where I was trying to explain the Welsh for ‘grandmother’ to someone who didn’t speak the language. (Yeah, I have no idea where that came from either.) Look the word up in a Welsh dictionary, and it’ll give you both mamgu and nain. And we’re not talking about one of them being a diminutive like grandma or nanny, no, they both mean ‘grandmother’.

There is such a big difference between the Welsh that is used in different areas of the country, that there isn’t actually one standard word for some things – one word is used in the South, one word is used in the North. And it’s not dialect either, these are both standard Welsh words. The same goes for grandfather, which is tadcu in the South and taid in the North. In South Welsh, milk is llaeth, but go to the North and it becomes llefrith. There are two variations for the word ‘now’, nawr down South and rwan up North (do you see what we did there??). Even ‘with’ has two variants! Gyda and efo. And those are only some examples. You’d never think that there would be so many differences in a language spoken in such a small country, right?


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