Learning “my sounds”

I have a best friend, Nikki, who is a Primary School teacher and this year I spent Christmas Eve with her and her 2 young boys, Jasper and Farley. Jasper got a new rhyming card game to play with and as I sat playing it with Jay, Nikki said encouragingly “use your sounds”…Jay considered his hand of cards practicing his phonics and picked out “cat” and “hat”, “van” and “man” with great success.

So this week that’s where I started…Learning the Welsh alphabet; learning “my sounds”. I hope that this will set me up for a winning hand just like Jay.

I’ve been using my ‘Welsh on the Wall’ poster to recite “my sounds”. This is stuck up in our hallway…I think Hedd wishes it was up somewhere closer to a sofa as we have spent an abnormal amount of time in our entrance hallway this week!

So an intro to the Welsh Alphabet. There is 28 letters (2 more than in English), including 8 newbies on the block:- ch, dd, ff, ng, ll, ph, rh, th. And not many sound the same as in English! As I stood reciting, I found myself having to resist every desire in my brain to pronounce the letter as I would in English because, I  guess, my mother tongue sounds are so engrained in my lexicon. (Well done Manadon Vale Primary School!) But I’m getting there.

Vowel sounds are different. I’m finding “u” the most tricky. You need to have your tongue forward but contained within your teeth and project the sound from your throat. Hedd and I were in giggles as I ended up looking like I was threatening a head butt whilst making some sort of fight noise/grunt! Hmm…one to keep working on I think!

“R” is another tricky one, to me it’s “rur” (for Ricky the robber) but in Welsh “r” is “urr” (as in bud-wise-urrr). I smile as I acknowledge my learning methods have moved from story characters to booze branding!

“L” is another one. Not “ler” for “Lucy lamp lady” but “url” (as in a mix of “ohhh a unicorn” and “uhh I’ve touched used chewing gum under the table!”)

Another is “Ng” as in ki-“ng” which to me feels like im making a comic swallow of the throat sound.

I think my favourite run of letters is “P” and “Ph”, as in “per” and “fer”, because you know puffer fish (okay okay, small things please me!)

My Learning Welsh App of choice this week has been Duolingo which I’ve been doing it on my commute to work. I have a 20 minute train journey as part of my commute and the 5 minute lessons fit in rather nicely. Although there is the jeopardy that is the internet black hole Heyford-to-Tackley stretch and making sure I’ve completed and graded a lesson in time!

I’ve completed 8 lessons so far and reached the first ‘checkpoint’. I smashed lessons 1 and 2 on “greetings”. There has been lessons on days- remembering Thursday is the trickiest for me “lau”. Lessons on wanting- “eisiau”. I don’t like “eisiau” so much, it makes me feel like I’m bluntly demanding which I rarely do in English. Instead of “want”, I would like to know how to say in Welsh, “I would like…” or “I fancy a…” And to complete the check point I’ve done lessons on the Present Tense, Clothes and Work. 

So I’ve learnt a cocophony of Welsh words this week and I fear I’m confusing Hedd slightly with the random questions I’m now asking him in Welsh using the mix of words I’ve learnt. Yesterday we had a whole conversation about new shirts and ironing! “Dy chi’n mind i swmddio crys newedd heno?” / “Are you going to iron your new shirts tonight?”

Lol, let the random continue…!

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