A Welsh accent is often described as being a sing-song accent, and it’s instantly recognizable to people from other parts of the UK. However, there isn’t just one, universal Welsh accent; people speak differently depending on where in Wales they’re from. Welsh English is influenced by the Welsh language too. Often, this manifests in slang and dialect, but it also has an impact on pronunciation. So, how can you spot a Welsh accent? Let’s find out.
- How can you tell a Welsh accent?
- What different accents are there in Wales?
- Examples of Welsh accents
- The Welsh Language (Cymraeg)
- Welsh slang
How can you tell a Welsh accent?
To English ears, people with a Wales accent sound like they’re singing. This happens because the vowels are often stretched out a little and, when speaking, Welsh people tend to go from a high to a low pitch. People from Wales also roll their r’s slightly.
The stretching of the vowels is something that makes the Welsh accent quite distinct from English. With a word like orange, both syllables would be pronounced equally in a Welsh accent, while in Received Pronunciation, the second syllable would be shorter. Another distinction is pronouncing the i vowel more like an e, so a word like pit becomes more like pet and hit more like het. You can hear that in this video.
In addition, according to a government survey, the Welsh accent is one of the top three most attractive in the UK and Ireland. So, the sound of Welsh has a positive effect on those listening.
What different accents are there in Wales?
As we said, there isn’t one Welsh accent, just as there isn’t only one English accent. Welsh accents are influenced by the variety of English spoken in nearby England. In North Wales, the accent is close to the accents you’ll hear in Merseyside, just across the border. In Mid-Wales, the accents sound more like those in Shrewsbury, while in South Wales, the accents have a closer resemblance to those in Bristol. Accents in the west of Wales are more heavily influenced by the Welsh language than those in the east.
Examples of Welsh accents
There are some really famous people who have a Welsh accent, including the hilarious Rob Brydon, singer Charlotte Church and newsreader Huw Edwards. Huw, incidentally, said that the Llangennech accent was the best Welsh accent, in his opinion. There is also, of course, Fireman Sam.
The Welsh Language (Cymraeg)
Welsh is used on a daily basis in Wales and as soon as you cross the border, you’ll be confronted with road signs directing you to places like Bwlchgwyn and Ysbyty Ystwyth. Before you turn around and head for the perhaps equally unpronounceable Cholmondeley across the English border, why not try to learn a little Welsh?
Cymru – Wales
Helô / Hylô – Hello
hwyl – Bye
cwtch – hug
iechyd da! – cheers!
diolch – thank you
pili pala – butterfly
ych-af-i! – yuck!
Aside from some Welsh language words that have made their way into Welsh English, like cwtch, there is lots of slang that is specific to Wales too.
tidy – fantastic, great
lush – lovely
buzzing – excited
daps – trainers
bamps – grandfather
Do you know the Welsh accent?
If you’ve listened to the celebrities speaking Welsh, you should now have a good idea of what the Welsh accent sounds like. It’s a lyrical accent, with elongated vowels, which generally has a pleasant effect on anyone who is listening to it. Next time you visit the castles, coast or cities of Wales, listen out for the lovely accent and challenge yourself to understand some Cymraeg too!
Laura is a freelance writer and was an ESL teacher for eight years. She was born in the UK and has lived in Australia and Poland, where she writes blogs for Lingoda about everything from grammar to dating English speakers. She’s definitely better at the first one. She loves travelling and that’s the other major topic that she writes on. Laura likes pilates and cycling, but when she’s feeling lazy she can be found curled up watching Netflix. She’s currently learning Polish, and her battle with that mystifying language has given her huge empathy for anyone struggling to learn English. Find out more about her work in her portfolio.