Linguistic Features Of Welsh English

Term Paper, 2004

13 Pages, Grade: 2,0


Register of content

1 Introduction – General influences on Welsh English

2 Particularities in pronunciation
2.1 Welsh English vowels
2.1.1 Vowels in Southern Welsh English
2.1.2 Vowels in Northern Welsh English
2.2 Welsh English consonants
2.2.1 Consonants in Southern Welsh English
2.2.2 Consonants in Northern Welsh English
2.3 Vowel stress and word intonation
2.3.1 Vowel quality and vowel stress
2.3.2 Intonation and word stress

3 Grammar, Lexis, Vernacular Features
3.1 Welsh English Grammar
3.2 Vernacular Features of Welsh English
3.3 Welsh English Lexis

4 Conclusion – The standardisation of Welsh English page

1 Introduction - General influences on Welsh English

The Welsh English variety can be divided into two sub-varieties: Northern and Southern Welsh English. Northern Welsh English is probably the variety with shows the most Welsh influence as the North was the area where English spread last. Southern Welsh English again can be split up into two major dialects, an Eastern and a Western one. The latter one again is a more rural dialect. The Eastern dialect is a more urban one as it is spoken in and around the cities of Wales. So Eastern South Welsh English is the dialect closest to RP and Standard English. It is also the dialect of Welsh English which shows the less Welsh substratum.

Coming to speak about influences on Welsh English there are two main factors.

First of all, the original mother tongue of the Welsh people, Welsh. One can make out Welsh influences on English in syntax, loanwords and pronunciation.

The second main influence on Welsh English is the multitude of English English varieties spoken in the counties bordering Wales. These are mainly the varieties of South-West England.

In Wales itself Welsh English or a Welsh accent has a high covert prestige, especially in the South. This is for the accent is associated with national pride and “Welshness”.

In the following, we will discuss features of pronunciation at first, then go on with the grammatical and lexical features and conclude with a short examination of the standardisation of Welsh English.

2 Particularities in pronunciation

Pronunciation is the main difference between Welsh English and Standard English, as the grammar is for some exception close to Standard English.

In this work we would like to show mainly the differences between Welsh English spoken in the South, around Swansea Village, and RP.

The part about pronunciation will be divided up as follows: we will start with the vowels, then discuss the consonants and end with the main features of word stress and intonation. As said above we will show mainly features of South Welsh English, in some cases we will come to talk about North South English and compare this to the Southern dialect.

2.1 Welsh English Vowels

2.1.1 Vowels in Southern Welsh English

We will start with words like trap and man. In RP these words would be pronounced like that: /træp/, /mæn/. In Welsh English the /æ/-sound becomes a short open /a/ and are pronounced /trap/ and /man/.

Similar to the trap -words are words like bath. Most of these words have in Welsh English the short /a/, too. RP /ba:θ/ bath becomes /baθ/ in Welsh English. Some of these word set though stay the same as in RP, for example calf.

Words like cup or blood in RP pronounced as /kΛp/ and /blΛd/ become /kəp/ and /bləd/ in Welsh English. The central open short /Λ/ sound becomes a mid central /ə/. The /ə/ sound usually appears in RP only in unstressed syllables. Not so in Welsh English. This change from /Λ/ to /ə/ occurs in stressed syllables, too. This becomes RP /’bΛtə/ butter Welsh English /’bətə/.

With words like /fɔ:s/ force or /flɔ:/ floor there is a change, too. These words become /fo:s/ and /flo:/ in Welsh English. So the mid-back /ɔ:/ becomes a more open /o:/ in Welsh English.

The diphthongs are in some cases monophthongised.

Words written with <a…e>, <ea> or <a> like cake, steak or famous are pronounced /keık/, /steık/ and /’feımous/ in RP. In Welsh English the diphthong /eı/ is monophthongised to /e:/. So these words become /ke:k/, /ste:k/ and /fe:mous/. If words containing the /eı/ sound are written with <ai>, <ay>, <ei> or <ey> like sail or pray, the RP pronunciation is kept.

This is similar with word containing an /ou/ sound. RP /soup/ soap, /boun/ bone and /tou/ toe become Welsh English /so:p/, /bo:n/ and /to:/. As can be seen at the examples this occurs with word written <o>, <o…e>, <oa>, <oe>. Orthographic <ore>, <oor>, <oar> and <our> like in RP /sɔ:/ sore or /dɔ:/ door become in Welsh English /so:/ and /do:/. Orthographic <ow> and <o> before a pronounced <l> stay the same as in RP, like in /soul/ soul or /blou/ blow.

The diphthongs /eə/ or /uə/ like in pear or tour are changed to /e/ and /u:/, so the words turn from /peə/ and /tuə/ to /pe/ and /tu:r/. By the example of tour one can see, that in cases of words like this the usual non-rhotic Welsh English has a post-vocalic r as a word final. (compare Thomas Alan R., The Welshness of Welsh English: A Survey Paper, in: Hildegard Tristram (ed.), The Celtic Englishes, Universitätsverlag Winter, Heidelberg, 2000:69-71)

2.1.2 Vowels in Northern Welsh English

We won’t compare Northern Welsh English with RP at this place again, but make only show the differences between Northern and Southern Welsh English. For the differences to RP see above.

In Northern Welsh English there are all diphthongs monophthongised. Where in the Southern dialect /eı/ and /ou/ remained the same as in RP, in the Northern dialect they become monophthongised, too. So words like /eıt/ eight and /soul/ soul become /e:t/ and /so:l/. (comp. Thomas, 2000: 74-76)


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Linguistic Features Of Welsh English
University of Bamberg
International Varieties of English
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ISBN (Book)
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Linguistic, Features, Welsh, English, International, Varieties, English
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Christian Ritter (Author)Tamara Schorn (Author), 2004, Linguistic Features Of Welsh English, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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