Welsh

Alternative name(s): Cymraeg, Kymrish, Wels (nl), walesiska (sv)

Language family: Indo-European

Language Group: Celtic

Geographical use: Wales and Patagonia

Information: Welsh has around half a million speakers. It is the most widely spoken and most popular of all Celtic languages. It was saved from extinction by organisations as the Society for the Welsh Language. All schools in Wales teach Welsh as part of the National Curriculum and there are also radio and television broadcasts in the Welsh language.

There are fixed rules for the Welsh pronunciation. A Welsh speaker will thus know how to pronounce a word, even if he has never seen the word.

There are three periods in the history of the Welsh language: Old Welsh (800-1100), Middle Welsh (1100-1500) and Modern Welsh (1500 to present). Old Welsh is only to be found in isolated words and names. In all of these time periods Welsh has borrowed words from Latin, Anglosaxon, Norman French and especially English. Yet, Welsh still has a very extensive Celtic vocabulary.

Up to now around 40 dialects have been found in Wales. Standard Welsh has a northern and a southern variant.

In May 2011 an academic, Dr Carl Phelpstead of Cardiff University, stated Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien was heavily influenced by Welsh when creating an elfish language for his books. It is not so much that he borrowed Welsh words, more the sounds. This particular Elfish language is very like the sounds of Welsh and deliberately so.

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