I needn’t have worried about making personal remarks at my Welsh Class last Thursday. In fact, we weren’t doing comparisons as I had feared. Instead we were revising Yeses and Noes. In any case, half and hour into the class I realised the question of what I could and could not say as personal comment wouldn’t arise with this particular group. We are there to learn Welsh and have fun. Age differences matter not a scrap when you’re agonizing about what sort of ‘yes’ you need for any particular question. Whether 20 or 30 or 70 or 80—it couldn’t matter less when you’re all struggling with the same mistakes over and over and over again.
If you’re used to replying simply ‘yes’ or ‘no’, or possibly ‘oui’ or ‘non’ or ‘ja’ or ‘nein’ the sheer range of possibilities in Welsh can come as a nasty shock. You don’t believe me? Read on.
If the subject of the question comes first it’s easy. Ia or naci. And there are some past tenses where you can answer merely do or naddo. I think with a question beginning ‘would you like. . .’ you can just answer oes, but I may be muddled about that. With every other question you have to answer with I do, I will, I would, or he will, they won’t, etc., as required. I think I counted twelve different yeses that I had to sort out on Thursday evening and I’m sure there are more.
When you’re frantically trying to pick out the right answer from all those possibilities you certainly don’t have the time to feel demeaned about anything, least of all a comment about a photo. On the other hand, if you’re worried about being demeaned you probably shouldn’t join a Welsh class in the first place.
By the way, you can say ‘thanks’ in Welsh—diolch. But guess what, you can’t say ‘please’! You can cheat and say plis, but to be correct you have to say—wait for it—os gwelwch chi’n dda. Which literally means ‘if you see good’.
As well as speaking this flowing, musical language the Welsh also sing and play rugby rather well.