Have you ever had the Blwyddyn Blues????
With only a few weeks into the new year ( y flwyddyn newydd) and all the good wishes for a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda still echoing in our ears, we may as well take a closer look at the word blwyddyn. Blwyddyn is without doubt one of the most complicated words in Welsh. In fact it’s one of those potentially evil bits of vocabulary that drive every Welsh learner mad. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. It’s not just you. We’ve ALL had our fair share of the Blwyddyn Blues!
Let’s look the enemy straight in the eye and see what we know about blwyddyn. Since I promised you “easy-to-digest bits and pieces of grammar” the last time, we’ll do this in two parts, iawn? So this is “Blwyddyn Blues, Part I”.
Seven facts about blwyddyn:
- It means “year”. (Oh c’mon, we all know THAT!)
- Blwyddyn is a woman, figuratively speaking. (At which point all the male students in the class will exclaim, “Now, THAT explains it…”.) Being a feminine noun, blwyddyn mutates (rather softly) to y flwyddyn when confronted with the definite article. Y flwyddyn = “the year”.
- The plural is irregular, changing the word to blynyddoedd = years. And of course there is no mutation after the definite article in the plural: Y blynyddoedd = the years.
- There is a special expression for “this year” and that is eleni.
- “Last year” is (y) llynedd. Feel free to drop the “y” bit when speaking.
- “Next year” is y flwyddyn nesa(f). (Yes, you may swallow the final -f !)
- “Every year” is bob blwyddyn.
Eleni, y llynedd, y flwyddyn nesa(f) and bob blwyddyn either belong right at the end of a sentence or – when you want to stress them – up front.
It makes sense to practise these expressions alongside the respective present, past and future tense. Holidays are the ideal topic for this: Where are you going on holiday this year? Where did you go last year? And where will you go next year?????
Dw i’n mynd i Gymru (ar fy ngwyliau) eleni. = I’m going to Wales (“on my holidays”) this year.
Fe es i i Gymru y llynedd. = I went to Wales last year.
Mi fydda’ i’n mynd i Gymru y flwyddyn nesa’. = I will go to Wales next year.
Dw i’n mynd i Gymru bob blwyddyn! / Mi fydda i’n mynd i Gymru bob blwyddyn! – I go to Wales every year!
Here’s a variation, devised by a husband who was learning Welsh together with his wife:
Y llynedd roeddwn i’n sengl. – Last year I was single.
Eleni dw i’n priodi. – This year I’m getting married.
Y flwyddyn nesa’ bydda’ i’n cael ysgariad. – Next year I will get a divorce.
When his wife – who was sitting next to him – hit him over the head with her geiriadur, he deliberately changed his last sentence to:
Y flwyddyn nesa’ bydda i wedi marw. – Next year I will be dead.
No worries. They are still alive, both of them, and still happily married.
Iawn. We’ll leave it at that for today and carry on with “Blwyddyn Blues, Part II” some other time.
Hwyl fawr! Wela i chi nes YMLAEN!
Geirfa / Vocabulary
Cymru – Wales
i Gymru – to Wales
da – good
enghraifft – example
er enghraifft – for example
geiriadur – dictionary
hwyl fawr – good bye
iawn – okay, alright (can also mean “very”)
marw – to die
newydd – new
priodi – to marry
Wela i chi nes ymlaen! – See you soon!
ysgariad – divorce
I’m Susanne and I teach Welsh (oh, and English!) in Wolfenbüttel, Germany.