French and Welsh – helping me hand-in-hand to learn more new vocabulary

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As an avid linguist and lover of words and different cultures, I am currently learning French and Welsh.

I have enjoyed learning French on and off since my early school days. I am on a bit of break from formally studying French partly due to a bad tutor in Brussels who had lost the passion for teaching, and partly because of the subjunctive case in French. I feel like the subjunctive has as many rules and exceptions as there are words in the dictionary. So if you told me that I should use the subjunctive if it’s a Tuesday and I’m wearing a blue hat, I would probably believe you. But luckily I still get to practise my Franglais each summer when visiting friends living in the Loire Valley. And I use one of those language apps in the times in between to keep it alive. Use it, or lose it, as they say.

My father’s side of the family is Welsh. But although I now live in Wales, I did not grow up here. So this week the start of the new autumn term takes me back to night class to continue with my Welsh studies on the Canolradd Combi Welsh for Adults course at Swansea University. I have an amazing tutor and brilliant classmates, so I can’t wait to get back to it.

Despite the diluted Welsh blood running through my veins, Welsh is a real challenge for me. It’s a verb-first language with mutations at the start of words. It’s totally different to the Slavonic languages of Russian and Czech that I am used to working with in my daily life as a professional translator. So I am always really pleased when I notice similarities between Welsh and French as this is helping me to pick up both languages a lot more easily.

Of course, Welsh is related to Breton (the language of Brittany in France) – both being Celtic languages. So I guess it is the words of Breton origin that are used in French today that I am finding most helpful, and perhaps some commonalities from other places too. But no matter what the origin, it’s the association that helps me retain my learnings. It always has been since my Mum helping me remember the capitals Europe as child. The capital of Hungary is Budapest – as it’s a pest being hungry, of course.

So here are some of the words that I find similar between French and Welsh (not counting the ones similar between English, French and Welsh):

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Please let me know if you have any to add and help me along on my way to hopefully, one day, adding these two beautiful languages to my professional linguistic arsenal.

Diolch yn fawr. Trugarez. Merci beaucoup.

Jemma Pullen