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News

  • The BBC’s Learn Welsh grammar tips have been so popular that they have now brought them out as a book. more
  • An interesting new low-tech vocabulary-learning tool called Gair wrth Air is now available from Mike Greenwood of QaQ Software. It’s accompanied by an unusual dictionary of words and phrases and offers something not really available from any existing product. An individual licence costs only £6.25 (free trial available). more
  • Three new Welsh audio books, the first ever on CD, have come out in time for Christmas. They are O! Tyn y Gorchudd by Angharad Price, winner of the Prose Medal at the 2002 Eisteddfod; Lleuad yn Olau with T Llew Jones reading some of his favourite stories; and Storïau Pum Munud with Catherine Aran (stories for children from 4–8 years). They are published by Tympan and available in shops or from Gwales.com.
  • The Cardiff University Welsh department are researching a new dictionary of dialects and sayings, Geiriadur Tafodieithol y Gymraeg. You can contribute any unusual Welsh expressions and sayings you use by emailing them to ThomasP@caerdydd.ac.uk.
  • The latest reprint of the Welsh Academy English–Welsh Dictionary will contain a supplement of exciting new words: Blairism, friendly fire, to text etc. This is the only major addition since the publication of the book in 1995, so some of them aren’t exactly brand new: anchorwoman, Azerbaijani, political correctness, World-wide Web. (And does anyone really call it Blairism? Well, never mind.)
  • Talking of dictionaries, the Web now boasts, believe it or not, an online Russian–Welsh dictionary. more


Old News

(No longer topical but still relevant.)
  • Gwybodiadur now has its own domain at gwybodiadur.co.uk. If you’re seeing this at Tripod, which is actually unlikely considering how unreliable that service has become, simply click here to see this page without the annoying pop-up adverts – and then bookmark the page so you can go straight there next time. Thanks to the disreputable new regime at Bigfoot, the URL and e-mail address at bigfoot.com can no longer be relied on either and are best avoided.
  • The BBC, always a major player in the field of Welsh learning, have now launched what must count as one of the most exciting developments for Welsh learners ever to have appeared on the Web. It’s called simply Learn Welsh and it contains a wealth of useful resources, including a new online dictionary, a spellchecker, a mutation checker, grammar notes as downloadable PDFs, a message board and a Word of the Day complete with RealAudio sound file. Bookmark it now! http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/learnwelsh/. They also have two Message Boards for Welsh learners: Welcome to Welsh and Labordy Iaith (‘Language Lab’). Get to them from http://www.bbc.co.uk/cgi-perl/h2/h2.cgi?board=wales-education.
  • The Welsh teaching company Acen is also going from strength to strength. It’s getting hard to keep track of all the services they now offer. One of them is text alerts, sent to your mobile phone every weekday (£20 for six months). A new service called Dysgu am 12 (Learn at 12) is available on S4C Digital (and outside Wales on Sky Digital Channel 184), and the Acen course Talk About Welsh which is also viewable on S4C. And they are even about to launch their own online radio station, Radio Acen, at http://www.radioacen.fm. At the moment they are doing test broadcasts of Welsh songs, and you can click to see the lyrics with their English translations. The service will be launched on 18 February 2003 at 10 a.m. For more on all this see the Acen website.
  • . . . and before you can say “txt”, the BBC follow suit with their new SMS course, LrnWelsh: “With our text club, you can learn Welsh just by using your mobile phone. We’ll send you weekly themed phrases at midday on Monday, Wednesday and Friday so you can carry on learning, even when you don’t have web access.” It costs 13–15p per text, depending on your operator.
  • The excellent online Welsh dictionary linked to the Lampeter Welsh Distance Learning Course has been updated and given its own domain at http://www.geiriadur.net.
  • Yr Wythnos is a weekly TV news review programme for Welsh learners, made by the BBC and broadcast every Sunday at 12.30pm on S4C. You can watch it on the Web in Real Audio, and read the vocab, at http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/newyddion/newsid_2009000/2009485.stm, and even sign up to receive the scripts by e-mail. Real news stories, clearly presented in natural Welsh using simple language: an ideal way into watching Welsh-language TV “for real”.
  • The team working on the great University of Wales Dictionary (Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru) have at last come to the end of the alphabet: “On the 6th December 2001 the final draft entry for the Dictionary was written after 80 years’ labour, and over half a century of drafting entries, and now the entire work is available in print from A to Z”. Their website even has a picture of them drafting the last entry. In case you’re wondering, the last word in the Dictionary is Zwinglïaidd (‘Zwinglian’), the adjective relating to the doctrine of the Swiss theologian Zwingli. Now they plan to go back over letters A and B, which were less thoroughly treated, a process which will take the next five years. The early proofs of will be viewable as PDFs at http://www.cymru.ac.uk/geiriadur/gpc_pdfs.htm. more
  • Catchphrase has entered a new phase with a soap opera called Ysbyty Brynaber (Brynaber Hospital). It’s more for intermediate learners than beginners (who can still access all the earlier Catchphrase material) and they’ve certainly gone very much for a full-on radio drama feel, rather than the more familiar technique of dressing up language lessons with rather token attempts at drama. Also, it’s fairly adult in tone and might not be suitable for younger learners. But it should help keep some excitement in your learning: look forward to updates every Friday! And it’s good to see the soundtrack offered in MP3 format as well as the widely disliked Real Audio that the BBC usually uses, along with transcripts in Microsoft Word. A word of warning: the sound quality is not good, and the page giving you the language points of each episode is a little rough and ready, missing some punctuation which would make it easier to read.
  • Keep an eye on the ever-expanding ClwbMaluCachu. As well as the song lyrics, features, weblog and stories with vocab and MP3 sound files, more ‘cheat sheets’ are appearing all the time, including some stuff you can’t find elsewhere, such as how to swear properly in Welsh. Meanwhile, CMC is offering a brand new service called Get Fluent: regular grammar revision materials by e-mail in PDF form. Check out GetFluent.co.uk.
  • There are some interesting short films (in English) about Welsh culture and history at http://www.worldwidewales.tv.
  • BWLET.net is now online. It’s a searchable database of over 7,500 English translations of Welsh literature over the centuries, including translations in books, anthologies, journals, radio programmes, manuscripts and unpublished work.
  • For Welsh learners aged 11–16, Gareth Williams has produced a series of readers called Sebon ‘Soap’ (Keystage 3) and Rhagor o Sebon ‘More Soap’ (KS4). There are 12 books and 2 tapes, plus a website at http://www.wegap.co.uk. [Diolch i Gareth W]
  • Wonders will never cease: the Welsh language has finally come to the notice of Bill Gates. The new version of Microsoft Office, Office XP, features ‘Welsh Proofing Tools’ (spellchecker and hyphenator), which you can download free from http://office.microsoft.com/intl/welsh/Downloads/2002/WelshPtk.aspx.
  • Coleg Menai in Bangor have a course in basic spoken North Welsh called Clic Clic Cymraeg. It features MP3 sound files of all the vocab used in the dialogues, which you can replay as often as you want. It’s well designed and straightforward – and free.
  • Why is there no (printed) daily paper in Welsh? Canolfan Mercator (The Mercator Centre) in Aberystwyth have been looking into the possibility of setting one up. You can contribute by completing their survey at http://www.aber.ac.uk/~merwww/papurdyddiol/PapWhat.htm.
  • BBC Radio Cymru is now available throughout the UK on digital satellite TV on EPG channel 904, as is Radio Wales (EPG channel 867). Excellent news, especially for those who have satellite TV and have ever heard of ‘digi-sat EPG channel 904’.
  • Apparently there is now a Welsh-language virtual newsreader. I can’t say I really understand what the point is, but then I haven’t witnessed the phenomenon (I got a message saying my my RealPlayer7 was not up to the job and I needed to download another 8.5Mb or so of plug-ins before I could even think about it). Those whose curiosity has been aroused and who have the RealOne Player the BBC are so wedded to may care to visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/cymru/darllenydd/.


© 1999–2004 Harry Campbell
Last updated: April 2004

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