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Welsh Language Software

DICTIONARIES AND VOCABULARY AIDS

CYSGAIR
CysGair is a Welsh–English and English–Welsh dictionary containing some 45,000 headwords and phrases, which can recognise mutated forms and conjugated verb-forms. See screengrabs here:

Some of CysGair is available for consultation online at

along with the Termiadur Ysgol and a dictionary of motorway terminology. A 30-day demo of CysGair, together with some samples from CySill and other products, can be downloaded free (9Mb) from http://www.bangor.ac.uk/ar/cb/english/demo.htm. new!

You can buy CysGair individually or together with the spell-checker CySill (see below) from MEU Cymru or Canolfan Bedwyr, whose prices are as follows:

MEU Cymru:
CySill £40 (+ VAT; postage £2.50)
CysGair £20 (+ VAT; postage £2.50)

Canolfan Bedwyr:
CySill £45.00 (including VAT)
CysGair £18.80 (including VAT; postage £1.50)
CySill plus CysGair (as a package) £60.00 (including VAT; postage £3.00)

WORD TRANSLATOR (for Mac)
‘No more flipping through pages and pages of dictionary entries! With Word Translator, you can translate single words, phrases and even short sentences quickly and easily. Because Word Translator is bi-directional, you can do so using either of the languages supported by your bilingual dictionary! [wow!] You can even customise your bilingual dictionary by adding new words, phrases and translations and even change existing entries to meet your individual personal or business needs.’ Requirements: 64Mb RAM, 3.5 Mb free diskspace. They give no indication how large the dictionary is or how it would manage to translate ‘short sentences’. I don’t know whether this is any good, but from that description it sounds pretty routine. Except for the price that is! You can buy Word Translator from Worldlanguage.com for what they amusingly call the ‘Special Price’ of $149.95.

VOCAB (for MacOS)
‘Memorize new words, new phrases, synonyms; isolate difficult words and phrases for special study; keep automatic track of your progress; print out word-lists for review when you’re away from the computer; study at your own customizable pace; revise whenever you want; use slide shows to quickly and effectively learn new words; use invaluable flashcard options to make learning easier than ever. . .’ I don’t use a Mac and haven’t tried it, but Vocab has been awarded five cows by Tucows, the software archive. It’s shareware (30-day trial version) and costs US$18 to register if you decide to keep it. 2.4 Mb download.

TIWTOR CYMRAEG
Downloadable completely free from Hazel Davey’s useful site (and only 10K zipped!) is a fun gadget called Tiwtor Cymraeg (‘Welsh tutor’): a simple English–Welsh vocabulary tester which gives you an English word and asks you for the Welsh translation. If the answer’s on the tip of your tongue you can click on a button to get the first letter as a clue. The tester allows only one right answer, which may not be the equally right answer you know, but luckily it’s simplicity itself to add your own vocabulary to expand or replace the basic ration that comes as standard.

FREELANG WELSH DICTIONARY
A simple downloadable freeware mini-dictionary (185K) compiled by Robert Bassford, using software written a few years ago by Tom van der Meijden of the Dutch Dictionary Project. The vocabulary behind it is small (about 1500 words) and not 100% reliable, but it’s easy to add your own list. As with any such product, I would strongly recommend double-checking the standard-issue list with a printed dictionary, and correcting and expanding it continually with your own items, including the regional variants corresponding to the variety of Welsh that’s relevant to you. As well as searching the dictionary, you can create a selection of items to learn and test yourself on in either English–Welsh or Welsh–English using the ‘practice list’ mode. Also available for French. (Previously at http://members.nbci.com/newdict/ and http://www.theoffice.net/dictionary; was unavailable for while, but back in service October 2001, merci Beaumont!)

GAIR WRTH AIR/DYSGIADUR BRAWDDEGU RHYNGWEITHIOL new!
Gair Wrth Air (Welsh–English) ISBN 1-90095-900-3; Dysgiadur Brawddegu Rhyngweithiol (Welsh–English) ISBN 1-90095-901-1
From Mike Greenwood of QaQ Software comes an excellent new Welsh vocabulary tool, comprising Gair Wrth Air and Dysgiadur Brawddegu, a ‘Word-By-Word Vocabulary Trainer’ and ‘Interactive Dictionary Phrasebook’ respectively. These are well-designed, no-frills gadgets, also available in French and Spanish incidentally, that demand nothing fancier than MS-DOS and a trivial 64k of memory. Thus, you can run them on even the most ancient computer, ideal for schools who might have a few old 286s hanging around that are not much good for anything else. Those who like lots of bells and whistles will find the interface very plain but if they can bear to give the mouse a rest for a bit they will gain in speed and reliability what they lose in irrelevant eye-candy. Gair Wrth Air is a (self-)teaching tool offering a wide range of subject-themed games and quizzes, which you can attempt with or without first learning the lesson they test. Tutors can also add their own lessons and vocab, and produce randomly-ordered tests as HTML files. Meanwhile the Dysgiadur is a kind of dictionary, but not like any you’ll have used. The nearest would be to use a normal online dictionary such as Mark Nodine’s Lexicon in conjunction with the Llyfrgell Owen phrasebank, so that you not only see the translation of the word but also illustrations of its use in context. This is something like having that on your desktop. It searches a database of (currently) some 33,000 words and phrases, allowing some very fuzzy matches, sometimes as few as two or three letters in common with your search term, as well as synonyms. The interface and search engine are basic: mutations are taken into account, but not letter case or accents, and you can’t specify the language of your search term, so that looking up mine will pick up “Mae hi’n braf = It’s fine”, since a hypothetical Welsh word mine would become fine by soft mutation. However, both interface and content are being continuously refined, and the data is reliable and surprisingly extensive; free upgrades will be available from the website. School licences cost from £25 to £175, while an individual one is just £6.25. Time-limited free trials are available.

TRAVLANG MULTILINGUAL DICTIONARIES (Ergane/Loxias)
Two downloadable minidictionary packages are available free from the Travlang site (Loxias about 800k, the more sophisticated Ergane about 4Mb). They both work by translating (believe it or not) via Esperanto, between any of the 60 or so languages available. You download the dictionary software and then separate zip files containing the vocabularies of the languages you’re interested in (e.g. English and Welsh). Given that the multilingual approach involves a two-stage translation process via an artificial language (source > Esperanto > target) and doesn’t give gender or discriminate between parts of speech, I’d say this comes into the ‘harmless fun’ category; for a serious vocabulary aid for Welsh learning purposes stick with the three above.

TRANEXP.COM
TranExp.com advertise various electronic translation products for PCs, palmtops, mobile phones and servers, in a wide range of languages apparently including Welsh. Surely they can’t be selling something as completely useless as their online ‘translation’ gadget, which seems incapable of making sense of the simplest phrase? I haven’t tried any of them so can’t say.

And for your PDA. . .

ENGLISH TO WELSH DICTIONARY 1.0
“An extensive English to Welsh lexicon for BDicty. The full version contains over 12,000 English words translated in Welsh. The full version file size is 316 kB.” Costs $12.

See also DICTIONARIES for dictionaries and vocabularies on CD and online.

SPELL-CHECKERS

CYSILL
CySill checks your spelling and grammar, and includes a thesaurus and help with verb conjugations. CySill can be bought either individually or together with CysGair (see above).

However, if you are running the latest version of Microsoft Office (Office XP) you can download a package of Welsh ‘proofing tools’ (spellchecker and hyphenator) from http://office.microsoft.com/intl/welsh/Downloads/2002/WelshPtk.aspx.

NB: Mark Nodine’s well-known Welsh dictionary, the Searching Lexicon, comes with an online spell-checker: http://www.cs.cf.ac.uk/fun/welsh/SpellChecker.html.

GRAMMAR TOOLS

Verbix is a universal Verb Conjugator that shows complete verb inflections of any verb in 100+ languages. Verbix 4.2 for Windows costs $29.90 USD and is available as shareware and freeware (freeware not available for Welsh).” It can however be consulted online.
http://www.verbix.com/languages/welsh.shtml

WEB BROWSERS

A purpose-built Welsh-language web-browser called Gwelywiwr, the official Welsh version of the Netscape browser, can be downloaded free of charge (10Mb) from http://www.gwelywiwr.org.

Opera Opera claims to be the fastest browser. It’s simple to use but full of useful features and I find it much more pleasant to use than Internet Explorer. It’s available in a huge range of languages, including Breton, Irish, and Scottish Gaelic as well as Welsh. To register costs $40, but you can use it free with all the features if you’re willing to put up with a banner advert (not spyware) at the top of your screen – a small enough price to pay, really. You can download Opera 6 at http://www.opera.com/download/ (11Mb with Java, 3.4Mb without), and then get the Welsh language file from http://www.opera.com/download/modules.html. (N.B. the link from the European Bureau of Lesser-Used Languages is to the previous version, Opera 5.)

K-Meleon Another free web-browser that offers a Welsh-language interface is K-Meleon. It’s intended to be a fast, light browser in the open source tradition. You can download it from http://kmeleon.sourceforge.net/download.php. Then get the Welsh language plug-in from http://kmeleon.sourceforge.net/resources/translations.php.

WELSH FONTS

People often ask where to find fonts with the problematic Welsh w-circumflex and y-circumflex (plus other, rarer characters such as y-grave). For £50+VAT you can buy a suite of four Welsh fonts from MEU Cymru at http://www.meucymru.co.uk/newprods/english/ffontcym.htm. For personal use, the SIL (Summer Institute of Linguists) have two fonts, Doulos (a serif font like Times New Roman) and Sophia (a sans-serif font like Arial), available to download free at http://www.wycliffeassociates.org.uk/dl-welsh.html.

Welsh Doulos Welsh Sophia

The Freelang language resources site features a selection of free fonts including a Welsh one called Pryd Euro-Cymraeg. It’s a serif font something like Times New Roman.

Neil Sands’ online Welsh course Ffwrdd â Ni uses a Welsh font called Gillian which you can download free from the site (although the course itself has now closed).

HTML and Alt codes

To get w-circumflex and y-circumflex in HTML, try using the codes &#372; and &#373;, and &#374; and &#375; respectively. I don’t know how many browsers support this, but if it works for you you’ll see the characters here, upper-case first: Ŵ/ŵ Ŷ/ŷ. If not, you’ll just see a question mark or some such. Apparently they should work in Internet Explorer but in Netscape you need to add the following line to the HEAD of your webpage: <META http-equiv="content-type" CONTENT="text/html; charset=x-UNICODE-2-0-UTF-7">. Don’t forget that these characters are for writing Web pages, not plain-text e-mails, word-processing or whatever. For that you can use the number pad on your keyboard while holding down the ‘Alt’ key. For example:
Alt 131 = â
Alt 160 = á
Alt 133 = à
Alt 132 = ä
Alt 136 = ê
Alt 130 = é
Alt 138 = è
Alt 137 = ë
Alt 140 = î
Alt 161 = í
Alt 141 = ì
Alt 139 = ï
Alt 147 = ô
Alt 162 = ó
Alt 149 = ò
Alt 148 = ö
Alt 150 = û
Alt 163 = ú
Alt 151 = ù
Alt 129 = ü
Alt 0253 = ý
Alt 0152 = ÿ
Alt 0194 = Â
Alt 0193 = Á
Alt 0192 = À
Alt 0196 = Ä
Alt 0202 = Ê
Alt 0200 = É
Alt 0201 = È
Alt 0196 = Ë
Alt 0206 = Î
Alt 0205 = Í
Alt 0204 = Ì
Alt 0207 = Ï
Alt 0212 = Ô
Alt 0211 = Ó
Alt 0210 = Ò
Alt 0214 = Ö
Alt 0219 = Û
Alt 0218 = Ú
Alt 0217 = Ù
Alt 0220 = Ü
Alt 0221 = Ý
Alt 0159 = Ÿ
Any PC should be able to handle those characters, but you can only get w-circumflex and y-circumflex if your computer has a Welsh font such as the ones mentioned above. Not all applications or operating systems can handle these uniquely(?) Welsh characters. You can find a fuller chart at http://members.aol.com/MonT714/tutorial/ALTchrc.html.

Windows character mapAlternatively you can select characters from the ‘character map’ in Windows (Start > Accessories), though again not all the Welsh characters will be available unless you have a suitable font installed. In new Microsoft Word XP the Insert > Symbol menu seems to contain all sorts of exotic characters, including w-circumflex and y-circumflex. For detailed advice on acccented characters within Microsoft Word, see John Sullivan’s website at http://www.yddraiggoch.demon.co.uk.

Apparently you can get w-circumflex and y-circumflex in Open Office 1.0 which is freeware for Solaris, Linux or Windows.

AllChars But the best option by far for all but those two characters is a little freeware program called AllChars, which can insert a huge choice of non-keyboard characters by simply pressing (and releasing) Control followed by the two logical keys, e.g. Ctrl-a-' for á, or Ctrl-e-^ for ê. The original version, designed for Windows 3.1, is very small and foolproof; the 32-bit version for post-95 Windowses offer various other nice gadgets but at the cost of greater bulk and perhaps less reliability. You can download either from http://allchars.zwolnet.com.

OTHER THINGS

There is a fair amount more Welsh-language software around these days, especially for children. I won’t attempt to catalogue or review it here, but you can find further information at the following sites:

See also the software links at Hazel Davy’s site:


© 1999–2004 Harry Campbell
Last updated: July 2004

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