1. How to look up a term
2. How parts of speech are shown
3. Grammatical gender and plural form of nouns
4. Correspondence of verbs and nouns between English and Welsh
5. Criteria for the standardization of terms
6. Standard orthography
7. Understanding the meaning of terms
8. Synonyms and different language registers
9. Dialectal variations
10. Place names in Geography
11. Religious Education terms
12. Use of foreign terms
Type the term you are looking for into the search box in the “Search for a Term” section. You can change the language direction (from Welsh to English or from English to Welsh) easily by clicking on the name of the language or on the term itself. You can type in a mutated form of a Welsh word, and/or a conjugated form of a verb, and get the unmutated, unconjugated form of the word which corresponds to the English term in the dictionary. Every term which contains the individual word is shown as well.
Where a word has more than one meaning, there is a separate entry for each meaning, followed by the disambiguator in brackets. The disambiguator is a short definition which follows the term in order to differentiate between words which look the same but which have different meanings. Terms containing a single word followed by its disambiguator come first, and terms containing more than one word are listed afterwards. For example, ‘centre (brain)’, ‘centre (= middle point)’, ‘centre (of attention etc’), ‘centre (person)’, ‘centre (= place in centre)’, ‘centre (= place or group of buildings)’, come before ‘centre back’, ‘centre dotting’, ‘centre drill’, ‘centre for policy studies’, ‘centre front’, ‘centre half’ and so on.
You may also view a list of all the dictionary headwords by scrolling through them and clicking on any term to select it and see the entry in full. This feature is available in the “Browse A-Z” section.
This dictionary shows parts of speech for Welsh terms when they are nouns, verbs or adjectives, as that information aids the user with grammatical mutations. Other words and phrases are usually left with no part of speech, but noun phrases are labelled as nouns since the entire phrase may cause a mutation, e.g. in ‘sbectol haul’ (sunglasses) ‘sbectol’ is a feminine noun and ‘haul’ is a masculine noun, but the entire phrase is labelled as feminine since it causes following adjectives to mutate, i.e. ‘sbectol haul dywyll’ not ‘sbectol haul tywyll’ (showing that it is the glasses that are dark, not the sun).
Parts of speech are only shown in English when there is a need to differentiate between a verb, noun and adjective, and they therefore act as disambiguators in a similar way to the definitions in brackets which follow some terms.
Some nouns in Welsh may be either masculine or feminine in grammatical gender, usually varying according to dialect. These have been noted as eg/b leaving it up to individuals to use the forms which sounds right to them. Where an eg/b noun forms part of a term containing more than one word, however, a decision was made to show only one form in order to avoid repeating forms which mutate, e.g. ‘diweddeb’ can be either a masculine or a feminine noun. When it is treated as a masculine noun the form is ‘diweddeb perffaith’ and when it is feminine, ‘diweddeb berffaith’. The noun ‘diweddeb’ has been treated as a feminine noun in Y Termiadur Addysg, and so it causes soft mutation in composite nouns. However the alternative masculine form should also be accepted as correct, and so on in other terms containing more than one word, where the noun can be either masculine or feminine.
It should be remembered also that a very small number of Welsh nouns have a different meaning according to whether they are masculine or feminine in gender. For example, in Y Termiadur Addysg ‘y tôn’ (masculine noun) translates as ‘the tone’ and ‘y dôn’ (feminine noun) translates as ‘the tune’. ‘Y de’ (masculine noun) gives us ‘the south’ in English, and ‘y dde’ (feminine noun) gives us ‘the right [side]’ in English.
Sometimes there are different meanings to plural forms of nouns, although the singular forms may look the same, e.g. llwyth (= tribe) plural: llwythau; llwyth (= load) plural: llwythi.
Verbs and verb-nouns are often used in Welsh where English tends to use nouns. For the phrase ‘do a headstand’ in English, for example, the corresponding Welsh phrase would be ‘sefwch ar eich pen’ (stand on your head). Some contemporary Welsh dictionaries give a verb-noun to translate an English noun, in order to remind the user not to follow the English construction in Welsh. There are times, however, when a noun is needed in Welsh to correspond to a noun in English, especially with numbers. Therefore, if you have a list of gymnastic movements noting how many times a pupil must perform a specific movement, e.g. ‘10 headstands’, a new noun such as ‘pensafiad’ has to be coined. Y Termiadur Addysg endeavours to keep the correspondence of parts of speech as far as is possible, but urges translators to bear in mind that, in many contexts, using a verb-noun rather than a noun often makes for a more naturally Welsh construction.
Objective criteria were followed in the compilation of Y Termiadur Addysg. These were based on the standards of the International Standards Organization, including ISO 704 on Standardization of Terms and ISO 860 on Harmonization of Concepts and Terms. These note, among other points, the following:
- a term should be linguistically correct;
- it should reflect, as far as possible, the characteristics of the concept which it represents;
- it should be concise;
- it should be able to generate to other forms;
- there should only be one term for a single concept.
The orthography of Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru (University of Wales Press 1950-2001) has been followed as far as possible, which in turn, follows the guidelines of Orgraff yr Iaith Gymraeg Rhan II, Geirfa 1987 (University of Wales Press, 1987). Sometimes there is a choice of possible spellings, with both forms being regarded as correct. One example of this is the forms project and prosiect. In such cases, choosing one over the other is a matter of consistency and house style, and does not make the alternative spelling incorrect.
With regard to the spelling of international words Welsh orthographical conventions were followed; thus ‘cilo’ and ‘sinc’ appear as the Welsh words in Y Termiadur Addysg, rather than ‘kilo’ and ‘zinc’. The international symbols, such as ‘k’ for ‘kilo’ and the symbols for the chemical elements, of course, remain unchanged. The only exceptions are to be found in proper nouns and religious terms, which keep their original spelling, or the internationally recognised transliteration into the Latin script if they have been transliterated from another script (see below, section 11).
It is important to understand the conceptual meaning of the terms which are used. Mistranslation can occur when a dictionary is consulted and a term is found which appears to be a translation, but which in reality translates an entirely different concept. A word such as ‘grain’ in English, for example, can have a number of meanings, such as ‘a grain of sand’ (gronyn), ‘the grain of the wood’ (graen), and ‘grain grown for food’ (grawn). Choosing the wrong meaning can sometimes lead to serious errors, such as in misunderstanding the meaning of the word ‘seal’ in the phrase ‘the seal of Edward I’, and translating it as ‘morlo Edward I’ (morlo = a type of sea mammal), rather than as ‘sêl Edward I’ (as on a document). The most important point to remember when translating terms is that it is never possible to translate word for word without understanding the concept being conveyed i.e.
English term = Welsh term
English term = concept = Welsh term.
The dissambuguators used in Y Termiadur Addysg are meant to help choose the correct concept where there is a possibility of confusion. However, some words may have additional meanings not covered in Y Termiadur Addysg, and readers should use their common sense if the translation suggested in Y Termiadur Addysg does not seem suitable in a particular context. A good monolingual English dictionary can provide guidance as to various possible meanings and concepts, thereby helping to ensure a correct Welsh translation.
It is sometimes difficult to choose between two or more terms because their meanings are similar. In everyday language a variety of words can be used as synonyms. However, in technical contexts specialist concepts need accurate terms. The technical name for this language register is ‘language for special purposes’. The more technical the context, the more the care needed to ensure that standardized terms are used. Y Termiadur Addysg now covers a wide range of school subjects from primary school to A Level and further education, including vocational subjects. Users will need to employ careful discretion in deciding when it is appropriate to use technical terms and when there is no need to do so. For example, the word ‘munud’ (minute) technically means an interval of a particular length (namely sixty seconds). In informal speech, however, it is possible to say ‘aros funud’ (wait a minute) without meaning ‘wait for exactly sixty seconds’. Phrases such as ‘aros ychydig’ (wait a while), ‘aros foment’ (wait a moment), or ‘aros eiliad’ (wait a second) can be used without changing the meaning. It is important to understand that technical terms need not be used outside the domain of language for special purposes, and that within non-technical and informal contexts there is a degree of flexibility.
It may be difficult in a school situation to decide how technical a particular context is, and therefore how technical the vocabulary should be, especially at the primary and lower secondary levels. As a general rule, if there is no need to teach the technical concept, then there is no need for the technical vocabulary. Thus when discussing ‘cyflymder’ and ‘buanedd’ (‘velocity’ and ‘speed’) there is no need to differentiate between them except in a technical scientific or mathematical context. ‘Cyflymder’ does not have to be changed to ‘buanedd’ in more general, non-technical, contexts.
The only exception to the practice of offering only one term in Welsh for the English term is when there is a clear split between usage in north and south Wales, e.g. ‘gwahadden’ is used in south Wales and ‘twrch daear’ in north Wales for the animal ‘mole’. In such cases, it was not thought fair to give precedence to one form over the other, and both terms have been included. It is recommended that both terms be used together in assessment materials, but that teachers and pupils use the term with which they are more familiar in their classroom environment. This is not a dictionary of dialects however and, where it was judged that one form was acceptable as the standard form, other dialectical words and forms have not been included.
Place names and proper names pose special problems within the school curriculum. Geography teachers have argued for years that the best answer was to adopt the preferred indigenous form of place names when referring to places outside Wales, using Yr Atlas Cymraeg Newydd (CBAC, 1999) However in general contexts outside the confines of technical usage traditional Welsh usage may be followed. For example, the Italian form ‘Roma’ is used for the capital city of Italy in the Atlas Cymraeg Newydd. However, when the city is mentioned in a general context, for example in history or music, it is still acceptable to call the city ‘Rhufain’.
A particular problem exists with terms used in religions other than Christianity where the original language uses a script other than the Latin script. Some of these scripts have many more characters than the Latin script, and need more than one character in the Latin alphabet to transliterate them. For example, the Gurumukhi holy script of the Sikhs has forty characters, with one character transliterated as ‘kh’, another as ‘k’, another as ‘c’ and another as ‘ch’. The Welsh alphabet does not contain the characters ‘k’, ‘q’, ‘v’ and ‘x’, but it does follow the international method for the Latinization of other scripts (for example ISO 233 on the transliteration of Arabic characters into Roman characters). This can be compared to the way Welsh accepts proper names including these characters, for example, Keller, Quentin and Vivian. It would be misleading to use the letter ‘c’ in Welsh for ‘k’ when referring for example to the five sacred ‘k’s of the Sikhs. These terms which are borrowed from other languages should not be perceived as English terms but rather as quotations from their original languages transliterated into Latin script. In 1994 the Religious Education: Glossary of Terms was published by the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority (SCAA) and approved by the different faith communities and contains the accepted Latin transliteration of vocabulary which belong to the different religions.
However, as with place names in Geography, in general contexts, outside the confines of technical usage, traditional Welsh usage may be followed. For example, in Religious Education, the founder of Islam should be referred to as ‘Muhammed’, but in a general context, the traditional Welsh use of the form ‘Mohamed’ may be used.
Foreign terms in subject areas other than Religious Education may also be used in Welsh without translation. For example it is common in music to use Italian terms such as ‘appoggiatura’ or German ones such as ‘Lied’. These terms have traditionally been italicized in the Welsh text to show that they are not Welsh terms. However, italic fonts may not always be available for this purpose, either because the work is handwritten or because the italic font has already been used by the publishers for some other purpose, e.g. the titles of publications. Italics have not been used to denote foreign terms in Y Termiadur Addysg.
Acronyms are problematic in Welsh, in education as in so many other areas. They cause confusion because of their unfamiliarity, the need for mutations and also because of a preponderance of the letters ‘C and ‘G’ and a lack of vowels in many acronyms. Acronyms should therefore not be translated into Welsh, with the exception of a few examples such as CBAC (Cyd-Bwyllgor Addysg Cymru) for WJEC (Joint Welsh Education Committee) where the acronym has long since become established, and the still fewer examples (such as ACCAC) where the Welsh acronym (Awdurdod Cymwysterau, Cwricwlwm ac Asesu Cymru) is used in both English and Welsh. The accepted practice in Welsh is to give the name of the organization in full the first time it is used in speech or in a document, and thereafter to refer to it as the ‘Authority’, ‘Society’ etc. if it is clear which organization, society etc. is meant.