A.J. Walker


Welsh Place Names

Starting work on a new short story and it's to be set in an isolated village in North Wales. The kind of place I drive through regularly. But in all this time I've been going there I haven't really bothered with the language, which is a shame. I mean, if I was going on holiday abroad I'd try and learn a few of the words at least for pleasantries, but I haven't for Wales. And that is my bad.

Anyway, for this story I am setting it in a fictitious place in the countryside where clearly it would have a Welsh name, not an English one. So I've had to look up some place name words. I know a few like pont for bridge, aber for river, coed for wood, and capel for chapel (of course). And Isaf and Uchaf is lowest and highest. Other than that I'm a bit at a loss or rely on guesswork. With this limited vocabulary I'd be a bit stuck for a place name. I mean Capel Aber Uchaf is not going to cut it.

I've looked through a lot of the place name segments and have come up with my fictitious hamlet now. Looking through the list it is clear how many places are named so simply on such geographical descriptions (and why with so few names used Isaf and Uchaf has to be used so often (or bach and mawr for little and big) to differentiate places).

allt - hillside, wood bach - little bedd - grave
betws - chapel bwlch - pass caer - fort
carnedd - cairn cefn - ridge clogwyn - steep cliff
coed - wood craig - rock cwm - valley
divas - city dwfr - water dyffryn - valley
eglwys - church fford - road ffridd - mountain pasture
ffynnon - spring llan - parish maen - stone
mawr - big moel - bare hill mynydd - mountain, moorland
nant - brook ogof - cave pistyll - waterfall
plas - hall, mansion pont - bridge pwll - pool
rhiw - hill, slope rhos - moor, promontory rhyd - ford
sarn - causeway stryd - street tafarn - inn
traeth - beach tref - village, town wyddfa - burial mound
ynys - island, river-meadow ystrad - valley floor

There's not going to be any conversations in Welsh so this may well be all my language research required for this story.

Hwyl fawr.
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