NOTE: The Welsh covered here is what we would call “Colloquial Welsh”, i.e the Welsh that real people speak on the streets. If you have studied any Welsh previously, you may notice some subtle differences in both the spoken and written form – this is totally normal and don’t worry about it. If you’ve learnt “Rydw i” instead of “Dw i”, don’t worry! If you’ve learnt “Roedd” instead of “Oedd”, don’t worry!
Shops are great places to start using your Welsh. Whether you work in a shop, or you’re just out and about trying to pick up a few things as a customer. These sort of situations are great because the conversations you have in shops are usually quite short and quick and can be an invaluable way of practising your Welsh with real people without putting yourself through too much strain.
The important thing to remember is to not worry, give it a go, if you make a mistake, who cares? Just laugh it off and carry on where you left off. Trust me, people who work in shops have seen far weirder things than someone making a simple mistake like this!
Any Welsh speaker you encounter will genuinely be happy that you’re giving the language a go. If in doubt, ask them for help, Welsh speakers are a friendly bunch and are always happy to help out a learner.
Controlling the conversation
The thing is, when you work in a shop – or any customer facing business to be honest, you already know what your customers, or the person behind the counter, are going to say.
Take the imaginary scenario of a coffee shop. I mean, think about the types of things you would typically say and ask for in a coffee shop scenario. How much do you actually speak when you buy a coffee from one of these shops?
What we’re looking to do with this conversation, from both sides of the counter is predict what will happen – and by doing so, we can work out in advance most of what we’re going to say!
So you enter the coffee shop, there’s no queue so the first thing you do usually is walk up to the counter and say “Hello” or something similar, “How are you?” is another good one.
If you have used the videos above, you will be completely comfortable with the art of saying hello, so we can probably move on to the next stage.
So the next stage usually involves the customer making their order. For your first couple of conversations, don’t try and over-complicate things. You want a simple coffee and you want it with minimal fuss, as much as you may love your daily Caramel Macchiatto with Coconut Milk, ice on the side and an umbrella in the middle, this order is probably something best kept for your second ever Welsh conversation!
So take a look at the menu behind the counter and pick a drink, put the phrase “Ga i…” in front of that drink name and for good measure put the word “plis” after it all. Congratulations, you’ve just ordered your first coffee in Welsh, how does that feel?
Now what usually happens next? Because we can control the conversation by having a fair idea of what the person behind the counter is likely to say next. What kind of things do they say in English?
“Do you want hot or cold milk?”
“Do you want anything else with that?”
“Can I interest you in our special blend of Columbian fried coffee beans that were picked yesterday?”
For now… as much as you may be tempted by those Columbian fried coffee beans, just shake your hand and whisper a simple “Dim diolch”
So, what happens next? Usually at this point you’ll start thinking about paying up. Nowadays most coffee shops have a price list on their menu, so you’ll already know how much you need to pay, so even if you don’t understand what is said back to you – you’ll know what’s going on. Have a £5 note handy, or use a contactless debit card and you can avoid even more “awkward working out”.
At the end just give a smile and a “Diolch” and congratulations, you’ve just bought your first coffee in Welsh. There’s nothing stopping you from replacing the word “Coffee” with “Sglodion” (Chips) and heading to your local chip shop for some dinner, or heading to the Post Office and asking for a “Stamp dosbarth cyntaf” (A first class stamp). Once you’ve got over the hurdle of your first conversation in Welsh, the rest will fall into place.
Give these two videos a go. One is for people who work in shops and want to give Welsh a go, the other is for shoppers themselves – but try out both videos so you’ll know what to expect from the other party! If you find these videos useful, check out our other pages full of useful Welsh to get you started and you really want to take your Welsh further, check out the Learn/Dysgu page for more information on how to learn Welsh.