Translanguaging


Many individuals and organisations in Wales are working to encourage more use of the Welsh language in daily life, whether through speaking, listening, reading or writing.  Much written material is available in Welsh, for example: in newspapers and magazines, and on-line.  Welsh speakers are making increased use of social media.  There is now a great opportunity to produce and distribute written material of all kinds in the Welsh language.  

Welsh, as with many other languages, can be used in its own right as an art form.  We see this from the outstanding work of Welsh novelists, poets and song writers.  However, this course focusses on the more basic function of Welsh as a means of communicating information.  To do this effectively, the language used should be clear and easily understood by the reader.

Direct word-for-word translation from English into Welsh may not be straightforward for several reasons:
  • The language used in the English document may be excessively complex, or contain vocabulary unlikely to be familiar to the Welsh reader.  This might apply, for example, to legal documents or articles on scientific or technological topics.  
  • Grammatical patterns and sentence structures in Welsh can differ significantly from those in English.
  • Idioms appear in the two languages, where a direct translation would make no sense.
A practical approach for translating more complex texts from English into Welsh is to use the technique of translanguaging, introduced by Dr Cen Williams at Bangor University: 

The objective of translanguaging is to obtain the overall meaning from the original English text, which may then be noted as a series of bullet points or as elements of a mind-map diagram. The original text is then put to one side, and a new Welsh text is constructed from the collection of key points. This allows more natural Welsh language patterns and familiar vocabulary to be used.  

The original purpose of translanguaging was to provide a methodology for translating cumbersome and complex official documents in English into clear and easily understandable Welsh.


In each of the exercises below, a text in English is translated into Welsh. In order to avoid vocabulary and grammar which might confuse Welsh readers, we use the strategy of translanguaging.  Key points are noted in a mind map diagram, translated into Welsh, and then linked to produce a final document.  A suitable software application for this purpose, FreeMind, can be downloaded free of charge from the on-line Microsoft Store.  

As an example, we will produce a Welsh language version of the following short article on tourism in Wales:  
    Compact but geologically diverse, Wales offers myriad opportunities for escaping into nature. It may not be wild in the classic sense - humans have been shaping this land for millennia - but there are plenty of lonely corners to explore, lurking behind mountains, within river valleys and along surf-battered cliffs. An extensive network of paths makes Wales a hiker's paradise - and thousands of people duck across the border from England each year for that reason alone. Things are even more untamed on the islands scattered just off the coast, some of which are important wildlife sanctuaries. A boat trip to one of the islands is sure to be a memorable experience.


Key points from the text are displayed in the mind map diagram and translated into Welsh.  The web page will display these key points, listed in a suitable order to produce an article:

            Cymru 
            cyfleoedd i ymweld 'r byd natur 
            mynyddoedd 
            dyffrynnoedd afonydd 
            arfordir a chlogwyni 
            llawer o lwybrau troed 
            poblogaidd gydag ymwelwyr o Loegr 
            ynysoedd oddi ar yr arfordir 
            gwarchodfeydd natur 
            ymweld ar deithiau cwch

The key points can then be edited and linked into sentences to produce the final article in simple Welsh:
    Mae Cymru yn darparu cyfleoedd gwych i ymweld 'r byd natur. Gallwch fwynhau'r mynyddoedd, dyffrynnoedd yr afonydd, yr arfordir a'i glogwyni. Mae llawer o lwybrau troed ym mhob rhan or wlad, syn gwneud Cymrun boblogaidd iawn gydag ymwelwyr o draws y ffin yn Lloegr. Mae yna ynysoedd oddi ar yr arfordir syn warchodfeydd natur.  Gallwch ymweld nhw ar deithiau cwch sydd yn sicr o fod yn brofiad cofiadwy. 

After completing your article in Welsh, there are two useful checks which can be carried out:
  • A grammar check using the software program Cysill, which can be downloaded from the Bangor University website. This program is particularly good at identifying and correcting errors in treigladau and verb tenses, along with errors in spelling and use of accents

  • A vocabulary check using Google Translate. Enter your Welsh text and allow the web page to translate this back into English. Check that the meaning is as you intended. This is a useful way to ensure that correct Welsh vocabulary has been chosen, particularly where a series of very similar Welsh words exist, such as: amnewid (replace), adnewid (modify), cyfnewid (exchange)
For further information on aspects of grammar, you are welcome to visit our accompanying website Writing in Welsh