This is a translation of the article in the Welsh Government Translation Service’s online style guide, Yr Arddulliadur, entitled Dynodi enwau gwladwriaethau, tiriogaethau a chenhedloedd diwladwriaeth.
These are the principles to be followed in determining Welsh-language forms of the names of states, territories, and stateless nations which are to be included in TermCymru. Note that these are guidelines on denoting forms for the use of the Welsh Government Translation Service, and that the adoption of a certain Welsh-language form under these guidelines does not mean that other forms are not valid in Welsh.
These are the principles to be followed in denoting forms:
- The aim is to select practical forms which provide a balance between being intelligible to the diverse audiences of Welsh Government Welsh-language materials and complying with Welsh orthographic conventions.
- The names are arranged into three categories, in the following order: (1) established Welsh forms (Yr Almaen), (2) Cymricisations of native forms or common English forms (Latfia, Mecsico), (3) native forms or common English forms (Réunion, Kyrgyzstan). Further details about the categories can be found in the table below.
- In relation to category (2) names in general, greater emphasis is placed on recognising Cymricised forms that are already familiar in specific contexts such as the news, media, sport and culture. Forms should not be Cymricised without good reason in accordance with the principles. This is to avoid the proliferation of forms and to avoid introducing forms which are unfamiliar to the audience.
- In light of principle 3 and of geographical, cultural, commercial and political links with Wales, consideration will be given to Cymricising the names of all European countries which do not already have an established form in Welsh.
- In light of principle 3 note that the decision on the forms to be used in Welsh may change over time, as specific places become more familiar in Welsh-language discourse.
Established Welsh forms and Cymricised forms
- In general, forms requiring more than one or two modifications to their orthography are not Cymricised.
- In general, either the whole name should be Cymricised or it should not be Cymricised at all: Kosovo, not Kosofo.
In terms of consonants
- It is common to use the letter f in Welsh to convey the [v] sound denoted by the letter v in English in initial and medial positions: Dinas y Fatican, not Dinas y Vatican, Slofenia, not Slovenia.
- It is less common to use the letter c in Welsh to convey the [k] sound denoted by the letter k in English in the initial position: Gogledd Korea, not Gogledd Corea. Nevertheless, it is more common in medial positions: Slofacia, not Slovakia.
- It is less common to transpose other consonants into their orthographical counterparts in Welsh, both in initial and medial positions. For example, it is less common to Cymricise names containing letters or combinations such as the letter g to convey the [dʒ] sound (Gibraltar, Georgia), the letter q to convey the [k] sound (Martinique), the letter z to convey the [ts] sound (Bosnia a Herzegovina), and the combination ti to convey the [ʃ] sound (Croatia).
- It is uncommon to use the tsi combination to convey the [tʃ] sound in the initial and medial positions in less familiar names (Chad, Chile). However, some established and familiar Welsh names use this combination in the initial position (Y Weriniaeth Tsiec, Tsieina).
- It is uncommon to use the letter s in the initial and medial positions in less familiar names to convey the [z] or [s] sounds (Zambia, Tanzania). However, some established Welsh names use this combination in the initial and medial positions (Seland Newydd, Brasil).
In terms of vowels
- In general in the case of Cymricised names, vowels should be transposed to their orthographical counterparts to convey the pronunciation in Welsh: Bwlgaria, Lithwania, Periw, Ciwba.
In terms of diacritical marks
- Diacritical marks indicating stress in Cymricised forms are omitted to avoid creating forms that are more unfamiliar than necessary for users. It is assumed that the audience will be familiar with the pronunciation and that there is no need to indicate stress: Fietnam, Irac, Pacistan, Belarws.
Native forms and common English forms
- Some native forms and common English forms accord with Welsh orthographic conventions except, perhaps, the diacritical marks used to denote stress or vowel length: Estonia, Tonga, Iran, Jamaica. Some of these forms could be considered established Welsh forms on the basis of familiarity and, occasionally, pronunciation: Canada, India, Sweden.
- It is accepted that many international place-names are based on languages whose sounds, pronunciation, orthography, and morphology do not accord with the features and conventions of the Welsh language. Because of this, in the case of forms that reflect the native form or the common English form:
- It is accepted that the orthographic signs may convey sounds that are not native to Welsh, or may convey sounds that are not normally conveyed in Welsh by those signs: Croatia, Lesotho, Niger.
- It is accepted that some of the orthographic signs and consonant clusters may be unfamiliar: Kyrgyzstan, Ynysoedd Åland, Djibouti.
- It is accepted that the stress may fall on unfamiliar syllables in Welsh, without diacritical marks to denote those accents: Tajikistan, Mozambique, Paraguay.
Names where it would be possible to adopt one of several different forms
- In the case of names where it might be possible to adopt one of several different forms, consideration should be given to the feasibility of Welsh derivations, such as the names of associated languages or identities/populations. For example, when considering Faroe Islands, one should also consider the name of the Faroese language and the Faroese identity. Ynysoedd Ffaro (the Cymricised form) gives Ffaröeg and Ffaroaidd, but it would be difficult to create intelligible Welsh derivations if Ynysoedd Føroyar (the native form) or Ynysoedd Faroe (the common English form) were used for Faroe Islands.
- Proliferation of forms should be avoided. In determining forms where there is more than one possible form by following these principles, consideration will be given to the forms in the Welsh Language Board’s list of foreign place-names (2011), the forms in Yr Atlas Cymraeg Newydd [‘The New Welsh Atlas’] (WJEC, 1999) and the forms already in TermCymru as part of other standardised terms (eg the standardised names of animals and plants).
Translating elements into Welsh
- Regardless of the category of a name, the following elements are translated:
- general elements such as Ynysoedd, Gweriniaeth, Tiroedd.
- adjectives: Guinea Gyhydeddol, Seland Newydd.
- conjunctions: St Kitts a Nevis.
- compass points and positional words: Gogledd Korea, Ynysoedd Sandwich y De, Gweriniaeth Canolbarth Affrica.
- descriptive and possessive elements: Ynys y Nadolig, Ynysoedd Prydeinig y Wyryf, Polynesia Ffrengig.
- Personal names are not translated into Welsh: Ynysoedd Marshall. Nor the names of saints: St Lucia, Sint Maarten. The full English element Saint is translated as Sant [for a male saint], or Santes [for a female saint]: Ffederasiwn Sant Christopher a Nevis, Santes Lucia.
Additional principles on denoting long forms of state names (official names)
- The standardised spelling for the Welsh short forms will be followed, unless the recognised English long form differs from the common English short form and reflects usage in one of the official languages of the state concerned (Cape Verde but Gweriniaeth Cabo Verde; Y Traeth Ifori, but Gweriniaeth Côte D’Ivoire) or a recognised variant of the spelling in English (Fietnam but Gweriniaeth Sosialaidd Fiet Nam).
- Where a genitive construction is used in the recognised English long form, a genitive construction is used in the corresponding Welsh form: The Republic of Guinea-Bissau / Gweriniaeth Guinea-Bissau, The Kingdom of Denmark / Teyrnas Denmarc, The State of Eritrea / Gwladwriaeth Eritrea.
- Where an adjectival construction is used in the recognised English long form, a genitive construction is used in the Welsh-language form since this is usually more natural and/or common (The Argentine Republic / Gweriniaeth yr Ariannin, The Kyrgyz Republic / Gweriniaeth Kyrgyzstan, The Swiss Confederation / Cydffederasiwn y Swistir). Some exceptions are allowed where the adjectival construction is used in Welsh, mainly for stylistic reasons (Slovak Republic / Y Weriniaeth Slofac, Hellenic Republic / Y Weriniaeth Helenaidd).
- In translating the element People’s [Democratic] Republic, Gweriniaeth [Ddemocrataidd] y Bobl shall be used: Gweriniaeth y Bobl Tsieina, Gweriniaeth Ddemocrataidd y Bobl Algeria. Note that it is not a "Republic" which relates to "China’s People" (for example) but a "People's Republic" which relates to "China".
Practical issues when using names
- Geographical names can be politically sensitive. If there are two official languages and two possible forms of a name as a result, the original text should be followed in translations. For example, if 'New Zealand (Aotearoa)' is given in English, both forms 'Seland Newydd (Aotearoa)' should be given in Welsh. If only one form is given in the original text, the author’s intention should be considered when deciding which form to choose for the Welsh text.
- Names and the political context of names are subject to change over time: Gweriniaeth Ddemocrataidd Congo (formerly Zaire), Eswatini (formerly Gwlad Swazi). As a result, note that the decision on the form to use in Welsh may also change.
- It can be difficult to decide whether to mutate international names. We generally recommended mutating forms that are in categories (1) and (2). We recommended not mutating most of the forms in category (3), but caution should be exercised in the case of names that accord with Welsh orthography. It is common to mutate some that are already familiar in Welsh: i Ganada but it is not common to mutate others: i Trinidad a Tobago, o Malawi, yn Botswana.
Table of categories
Use of diacritical marks
Type of places
An established Welsh form
This can include names where each element was translated
Usual Welsh conventions
Usual Welsh conventions
Places with traditional names in Welsh (but avoiding antiquarian forms).
Ffrainc, Gwlad Pwyl, Denmarc, Ariannin, Yr Aifft
Places with purely descriptive names in the native form or the common English form.
Ynys y Nadolig, Y Tiriogaethau Deheuol Ffrengig
A Cymricised native form or Cymricised common English form
Usual Welsh conventions
Avoid diacritical marks in general
Places where the Cymricised form is not an established form, but
(i) the place is in Europe
Lithwania, Slofenia, Wcrain.
(ii) the Cymricised form is already familiar in certain contexts such as the news, media, sport and culture
Affganistan, Ffiji, Ciwba, Mecsico
Names that are not Cymricised, where the native form or the common English form is retained
Note that some of these forms accord with Welsh orthographic conventions (with or without diacritical marks)
Estonia, Tonga, Iran, Jamaica.
Some of these forms can be considered established Welsh forms based on their familiarity:
Canada, India, Sweden.
Nevertheless, caution should be exercised in the case of forms that accord with Welsh orthographic conventions.
It may be common to mutate some that are established in Welsh (eg Canada) but not others (eg Botswana, Trinidad a Tobago, Malawi)
Diacritical marks as used in the native form or the common English form
Places which do not have an established Welsh name, and which should not be Cymricised under the principles
Libya, Qatar, Réunion, Chile, Tuvalu, Kenya
Certain elements of such names may have been translated
De Korea, Ynysoedd Åland, Gweriniaeth Ddemocrataidd Congo.