Patagonian Welsh

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Patagonian Welsh
Cymraeg y Wladfa
Native toArgentina
Native speakers
1,500-5,000[1][2] (2017)
Latin (Welsh alphabet)
Language codes
ISO 639-3
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Trilingual sign in Gaiman, Chubut
Ysgol yr Hendre, Patagonia's Welsh-language school.

Patagonian Welsh (Welsh: Cymraeg y Wladfa) is a variety of the Welsh language spoken in Y Wladfa, the Welsh settlement in Patagonia, Chubut Province, Argentina.[3] The decimal numeral system used in Modern Welsh originated in Patagonia in the 1870s, and was subsequently adopted in Wales in the 1940s as a simpler counterpart to the traditional vigesimal system, which still survives in Wales.[4]

Teachers are sent to teach the language and to train local tutors in the Welsh language, and there is some prestige in knowing the language, even among those not of Welsh descent.[5] Welsh education and projects are mainly funded by the Welsh Government, British Council, Cardiff University and the Welsh–Argentine Association. In 2005 there were 62 Welsh classes in the area and Welsh was taught as a subject in two primary schools and two colleges in the region of Gaiman. There is also a bilingual Welsh–Spanish language school called Ysgol yr Hendre situated in Trelew and a college located in Esquel. In 2016 there were three bilingual Welsh–Spanish primary schools in Patagonia.[6]

Patagonian Welsh has developed to be a distinct dialect of Welsh, different from the several dialects used in Wales itself; however, speakers from Wales and Patagonia are able to communicate readily.[5] Toponyms throughout the Chubut Valley are of Welsh origin.

A total of 1,220 people undertook Welsh courses in Patagonia in 2015.[7]

The formal Eisteddfod poetry competitions have been revived,[8] although they are now bilingual in Welsh and Spanish.[9]


The Welsh people first arrived in Patagonia in 1865. They had migrated to protect their native Welsh culture and language, which they considered to be threatened in their native Wales.[10][11] Over the years the use of the language started to decrease and there was relatively little contact between Wales and the Chubut Valley. The situation began to change[5] when many Welsh people visited the region in 1965 to celebrate the colony's centenary; since then the number of Welsh visitors increased.[12]

In 1945 and 1946 the BBC World Service broadcast radio shows in Patagonian Welsh.[13]

During the 1982 repatriation of Argentine troops from the Falklands war, British Merchant Navy seamen and Welsh Guardsmen met a Welsh-speaking Argentine soldier.[14] The detained troops were disembarked at Puerto Madryn.

In 2004 the Welsh speakers in Argentina asked the Welsh government to provide them with Welsh TV programmes to encourage the survival and growth of Welsh in Patagonia.[15]


The dialect contains local adoptions from Spanish or borrowings from English, not present in the Welsh spoken in Wales.[16]

For example, mynd i baseando derives from paseando in Spanish. Baseando is a grammatical mutation from paseando.

Patagonian Welsh[17] Welsh (Wales) English Rioplatense Spanish
Singlet Fest vest, singlet chaleco
Poncin Pwmpen pumpkin zapallo
Mynd i baseando Mynd am dro to go for a walk ir de paseo / ir paseando
Corral Corlan sheepfold, corral corral
Pasiwch Dewch i mewn enter! / come in! ¡pase!
Tan tro nesaf Hwyl fawr Goodbye Hasta la próxima
Costio N/a To be difficult for someone costar

Gallery of Welsh in Patagonia[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Patagonia's Welsh settlement was 'cultural colonialism' says academic". WalesOnline. 30 March 2013. Archived from the original on 27 August 2017. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  2. ^ "Wales and Patagonia". Archived from the original on 17 April 2017. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  3. ^ Ariel Brooks, Walter (25 October 2018). "The Welsh language in Patagonia: a brief history". British Council. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  4. ^ Gareth Ffowc Roberts (15 February 2016). Count Us In: How to Make Maths Real for All of Us. University of Wales Press. ISBN 978-1-78316-798-2.
  5. ^ a b c Huw Edwards (29 August 2016). "Patagonia with Huw Edwards". BBC One. Archived from the original on 15 October 2016. Retrieved 15 September 2016. Television program by Huw Edwards on Patagonia and its Welsh community and culture.
  6. ^ "A new bilingual Welsh and Spanish schools for Patagonia". Welsh Government. 16 March 2016. Archived from the original on 2016-03-23. Retrieved 2016-03-16.
  7. ^ "Welsh Language Project Annual Report 2015" (PDF). British Council. Archived (PDF) from the original on 18 September 2016. Retrieved 2016-08-24.
  8. ^ "Patagonia, land of song". BBC News. 26 October 2001. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
  9. ^[bare URL]
  10. ^ "The Welsh language in 19th century education". BBC Wales. Archived from the original on 2014-04-28. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  11. ^ "The History of Welsh Patagonia". Archived from the original on 2017-11-08. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  12. ^ E. Wyn James, ‘Identity, Immigration, and Assimilation: The Case of the Welsh Settlement in Patagonia’, Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, 24 (2018), 76-87. ISSN 0959-3632.
  13. ^ "75 Years". BBC World Service. Archived from the original on 2015-03-11. Retrieved 2015-11-03.
  14. ^ Johnson-Allen, J. They couldn't have done it without us 2011 Seafarer Books p.168 ISBN 978-1-906266-23-3
  15. ^ "Patagonian welsh". Archived from the original on 2012-03-20. Retrieved 2011-12-30.
  16. ^ Maria Perez, Danae; Sippola, Eeva, eds. (2021). Postcolonial Language Varieties in the Americas (Ebook) (Ebook (8 June 2021) ed.). De Gruyter. pp. 4.11–5. ISBN 978-3-11-072403-5.
  17. ^ "Cymraeg y Wladfa a Chymraeg Cymru - beth yw'r gwahaniaethau?". BBC Cymru Fyw. 2018-09-28. Archived from the original on 2018-10-02. Retrieved 2018-10-01.

External links[edit]