Machynlleth in mid-Wales is quite a small town, not often featured in the national news. But yesterday morning as I finished my breakfast the television presenters on the BBC1 Breakfast show handed over to their correspondent in what they called məˈkʌnlɪθ. The correspondent in question, one Rhun ap Iorwerth, duly told us about the missing five-year-old in the town (at the time of writing she’s still not been found), the town which he, clearly being a speaker of Welsh, pronounced maˈχənɬɛθ.
Note the unreduced vowels in the first and last syllables and the schwa in the middle, stressed, syllable. In Welsh, in this respect strikingly unlike the Germanic languages, ə is often stressed, but is restricted to non-final syllables (clitics such as the definite article y(r) count as non-final).
In passing, I might comment that I have never previously come across the forename Rhun (riːn, or north Welsh r̥ɨːn). I see from Wikipedia that it was the name of a sixth-century king of Gwynedd.
I was in my mid-forties when I sat my Welsh A-levels after studying in evening classes. I remember that in the English to Welsh translation paper the passage set began “The sign on the station platform read ‘Machynlleth’”. I dutifully recast my Welsh version so that Machynlleth was the first word of the sentence rather than the last, as is required by Welsh syntax.
There was recently a brief discussion on the web (I’ve forgotten just where) on the subject of digraphs. As Wikipedia explains,
In some language orthographies, like that of Croatian (lj, nj, dž), traditional Spanish (ch, ll, rr) or Czech (ch), digraphs are considered individual letters, meaning that they have their own place in the alphabet, in the standard orthography, and cannot be separated into their constituent graphemes; e.g. when sorting, abbreviating or hyphenating. In others, like English, this is not the case.
Someone pointed out, correctly, that in Welsh CH, LL, NG, and RH are treated as digraphs [= as single letters]. I pointed out that in the case of NG this can lead to problems. NG is treated as a digraph [ = a single letter] for collation, and ordered between G and H, if pronounced [ŋ], but not if pronounced [ŋɡ], in which case it is treated as N plus G. So angau (death, [ˈaŋaɨ]) comes before ail (second); but dangos (show, [ˈdaŋɡos]) comes after damwain (accident).