I should start by pointing out that this title isn’t entirely true. There either isn’t a word for yes in Welsh, or there’s 20 plus. It depends on how you want to look at it – what your perspective is. (This is also true of the negative answers.)
As I mentioned in a previous post I’m currently signed up for a short course The Symbolic Keys of Welsh Mythology run by Dr Gwilym Morus. One of my favourite aspects of this so far is hearing the poetry of Medieval Welsh bards such as Aneirin and Cynddelw.
I don’t often explain my poems, I worry that pinning meaning to them in some way diminishes their purpose, but today, I thought I might talk about this one:
One of the most common complaints from people who haven’t started learning Welsh is that the mutations: treigladau [trey-glad-ai] are too difficult. This story is bandied about with the same regularity as ‘I tried reading Dostoyevsky* but there are just so many characters I couldn’t keep up’, or ‘I was going to try knitting but it’s all just too fiddly’. There’s also one about making bread for those who prefer their excuse to be baking-related. Or when all else fails, roll out the tired-old time excuse, ‘honestly I just don’t have the time to figure it all out’.
I love that Wales: Cymru [Kum-ree] is a largely socialist country. Apart from a few rogue (tory) states, people vote Plaid Cymru, Wales Green Party, Welsh Labour, or even once-upon-a-time, Liberal Democrat (does anybody vote for them anymore?). Whatever the differences they all (should) sit to the left of center.
Just a very quick blog today – a feminine Welsh word I found on Wikipedia that I like!
Gorsedd: bardic circle/ throne [gor-seth]
Last year the Guardian ran an interesting article by journalist and memory champion Joshua Foer about the art of learning languages. In the piece, How I learned a language in 22 hours, Joshua explains his process of learning the language of Lingala, spoken by Mbendjele Pygmys and other inhabitants of the Congo.
This post was edited on 15th April 2013.
Since last autumn I’ve been writing and rehearsing a new show: Metaforestry: storiau o’r Gogledd, with two hugely talented and creative women, artist Erica Taylor and musician Emmi Manteau. (We’re also producing a pamphlet of poems, illustrations and a CD to go with the show.)
I’ve entered the Eisteddfod [ai-steth-vod] again this year. Just in the learner’s tent: pabell dysgwr [pab-ell dusg-oor]. Eisteddfod literally means, to be sitting/to come together. Eistedd: to sit [ai-steth]. Bod: to be [bod] (fod is a mutation of bod).
Although perhaps daunting to the untrained eye, the Welsh alphabet isn’t so hard to understand. It’s just phonetic. Words are said as they are spelt. Once that’s grasped there’s no stopping anyone having a go at pronunciation.