Sunday, 23 June 2013

A Song, in Welsh

Regular readers might know that my mother was welsh, she was, as she said, "a little welsh dragon",  for the red dragon is the symbol of Wales, going back into the mists of time. I'm not going to try give you the history, right now, but many of my overseas friends think that Wales is like a, well, like a state, which is really part of England, that Welsh, as a language, is just an accent, a dialect of English.

The reality is a little different. If you're Welsh, you know that you're descended from the ancient people of britain, that your forefathers fought wave after wave of invader, gradually, your people were pushed westward, into the mountains, for a while, your chieftains held the mountains in the north-west of england, but then fought their way south, into the mountains of wales.

And they fought the Angles, and the Saxons. They still hold a strong grudge against the Saxons....

And the language? It's still alive, totally and utterly unlike English.

I was in Wales, recently, I love the sound, I love the music of welsh people speaking english, my welsh cousins.... oh, the friendship and humour.
While I was there, I was in a little cafe, (not the one in the video), music was playing, I asked who it was, and it was a welsh singer/songwriter, Meinir Gwilym.


  1. Aye, a very lovely song sung by a very lovely lass. Thank you for the history lesson. For I did not realize that the Welsh had their own language. If anything, having their own form of Gaelic would have made sense to me before being set straight here. On a related note, it came as a great shock to me to find that Catherine Zeta-Jones is Welsh. For from her outward appearance, I figured that she was probably Spanish or I-talian. Be assured that I am not holding it against her that she is so closely related to Tom Jones.

    1. Welsh is not Gaelic.... Now it gets complicated. The Irish and the Scots and the Manx are all descended from the earliest celts to arrive in Britain, who spoke the 'Goedelic' tongue. A little later, there came a second wave of celtic tribes who spoke in the 'Brythonic' tongue. Wales,Cornwayy, and Brittony (in north-western France) all retain variants of brythonic languages.
      Hence 'Britons', Britain, Brittony, Breton Bretagne.
      A person speaking Welsh would not be even remotely understood in Ireland, nor vice-versa.

      CZJ is welsh, from Swansea, my mother's home-town. Zeta, though she's now hyphenated, was her middle name, so she used to be just Catherine Jones.
      I imagine the 'Zeta' is very handy when you want your stage-name to be remembered.

  2. I have an old video somewhere with one of those overexcited Yank presenters touring London. He then heads out to what he refers to as the 'Welsh Region,' and shows off the land. Hmmm.

    I prefer the Harpist to the singer myself.

  3. I could only understand the last two lines, I like the fresh sound. It's a shame the English suppressed the Welsh, Scottish and Irish languages. Even in Cornwall the people spoke some form of Gaelic. After the Scots have left the UK maybe the Welsh will be next.

  4. Agh... again, not gaelic!

    It's complicated. My mother's parents forbade her to speak welsh, on the grounds that they wanted her to have broader horizons, and to be able to make her way in the wider world. Some of the loss of localised language is probably not due so much to suppression from outside, but because of interaction with others needing a mutually understood language.
    In my travels, I've tried to learn the languages where I've lived, and often been frustrated by the people I'm working with being able to speak and understand english so well that they'd rather speak english with me than wait for me to put a sentence together in their language.
    I'm fascinated by languages, I love finding words and concepts that exist in one language, yet can't have no counterpart in another.
    People all around the world learn english as a second language, and it has become, de-facto, what Latin was to the earlier ages, a means for people of widely varying origins to communicate.
    That universality of language brings us together, I think.

    If the battle of Waterloo had gone differently, you'd be blogging in French.
    Or perhaps the outcome of earlier battles might mean you'd blog in Spanish.

    1. "yet can't have no"... I meant 'have no counterpart'.


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