Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Mae fy hofrenfad yn llawn o lyswennod

I'm off tomorrow to participate in a media history conference on 'social fears and moral panics' in Aberystwyth. I'm looking forward to it: not only do the papers look very good, but I've also spent hardly any time in Wales, so this is a chance to remedy that.

But it has brought out a concern (indeed, a social fear) all my own: I have this quite overactive dread of mispronouncing foreign words, names and places. (Is there a word for this anxiety?)

And Welsh...well, lets just say I don't know where to begin:

Genir pawb yn rhydd ac yn gydradd â'i gilydd mewn urddas a hawliau. Fe'u cynysgaeddir â rheswm a chydwybod, a dylai pawb ymddwyn y naill at y llall mewn ysbryd cymodlon.

This is the opening text to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

I believe.

I assume, though, that English of some variety will be spoken by the natives. And that they are, at least in large measure, friendly.

(Post title: 'My hovercraft is full of eels'. Source for that and other Welsh on this page. There, you will also find sound files.)


Francis Sedgemore said...

I read the title of this post and thought for one moment that you'd just had a major brain fart.

As for Aberystwyth, I miss the town very much. The natives are a friendly bunch, but the chances are that you'll be insulated from them if you stick to the conference social arrangements.

The university has in recent years become a provincial college for less able students from across the border in Englandland, and the town a resort for gormless holidaymakers from Birmingham.

Welsh culture still thrives in Aberystwyth and environs, but you have to make some effort and seek it out. Particularly Welsh pubs include "Y Cwps" (academic/beat/arty) and "Yr Hen Lew Ddu" (rugby/farmers). Good beer (and regular folk music sessions can be found at the "Ship and Castle; good ambience at waterside watering hole "Rummers" (when the students aren't around).

Have fun.

J. Carter Wood said...

Your initial reaction is fair enough, considering my mental state at the moment...

Thanks for your tips, though as you note, I'll be likely hanging around with the conference folk.

Still...if you could give me a clue on how to pronounce 'Y Cwps', I may get to give it a shot ('academic/beat/arty' being a bit more my style than 'rugby/farmer'...more because of the rugby than the farmer, I note.)

Good to hear from you.

Francis Sedgemore said...

"Uh coops", with the stress on "Coops".

It's a Cymrufication of "The Coopers Arms". No-one calls it that, or at least they don't if they have any sense.

Mr. Joyboy said...

I tramped around Wales for about a week once and found the natives quite friendly, but hard to understand. I suppose it's probably easier for someone from England to understand a Welsh accent, but to my American ears, the speech rhythms and lilting accent were completely unfathomable. I often thought they were actually speaking Welsh to me, until I chanced upon an English word in the middle of the sentence. I just smiled and nodded, and they were generally OK with that.