Category Archives: Cymraeg/Welsh Language

A Matter Most Historic

 

Henry V (1387-1422)— also known as Hotspur in Shakespeare’s history play Henry V — was opposed by the Welshman, Owain Glyndwr—known as “Glendower” in the Shakespearian play.

This conflict has been celebrated in literature and art throughout the centuries, recognized for its significance and memorialized in Welsh culture on September 16th, the day on which, in 1400, Owain Glyndwr was proclaimed the Prince of Wales. Six months later, he captured Castell Conwy (Conwy Castle) defeated the English in 1402, captured Castell Caerfyrddin (Carmarthen Castle) in 1403, and signed a treaty with King Charles VI in 1404 to ensure the support of France for the Welsh rebellion. In 1405, Glyndwr agreed to divide England and Wales between himself, Percy Earl Northumberland and Edmund Mortimer.

Eleven years later — in 1416, the official, but unsubstantiated, year of his death — Owain Glyndwr disappeared from history, but not from legend. Hotspur’s father, Henry IV, died in 1413 — leaving his son, then only 26 years old, to deal with the Welsh Rebel. Hotspur died nine years after his father in 1422.

These tumultuous years form the background for the first Welsh opera, Blodwen. Set in the 14th Century, Blodwen, takes the classic operatic form of dramatic romance. Mynyddog, the bardic name of Richard Davies (1833-77), collaborated with Pencerdd America, the bardic name of composer, Joseph Parry, to create Blodwen, the first opera in the Welsh language.

The first performance of Blodwen took place on May 21st, 1878 in Aberystwyth, on the composer’s 37th birthday.

The first full performance of Blodwen in the United States, with a new arrangement for chamber orchestra by Dulais Rhys, will be in May 2019, 141 years after its Welsh premiere, under the auspices of Rimrock Opera Foundation, in Billings, Montana.

Four performances, May 10-11 and May 18-19, are scheduled at NOVA, Center for Performing Arts, with an international cast of singers, including Jeremy Huw Williams as Arthur and Nerys Jones singing the part of Lady Maelor; the part of  Blodwen will be sung by Janie Sutton, Iolo by Doug Nagel, Hywel by Scott Wichael and Elen by Kate Meyer. This production will be directed by Welsh-American actor-director, Osian Rhys, costumes designed by Glenda Brauneis and the set constructed by Dan Nickerson.

The opera features romantic and heroic duets, rousing choruses, moving arias, and heart-wrenching drama. Blodwen will be sung in Welsh, with surtitles. For those who enjoy opera for its pageant, dramatic singing and music, the synopsis and libretto of the story are available on the website, Blodwen.

This production is one of the most significant Welsh-American events in 2019.

Tickets are on sale now at NOVA.

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Dydd Gwyl Dewi Sant 2017

Happy St. David’s Day to you all!

Some exciting news to celebrate:

Although the Welsh Rugby team is struggling in this year’s Six Nations…the Welsh in America are winning! For instance:

NEWSFLASH! Rimrock Opera Company in America will perform Joseph Parry’s Blodwen (the first Welsh opera) –in #Welsh!– in the Spring of 2019

The National Welsh America Foundation has changed its name but is continuing its work under another.

However, the Facebook page, set up by a Welsh fan will be carrying on to bring news about the Welsh (in America and in Wales).  That new page is on Facebook: Welsh-American News: Cymru in US and the link is: https://www.facebook.com/WelshAmericanNewsCymruInUS/

Enjoy and as Dewi Sant is known to have said:

“Gwnewch y pethau bychan. (Do the little things.)”

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For the Love of Language

LlyfrauIaithWriters are language lovers. Words and phrases are our tools, our tubes of paint and brushes, our clay and chisels. After my first visit to Cymru(Wales), I had a new dilemma and a new story to tell. The dilemma is the language I had heard in this Celtic country and the story is the history of its oppression and triumph.

As I mentioned in my post about emigrating to Cymru, I could not be one of those who move to a country and demand that the people, culture and language change to accommodate me. I moved to Cymru to become a participant in the success of the Cymry to withstand the onslaught of the dominant language and culture of the island that four distinct cultures share. In my post, Potted Brythonic, I outlined the linguistic history of the British Isles and the early strength of the Brythonic Celtic language, Cymraeg(Welsh), from Llydaw(Brittany) and Kernyw(Cornwall) to Yr Alban(Scotland).

All through the first year I lived in the capital city, I met folks who hated, loathed and despised the native language of their own country. This attitude confounded me.

Some of these people were not Welsh and had no real love of the country they lived in—they were English immigrants who truly believed that Wales did not exist except in a fantasy world of a few old codgers intent on keeping a dead language alive.

A few of the non-Welsh-speaking Welsh also wanted to see the language disappear—more out of a sense of longing for access to a culture and way of life they had been denied. If they couldn’t have it, no one else should either. Both of these attitudes are prevalent throughout the world, no matter where or who. We are a naturally envious lot and often want what we are least likely to get without great effort.

I am not a natural linguist, nor especially good with languages, my own or foreign. A great help was my love of language as an instrument and as an art form in itself. I had studied enough Spanish and French in school, as well as the structure and form of English to be aware of the interconnection between all Indo-European languages which have a Latin component.

Since Cymru was once a Roman colony, many of its official institutions (schools, the law, church, government etc.) have a Latin-based name. This is true of all European countries that were colonized by the Romans, hence the term Romance Language for every tongue spoken in Europe from Romanian to Italian, French, Spanish and Welsh.

Tintern Abbey Ruins

Abaty Tintern

Although the Brythonic Celtic languages are less recognizable as Romance languages, their official institutions and some common words such as ffenest/fenêtre/finestra/fenestra=window and pont/pont/ponte/pons=bridge, show this connection to their common Latin root. A word such as eglwys doesn’t seem to equate, however its Latin root, ecclesia clearly shows the link to iglesia and église.

But, as you can see from my half-shelf of books (above) on many languages, both Welsh and English are absent. A misguided assumption of familiarity? Nid ddylai rhywun fod mor sicr o’i allu. (One should not be so sure of one’s ability.)

But what is writing without knowledge and the seeking of it?

I am still a learner.

 

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Ebook Sale Begins March 4

All of my historical novels set in Wales/Cymru published by Eres Books, will be on sale at about a 65% discount through the month of March, beginning tomorrow until Monday, April 4th.

bannerLD5bksBook Cover Image: Traitor's Daughter by Gwion Dulais

This sale includes ALL my books currently listed on AmazonKoboBarnes & NobleAll Romance eBooks, and Smashwords during the same time period, approximately $1.35 each! Prepare your library for summer reading at these great discounts.

See also my contemporary romance novels – also on sale. For details see: Everwriting on WordPress.

 

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Geirau Cymraeg/A Glossary of Welsh

To aid all readers of my Pendyffryn: The Conquerors series and my first novel, Traitor’s Daughter, I include a Glossary of Welsh Words (Geiriau Cymraeg) that are used in each of the books (six in all to date). The Glossary is the final section of the book (both digital and print) but I thought having the Glossary accessible someplace else would be of help. Therefore, I’m including it here and also on my website, lilydewaruile.com, so these words are readily available at any time.

The Glossary also includes a pronunciation guide. Readers are surprised when they see words like pendefig or hafodydd, how easy they are to pronounce. Some words, such as Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch, are difficult even for me, but these words are not in my books!

Here then, is the entire Glossary section from my latest paperback edition of Revival: Book IV: Pendyffryn: The Conquerors. Not all of the words are in all of the books and some words in other books in the series have additional words, but this will help readers get a quick start on learning the wonders of the Welsh language!

Glossary of Gymraeg (Welsh Words)

In most instances, the following words are used so their meaning is explained within the context of the story. I have taken a few liberties with the plural, adjective and possessive forms of some words. Welsh follows the Latin & other Romance languages noun/adjective (as in vin rougevino rosso /gwin coch) rather than the Teutonic adjective/noun (red wine) but to do that in a book written in English would be a step too far. I wanted to use some Welsh to give some flavour of the language Caryl and her friends speak. As in Invasion, Book 1 of this series, Christophe Maides is conversant in the Celtic language, having a greater facility for linguistics than his close friend, Jehan-Emíl deFreveille.

Welsh also employs a similar form of expressing ownership: the object is dominant and the owner is subordinate: her cloak is ei chlogyn hi. Caryl’s cloak is clogyn Caryl. For the purposes of this story, I have used the English possessive construction of adding ‘apostrophe s’. I simplified the mutations that occur in specific juxtapositions of words starting with certain letters, such as in ei chlogyn hiei designates (in this instance) female when followed by hi. If followed by ‘e’ then the mutation is male and is ei glogyn e. These mutations are the aspirate and soft mutations, respectively. There is also the nasal mutation which replaces the beginning consonant with an ‘ng’, ‘ngh’, ‘m’, ‘mh’, ‘n’, or ‘nh’ when the word is proceeded by ‘yn’ (and a number of other instances that I won’t mention!) as ‘c’ becomes ‘ngh’; ‘g’ becomes ‘ng’; ‘b’ becomes ‘m’; ‘p’ becomes ‘mh’; ‘t’ becomes ‘nh’. Caryl refers to her husband as fy ngŵr.

You can hear how these words are pronounced at http://translate.google.com/. The emphasis is always on the next to last syllable, as in most Romance languages. Below, I have used some English words to illustrate the sounds. ‘S’ is always an ‘es’ sound, never ‘z’. ‘R’ is always rolled. ‘CH’ is always aspirated as in ‘loch’, never as in ‘choo-choo’ or ‘k’ as in the Italian ‘che’. ‘DD’ is pronounced as the ‘th’ in ‘with’. ‘TH’ is the ‘th’ sound as in ‘pith’.

Many double letters (dd, ll, th, ph, ng, etc.) are considered a single letter in Welsh and follow their closest single letter (d, l, t, p g etc.) in the Welsh dictionary.

Welsh vowels are the same as in Italian, open and full—one of the reasons why Welsh is called the language of heaven. Welsh also has more vowels than English, not only “and sometimes Y and W”: AEIOUYW.

Arawn: the lord of the underworld (AHR-ow*n) *as in ‘ouch’

Baban: infant (BAH-bahn)

Beudy: Dairy, Milking Parlor (BAY-dee)

Blodyn: flower (BLOW-din) – also a term of endearment

Buarth: farmyard (BEE-ahrth)

Caer: fort (CEYEr)

Calan Gaeaf: beginning of winter/All Hallow’s Eve (CAH-lahn GEYE-ahv)

Calan Gwanwyn: beginning of spring (CAH-lahn GWAHN-win)

Cariad: love (cahr-EE-ahd)

Carthen: blanket (CAHRth-en)

Cawl: Meat (Lamb) Stew (COWl)

Cromlech: burial tomb (CROHM-leCH – CH as in loch)

Cymraes: Welshwoman (CUHM-rice)

Cymro: Welshman (CUHM-row)

Diawl: Devil (DEE-ahwl)

Duw annwyl: Dear God (DEE-you AHN-noo-eel)

Gelyn: enemy (GEL-en – G is always hard as in ‘gas’)

Gwraig: wife (GOOR-eyeg)

Gŵr: man/husband (GOOr)

Gwyl Dewi: St. David’s Day, March 1st (GOO-eel DOW-ee)

Hafod(ydd): small dwelling(s) (HAH-vod(iDD), DD is pronounced as in ‘with’)

Mam: Mother (MAHM)

Meddyg: medic (MEDD-ig, DD is pronounced as in ‘with’)

Menyw: woman (MEHN-you)

Merch: girl (MEHRch – CH as in loch)

Mwydyn: worm (MOOee-din)

Pendefig: prince/nobleman (pen-DEHV-ig)

Pennaeth: chieftain (PEN-eyeth)

Pryfyn: insect (PRUH-vin)

Saeson: Saxon (SIGH-son)

Titw: small bird/tit (TIT-oo)

Trwsus: trousers (TRUE-sis)

Tylwyth: family/clan (TUHL-ooeeth)

Uffern: hell (EE-fehrn)

Uwd: porridge (IEWD)

Ystad: estate (UHS-tahd)

Don’t be shy! Welsh is the language of heaven and of singing. In fact, singing in Welsh is the best way to learn the pronunciation. To get you started, here is a link to a wonderful folk song that I’ve sung in public at a St. David’s Day event while my lawyer played her harp! Morfa Rhuddlan means the Marsh of Red Land (literally). It is a lament for the deaths of Caradog and all his Welsh warriors in a battle with Offa in 796AD, the words were written by Ieuan Glan Geirionydd. A number of harpists have recorded the tune, but it is the words/poetry of the song that capture the true pathos of the history of Cymru (Wales).

If you have time, please listen to the other songs that Thomas L. Thomas sings, you will recognize some of the tunes which have become theme tunes for films and much more. If there is anything that can explain my love of Welsh, Wales and the Welsh people, it is the music they have created that speaks so eloquently to the heart.

 

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