Tag Archives: Immigration

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.




Filed under Cymraeg/Welsh Language, Cymreig/Welsh, Y Cymry/Welsh People

The Welsh and St. Patrick

Every year, on the 16th of March, since I began writing this journal, I have written about the Welsh Saint Patrick. Today is no different. In about an hour, I will be on my way to an Irish Pub in San Francisco to join a friend to watch the second game of the Six Nation Rugby tournament. Ahh, Rugby. ….

That moment of serenity over, my friend is already at the pub to watch the Ireland v. Italy game. I will be there by the end of the game to be in time to watch St. Patrick’s native country, Wales, in the team’s game against England.

As you have read in years past, St. Patrick was born in a village near Castell Nedd (Neath) to Romanized Welsh parents, kidnapped by Irish invaders when he was sixteen and held in slavery in Ireland until he escaped. He went to Rome (the Ireland v. Italy game is significant here), became a priest of the Christian Church and returned to Ireland to convert the Celt pagans. That he surely did, except for one element: the love of the brew.

And you can be sure I will be partaking – not of the nectar of the Liffey but of the Dragon, Double Dragon if they have it!

As long as we all beat the English, we are happy Celts. The third game today is Scotland v. France. Troublesome. Celts have a past history with France – it is for most the starting point for the migration to Briton. But then, what country in all the world is not an immigrant nation?

There is more about St. Patrick Cymro on these posts:




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Filed under Cymru/Wales, Hanes Cymru/Welsh History, Y Cymry/Welsh People

An Immigrant’s Journey

Sunset Above Eglwys Dewi Sant

This is a section of my photograph of the sunset I used for the cover of Traitor’s Daughter. This glorious sunset inspires Heledd to have hope for her future.

I, like many, had never heard of Wales. Celtic meant Irish or Scottish. By chance, I visited the town of Rhuthun near Chester and fell in love with the country and eventually the language.

Four years later, I began to write a story set in medieval Wales but within months realized I was ill-informed in every aspect. I made amends by taking a course in the language and further discovery led to an emigration, an eye-opening and a marriage.

During my life in Cymru(Wales), I have written many stories, one relentlessly led to another until I had amassed shelves of manuscripts that demanded I keep faith with the characters I had created out of my love and respect for this country, its language and people.

I have since realized I wrote these stories to help me cope with and understand the difficulties of being an immigrant. Despite my love for my new land, I was not part of it or its culture. Though I had a Welsh husband, Welsh children and was a Welsh speaker, I was, and still am, a foreigner. This is an uncomfortable place for anyone who also feels an abiding love for their native country.

I was tempted, as so many are, to ‘go native’. I was also tempted to demand, as others do, that my new home accommodate me, speak my language, accept my valves, understand my point of view, address my needs.

Tintern Abbey Ruins

This is one of the many photographs I have taken of Abaty Tintern, now a standing ruin and a magical place.

I did none of these. I resolved this cultural conflict with compromise. I could not be the Cymraes (Welshwoman) nor could I be the Alltud (stranger). I embraced my new home and retained my identity. This compromise was made imperative by the nature of Welsh history and the battle for survival raging all around me, to prevent the loss of language, culture and identity of my adopted country.

How could I participate in the destruction of a way of life I had come to love? How could I join the tsunami of cultural devastation that so many other immigrants were causing?

“The sooner the Welsh language is dead and buried, the better.” — English Immigrant, Business owner, Cardiff, 1981

“This country is a cultural desert.” — English Immigrant, Art Gallery Owner, Aberteifi, 2001

Saint Teilo's Church, Pontarddulais, Cymru - inspiration for the chapel in Traitor's Daughter.

Saint Teilo’s Church, Pontarddulais, Cymru – inspiration for the chapel in Traitor’s Daughter.

I chose instead to be among those immigrants who accepted they were in another country, with a culture and language worthy of respect.

“I came to Wales to find work and found another, wonderful life.” — English Immigrant, Botanist, 1990

“You don’t arrive in a country, speaking not a word of its language and expect people to change their language to suit you.” — Canadian Immigrant, Musician, 1985

As an immigrant to Cymru, finding my way into the language and culture, I was conscious that I had a responsibility to represent this country to the best of my ability. But, until the publication of Traitor’s Daughter, I was silent. When I grasped the “I am a writer” nettle, I found my voice and my confidence.

Now with the publication of the first book of my five-part series Pendyffryn: The

Cover Image for Invasion: Book 1, Pendyffryn: The Conquerors

The first story I ever wrote about Cymru (Wales), begun shortly after my first encounter with Wales.

Conquerors, Invasion, which has just been accepted on the iBookstore, as well as Kobo, Sony, All Romance eBooks, Smashwords and Diesel, among others, I feel my writing about Cymru/Wales is beginning to reach readers who have also had the experience of seeking a new home.

And finding a home is the theme of so many of my novels: whether you have moved across town, the country or the world, whether you have sought kindred spirits, love or a sense of belonging, my books have something to share with you.

Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda.


PS: The above link to Traitor’s Daughter will take you to the latest version. My readers wanted a glossary of the Welsh vocabulary I used in this novel and I’ve provided one, with pronunciation guides. Invasion also has a glossary, with more Welsh words and pronunciation guides.

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Filed under Cyfraith/Celtic Law, Cymraeg/Welsh Language, Cymreig/Welsh, Cymru/Wales, Hanes Cymru/Welsh History, Rhamant/Romance, Y Cymry/Welsh People