Tag Archives: Wales

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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Welsh & Medieval Cookery Course

FEBRUARY 7-28: WELSH & MEDIEVAL COOKERY with Instructor Lily Dewaruile 

applesonwallA man’s gotta eat. Throughout history, great and heinous acts have happened around the table. From the State Dinner to the Kitchen Table, food and dining have played a role in events that shape our world. From the dawn of humankind, we have explored and experimented with what goes into our bellies. This course will concentrate on the food that fueled Celtic warriors before battles, soothed the political wounds of royalty and fed the tillers and millers through the Middle Ages. More than venison and Baldrick’s beloved turnip, what medieval clerics and princes ate was specific to social status and country of origin. Recipes for modern cooks and attention to historical accuracy—set your table for the woodsman and the duchess. Forget the potatoes. CLICK THE TITLE OF THE CLASS TO REGISTER.

About the Presenter: Lily Dewaruile (pen name of American novelist, Leigh Verrill-Rhys) lived in Cymru/Wales for thirty years, an immigrant to this Celtic country who fell in love with the language and the history as well as un Cymro arbennig (one special Welshman). While she and her Cymro were raising three fine young men, Lily continued her writing about her adopted country, set in one of her favorite periods in its history, the 9th and 10th Centuries. Her novels reflect her deep admiration for the people whose strength and commitment to their way of life and culture, endure and overpower those who come to conquer. Though none of her characters, nor many of the events of these novels, are real, they reflect the spirit and essence of Cymru.

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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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Wales All Over England & Scotland, Part II

In my previous article, I introduced my premise that the Brythonic Celts were the first and significant occupants of three of the five countries that now make up the island nations of Great Britain and Ireland:

road thru llanymdyfri

Along the drovers’ route to Llundain through eastern Sir Gâr/Carmarthenshire

While I have been working on my second series, The Inheritors, I have been reviewing the first segment of this family saga, The Conquerors. The second book of the first segment, Salvation, takes place in Cwmdu (Black Valley) and I thought about how the pronunciation of Cwmdu could be illuminated for non-Welsh speakers. I came up with COOM-dee. Most of us will recognize ‘combe’ pronounced ‘coom,’ since it is found in place names all over England.

Among those place names is further evidence of Welsh occupation of the country now known as England (as well as the country to the north now known as Scotland).

We went east from Cymru/Wales to Caint/Kent and Caergaint/Canterbury. Many of these places were the forts (caerau) established by the Brythonic Celt tribes, consequently taken over by, first, the Roman invaders, reclaimed by the Celts once the Roman Empire collapsed. Within the few following centuries, these centers of civilization were relentlessly attacked and sacked by further invaders: the Vikings, Danes, Angles and Saxons. Each invasion and assault left its mark on the history and lore of the island of Britain, and with the exception of the north in Efrog, none more lasting than the Anglo-Saxons, and eventually, the Normans.

stone porth sir gar

Remains of a porth/portcullis of a caer/fort in western Sir Gâr/Carmarthenshire

Far from obliterating the Brythonic Celts, the Anglo-Saxons assimilated notable aspects of the Celtic culture and communities. The Celts were, over time, themselves assimilated but not without trace. The east coast of Britain is evidence of the ancient struggle between the Brythonic communities and the Teutonic invaders.

To the north of Caergaint, on the coast is the seacoast town of Margate. ‘Mar’ is a variation of the Welsh word for sea: ‘mor’ as well as the Latin ‘mare’. Gate is the English translation for the Welsh ‘porth’ and the Latin ‘porta’.

Across the Thames Estuary (Abertafwys), one of the biggest cities on the North Sea coastal flatlands is Colchester. ‘Chester’ is the Latin for the Welsh word ‘Caer’. We’ve seen this in place names throughout the country known as England (Lloegr). The Latin ‘cest’ meaning ‘girdle’ has remained a significant feature in place names, replacing the Brythonic ‘caer’. ‘Col’ is Welsh for ‘corn’ which is used as a general term for any variety of grain. Colchester is at the center of what is referred to as the ‘bread basket’ of Britain.

Northwest of the wheat fields is the famous university city of Cambridge. ‘Cam’ means ‘step’ as well as ‘injustice’ and ‘crooked’. Whichever of those meanings best described the city in ancient times is a mystery (at least to me) but the modern name for Cambridge is ‘Caergrawnt’. ‘Grawn’ is another word for ‘grain’ – again the wheat fields effect. Or the other possible origin is ‘crawn’ meaning ‘pus’ or its now obsolete meaning ‘treasure’. Because ‘caer’ is feminine and causes a soft mutation of words it modifies, ‘crawn’ is probably the more likely candidate.

To the northwest of Cambridge is the smaller town of Kettering. Although there seems little connection between this obviously Anglo-Saxon word, ‘ket’ is actually a Anglicization of the word ‘coed’ meaning wood. Similarly, we have Ketteridge and Kettlethorpe, all of which are within the vast forest regions, as well as Cheddleton and Cheadle.  Further west and north is another university city, Leicester, again taking the ‘caer/cess/cest’ approach I mentioned in Part I. The city’s known in Welsh as ‘Caerlŷr’ from Llŷr, the Brythonic king who inspired Shakespeare’s tragic Lear.

Perhaps one of the most familiar of the northern cities is Manceinon. Never heard of it? Does Manchester sound more familiar? ‘Man’ means ‘place’ and ‘ceinion’ is associated with ‘cain’ meaning ‘beautiful’. ‘Ceinion’ are ‘works of art’, ‘gems’, ‘jewels’. In ancient times, Manceinion must have been an extraordinarily beautiful place to live. More recently, it is associated with industry, mining as well as two of the most famous sports teams, Manchester United and Manchester City.

In Part III, we will investigate the origins of Efrog which inspired the name of the largest city in the United States and Caeredin or Dinedin as it is also known.

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In Honor of the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide

armenianvioletI am reposting this article and book review, originally published in January 2014, to commemorate the 100th anniversary, 24 April 2015, of this tragic event — as Pope Francis has called it, “the first genocide of the 20th Century.” The failure of the world to recognize this atrocity empowered Hitler to condemn to death millions in Europe. Stalin also had no compunction in slaughtering eleven million Russians.

Cymru/Wales was (and is) the only nation of the four countries of the United Kingdom to have acknowledged the Ottoman-Turk slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915.  The Armenian Genocide Memorial was dedicated in 2007. Armenians are still waiting for the world to end the denial of this event. Turkey may wish to forget and call the genocidal actions a lie, but the evidence against the Ottoman Caliphate is clear.

How would the world react if Germany denied the slaughter of six million Roma, Jewish and disabled Europeans? How would the world react if the United States denied slavery or its treatment of Native Americans or the existence of Japanese internment camps? Rwandan Genocide, Radical Islam, U.S. S. Liberty: these are only a few of the misdeeds that were, and are, empowered by denial.

Admitting misdeeds is the first step to reconciliation.


CarmarthenKarabagh2Subtitle: A Welsh Discovery of Armenia

Canon Patrick Thomas, Chancellor of St. David’s Cathedral and Vicar of Christ Church in Caerfyrddin, gave this book to me while we waited for the bride to arrive for a Christmastide wedding. I’ve always been interested in Armenia since so many of my school friends were from this country. What makes this book even more valuable to me is that Canon Patrick has discovered historical connections and similarities between Cymru (Wales) and Armenia that illuminate the strengths and sufferings of both small countries.

While Cymru did not suffer genocide at the hands of its neighbor (on April 24, 1915, the Turkish government and army began a campaign to slaughter 1.5 million Armenians in one of the most shameful acts in human history and the first act of genocide of the 20thC), the effort to destroy its culture and language has been continuous over the centuries. Hitler, on the eve of war in 1939, planning to put to death men, women and children of Polish derivation and language, said “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

The Senedd (the Welsh government) is one of only a few countries which has recognized and commemorated the atrocities inflicted on the Armenians by the Turks.

The Welsh and Armenian cultures and languages share similar struggles for survival against the onslaught of neighboring countries. As the first Armenian novelist, Khachatur Abovian, remarked, “The guardian of a nation is its language and faith. And if we were to lose them, woe unto us!”

Despite the hardships both countries have faced over many centuries, both Cymru and Armenia have a similar call to courage: “Er gwaethaf pawb a phopeth, ry’n ni yma o hyd!” (From one of Dafydd Iawn’s most famous songs, Yma O Hyd.) “In spite of everyone and everything, we are still here.”

From Carmarthen to Karabagh: a Welsh discovery of Armenia is available on Amazon.

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