Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Day 10 - Wales Coast - Abersoch - The heartland of the Welsh

North Wales is accepted as the heartland of Welsh identity, and more people speak Welsh (or Cymraeg, as locals prefer) as their first language here than anywhere else. The name Wales is the English version of the real name in Welsh, which is Cymru (pronounced "kumree"). Cymru means "the land of the comrades".

I left Harlech, and drove North West to Abersoch on the Llyn Peninsula...By now you're probably wondering how to say all these Welsh names. I don't know either, but here's a good website that explains it. The language has 28 letters, but no J, K, Q, V, X or Z (although these are "borrowed" from English).

I thought I'd upload a BBC Wales radio news report, as well as a Welsh song...have a listen. (If anyone knows the artist, please let me know!) The language grabs me, and I found myself listening to it a lot, even though I don't understand a word.

It's a beguiling sound, ancient and proud and romantic. We all know that French and Italian sounds romantic to Anglo Saxons, but Welsh is unique. Glyn Roberts from Castle Cottage in Harlech tells me how his English-speaking daughters went to a Welsh speaking school, and are fluent in the language. More than that though, they are almost fluent in French, but they've learnt it through Welsh!

I hope the Cymru culture thrives. Janet Havard from Anchor Guest House in Broad Haven told me of her Welsh friend who was forbidden in 1969 to speak Welsh at shcool! Although things are obviously way more diplomatic today, I guess there will always be a threat to the minority of Welsh speakers, as there is to all minority cultures around the world.

This is an audio file of a Welsh song on BBC Radio - click play to listen.

BBC Welsh Radio news report...sounds great, eventhough I have no idea what they're saying.

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