Friday, October 26, 2007

Walesffact no.6: The Welsh Language

The BBC Radio 4 "Today" programme ran a feature yesterday morning on the oppression felt by literally millions of super-qualified monoglot civil service drones in Wales, who are literally scared of speaking out - except to national radio - against the tyranny that requires them to accept that some people in the service sector ought to be able to deal with Welsh-speaking tax-payers in their own language in their own country.

Or so I gather. I dunno. That time of the morning I'm having my sac shaved by a strumpet in a Glenys Kinnock mask, and can rarely muster the strength to re-tune from Radio 3's weekly rediscovery of Alexander Zemlinsky.

Since then, the bucket next to the mangle that serves as my post box has been full of crayoned requests from concerned No Good Boyo readers, Cymru Rouge cadres and junkmailers asking, to quote them all, "what the ffyc's all this then?"

I have therefore taken some time off mining literary gold to provide this brief primer on the Welsh Language.

Welsh is a language spoken by people in Gwynedd pubs about 15 seconds after someone an Englishman knows once walked in.

Most languages are written in ink. Welsh is written in green paint on road signs and cars belonging to passing morticians from Birmingham.

Welsh has only two genders - masculine and feminine - thereby proving its reactionary nature through this deliberate deprivileging of the hermaphrodite community.

Welsh is the only language that cannot be taught. The traditional means of transmission to non-members of Plaid Cymru is through being "rammed down the throat" and the denial of toilet rights to apocryphal children on Anglesey.

Welsh has no vocabulary to convey complex modern ideas like "engine", "love-grinder" or "tea", and Welsh-speakers from the south use diametrically opposed opposite words to those from the north, and perhaps vice versa. According to a bloke in the Cader Bookshop in Dolgellau who smelled of Deep Heat.

Welsh is an ancient language, having been invented by the BBC in 1928. For many years it was only spoken by the late sister of George Thomas, quondam Secretary of State for Wales, Speaker of the House of Commons and pit-pony, until JRR Tolkien made it the official language of Trollland. Since then computer scientists and the t-shirt community have taken it up.

It was later promoted by a vigorous Luftwaffe bombing campaign during the Second World War, when pacifist native-speakers set fire to heathland around Wrexham in the hope that someone might one day build a holiday home there.

Welsh books are very small, so the language fanatics that make it up as they go along randomly double-up letters like "ll", "dd", "nn" and "ff" to make them look longer.

Being able to speak Welsh is considered a racial characteristic by some Labour Party supporters, which comes as a surprise to the Welsh-speaking Sikh bus-driver on the Dolgellau-Aberystwyth Arriva route.

Speaking Welsh is the only remaining requirement for joining the South African Broederbond.

Irish is less threatening. As is Gaelic, as long as you pronounce it "Gallic". And have it sung by Enya.


Gorilla Bananas said...

I love the bit in the national anthem that goes:

Gwlad beirdd a chantorion enwogion o fri

Actually I only like the "chantorion enwogion" bit. As long as it isn't racist against gorillas, I'm all for it.

M C Ward said...

Is it true that in Welsh you don't say, "She has a dog", but, "a dog is with her"? In Welsh, of course.

No Good Boyo said...

GB, it is indeed a badass line, and reflects our warm but entirely legal embrace of gorilla kind. In particular we appreciate your espousal of the double "ll".

MC, that's the way you'd say it in South Wales. We use a leftfield construction in the North, but still manage to get along. Welsh is one of the many "to have"-dodging languages out there. Russian, Arabic and Hebrew are the same. All the class acts.

Anonymous said...

Terrific blog. Right-on and funny.

No Good Boyo said...

Thank you, David. I've never been called right-on before.

Rhys Wynne said...

Yesee, ddôs pîpyl at ddy Bibisî ar toop

Anonymous said...

gwych! ffycin Brit nats yn malu cachu.

The Welsh language always brings out the worst in the white-settler or Brit Nat Welsh Labour I find.

Funny how all these monoglot English speakers still have a job in Wales if Welsh is being thrust down their throats.

Dai Twp

Anonymous said...

I meant 'right on the button', not 'right-on'. Hyphen malfunction. Sorry.

No Good Boyo said...

Rhys, Dai Twp, croeso i'r Cymry Rouge, hogia'.

David, thanks for the clarification. You had me worried b'there.

Tuscan Tony said...

As an Englishman, I'd visit the country more often if there was some sort of leaflet available at the norder letting me know how to order a pint of Brain's SA in a jug and a packet of thai lemongrass flavoured pork scratchings - is such a document available?

Tuscan Tony said...

"norder" is like a border but one that runs in a North-South direction.

No Good Boyo said...

Tony, we who wish to encourage discerning visitors such as yourself have long lobbied Bwrdd Croeso Cymru, our very own devolved tourism board, to provide bilingual guidance on decent pubs for fighting, buckets of Skull Attack and getting your car painted green for free. To no avail. They're obsessed with castles, sham ghosts, fudge and Dr Who locations. The wonderful Dr Dic Sais had excellent info on his website, but it seems to have long vanished into the slate quarry of time. I'll just have to write it myself.

Anonymous said...

Your claim that all Welsh books are short is rubbish.

I have just written a very long book called Rrhhyyffffeellll aa Hheedddddwwcchhh, available from all Welsh Language Board subsidised bookshops for just £99.99 (plus Fi.Hay.Tee)

Póló said...

Time for a giggle here

No Good Boyo said...

Thank you, Póló. Proof that we even double up the letter "ll" when needed. A desperate attempt was made to improve on Llanfair's reputation as most ersatz place name in Wales by various low types in Ceredigion (Llanhyfryddawelllehynafolybarcudprindanfygythiadtrienusyrhafnauole) and the Brummie Occupation Regime in Fairbourne (Gorsafawddacha'idraigodanheddogleddollônpenrhynareurdraethceredigion). We diskard them utterly. I might as well call my house "Dank toybox betwixt two sheds wherein reside a tyreless velocipede and Bob Friog's unransomed porn collection 'neath the shade of the asbestos garage roof", translate it into Welsh and call up the Tourism Board.

Póló said...


Knew LL PG was ersatz but it's always good for a laugh and by now has a past of its own.

A propos English attitudes ac yn y blaen you might also be interested in this which I forgot to mention.

Love your subtitle. It set me thinking about tarting up my own mundane effort.

Hwyl am y tro.

No Good Boyo said...

Diolch yn fawr, Póló! Your inter-Celticist solidarity will win you access to 72 fat birds from Carmarthen in Annwn, our Hellish Welsh version of Heaven. My subtitle is a suitably child-friendly quotation from "Twin Town", the Citizen Kane of Welsh cinema. An old lady with others similar says to a taxi driver at Swansea railway station: "Excuse me, can you take us to Cwmdonkin Bowls Club, please?" The man doesn't even turns his shades from his South Wales Evening Post to reply ...

Póló said...

If "ll" is one letter in Welsh, why is it not capitalised as "LL"?

En eiddoch ....

Póló said...

Yn eiddoch ...


Anonymous said...

Polo- same reason why ch is capitalised as Ch and not CH - in any language.

Póló said...


Take your point up to a point.

Hadn't really thought my question through. It just occurred to me to wonder.

Perhaps the question has even wider connotations.

I was just thinking of the position in Irish where the ch replaces a previously dotted c and the h is the Roman script version of the dot. So maybe that's a little different.

I'm still intrigued, though.


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