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"Llyncu Mul" really does work!

Postby my_cat_silky » Wed Apr 25, 2012 4:39 pm

I really want to thank Aran and Catrin for teaching us the wonderful expression "llyncu mul" (to sulk, if you’re learning Gog Welsh!) I had never got round to using it before during our last two Welsh holidays, when I started speaking "Welsh in the Wild"! Yet I couldn't resist trying it out during our last visit to Wales this April, to see people's reactions. When I used it to a couple of people, in reference to the fact that "Mae fy merch wedi llyncu mul achos dw i'n siarad Cymraeg gormod" (My daughter is sulking because I'm speaking too much Welsh!), they thought it was hilarious! One person expressed amazement that I knew this "very Northern expression"! "Bechod" (a pity) also went down a treat, and "Pam lai?" (Why not?) raised a few laughs as well! (Not sure if that is a particularly Northern expression, but I imagine it was the idiomatic nature of the expression that was amusing). So, a great way of throwing humour into your Welsh encounters is clearly: learn and use idioms! :D

Seriously, however, this was the best Welsh holiday yet, with lots of opportunities to speak Welsh, with people I had met during our last holiday as well as complete strangers! One of the most interesting opportunities was when we attended an Easter service in the little chapel in Nantmor, where we were staying, just outside Beddgelert in North Wales. As I had hoped, the entire service was in Welsh, including the hymns. Some were familiar, some weren’t, but it was still a wonderful experience singing them in Welsh and hearing everyone around us singing heartily in Welsh as well, accompanied by a wonderful little wheezy harmonium! There was a panad o de a bisgedi after the service, too, where we were able to siarad Cymraeg to our heart’s content! For most of them, Welsh was their first language, having picked up English as they grew up, and there was one man who occasionally spoke in English for the benefit of my husband, who still hasn’t got past lesson 3 of Course 1, but kept slipping back into Welsh, as he clearly felt more comfortable in that language! There was certainly no need to tell him, “Paid â siarad Saesneg efo fi!”

This is what struck me during this particular holiday, because I was fortunate enough to speak to various people whose first language was Welsh: the fact that they clearly felt more ill at ease speaking English than Welsh! A couple of them, when the conversation had switched to English once or twice, couldn’t find the word they wanted in English and had to resort to Welsh, and I mean comparatively simple words, like “praise” and “encourage”, nothing esoteric! One lovely lady, who invited me in for tea, Easter cake and a chat in Cymraeg, explained that she couldn’t speak a word of English until she was 8, and then that one word was “Yes”, which she used to respond to groups of tourists passing through who asked if the way to the youth hostel was in such-and-such a direction. She said it was an awful experience being uprooted from her little village school and sent to secondary school in Porthmadog, where she was more or less forced to learn English (she has grandchildren in England now, to whom she is teaching Welsh). I thought this was a wonderful testimony to the fact that Welsh is still very much fiercely and proudly alive in these little communities in North Wales!

Another lovely experience was returning to visit a lady in Rhyd Ddu (just north of Beddgelert) from whom we had rented a holiday cottage in the village three years ago. Although I couldn’t speak Welsh then, I felt certain at the time that she was a Welsh speaker, so this time I plucked up the courage to go and see her and tell her that I was learning Welsh. I wasn’t quite sure how to set about doing this, particularly if she didn’t remember us! Fortunately she did, and invited us in for a panad o de there and then! She was so overjoyed to learn that I was learning Welsh that she could not stop expressing her enthusiasm! She commented on my accent (thanks again, Aran and Catrin!) and once again, I was glad that I had learned the Northern dialect (or one of them!) because her speech was very Northern – in fact, she taught me a couple of new expressions! What I was pleased about was being able to understand her for the most part and not having to say, “Mae’n ddrwg gen i?” too many times, because it is one thing being able to get out the Welsh you want to say, but quite another to be able to understand and respond to what is said to you! (a skill that I am still desperately working on!)

After that, we went to Harlech and, telling myself with a sense of incredulity that I must be on my way to becoming a Welsh speaker by now, I went into a wonderful bric-a-brac shop and chose a couple of things I didn’t really want, purely to be able to have yet another Welsh conversation with the owner! This time last year, I had hung about the same shop for about ten minutes, trying to pluck up the courage to approach him (after having chosen something else I didn’t particularly want, an old ceramic jug, but which now has pride of place amongst my potplants!). When I finally did so, I was only able to manage to stumble through a few sentences, having only been learning a few months then. Now, a year later, it was a real thrill to be able to re-visit the same shop and have a far more interesting conversation with the owner! (He probably thought I was crackers, but it actually doesn’t matter!)

Despite all these years of visiting Wales, I realise now that I was merely seeing one side of it – quite a limited side. Now that I am learning Welsh, a whole new aspect of it has opened up to me, with people welcoming me with open arms into their homes simply because I have chosen to learn their language and want to speak it with them, and in doing so, partaking also of their culture and heritage, even in some small way, which is a wonderful privilege! Not feeling particularly that I “belong” anywhere at the moment, I certainly felt that I would have no problem “belonging” in Wales, even though, unlike a lot of people on this forum, I can’t lay claim to any Welsh connections whatsoever, unfortunately! :cry:

To sum up, I just want to say how thankful I am that the Welsh we are being taught here is really alive and – IT WORKS! In other words, it is not simply textbook Welsh that someone may or may not understand and that one has learnt in a vacuum with no access to the living, colloquial language which is constantly changing. I was able to use virtually most of the structures and vocab of the three courses and be understood for the most part(even the short past and future forms, which I had some reservations about!). Another aspect is the confidence which the SsiW method imparts to you to try out your Welsh in different situations, and there have been countless other posts on the forum which testify that this is well and truly the case – inspiring confidence, often where there has been none, or very little, before! I am convinced this would be less likely to happen if learning via a more traditional method!

In other words, SsiW is life-changing – there is no other way to put it! I can only echo the exhortations of others here to persist in using your Welsh in whatever situtions you can find, because the rewards as well as the sense of elation you experience will soon far outstrip the not-so-encouraging moments! Felly, diolch yn fawr unwaith eto, Aran, Catrin, Iestyn a Cat, am bopeth! :D
(Ac mae’n ddrwg gen i am y post’ma hir!) :oops:
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Re: "Llyncu Mul" really does work!

Postby SJ » Wed Apr 25, 2012 4:44 pm

What a wonderful story Alison! :seren: Thank you for sharing!

From what you've said, it seems to me that you're not just on your way to being a Welsh speaker, you are one! :llongyf:

I'm sure that the more time you spend in Wales, you will come to see more of the "other side" of it and have many more fabulous holidays and adventures.
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Re: "Llyncu Mul" really does work!

Postby Morgs » Wed Apr 25, 2012 4:54 pm

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Re: "Llyncu Mul" really does work!

Postby Lurch2 » Wed Apr 25, 2012 4:57 pm

Great story to hear!

Well done!

Oh- Iestyn teaches "llyncu mul" in the Southern course, as well, mind- but only because it is "one of Aran's favourite expressions" ( :wink: ) and reverts to "pwdi" after a few goes. Thankfully, as "pwdi" is one of those words which has come to be used in English down here!

my_cat_silky wrote: I can’t lay claim to any Welsh connections whatsoever, unfortunately!

Umm... apart from being a Welsh speaker?
Please feel free to correct my Welsh. My English, however, is beyond all hope.

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Re: "Llyncu Mul" really does work!

Postby dinas » Wed Apr 25, 2012 4:59 pm

Great post, Alison! Nantmor, another of my favourite places. I used to walk there from the, youth hostel.
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Re: "Llyncu Mul" really does work!

Postby my_cat_silky » Wed Apr 25, 2012 5:17 pm

Thank you so much, SJ, Claire, Owain and Kim, for your very kind and encouraging comments! I do apologise for the fact that I can never use 10 words when I can use 10,000 instead! :oops:

I should have also mentioned that, without the support and encouragement of wonderful people like yourselves on the forum, I would surely have been tempted to give up long before now! Sharing one's passion helps to keep it alive, definitely!

Owain, I like "pwdi" - I had come across this word earlier, and my daughter definitely prefers this to being told that she has swallowed a mule! :wink:
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Re: "Llyncu Mul" really does work!

Postby Tahl » Wed Apr 25, 2012 5:18 pm

Wonderful post! Don't you dare apologize for it being long. :D
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Re: "Llyncu Mul" really does work!

Postby Iestyn » Wed Apr 25, 2012 6:14 pm

Tahl wrote:Wonderful post! Don't you dare apologize for it being long. :D

I for one was disapponted to get to the end, and went back for another read!

Well done, Alison - you've really taken the bull by the horns and done this Welsh thing. Thank you for the glowing praise for Aran and Catrin's course (I have hardly any bearing at all on the gog course, I'm afraid!), but do remember that the main ingredient to learning any language anywhere is hard work, and you have obviously done that hard work, and more.

But the biggest thank you is for coming to Wales and sepaking to people, letting them know that Welsh is valuable, and shockingly, can be learnt to a good standard in a short time rather than being "very difficult to learn" as we hear so often. Not only will your story inspire anyone who reads it here, but your actions, and the little spin off stories and attitudes have made a real difference to the future of the Welsh language.

I could write more words than you just saying thakyous, but I shall just thank you the once (for the third time, I think!), and tell everyone else - do what Alison has done. Get out there and speak to people. Whether it's one or two broken sentences (that's your first visit!), or "chatting to your heart's content", every contribution injects another bit of energy into our beautiful language and her beautiful speakers!

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Re: "Llyncu Mul" really does work!

Postby RedGreenInBlue » Wed Apr 25, 2012 6:15 pm

Wow, Alison. You've been cracking on quietly with becoming a Welsh speaker while we had our backs turned!


At this rate, I think there's going to have be a sequel to the SSiW book of people's experiences of learning: Welsh in the Wild: from learners to speakers - Something to focus particularly on SSiWers' experiences of deploying their new language skills on an unsuspecting Wales! :D
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Re: "Llyncu Mul" really does work!

Postby markwatkinprice » Wed Apr 25, 2012 7:58 pm

Well, what a posting. The whole thread made me smile all the way through. Well done, Alison.
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