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A wild night of line-dancing with the Merched y Wawr!

Postby karengo » Fri Jan 11, 2013 1:15 am

I think it's about time I posted something here. Everyone's stories are so inspiring, but when I got to the end of Course 1, no assurances from Aran that I was now "more than ready" to plunge into a Welsh conversation seemed remotely believable. Rather than beat myself up about my shyness I decided to defer thinking about using Welsh in the wild until I got to the end of Course 2.

Living in Gwynedd, I get to hear plenty of Welsh, but my Welsh in shops tends to be limited to "helo" and "diolch". There are several neighbours with whom the conversation might get as far as "sut dach chi?" or (if really adventurous) a comment about the weather, but the step beyond that remained a step too far for me. If you tell someone "Dw i'n dysgu siarad Cymraeg." most people will respond with "Da iawn" and there the conversation ends, because... well, what can they say?!

I think it was around Course 2, Lesson 21 that I began to think I actually could speak Welsh well enough to be useful. Some of us are late developers. A little burst of confidence coincided with a golden opportunity, and I (very uncharacteristically) accepted an invitation that came via our local Welsh for Adults evening class. The Merched y Wawr were having a line-dancing evening and especially welcoming dysgwyr with 2-3 years' experience! Here was an all-Welsh event where I would be expected to converse with Welsh speakers, but they'd know I was learning and they were going out of their way to be welcoming and helpful. Perfect.

I have to say the dawnsio llinell was not quite what I was expecting. I've done my share of circle-dancing and other kinds of folk-dancing, so I was prepared for a caller saying, "left", "right", "forward", "back", "swing your partners" and all that. Instructions like "hands on head, hand on hip, cross your left leg behind your right and pivot right while making lasso movements above your head" all at speed were beyond me. I was just copying the movements. As it happened the implementation was beyond quite a few of the dancers anyway, so much hilarity ensued. It was a huge amount of fun, and when you've just had a good laugh with someone, of course it's much much easier to talk to them afterwards. The setting, with Welsh being used naturally all around me must have helped too, but I found I had no hesitation or nerves then in sitting down with a couple of the ladies afterwards and just talking. It was a bit of a dam burst for me, all this Welsh I had bottled up inside by now. Of course I made a lot of mistakes and had to ask the odd English word, but it was real communication and I wish I could convey just what a thrill it was. Amazing.

My hosts declared that I spoke Welsh very well, and shouldn't ever hesitate to use it, and there were some jaws on the floor when I confessed I only started learning 13 months ago. We talked a lot about SaySomethingInWelsh, of course.

That was last night. I'm talking to anyone in Welsh now. :D

Karen
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Re: A wild night of line-dancing with the Merched y Wawr!

Postby Cer » Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:37 am

:llongyf: :dawnsio: :seren:
:dafad: Please feel free to correct me. Thanks! :dafad:

:shock: = "Oh, is that how it's spelled!"

Waffling around in the Cwrs 2 vocab lessons.
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Re: A wild night of line-dancing with the Merched y Wawr!

Postby Dee » Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:34 am

:star: Brilliant! Best read to start my day in a long while :star:
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Re: A wild night of line-dancing with the Merched y Wawr!

Postby dinas » Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:44 am

:seren:
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Yes I hear it!... Hiraeth - the link with the long-forgotten past, the language of the soul, the call from the inner self. Half forgotten - fraction remembered. It speaks from the rocks, from the earth, from the trees and in the waves. It's always there.
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Re: A wild night of line-dancing with the Merched y Wawr!

Postby JonSais » Fri Jan 11, 2013 9:55 am

Profiad gwych siwr o fod! :clap:
Dyfal donc a dyr y garreg
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Re: A wild night of line-dancing with the Merched y Wawr!

Postby Aran » Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:01 am

:seren:

Talk about delayed gratification!...:wink:

Still, it must be a very special feeling to just jump the whole way across the bridge, instead of just inching over it step by step...:D
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Re: A wild night of line-dancing with the Merched y Wawr!

Postby Iestyn » Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:31 am

Wow, Karen - that is just so exciting. you must feel absolutely fantastic about it. Da iawn ti!

You're right, of course. If you've already relaxed in someone's company, without having to go through the whole worrying thing about language, learning and how to start a conversation, then you can just jumo in, use what you've got, and have fun.

Hey Presto! One new Welsh speaker.

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Re: A wild night of line-dancing with the Merched y Wawr!

Postby Arianrhod » Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:59 am

So inspiring. :dawnsio:
Wastad yn siarad Cymraeg... i'r hen, hen gi.
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Re: A wild night of line-dancing with the Merched y Wawr!

Postby Tahl » Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:27 pm

karengo wrote:It was a bit of a dam burst for me, all this Welsh I had bottled up inside by now. Of course I made a lot of mistakes and had to ask the odd English word, but it was real communication and I wish I could convey just what a thrill it was. Amazing.
...
My hosts declared that I spoke Welsh very well, and shouldn't ever hesitate to use it, and there were some jaws on the floor when I confessed I only started learning 13 months ago. We talked a lot about SaySomethingInWelsh, of course.

That was last night. I'm talking to anyone in Welsh now.

:D :D :D You sound so happy. That's just fantastic. Well done! (And who knew the Merched y Wawr had wild evenings of dancing on tabletops? :wink: )

I need to read stories like yours to give myself a confidence boost in Spanish, where I'm a real beginner. My situation with Spanish speakers here is like yours with Welsh speakers in Gwynedd: I encounter people every single day who are first-language speakers. I'm discovering that in some ways that's harder than hardly-ever encountering them, because there's no point at which you have to say to yourself 'right, this is my only chance to try out my new langauge, okay, GO.' So llongyfarchiadau at finding a way to get yourself over the hump!
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Re: A wild night of line-dancing with the Merched y Wawr!

Postby gerryf » Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:41 pm

Llongyfarchiadau Karen. What a fantastic story. Are you going to continue going to Merched Y Wawr? I go once a month and really enjoy it. In the beginning I didn't understand much but just sat and let it all wash over me,but bit by bit I find I understand more and because I know everyone now I feel more relaxed talking to them. There really is no going back now for you, you are now a welsh speaker :clap: :clap:
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