Comments by Bethan Gwanas lead to some debate on todays, Taro Post and in online magazine Golwg:
" Instead of spending on novels translated into Welsh, money needs to be spent on creating two versions of the original Welsh novel - one in the dialect of the south, the other in the dialect of the north…"
That’s one of the suggestions author Bethan Gwanas gave in her, Fawkes Islwyn Ellis Memorial Lecture at this year’s Vision Festival…though, personally, I think she’s wrong. Any thoughts?
Bethan Gwanas said: "Some dialects in Welsh books are making it difficult for readers to enjoy the story behind the words, especially in children’s books. "
That’s like saying Irvine Welsh should write his books in clear English because you can’t understand what any of his characters are saying when they’re speaking in their strongest, slangiest Scottish accents! Authors write stories based on the characters and their locations. I’m sure if an author was to write about a guy with a Geordie accent, using Geordie dialect, that is EXACTLY what he/she is going to write about - in detail.
The same with Welsh authors. Dewi Prysor always writes colloquially, so the reader will get the idea of where he’s coming from, from the characters perspective, and make the story more believable, more real.
I can understand translating text into a different language for some books (Harry Potter etc) but for different dialects? People (wrongly) think Welsh is difficult to learn or understand as it is, why complicate things further??
(I could be getting the wrong end of the stick here, but here’s my opinion for what it’s worth!)
I think that there should be more translation into Welsh - not different dialects. That would mean you couldn’t have a realistic conversation involving people from different parts of Wales. Surely Welsh speakers - speak Welsh and actually move around the country - so you would come across Northern dialects in the south and vice versa. I wouldn’t have thought the versions were so different you can’t get the gist of it -TV programmes are a mix so why not books?
I was at her lecture and I didn’t think that was really what she was saying - it was more that schoolkids are using that as an excuse not to read more. They say they want books that reflect the way they speak, so to me she was advocating more variety, and saying that when books are published specifically to try and encourage a love of reading in children, they might consider doing a south and north version of the Welsh to get them interested and build their confidence.
She was talking about how to capture the interest and encourage more reading amongst the people that don’t usually read as it’s so important for children to get that role model, and giving examples of the same situation in English, when suddenly something comes along like the Twilight books or Harry Potter and huge groups of people that don’t normally read at all become avid readers. One of the points she made was that you NEVER see anyone on Pobol y Cwm sit down with a book. I’ve seen some of the female stars flip absentmindedly through a magazine occasionally, but only Siôn, the “educated” one shows any interest in reading at all. She’s trying to find a way for it to appeal to a broader selection of the public.
I totally agree with you Gavin and Jon, but then I’m a person that loves to read so for me part of the enjoyment is coming to grips with any sort of different dialect. I remember introducing dialogue from Huckleberry Finn to my primary school kids when I was teaching so that we could have a discussion about dialects and how best to represent the different ways people talk. They found it fascinating, and maybe it could be presented that way to kids here encouraging them to be more adventurous.
But while I enjoy reading books written in Gog Welsh so that I can get a feel for the characters, I have to confess that ‘Dewis’ the book of the year for 2014 written by Ioan Kidd in a very south Walian dialect is an absolute joy for me to read.