Croeso, @ben-10. Welcome to the forum and to the course. Enjoy the journey!
No no no, not German…can’t remember much… Don’t particularly like that language either, now Italian…
S’mai Corina. My wife’s great grandfather was made to wear the WN ‘Welsh Not’ for speaking his own language in his own country.
So, yes, that was a hard and unjust lesson. Y Gwyddelig (my lot the Irish) had the language banned and were punished for using it ond yma o hyd (but we are still here).
The “Welsh Not” is something I found out just recently, and always sounds like a really crazy and cruel thing that’s been done.
It actually gives an extra motivation to learn Welsh, now, even outside Wales though!
p.s. Croeso @Sean-O.
It was particularly nasty because if the child who had been given the “Welsh Not” could catch another child speaking Welsh, they could pass the knot on. So not only was it imposed from above by the teacher, but it turned children into spies and collaborators.
A ‘Welsh not’ tale.
This should possibly be in the ‘I want to learn Welsh because topic’ - I have thought about posting the story there many times but it seems now I’m ready(!)
I was brought up in Brecon which I had always thought of as a ‘not very Welsh speaking area’ - there were Welsh speakers there of course when I grew up - but not that many.
When my mother moved into a nursing home for the last year or so of her life - they had a very nice touch - down the corridor they had assembled a lovely collection of old black and white photos of Brecon from the museum and other places…steam trains in the station (long gone), the day the hospital opened, photos of many of the streets with horses and carts - they were lovely - I thought they were interesting but my mum thought they were great - she would show me them and explain them to me (many times)!
Anyway I thought I would see if I could find any more - perhaps to put in her room - and so started looking on the web. I found a website which had information and photos - some of the station and some old census data from about 1900 or so, which was attached, and this caught my eye…it was a list of people, addresses, occupations plus a column for ‘Speaks English’, ‘Speaks Welsh’…
The first thing I notice is that nearly everyone speaks Welsh - wow in Brecon - apart from people with obviously English names, with jobs such as the school teacher, managers, administrators and so on - I was stunned. Secondly a lot of people didn’t speak English at all - just Welsh - the railwaymen and the people who had jobs you might have described as working class only spoke Welsh. Given the first thing perhaps this isn’t so surprising but…
…so I’m thinking, ok how wrong can you be. Then I am thinking, hang on a second I was in primary school in Brecon in the seventies - only 3 or 4 generations later - no Welsh - what on earth happened…
I didn’t think much more about it but still on my photo quest - I popped in to Brecon Museum - and as I’m looking round I see a Welsh Not sign and I read all about it - I’m amazed - I had never been told about this in all my school days (that’s a funny thing isn’t it).
Then I notice there is a little information card next to it that says ‘This sign came from Mount St Primary School where it was in use ‘well into the 20th century’’ - this was my school!!!. No wonder it wasn’t on the curriculum!
I am a very calm person but I must admit that I stood there for about 5 mins and my blood boiled.
In as little as 70 years Welsh had dropped in Brecon from almost everyone to nearly no one…and there in front of me was probably a very big part of why.
And it was roundabout then that I decided I had to learn to speak Welsh!
Wow, Rich. That’s a powerful, personal story! Diolch am rhannu eich stori (Thank you for sharing your story)!
It’s amazing to read how quickly changes can occur within 3-4 generations. Glad you decided to learn Cymraeg and reconnect to your heritage.
Yes, what an amazing story @rich, and series of coincidences too! Loved it!
I think that banning children from speaking the language is a very ‘clever’ method as not only is there the primary effect with the children but the secondary effects are that families believe ‘there is no future’ in it…and it snowballs.
I would imagine the Welsh Not signs were in use prior to the census data I saw…and doing their work…and of course there will be other factors too.
So, here’s to the recent uplift in the recent ONS survey translating into the next census data in 2021. That would be fabulous. And it’s things like SSIW and everyone on this forum which are making these things happen.
Onwards and upwards - and keep up the good work everyone!
Indeed. The idea was to squelch the Welsh and kill off it’s usage.
Well, there were only 3 primary schools in Brecon!..and the other two were small (I’m sure they would have used the signs too)…but yes, I suppose. The thing I found most surprising was how much Welsh was spoken, so recently - I’ve heard the same is true of the valleys which are quite close…in the same timescales.
Diolch @gisella-albertini. It does my heart good to be here.
I knew a lovely old lady in Caerffili who used to tell how she was brought up in Senghennydd in the early 1900s. Her family was Welsh speaking, as was most of the village, except for mostly recent arrivals (it was just gearing up to Peak Coal). It was the community language.
When she was about 7, I think (1911, if I remember rightly), her brother was born, and her parents decided that it wasn’t right for a boy to be brought up speaking Welsh as it would limit his work and his education. So the whole family switched to English. This happened amongst most of her school friends as well over a very short time, until by the time she became an adult, she only really spoke Welsh to our fellow chapel goers, and in private to her mother and sisters.
Go to Senghennydd these days, and you’ll meet people who worry that ‘Welsh is being rammed down their throats’ and that ‘they’ll come up with a Welsh name for Senghennydd soon’ (I’m not kidding - I have heard that!), people so disconnected with their own history that it doesn’t even occur to them that Welsh might have been an integral part of their grandparents’ lives. This is not restricted to isolated communities, or to the uneducated or the somehow-stupid. It;s just because these things aren’t taught, aren’t widely recognised, aren’t acknowledged.
Fortunately, people like you @rich often come across something that tweeks your interest, that raises a question that you are willing to find the answer for, and that starts on a whole new path, and starts to give you the keys to a whole new secret, hidden world, just waiting to be explored.
Welcome, all of you - have a map, meet your guides, and lets get exploring!
Noswaith da ,
I’ve just relocated from London to North Wales and am on my first week of learning Welsh . Looking forward to connecting with you and the challenges in learning the lovely language!!! Lou
It will be an exciting journey for you. Always remember that there is lots of help and encouragement for you here as well as other interesting discussions.
Wow, that sounds like a good move!
Croeso Lou - a very warm welcome to the forum!
Just signed up for my first sentence since 1985 when a flat mate taught me to say Would you like a cup of tea? Something like “Tişe panad” OK, no idea of spelling, so I’ve written this as if it were Turkish, a virtually totally phonetically-spelt language.
For nearly 30 years I have been using Turkish script for transcription when learning a new language, especially if in a different script. I live in Ankara and teach English. Working with disabled students, we’ve long been looking for different ways of learning languages. For hearing impaired learners, I use Turkish script for transcription. Currently we have been looking for ways for visually impaired beginner learners to start with such an illogically-spelt language as English.
This method could be worth trying!
DiolchPeter, looking forward to it all so glad to have discovered this site
Wow that sounds very interesting. A very warm welcome Claire.