Last month in Israel, a common brand of milk cartons started to bear ‘correct’ terms in Hebrew for things that are nearly always referred to by a foreign ‘slang’ term.
In the photo here, the carton on the left is referring to “chat” (as in digital social media). The word in large bold letters at top has the Hebrew word, which would sound rather like “Suchw-ach” read as a Welsh word. Just below the line at the top, in small print, is the slang word “chat” pronounced as in English.
Similarly, on the right is a marker pen. The Hebrew word for this is “Matz-bay-ah” as read in English, but everyone uses the word “Tusch” which is a German word for a type of coloured ink.
The point of the campaign was to encourage use of Hebrew words where foreign ones are normally substituted in day-to-day speech. A total of about half a dozen words found their way onto the milk cartons. They would have been seen by a large proportion of the population.
Without wishing to re-ignite the question of the rights and wrongs of English words creeping into Welsh, it did occur to me that this could be a rather friendly way of encouraging use of one’s national language without being patronising.
In Wales, which has the greater problem of not enough people using their language anyway, maybe something similar could be done to encourage the use of Welsh? Place a few Welsh words on the wrappings of common foodstuffs and they find their way into hundreds of thousands of kitchens in Wales. Just another way of exposure to the language.
I have often thought this. And even do it England as well (or in the UK generally, as well as within Wales).
My local supermarket (in England) used to carry a brand of butter called “Rachel’s” which was proudly Welsh and carried the word “menyn”, as well as a few other Welsh words, although it was mainly in English. One reason I never forget the word “menyn”. Sadly, they no longer carry this butter - no idea why. It was good butter too.
The only other Welsh product that they carry (as far as I know) is salt from Ynys Môn. I can’t remember how much Welsh is on those packets.
I once read somewhere that one of the boosts to local industries in Iceland was the fact that packaging needed to have Icelandic on it, which meant it had to at least be printed locally. Perhaps Welsh businesses could profit in a similar way?
But that’s a different point - I like the original about teaching a few words on milk cartons.
It would be great from the point of view of normalising the use of the language, and I can’t see it being too much of an overhead - companies are already used to putting multiple languages on packaging that is sold across the EU, for example. I can, however, foresee a whole load of crass Google Translate errors appearing.
I’m not too sure I’d take too kindly to being badgered by a milk bottle about using ffrwchnedd instead of banana, though.
That’s probably the reason that Icelandic is still so pure and has hardly changed from the original ancient writings because they haven’t allowed a foreign language to creep its way in like we have with english.
… and that’s maybe why it probably wouldn’t work in Wales with Welsh.
One of the brands of cat food we used to buy had the flavour written in an amazing array of languages, sadly not including Welsh. I emailed the company, and they did eventually politely reply, and at least pretended that they would consider it. I didn’t / don’t really expect them to do anything about it though. (We don’t currently have a cat, so I haven’t noticed whether there has in fact been any change).
Point well taken. When I first posted this, I was actually thinking more of the potential for encouraging use of the Welsh language through what is effectively the mass media of containers for common foodstuffs. I would leave it to others to decide how to use this rather interesting tool.