Meredydd Evans Cariad cyntaf-seren syw

I suppose this singer is one of the reasons why I want to speak welsh (I said just one reason in the allotted topic, bur in fact there are so many ! Too many to be said in just one sentence, as required ! Or it would be a long long sentence).
My question is about the song “cariad cyntaf”. I saw different versions, included an “indian” one. I love the Merediydd Evans one. But I notice that many of the more “modern” versions call the song “seren syw”. and not “cariad cyntaf”.

My question is precisely about those words “seren syw”, which are in the song :
:the english translation say “beautiful star” but this word “syw” seems not to exist when you look after “beautiful” in dictionnaries, or, more bizarre, not to exist at all if you just enter “syw” in Google (or other), precising a welsh context…

I found an old documentI saying that "this word which now (but an old “now” !) stands for “beautiful”, had first the meaning of “clever” (in the latin meaning of “doctus, sapiens…”) and even tidy

I suppose a star won’t be “clever” or even “tidy”, I also may understant that the englsih translationof the song would not be a really “textual” one) but if the meaning of “syw” is more or less “beautiful”, it is supposed to be a rather common word, so how is it that it is so invisible when you look for it ?

How would you translate litteraly, textually, “seren syw”, then ?

Hm… I’m afraid I’m not clear (as often) but if someone understands me…:smiley:

Diolch yn fawr

Syw can mean a few ifferent things. If you look for syw in the Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru, it gives you examples of the different meanings but in this case (using the example in GPC of usage from WSG Williams’ Caneuon Traddodiadol y Cymru 1961 - “Seren syw, clyw di’r claf”), syw means excellent, splendid, elegant, smart, spruce, neat; merry, joyful.

I don’t know the song in question, but songs in general hardly ever translate neatly from one language to another, so the use of ‘beautiful’ in an English translation (and therefore not being able to equate syw to beautiful in dictionaries) doesn’t surprise me.


Dioch yn fawr SiaronJames.
My knowlledge of welsh tools to find informations is surely very very very limited since I’m just beginning studying (and I’m afraid it will be rather limited during a certain time), so I only could go through Google with some key sentences, and was yet happy with this old dictionnary talking about old and “new” (well, “new” for the time when it was published)use of this word, but what was wondering was the fact that I coulf not find this wprd in another place. You give an explaination which certainly suits. Thanks.


I don’t remember if he sings Cariad cyntaf in this video, but he tells the story of a lullaby which ian anti esclavagist song. Very interesting.

And I like when he explains, at the beginning, how english people say “Meredith” for Meredydd and he explains that the double d is not exactly this sound, and then you “hear” the difference. Nice.
Between good rocks or very actual thiings, I love listening to Meredydd Evans and his voice.and old songs. It reminds me a lot our own old traditional singers (also dead, as he his now)
Cariad cyntaf is a “cllassic”, and t it is funny to see how many interpretations there are, in all styles (as I said, even Indian style, a group or someone called Gazhalaw).


In the former video Meredydd Evans speaks about the language (very moving and interesting).
The video where he sings (beginning with Cariad Cyntaf) is this one (and the lullavy comes a bit later on in the video) The image is the same, but not what you’ll hear.


Wow I was very surprised to see video of Aberhonddu (Brecon) in this film - which is where I come from!

Did you notice that Siaron put a link to an online dictionary in her post which you can click on? (Just checking)

Rich :slight_smile:

Helo Rich
I’m now going to reveal you the very secret, unknown and dangerous way to see this (those) videos : you go and see Saint Google, and gently ask him to drive you till “Meredydd Evans” and… there will be the miracle !
Just in case he would be bad tempered and would no satisfyyou, or give you an inapropriate a,swer; way, add “Cariad cytaf” to your demand, and then I’m sure he will exauce you ! :smile:
Concernig the dictionnary, yes I saw the link, alas it too much complicate for me :all in welsh…

I forgt to tell you : to know exactly where this video comes from, maybe you could let a message in the comments (siince iti is on youtube). The problem is that very often, the person who let the video does not come back, so he or she doesn’t see the messages, and does not answer. But who knows, somebody may come, see your message and give you more informations.

Very interesting :slightly_smiling_face:

What an interesting man with a lovely voice🙂

He was a “great” man… A beautiful person (I say beautiful in the sense of “humanist”. Even if he was not unpleasant to look at, also, anyway, young or older in this video ! )

See more here

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@mcbrittany Just as a footnote, it might interest you to know that I got to know Meredydd Evans a little bit in my younger Cardiff days in the 60s, as I went out with his daughter Eluned for six months. He was head of light entertainment at BBC Wales at the time, but one couldn’t help but be aware of his love of all things Welsh - but I don’t think he’d quite reached the stature of the leading Welsh folk song collector that he came to be recognised for later on. It was quite unusual in Caerdydd in those days to meet any Welsh-speaking family at all (not so now of course). One other thing that impressed me was his doctorate in philosophy - again a very rare event then to meet anyone with that kind of academic background, and I’m not sure to what extent it influenced me to take my first degree in philosophy at Cardiff. Not least was his great sense of humour, and despite his many achievements and commitments he could be self-deprecating and seemed to lack any sense of egoism. An impressive figure all round.


Impressive, indeed. Diolch yn fawr Alan, for this testimony that you give with sensibilty and humilty. You are saying the things as you felt them at that time, very natural and unpretentious. Thankyou very much.

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