My #1 Trip to Wales

I had started planning it for next January/February, but for a series of coincidences that’s too long to explain now, my first trip to Wales ended up being…oh well…last week.
Sorry if didn’t say anthing here in advance, it was a last minute plan and quite a hectic schedule for just 3 days including a secret mission I will explain in due time.
But…heyy…I had an incredibly great time, so I can tell for sure I plan to be back soon (end of January), and later!
A full report would take hours, so I’ll just write a few notes about my language-related experiences:

Highest highlights:

  • The first people I ever spoke Welsh to in person are the same who caused me to start learning in the first place: Datblygu. How cŵl and cool is that?

  • People usually understand what I say, and - more surprisingly - I usually understand enough of what they say at fluent speaker’s normal speed (since that’s how everybody talked to me), to be able to answer. Sometimes I have to ask to repeat or to translate, and I often have to answer in English cause I don’t have enough vocabulary, but I can work on it.

  • Just for the fun I tested my pronunciation reading the lyrics with Pat and even my “fake Welsh” trasncriptions and astonishngly she was able to understand most of it! Quick explanation of fake Welsh: I started somehow learning Welsh just listening to my favorite songs and trying to repeat the sequences of sounds I heard (just like I had done with English as a child). No idea of what words I’m saying or their meaning but my approximation seems accurate enough to be understandable as Welsh language anyway! (That was hilarious, by the way).

  • And then, I almost missed a train for it, but I’m very proud of my Datblygu Welsh Certificate of Proficiency written by David R. Edwards - and of course it’s worth more than a million WJEC Qualifications to me!
    (Note: style is a bit too pungent to publish it in this Forum. If you know what I mean and still curious to read it, just send me a private message.)

My approach to Welsh out in the wild:

After reading a lot of experiences of people here in the forum, I decided to go for this:

  1. Check if the situation is quiet enough to allow a relaxed conversation
  2. Ask “Do you speak Welsh?”

If answer = “No”, then ask “Why?” and talk about it.

If answer = “Yes”, then tell them I’m learning it, and see how I can manage a basic conversation with people speaking fluently.

How it went

  • This approach worked great. No embarrassing or traumatic situations at all. Those who can’t speak it, seem happy to explain why they don’t, so I gathered quite a lot of interesting feedbacks and information. Those who can, seem just happy to speak it. Everything went just fine!

  • I started super anxious, just as if I had to take an exam every time I was about to try and say something, but the process became smoother and smoother very quickly.

  • I can definitely confirm that trying to speak to people in person is extremely effective for learning: it adds a little pressure and motivation to keep all the attention focused while listening, and forces me to figure out solutions to express what I’d like to express; because I can’t let them there wating for me to say something for ages like I can do at home just thinking at sentences, or in a class context.

  • I heard spoken Welsh for the first time ever at the end of August, when I tried to listen to Radio Cymru. Now, most of the time, I can understand the gist of what people tells me at normal speed: the combination of SSiW listening practices and advanced content, plus some radio, tv and Datblygu songs must have worked just fine!

  • I can understand how people get lazy and just fall back to speaking English in everyday life transactions, it’s so easy and fast to get the result, after all (I did the same). I guess motivating people to do that extra effort to learn, and speak Welsh instead when you don’t need it is quite a challenge indeed.

  • However, sorry guys, but some English native-speakers must be really unbelievably resistant. Just one example, among many I heard: the taxi driver from the b&b to the airport said she just recently noticed how airport is written in Welsh. And not only she was born and raised in Wales, but my b&b was about 4 miles away, that means she’s probably been going to the airport every day for years and never took a moment to pay attention to that; because, she said, she really doesn’t understand why they make signs in two languages. A lot of things are written in both languages, in fact; it does take an effort to use Welsh in everyday life, but it must take an effort also NOT to ever learn anything at all, even if it was just “Sbwriel” that you see all the time while walking around!

  • Quite a few people wanted to speak some Italian with me (and sometimes even French or Spanish). So I also practiced a bit of languages-switching! By the way, Welsh-native speakers naturally have an amazing Italian accent even if they have a basic knowledge of it, or rarely speak it. Native English/non-Welsh speakers…uhmmm…often don’t even after living here for years.

Anyway I really enjoyed myself and I really have to thank - besides low-cost flights - all the people I met that were really nice. But especially Pat Datblygu who helped me a lot and in many ways to make it possible, and of course all the staff at SSiW and the Forum here because it would have not happened without you! :slight_smile: :orange_heart:

p.s. and for an extra smile… where’s my favorite accent? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

[slightly edited, cause re-reading it I noticed a couple of mistakes and that I didn’t like the way I had written a couple other things!]


Yn hollol wonderful stuff!

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p.s. and for a funny coincidence, the first song I got hooked on and seemed to have helped me a lot in achieving quite a natural pronunciation of the sound “LL” (so they say) is called…“Hollol, hollol, hollol”! :joy:


Oh @gisella-albertini, I’m so sorry to have missed you! But I’m also so glad you had a good time!

And looking again, you’re still coming at the end of next month. Wahaay!

Can I see the pungent certificate please?


@margaretnock, with last minute plans and additional last-last-minute variations on the go (as it often happen) I didn’t manage to catch you or anyone from the Forum and even though I was also in your area briefly - I’ve been running around all the time like crazy. :dizzy_face:
But definitely, next time!

I think that’s going to be hard for anyone to top as a first speaking experience… :slight_smile: :star: :star2:


Ieeeeee! :sunglasses:
But you know, I still have no practical or rational reason to learn Welsh, so I have to do my best to make it fun and memorable and worth anyway! :joy:


What a super story. Inspirational.


No kidding!! Surely, she had to know “Ar gau” from shop signs or “Ar werth” from house sale signs just through osmosis! As a child, I didn’t learn “Dim ysmygu” from school or my family, it was just everywhere! It would be interesting to figure out the mindset that blocks that stuff off so completely. :thinking:


Yeah, I mentioned recently that I was talking to two women in a Welsh coffee shop. One said she struggled with English (in perfect English) and the other said she couldn’t speak any Welsh apart from…(and then came out with a list of Welsh words). Fair enough.

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I’ve had the same thought. When I lived in China I very briefly met another American on her last night in the country and she was boasting (in a Southern California Valley Girl accent - think Clueless) that she had been there TWO YEARS and never even learned to say “Hello…” I would love to understand how someone could not learn anything at all in two years, let alone a lifetime!


Recently, I’ve been reading and watching videos of several polyglots and most of them report meeting people like this around the world.
It appears to be a bit more common among natives of most spoken languages of the world - easy to guess why! - but I also know many Italians like that, so it happens everywhere!

Yes! And it’s not to blame anyone (although I know I sometimes sound a bit harsh, sorry!)
It’s just I’d be curious to understand.

I talked to quite a few people about their experience with languages and Welsh, and I was also lucky to meet someone who has worked in the field of Higher Education and told me a lot of interesting stories and experiences.
I’ll have to collect a few more and maybe I’ll start understand something!

However so far, the most resistant ones somehow expressed one or more of these thoughts (in a more or less explicit way):

  • I don’t need it and will never need it
  • it’s a waste of time (and sometimes money/public money)
  • It’s useless (for me, and for the world)
  • I don’t like it, and I don’t want to have anything to do with it
  • I just don’t care

[edit] the last part based on conversations with Welsh people I met, stories I was told and also Italians who spent quite some time in Wales for work and can’t even say bore da!


How is it I missed your thread until now? What a really cool experience you had! I really enjoyed how you engaged those who did not know or have a desire to learn Cymraeg.

I suspect you did not hear this opinion often,“I don’t like it, and I don’t want to have anything to do with it,” but the other opinions, especially, “I don’t need it and will never need it” was far more common.

The Welsh Government is great at tracking all types of data, especially concerning Cymraeg. If you enjoy data, here’s a link to their latest findings Lots of useful data.

From the link are these key points concerning pride in the Language. The people who were most likely to think that the Welsh language is something to be proud of:

  • could speak Welsh fluently
  • lived in local authorities with a high proportion of Welsh speakers
  • were employed
  • lived in more deprived areas
  • had lower incomes
  • identified themselves as having a Welsh National Identity
  • lived in less populated area

What boggles my mind is that she said she was “boasting” about it. If that were me, I’d have been ashamed of myself. How disrespectful to the people around her not to even try “hello,” “please,” “thank- you.” Heck! I even know those words in Chinese, and I’ve never set foot in the country. Doesn’t she watch TV?!

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Well, that’s just sad.

Well, to be honest, I can’t consider my findings statistically significant yet - but enough to make a few considerations, based on my experience.

Among Welsh people there are a whole lot of nuances in attitudes, feelings, opinions and knowledge and basically a different story for each one that brought them there. That’s really interesting!

  • Fluent speakers I met (both natives and from Welsh Medium schools) seemed all proud of the language and happy to speak it.

  • Non fluent speakers or those who had studied it just a little bit had a positive or neutral attitude towards the language, but didn’t seem willing to speak or even say a word (my impression: moslty because they don’t feel confident or are somehow ashamed of how bad they consider their Welsh)

  • The “I don’t need it and I think I will never need it” was actually more explicitly expressed by foreigners who have various form of work relations with Wales, and a bit more mildly from Welsh people who didn’t learn it as children and live in Cardiff and around. They also all seem to consider Welsh unbelievably difficult and weird so it’s more a kind of “why in the world should they do all that effort for?I’ve already have too many things to do”
    (note: I must admit the first time I saw town names during my Interrail in the UK I had the same impression!) :grinning:

A few of these also said they really don’t like it.
For its sound, and/or for the “image” that comes attached with it, but just one seemed really negative and almost annoyed by its existence!

But in general, most people had a positive attitude and were happy when they had the impression that it’s popularity is actually going up!


Same for me!
Among the stories I heard so far, the most language-learning-resistant seems to be to a person with high education and position who not only never learnt to say anything related to her work (not even the name of the office she was in); but didn’t even ever learnt to read and pronounce the (Welsh) names of the people she worked with.
How more disrespectful can you get!

Seriously, I couldn’t agree more. I feel bad my Chinese never got any better than it did, and I learned hundreds of words and could say more than enough to take care of daily living and travel - and even get into some pretty weird conversations with taxi drivers. Heck! I even had a BIRD teach me some Chinese. No really, a bird - a medium-sized black bird with a bright yellow beak sometimes kept as pets. It was there, sitting in its cage in the shade on the sidewalk as I walked past, and it kept saying “Ni hen piao liang,” over and over. I learned how to say it from the bird, and it turned out to mean, “You are very beautiful.” Maybe the bird’s owner engaged his help in picking up young women walking by! Hahaha… but seriously, if I can learn from a bird, I don’t understand how she could have learned nothing and been proud of it!

I think this points to part of the issue, yeah. For example, with English so prevalent as the language of global communication, people might not feel the need to bother… but I think it might get even worse still. I come from a rural part of Northern California where some people I met had never even left the local county, and I can tell you that I have heard remarks like these more than once: “Why should I learn another language when everyone should speak English?” [sic.] and “Why do I need a passport when I live in the best country on earth?” [again, sic.]… These may be extreme (although very real) examples, but honestly, how does one even reason with people holding onto ideas like those? My efforts were unsuccessful.


Wow! Just…wow! I have no words…in any language…

I know… I was stunned, but bear in mind this is a pretty rural part of California and the education level of the people speaking left something to be desired. It is certainly not how most people feel, I HOPE. These people almost certainly ended up Trump voters along with 65.6% of the county I grew up in, versus 61.6% for Hilary state-wide. I honestly don’t know how I survived that place. Unfortunately, mindsets like those are not as rare here as one might wish. These same people might have said, “speak American,” which I have also heard more than once in my time… so, yeah… pretty shocking to me, too, even having grown up there. I was lucky, my mom worked for an airline so I was able to travel a lot and see other people, places, and cultures when I was young. They never had the chance, even if they had wanted it. Not excusing it at all, but I have tried to find compassion, even for them.