I watched our SSiW friend, Dewi Pws Morris, make an interesting comment at the, Rali Ymreolaeth/Home-rule Rally on Saturday, which has resonated very strongly in me . I wonder what your thoughts are?
He said: "One thing lately, it grips my nerves that we call our country, Wales. I hate that; it means foreigners…foreigners in our own country. Can we start a campaign to call ourselves - Cymru? I am a Cymro!"
My personal feeling is that this seed of people starting to use - Cymru- when talking about the Nation has something fertile in its use. I’ve been training myself over the past few days, in comments, to use it when posting online. Think about it! Many people now say - Mumbai - and not Bombay; Beijing - and not Peking: There’s been a shift and many other place names worldwide have changed from those of the days of colonisation in recent years.
I have posted this not in a political way as I see the usage of, Cymru as something inclusive to all the peoples of, Cymru. Something, that offers all the people within its borders greater identity.
Funnily enough, I was doing some volunteer work the other day and got partnered with someone I had never met before (and didn’t really find out much about). He didn’t sound obviously Welsh, but when we were making our goodbyes, he said something which sounded a bit like “hwyl”, and said it more than once. He spoke in a quiet way, and I couldn’t be sure, so I didn’t respond in kind in case I was wrong (esp. as this was in England).
I’ve never had the courage to throw words like “diolch” into a conversation in England unless I know there is a reasonable chance it would strike a chord with the person involved, but perhaps I should be more adventurous.
I did manage to have a chat (in English) today with a near neighbour whom I knew was Welsh, but I didn’t know whether she was a Cymraes Cymraeg or not. Turns out she did use to speak it but hasn’t done for a longish time. I didn’t detect too much enthusiasm for getting it up again, but when I next see her I think I’ll risk a “shwmae” or so.
I’ve heard this a lot, that there’s a fairly large amount of people, it seems, who don’t speak the language but wish they did. I find that incredibly moving, for some reason. I go through phases where I let negative people get to my head and I ask myself “What if it IS really a useless language? There aren’t many people who speak it.” But 1) there ARE and 2) apparently there are loads of people who wish they could speak the language but aren’t pursuing it for whatever reason. That gives me hope, personally. At least these people exist and WANT the language; that’s a helpful thing, and a good place to start, for them. And I imagine incorporating even a handful of Cymraeg words into their everyday life would be effective if these people are around. AND it would be meaningful for them, too. It might even be a springboard for them…“If I can refer to our country by its True Name, say ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ in Cymraeg, then maybe I can learn even more.”
This is a bee which has been living in my bonnet for years!! If any of you can, with friends and neighbours, on and off line, get enough people to run a “Our land is Cymru and our language is Cymraeg” movement, I’ll die happy!! (Well, I will if it works!!!) There is not much I can do from Yr Alban!!!
If I know original name of the City (and many times even country) I say it that way because it always irritated me why we should change names of cities, countries, persons or whatever to be suitable for us.
One prety bad example is this: My son had to do the seminary paper about Vladimir Bartol - Slovene writer who with his story Alamut also inspired Assassin’s Creed game. The paper had to be written in English as it was required for English class so had it be the presentation he had to do in class afterwards. Since Bartol lived in many Slovene cities (which unfortunatelly are not slovene anymore (but let’s drop this off)) my son used Slovene names for the cities like Trst, Gorica etc, etc. The paper would be marked with 5 so would be his presentation (what is the highest mark (grade) in our middle schools) BUT! it wasn’t because he didn’t translate those cities names into English to be named Trieste etc … and the teacher simply told him before the whole class this is the matter he didn’t get the highest mark. I felt that VERY unfair and wrong but of course you can’t complain on this in our schools unfortunately.
So, yes, I’d rather call Cardiff Caerdydd, Cardiff Blues Caerdidd Gleision, Wales Cymru etc, etc … because it’s as much irritating not to do so as it is when some say Laibach speaking about Ljubljana …
It also irritates me when reading some books and, here in Slovenia, it’s quite a trend that all personal names become kind of suitable Slovene versions of them. This way John becomes Janez, Tony becomes Tone or Anton, Jane becomes Jana, Mary becomes Marija etc … Thank God you, Welsh people have so unique names (at least some of you) there’s no equivalents in our language though. (I don’t know about English equivalents though)
Also we have strange translation for Welsh Language (Cymraeg) being “valižanščina”. I’ll use when talking about what language I learn, Cymraeg instead. I already can see puzzled reaction of each and every person asking “Umm… kaj se učiš?” (Umm, … what you’re learning?).
So, if I return to the topic, this statement of which is word here didn’t even make so much impact on me because leaving some things original like names etc. we all should do way sooner than this no matter how hard they’re for us to say. (like this one for example Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch https://soundcloud.com/tatjana-prelog-knightghost/llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwy (I had to use TTS Ivona to say it for me but I’m not sure it’s correct though)
Well, yes, I understand the feelings of wishing Wales to be referred to as Cymru, but I don’t think it’s quite that simple. Belgium has three official names, none of which is Belgium, but how many of you would refer to that country as “België” (the name of the country in the majority language of the country)? And would you be prepared to call Spain “España” and Germany “Deutschland”? Bruges would become Brugge, Antwerp Antwerpen and Lille Rijssel. Indeed, just about everywhere would have to be called something else!
I think we could cope. Zeebrugge used to be called Zeebruges when I was growing up, but later seemed to be accepted as “Zeebrugge” (remember the Zeebrugge ferry disaster?).
And I can remember a time when a song “y viva Espana” was top of the charts in the UK,. and we could all manage that.
A bit of 70s nostalgia for the more senior members
I used to be a bit precious about calling Cologne by its “proper” German name of "Köln"until a German friend pointed out to me that Cologne came from the old Roman name of “Colonia”, so now I don’t feel too bad about calling it “Cologne”
I would, all of that, because English names of countries are sometimes quite strange to my ears. When I send something to Germany at work I always tend to write Deutschland on the package, so I do with Austria, always Österreich etc, etc …
Thank God I’m simply Tatjana here on this forum because wherever I came to other forums or chats (mostly Americans) called me Tat. If they would know what this word means in our language they probably wouldn’t call me that (or would they?)
Dewi Pws is wrong. ‘Wales’ is the word used for Wales in English simply because that’s the English word for Wales. And the English name doesn’t mean ‘foreigners’, it means ‘Wales’ - the country between England and the Irish Sea. Yes, the derivation of the name is from an old German way of referring to people who had lived under Roman rule (see also Wallonia and Wallachia), but derivation is a different thing from what the name means.
BTW, the Peking was changed to Beijing because the Chinese government changed the official way that Chinese names are transcribed from Chinese script into the Latin alphabet, it wasn’t really a change of name like Bombay->Mumbai was. Ayers Rock->Uluru would be a much better example.
It meant ‘foreign’ when it was first used by the invading saxons!!! When the Normans invaded, on reaching Offa’s dyke, they asked, “What’s over there?” and were virtually told, “A load of foreigners!” It derives from the fact that our invaders us called us foreign!!! I have now posted a comment on the Daily Wales site and also my shock at hearing on the S4C programme about the “Welsh” Guards, that “the men are all Welsh but the officers are English”!!!
Isn’t racism like that illegal now?
Very cross old dragon!!
p.s. How about Rhodesia to Zimbabwe?
Useful to know. Nope I didn’t know that. And tat in our language means burgler, robber, stealer, thief. Well, I’m stealing time of others though when talking to them.
Thank you. Appriciated.
And to ad into discussion about “Wales” … Unfortunatelly the “battle” for Cymru will now after so long periode of usage “Wales” instead of Cymru be hard and long one. I tried this morning to imagine how I’d say to someone here in slovenia what language I learn and what your country name is and ended with the fact that everyone would just look puzzled at me and ask me 100 times “What country it is? What language you learn?” and then “Ajaaaa, valižanščino.” (Aha, Welsh you learn) … However it worth to battle this battle to the end I believe. I’ll try to use Cymraeg and Cymru and see what really happens, because there are quite some people who ask me what language I learn.
And South-West Africa became Namibia; Northern Rhodesia became Zambia. Bechuanaland became Botswana. Kenya only changed the pronunciation of its name: From “keen-ya” to “ken-ya”. I suppose these were very conscious acts of casting off colonial shackles in the post-war decolonialism process.