Since this is a language learning forum, I think that language-related experiences deserve a few more notes. I had planned two meet-ups on this day, and visited two towns, so I’m going to split it in two parts too. (now I’m wondering: would too parts two sound exactly the same? But oh, back to the diary).
DAY 2, PART 1
Going to Aberteifi
Yesterday we were a bit worried about the weather forecast: snow and ice everywhere, at least for a couple more days. Luckily, this morning, it’s not too bad. @Deborah-SSi and I, with her made-in-Italy car, reach Aberteifi alright.
I have to admit I’m still a bit confused about so many aber, llan and caer all over the place in Wales. But calling a town like a garment sounds strange and I decided to ban Cardigan, with all the Earls and Marquesses who come along with it: Aberteifi’s the only name I’m going to use. Period.
Gorffwysfa’r Pysgotwyr - Grŵp Sgwrs
We came here for the weekly conversation group at the Fisherman’s Rest. I’ve never been to a Welsh language learners meet-up before. Actually, I‘ve never been to any language learners meet-up before, also because my mind always imagined it as something between a school lesson and an Alchoholic Anonymous group. Not too appealing, I would say.
But I’m here to learn, and I’m going to try and see how it goes. Hey, the location looks nice! I’m even more inspired to start, and I’m also glad that Dee came with me so it’s not a complete jump into the unknown, but I’m a still bit nervous.
We’re a few minutes early and there’s a freezing cold wind outside; we walk in, are welcomed by one of the participants and wait for the others to arrive.
It’s way simpler and more informal than I thought: fluent speakers and learners sit at a table together; you introduce yourself to those sitting next to you, like at a dinner; you talk or just listen, as you prefer; you can go get a cup of coffee or tea if you feel like, then come back and chat some more. No pressure to do or not to do anything. The few times I had tried to speak outside in the wild, I tended to just say I’m from Italy, then dish out two or three classics from SSiW early lessons, like Dw i di bod yn dysgu Cymraeg am biti mis (or later, am bump mis) or Mae dal eisiau i fi ymarfer; then shut up, hope to understand what they’d tell me and soon switch back to English.
In the group, the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly, it feels safe to try and have a conversation: I soon find myself saying things that are way too complicated for my level and it’s amazing to see everybody’s sincere effort to make sense of my garbled sentences, without even a hint of annoyment. So sweet, I’m really grateful, everyone!
Here’s a few of the things I learnt today:
- the totally Italian-sounding bolgi for glutton (from Howard’s vocabulary of the day)
- the hilarious Wyt ti’n Rigoletto? So I will always remember how to ask if someone’s fluent
- the curious and timely Mae’n ddigon oer i sythu brain
Dee has to leave to get work done (nudge*@aran, see, see, the discipline!) I’m staying for lunch and to have a look around. Before saying goodbye, I get plenty of tips: I discover where to find a fellow SSiWer who’d be happy to practice or someone with an Italian mom to speak Italian, where to see interesting gigs and events if I come back later in the week (the Cellar, by the way) and of course how to go back to Caerfyrddin. Vanya even walks with me to the bus stop. What can I say, I’m all set!
I had planned to look for records and maybe books, but I don’t feel like dragging stuff around all day.
I had planned to go around and try to speak and listen more, because the local accent is the first I heard, it’s in my favourite songs, and my favourite singer’s accent - therefore also my favourite accent! In a roundabout way, this town is responsible for me starting to learn Welsh. Should I hate it or love it for this? Well, it’s a nice day, I feel good, I’m enjoying myself and I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Welsh language.
So alright then: thanks, Aberteifi!
But now my brain is tired and I’m hungry. Someone suggested Crwst. Very nice place. It’s also a bakery, and bread looks great. There’s a long queue behind me, so it doesn’t seem the right moment to order in Welsh - even though, I don’t remember why, I find myself saying I’m from Italy and learning it. The girl at the counter looks very surprised and happy to hear that. I eat rarebit and buy a tin of bara lawr - unfortunately later confiscated by Stansted officers, as potentially dangerous item. Annoying but also pretty funny: “Airport security threats: the laverbread”. “The attack of the killer Bara Lawr”. Oh sorry, what was I saying? Right, the Crwst. I get out and have a short walk around. What else? The Welsh-Italian won’t be at the bar/club until later and the fellow SSiWer seems to feel a bit rusty and not quite in the mood for practicing Welsh (it happens, I know, I know); but I have a fun chat with two other people who just happen to be there. Then I catch the bus back to Caerfyrddin and…all for now.
Coming next: Day 2, part 2 - Caerfyrddin
p.s. If you missed Day 1 and are curious to read it: Tour diary - Day 1