Welsh speaking England

GGN asked about the use of Welsh in England in modern times. Of all the bilingual signs about the one above, just over the Severn Bridge, gives me the most pleasure. Anyway:

2 Major areas:

1)Archenfield, part of ancient Welsh kingdom of Erging but left in Herefordshire on the dark side after the Acts of Union 1536-42.
2) The area of Shropshire around the town of Oswestry. Mercia’s encroachment into Powys left it on the wrong side of Offa’s Dyke. We won and lost it back a couple of times during the Middle ages but again ended up in England post 1542.

Erging was the cradle of the early Celtic Church – the first great saint, Dyfrig, was of the area and Dewi Sant pretty well thought also – Much Dewchurch – with a massive church dedicated originally to Dewi. Moving on hundreds of years it is here that it’s thought that Owain Glyndwr sought haven after the end of his glorious uprising. His daughter Alys had married John Scudamore sherriff of Hereford. Nice quote from that Wiki piece (I’d missed this) – “In 2006 The Owain Glyndwr Society’s president Adrien Jones said: “Four years ago we visited a direct descendant of Glyndwr (Sir John Scudamore), at Kentchurch Court, near Abergavenny. “He took us to Monnington Straddel, in Herefordshire, where one of Glyndwr’s daughters, Alice (Alys), had lived. (He) told us that he (Glynd?r) spent his last days there and eventually died there. It was a family secret for 600 years and even (Sir John’s) mother, who died shortly before we visited, refused to reveal the secret. There’s even a mound where he is believed to be buried at Monnington Straddel.”
Anyway post acts of Union Archenfield would remain largely Welsh speaking until mid 18th century and many of the place names are clearly Welsh rather than the usual distortions and mangles you get over the rest of the border countries – Llangarron, Bagwyllidiart, Pontrilas, Cwm and Olchon typical. Olchon of real significance in the establishment of the Welsh speaking Baptist cause – this stuff new to me also. As to when it died out there exactly I quote from a wonderful document – Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists’ Field Club A letter to the Hereford Times in 1891 “In other Churches also in this region directions to Churchwardens in Welsh and English were to be seen twenty years ago” – so on its last legs mid to late nineteenth century.

Oswestry a different kettle of fish – it has always been a market town with strong links to the Welsh rural hinterland. The Welsh Weekly “Y Cymro” was founded there in 1932. the Encylopedia of Wales states that well into the 20th century there were well established Welsh speaking familes around Oswestry with no ancestral connections to Wales at all. Again many place names and field names are Welsh – Cae Glas Park in Oswestry town and a council ward of Carreg Lwyd. Active Welsh Chapel (in 2003) I would say that the Welsh language is still alive amongst people born and brought up in this area.

  • GGN

    Thanks Dewi, I find this Shopshire Brythonnic language to be absolutely fascintating and I dont know why!

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Dewi,

    are there any examples of Welsh words that have been incorporated into English e.g. galore from Gaelic? (The river Avon is an amusing example but doesnt really qualify.)

    Also have you ever seen a list of words that are similiar in Gaelic and Welsh e.g. Cariad/Cara, Carraig/Carreg, Glas/Glas (plesse excuse the spelling).

  • michael

    Is there any truth to the minding your Ps and Qs expression coming from the celtic pen/kin words for head?
    An Irish teacher told me that years ago, but he was a wild man for telling lies.

    Secondly, any chance you could write out the lyrics of Gorky’s first few albums with a pronunciation guide, to help convince my wife I’m not channeling three indian children with echolalia when I’m singing along on my iPod?

  • PaddyReilly

    are there any examples of Welsh words that have been incorporated into English

    The word corgi springs to mind. This would be corr + cú in Irish: dwarf dog. Eisteddfod is also well known and sometimes used outside a Welsh context.

  • PaddyReilly

    My favourite part of Erging is Kilpeck (sounds very Irish) where the Parish Church boasts this lovely lady as a a carving:-

    http://www.danielmitsui.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/kilpeck3.jpg

    Apparently, the carving shows signs of recent use by the unmarried men of the parish.

  • Dewi

    Merched yn gwneud gwallt eu gillydd.

  • Dewi

    “are there any examples of Welsh words that have been incorporated into English e.g. galore from Gaelic? ”

    Sammy – the lack of word borrowing between Welsh and English is one of the truly mystyfying secrets of world history. “Penguin” and “Coombe” about all I can think of.

  • Mick Fealty

    Has that anything to do with the less ‘corporate’ nature of the two diasporas?

  • Mick Fealty

    I meant the Welsh diaspora, compared to ours…

  • Dewi

    “Has that anything to do with the less ‘corporate’ nature of the two diasporas?”

    More to do with mutual 6th century ethnic cleansing I suspect.

  • GGN

    Sammy,

    Knock yourself out.

    http://www.omniglot.com/language/celtic/connections/index.php

    http://www.smo.uhi.ac.uk/gaidhlig/faclair/scc/lorg.php

    Dewi,

    In Welsh, is penguin pronounced ‘penguin or pen’guin?

    I say pen’gwen, people alway find it quite hilarious.

    I have a book in the Ty that I have never read ‘When was Wales’ – is it worth reading?

  • Dewi

    ‘When was Wales’ – The late Gwyn Alf? If so well worth reading.

    Pen-gwyn

  • kensei

    Mick

    Has that anything to do with the less ‘corporate’ nature of the two diasporas?

    I would have thought a big load of the Irish influence would have came from home – is there a “Welsh-English” equivalent of “Hiberno-Irish”?

  • Dewi

    Wenglish Ken – eepecially as spoken in the Valleys. Lovely series of books called “Talk Tidy” by a bloke called John Edwards. Many Welsh words used but most endearingly translated Welsh words used inappropriately for instance “she borrowed me a book” and “she learnt me to drive”. there’s only one Welsh word “menthyg” for both “borrow” and “lend” and “dysgu” for “teach” and “learn” and this is often reflected in the spoken English of the Valleys.

  • CW

    So which Irish words have become incorporated into English? Off the top of my head I can think of “shenanigans”, “shebeen”, “banshee” “drumlin” and “smithereens”. I’m sure there are many more though. Can anyone provide further examples?

  • Dewi

    “Mucker” from “Mo cara” for one…

  • Dewi

    And wonderfully “Tory” of course.

  • PaddyReilly

    The reason why there are comparatively few Welsh borrowings into English is that the Welsh do not make produce or do anything that the rest of the world would want to buy or copy. Apart that is from the corgi.

    The word cromlech says it all really: the last Welsh technological triumph.

    (Scottish) Gaelic borrowings are heaviest in the sphere of Whisky production, though there are quite a few in the field of clan organisation and warfare.

    Borrowings from Irish such as shibeen and shillelagh seem to indicate that Ireland leads the world in illegal drinking and faction fighting and little else.

  • PaddyReilly

    Though in view of the above mentioned Sheela-na-geeg, one could assert that Ireland also leads the world in the field of stone carved sex-toys.

  • Dewi

    “The word cromlech says it all really: the last Welsh technological triumph.”

    How dare you forget the coracle…..

  • GGN

    ““Mucker” from “Mo cara” for one… ”

    Not really sure I could buy into that one Dewi.

  • Dewi

    I just assumed that’s where it came GGN…but I suspect you might know a little bit more than me about it……

  • Mike

    Dewi

    “Sammy – the lack of word borrowing between Welsh and English is one of the truly mystyfying secrets of world history.”

    Studying the history of Anglo-Saxon England about a decade ago now, we were pointed to the fact that only about 12 words made their way from the British language into English as an example of how dominant the culture of the “newcomers” became, even when as in many cases they actually assimilated the British inhabitants rather than pushing them westwards.

    “The Story of English” makes the interesting point that the words that did make it into English were often geographical words like crag, tor, and cwm, which may not have featured in the lowland continental homeland of the Germanic newcomers.

    Sammy mentioned the River Avon – the book gives another example but this perhaps makes the same point: a placename which was picked up by the English, but with little or no idea of what it actually meant, hence the tautology.

  • Dewi

    “Studying the history of Anglo-Saxon England about a decade ago now, we were pointed to the fact that only about 12 words made their way from the British language into English as an example of how dominant the culture of the “newcomers” became, even when as in many cases they actually assimilated the British inhabitants rather than pushing them westwards.”

    The interesting rebuttal to that thereom is that there was a similar lack of borrowing into Welsh from English. After years of close and deep
    examination I tend toward either:
    i) Massive ethnic cleansing or
    ii) The Saxons brought a strange disease with them relating to livetock management methodology in lower Friesland

    “Sammy mentioned the River Avon – the book gives another example but this perhaps makes the same point: a placename which was picked up by the English, but with little or no idea of what it actually meant, hence the tautology.”

    Many great examples of this. My favorite is “Golden Valley” in Herefordshire. The original Welsh of the local rive was Afon Dwr which the Normans read as D’or and translated into English from Norman French became “Golden” – brilliant.

  • John Ross

    Forgive the spelling but some irish words in use in english today,

    Smashing – Is Maith sinn, slug is an irish word for mouth full, gob is irish for beak, “Do you dig it” or did you twig on is derived from An D’tigeann tú.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    GGN,

    excellent links thanks.

    Dewi,

    re. valleys speak. The common classics like “over by ‘ere”, “down by there” and “wheres he to” dont have a connection with Welsh do they?

    On place names: loads of Abers in Scotland, few in Ireland and variation on the Afon theme is Dubh Linn/Dublin getting translated back into its other Irish name of Baile ath Cliath.

  • Dewi

    “Where’s he to” is a direct translation..I’m getting bored with this Sammy – time for Rugby stuff do you reckon?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Dewi,

    ok amigo.

    £20 says Ireland will beat the diminutive Taffs and another £20 say we will finish above you in the 6N, and for good measure another £20 says an Irish team will get further than any of your teams in the HC.

  • Dewi

    I’ll take them all….apart from the last one…only a tenner on that?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    So be it – I feel I may have pulled a blaenasgellwr – particularly with the HC.