14 April 2014

Cymraeg, os gwelch chi'n dda!*

I like to speak the language of the country I live in. I really enjoyed learning Norwegian, and I enjoyed being able to speak it after a while even more! And now I had accepted a job in Wales. And not just anywhere in Wales: northwest Wales. That's where the highest concentration of Welsh speakers live. My induction into the university revealed the figures; only some 16% of Welsh are Welsh-speaking, but in county Gwynedd, that Bangor is in, the number is around 65%. I'm not living in Gwynedd by the way; Anglesey is its own county, where the percentage is lower, but still; more than half of the population here speaks Welsh. So I want to add myself to that group!

I had looked on the university website if there would be any courses. And yes there were! All starting in September. Bummer! I just bought a booklet and figured I'd not learn much before the autumn. But then, during the induction, the designated teacher gave a presentation. And she mentioned beginners' classes, starting soon! That was right up my street. I registered! And the day after my induction I gained an office mate, Stella; she was keen too. So the week after we ventured over the bridge for our first hesitant utterances in this ancient language. My first Celtic language!

We started with what you pretty much always start with; "Hello, my name is Margot. How are you? I'm fine, and you? Fine, thanks. Bye!" (Next week: the cat is sitting on the column!) But that was strange enough as it is. Then we practiced our pronunciation; it's where everything starts. And it's not easy if you've spent your entire life pronouncing an f like an f and a u like many things but never an i! But we tried our best, and the good thing is that Welsh is rather logic. Once you know what's what you're there. So bring on Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll and the likes!

Once I was reasonably confident in my pronunciation I went back to the book I had bought. That would make more sense now too! And we were even given a CD with pronunciation at the Welsh class, so we wouldn't slip into erroneous ways in the weeks between lessons. So now I can practice any time! I have already once brushed up on my Welsh during a boring part of a meeting... I hope I will be able to have a sensible conversation soon! So far I'll have to restrict myself to simple stuff like "Be' dach chi isio i yfed?"** but that's already a whole lot more than only a week ago!

*: Welsh, please!
**: "what do you want to drink?" And I did that by heart! Now let's just hope it's correct...

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