Sunday, 16 September 2012

'Dyfal donc a dyr y garreg'

Sunday morning.

Sitting up in bed, drinking tea and learning some Welsh. Like you do.

'There are 29 letters in the Welsh language,' I say. '29! And some of them aren't even letters. Well, not as we know them, Jim.'
'Please don't call me Jim,' says Andy. 'I'm a Whoovarian, not a Trekkian.'
'What I don't understand,' I say, 'is that they have removed 5 perfectly good letters - k, q, v, x and z' - and replaced them with the likes of 'll' and 'dd' and 'rh',which isn't strictly speaking a letter, it's a dipthong. Which is NOT type of knicker,' I add hastily, because I know exactly what Andy will say if I don't head him off at the pass, so to speak.

'And what about Scrabble? ' I continue. 'K, Q, V, X and Z are valuable letters in Scrabble. Do you think Welsh Scrabble boards are different? Do they play Scrabble in Wales?'

Andy admitted he didn't know. He was busy rolling his 'r's. I can't roll my r's. Well, not whilst sitting in bed, anyway.

'Do you think it will be a handicap if I can't roll by r's?' I say.

Andy said he doubted it. In fact, he said that if, nay when, we get our house like we are planning to, and we move there, it is so isolated that no-one will be around to hear me making a right royal cock-up on the Welsh pronunciation front anyway. So I wasn't to worry, dear. (He stopped short of patting me on the head, which was a wise move given I was holding a hot cuppa and sharp biro and can be quite jumpy first thing in the morning.)

And then Andy had a little giggle because he had just found out what the phrase for 'tin of beans' is.

Ffa tun.

And if I tell you that the 'u' in Welsh is pronounced 'i' then you will realise just how childish my forty-something husband can be. Doctor Who evidence aside.

'There are two extra vowels,' I say. 'W' and 'Y'. I can just about accept 'Y' as a vowel given the sound it makes, but 'W'? Who thought that was a good idea?'

'If it's got a 'G' in front of it it's pronounced 'w',' says Andy. 'But if it hasn't, it's pronounced 'oo'.'

'Oh, well that's okay then,' I say. I think I need to get up and have some brekkie. My legs are getting pins and needles and so is my brain.

'This book says we should use this phrase as our mantra whilst we are learning Welsh,' I say. 'Dyfal donc a dyr y garreg.'
'And what does that mean?' says Andy.
'It means 'Steady tapping breaks the stone,' I say. 'The trouble is, steadily tapping a stone also makes people want to grab the hammer from you and shout 'STOP DOING THAT!'

'What if we learn all this Welsh and end up living somewhere like Norfolk?' says Andy.
'I'm going to speak it regardless of where we end up,' I say.
'Could confuse the locals,' says Andy.
'I don't care,' I say.

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