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WALES/CYMRU

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Cal
143834.  Wed Feb 07, 2007 4:49 pm Reply with quote

Anyone got anything QI about Wales????

Welsh is the oldest language in Europe.

Anything else.

 
boiledpotato
144061.  Thu Feb 08, 2007 7:02 am Reply with quote

They like mining..
There is no 'Z' in their alphabet (though I'm not sure about that one)

And though it snowed EVERYWHERE in the UK last night, it didn't deign to snow in Swansea and the Gower. Dammit.

Oh yeah, off the South-West coast of Wales you can go swimming with dolphins and whales.. and the Gower is one of the few spots left in the UK that is renowned for it's natural beauty.

Owzat?

 
Hans Mof
144108.  Thu Feb 08, 2007 7:57 am Reply with quote

The Welsh Scrabble set does not contain any Zs nor K, Q or X. Arguably J does not exist in Welsh either, but it is included as it is sometimes used for borrowed words.

 
suze
144117.  Thu Feb 08, 2007 8:17 am Reply with quote

Is there a V?

Hans, I've a feeling I asked this once before but I can't remember the answer - does the Welsh set have single tiles for things like CH, DD and LL which are considered to be single letters in Welsh?


I'm not sure that I can allow the comment that Welsh is the oldest language in Europe to go unchallenged. It's difficult to say when a language first existed, but the earliest extant sources of a language which can be identified as Welsh go back to the sixth century or so. That makes it about the same age as English - but without training a speaker of modern English wouldn't be able to understand something like Beowulf (perhaps written in the seventh century).

To prove that assertion, here are the first four lines of Beowulf:

HwŠt! We Gardena in geardagum,
■eodcyninga, ■rym gefrunon,
hu ­a Š■elingas ellen fremedon.
Oft Scyld Scefing scea■ena ■reatum,

How much the likes of gaazy and Diva would be able to make of Welsh poetry from a similar era I don't know. But a speaker of modern Greek would, with some difficulty, be able to read the Greek of Homer (fl. 8th century BCE) - especially were he a Greek from a rural area, where the language has changed less than in the cities.

 
Hans Mof
144127.  Thu Feb 08, 2007 8:25 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Is there a V?

Hans, I've a feeling I asked this once before but I can't remember the answer - does the Welsh set have single tiles for things like CH, DD and LL which are considered to be single letters in Welsh?


Ah, indeed no V.

The Welsh tile set:

2 blank tiles
1 point: A, E, N, I, R, Y, D, O, W, DD
2 points: F, G, L, U
3 points: S, B, M, T
4 points: C, FF, H, TH
5 points: CH, LL, P
8 points: J
10 points: NG, RH

More international Scrabble sets can be found in this spreadsheet.

 
BondiTram
144801.  Fri Feb 09, 2007 1:16 pm Reply with quote

No K???

I have traced my family back a couple of hundred years in Wales and we have a 'k' smack bang in the middle of our name.
Mind you before that, the suspicion is that they emigrated from Devon, and before that from Alsace, Denmark, and Saxony.
They were Welsh speaking too, up until my grandfathers, so you would have thought they would have bashed the 'k' out of it by then.
I have trouble in France where they want to give me a 'qu'.
If they had allowed it to be changed, what letter would they have been given to replace the 'k' in Wales?

 
suze
144821.  Fri Feb 09, 2007 2:08 pm Reply with quote

Probably a C, as found in names such as the Welsh Ceri and the Irish Ciaran.

 
BondiTram
146552.  Tue Feb 13, 2007 1:57 pm Reply with quote

But isn't that hard, like a 'g', as in 'Cymru'?

 
Gaazy
146563.  Tue Feb 13, 2007 2:31 pm Reply with quote

I've just discovered this thread.

There's probably a lot I can contribute, but I've no time right now, except to confirm that Welsh C is always as English K, F as V and Ff as F.

Old Welsh orthography did in fact use letters such as K and V (in fact I can recall a quote from a mediaeval bard called Simwnt whose poetry rule-book would proclaim 'Kam vydd' (it will/would be an error), where today we would write 'cam fydd').

6th-century Welsh is much, much easier for a Welsh speaker to read and understand than the corresponding English texts: the opening line of one of the best-known poems of the period - 'Gwyr a aeth Gatraeth oedd ffraeth eu llu'- could have been written today, and means 'the men who went to Catterick were a merry crowd'; the second line requires knowledge of the obsolete word 'ancwyn' (given an initial mutation in the context to 'hancwyn') but otherwise would be written as is in our time - 'Glasfedd eu hancwyn a gwenwyn fu' (Mead was their drink, but also their poison).

 
defenestrator
158005.  Tue Mar 20, 2007 1:18 pm Reply with quote

In old welsh there was no letter J- it has been slipped in recently, which makes the presence of so many 'jones's a complete mystery. The highest concentration of jones' (in the UK certainly but possibly the world) can be found in Blaenau Ffestiniog and every year they have a festival celebrating this (complete with impersonators of the great tom and catherine zeta). The town also claims to have the highest rainfall in the UK (but they are not alone in claiming this, it s not far from Capel curig where the met office measure rainfall for north wales). I have heard that it also holds some less impresisve statistics.

The second highest concentration of welsh speakers in the world is found in............... Argentina (lots of slate miners moved there when work slowed in wales and new seams were found there). Apparently its still quite common, if a little hard to understand when spoken with a spanish accent.

 
Mulvil
158015.  Tue Mar 20, 2007 1:35 pm Reply with quote

Welsh is the oldest language in Europe?

What about Basque (or to stop the pedants I'll also call it Euskera)?

 
suze
158106.  Tue Mar 20, 2007 6:46 pm Reply with quote

Any question about the age of a language is tricky, because to a large extent it's a matter of definition.

It's conventional to state that a language identifiable as Welsh can be traced back to around the year 500 CE - this is known as Early Welsh and examples of it are scarce.

[In passing, Latin is the official language of a sovereign European nation and is certainly older.]

Basque is harder to date with any kind of accuracy - because it's non Indo European the comparative method is of no use. All the same, it seems likely that it arrived in Europe before any of the Indo European languages - and thus does indeed predate all of them. Whether the Basque of that era would be recognisable as being the Basque language I don't know.

 
Gaazy
158133.  Wed Mar 21, 2007 2:49 am Reply with quote

defenestrator wrote:
The second highest concentration of welsh speakers in the world is found in............... Argentina (lots of slate miners moved there when work slowed in wales and new seams were found there).

In actual fact, the reason for the emigration to Patagonia in Argentina was nothing to do with slate quarrying but an attempt to preserve the Welsh culture and language (it's well explained here on a BBC history site).

And, yes, the Welsh language is still surprisingly strong in Patagonia, the only place on earth (I should imagine) where the bilinguality is in Welsh and Spanish.

Here's an article about the opening of one of the latest of bilingual schools in Patagonia set up and run by the province government (the article is in Welsh, but the pictures tell the story just as well).

 
jaygeemack
158257.  Wed Mar 21, 2007 8:45 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Basque is harder to date with any kind of accuracy - because it's non Indo European the comparative method is of no use. All the same, it seems likely that it arrived in Europe before any of the Indo European languages - and thus does indeed predate all of them. Whether the Basque of that era would be recognisable as being the Basque language I don't know.


Basque is certainly older than any of the Romance languages found in the Iberian peninsula. Basque has no 'f' sound, and so when the Castillian Spanish arrived in the peninsula through the Basque country, it was stripped of many of the 'f' sounds, which in modern Castillian are silent, and very often represented by the letter 'h'.

For example the word folium (leaf) in Latin becomes:

Castillian hoja
French feuillage
English foliage
Italian foglia

 
greentree
178842.  Tue May 29, 2007 1:15 pm Reply with quote

On a non-language track.... apparently Cardiff has more parks/green spaces per head of population than anywhere else in Europe.

 

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