Monday 1 August 2016

Reading Roald Dahl in Welsh (Part 1)

If you read this blog a lot - firstly, you're an awesome person and I love you! But secondly, you may be aware of my New Year's resolution to read 5 books in Welsh in 2016.

I'm first-language English (due to, y'know, history, politics, etc.) but I think it's really important to at least attempt to improve my Welsh-language skills.

I can now tell you, my dearest nerdlets, that I have completed part 1 (of 5, obviously) of my goal!

I have now finished reading Moddion Rhyfeddol George  - a translation into Welsh of the much-loved Roald Dahl book, George's Marvellous Medicine.

Roald Dahl, of course, was a fab author from the Welsh capital, Cardiff. He wrote in English, but it's great to have his books available in Welsh - especially since so many kids love them.

Plus, for me, there was the added bonus of already being familiar with the story of George's Marvellous Medicine, so I could get my bearings even when the language was more difficult to me in places.

But, what about Roald Dahl's famous skill with language?

Well, obviously, things are different in translation.

The things George's grandmother says (or 'Nain,' as she is in this version,) seem much more sinister, somehow, when said yng Gymraeg (in Welsh,) but a lot of the fun is still there too.

A lot of Welsh words are pretty funny to start with, without the help of a Roald Dahl story behind them, but I have to say that the translator (Elin Meek) did a good job of keeping the flavour of Dahl's original.

My plan for the other 4 books I want to read in Welsh? To read more Roald Dahl wrth gwrs (of course.)

One day I'd love to graduate to books which were actually written in Welsh, but as things stand, this means I have a frame of reference for the story I'm reading - which helps me get less lost along the way!

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  1. I love everything Welsh, but sadly the only word I know is cwtch. I feel like it's probably a good one to know. I don't know whether I've read any Welsh authors (other than Dahl), but I own How Green Was My Valley and a collection of Dylan Thomas poems! (Please validate my desire to be Welsh)

    1. CWTCH IS A GREAT WORD!!!!! It means a) a warm snuggly-hug from friends or family who you love, or b) the cupboard-space under the stairs (make of that what you will!)

      It's mainly used here in the South - especially in Wenglish (which is kind of Welsh/English hybrid slang.)

      Yeah - we don't actually have that many successful authors; particularly since there's the whole Welsh/English language divide. I *do* def. recommend Cardiff poet Dannie Abse, who wrote some utterly brilliant poems. I'm told that Alexander Cordell novels, which are mainly focussed on Welsh history, are really good as well. (Plus J K Rowling spent some time in Chepstow growing up, so we tend to pretend she's one of ours. Can you blame us?)

      And you can totally be honorary Welsh ;) I'll vouch for you ;)

  2. That's really cool! I'd love to read a book in a different language, but unfortunately, I can only read English.

    1. Ha - it's not easy! I'd suggest picking a language to learn first ;) and then cheat like me and pick a story you already know!

  3. Good on you for working towards your goal already! I love the sound of this one being written in Welsh and translated. I recently translated a poem from Spanish to english and discovered it was not as easy I anticipated it being!

    1. Ha, yeah - I have nothing but admiration for translators!

  4. This is such an admirable goal!
    My first language is Spanish, but I have only read one full book in Spanish, I think. Maybe not even the whole book. :x It's tough to admit this because I grew up speaking Spanish at home, but all my schooling was in Enlgish, so I was never really encouraged to read or write in Spanish.

    Anyway, good luck with your challenge. It sounds very reasonable and I think you will complete it. :)

    1. Thanks :)

      Yeah, Welsh was actually banned in schools here for a long time - though that changed a lot in the 20th Century, and it's now encouraged instead (and mandatory until aged 16, so I can say 'I like coffee' though not an awful lot else,) and my sis-in-law actually went to a Welsh-medium school when a hundred years before she would've been caned and made to wear a piece of wood around her neck for using any Welsh words on school grounds :)

      I think that counts as progress :)

      Maybe you'll find a book in Spanish that interests you and give it a shot :) my advice is to see it as something you want to do for you, not something you've been guilted into doing because you 'should' :)


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