Wednesday 9 November 2016

Reading Roald Dahl in Welsh (Part 2)

You may remember, dearest nerdlets, that I'm attempting to read 5 books in the Welsh language in 2016, using translations of Roald Dahl.

Why Roald Dahl books? Well, a) he's a Welsh author, what could be better? and b) I already know the story, so am less likely to get completely and utterly confused.

So, this time around, it was Matilda.

Turns out Matilda is a damn sight harder than Moddion Rhyfeddol George (George's Marvellous Medicine) - so thank God I know the story in my sleep!

The translator, once again, was Elin Meek, and once again she did a great job.

Since the language is more complex though, this took me a lot longer to read than Moddion Rhyfeddol George - it did feel just a little bit like I was wading through it.

Still, all the more time to notice the quirks of the language that come with reading a book in translation.

Honestly, I really like reading books in more than one language - it definitely brings different aspects to the fore, and makes you look at things through a different lens.

Plus, you notice funny things that make you laugh nerdishly - like that one of the Welsh words for 'that' is hynny - which sounds like honey. This made a lot of sentences with Miss Honey far jollier and more rhyming than they were in the original.

Oh, and another quirk of Welsh? We have no literal word for 'rat.'

Rats are not rats in Welsh, they are simply 'big mice.' Interesting enough to begin with, no?

Combine that with imagery, and, long story short, Mr Wormwood in the Welsh version of Matilda is, in fact, 'big-mouse-faced,' rather than rat-faced ;)

Mouse = llygoden
Rat = llygoden fawr

I personally think this rat/big mouse debacle is a significant act of denial on the part of my ancestors:

"Oi, butt, was tha' a rat?"

"Noooo.... just a big mouse."

"Are you sure? It looked like a-"


"Alright butt, duw! Big mouse it is mate."

(Honestly, my head is a weird - and very Wenglish - place sometimes)

So, that was my experience of book #2 - book #3, here I come!

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  1. I've actually never read or seen Matilda... I feel like I live under a rock.

  2. I love Matilda! And even though you are finding it difficult at times, it seems like you're really loving this reading experience and learning a lot about the language as well :D

    1. It's certainly interesting! But Welsh is a v. difficult language in general - it mutates; it literally has mutations where the word after is changed by the word before!


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