Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The Times, Kate Middleton and nasal mutation

It's a brave editorial writer in England who ventures into the choppy waters of Welsh. Many have floundered and the latest victim is none other than The Times.

In a broadly positive editorial, although a touch patronising in parts, the Thunderer wrote of Kate Middleton's first official engagement at Prince William's side in Wales.

"The skill that eluded John Redwood when he was Welsh Secretary, that of singing fluently in the Welsh language, has already been mastered by Kate Middleton," gushed the leader writer.

"This Thursday, on her first official engagement at Trearddur Bay, Anglesey, the fiancee of the next-but-one heir to the throne did not put a word out of place as she sang Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nadau, the Welsh national anthem, known to those of us who do not speak the language as well, as Land Of My Fathers."

Well, up to a point, Nadau, you see, means cry, or clamour. What had foxed the Times writer was the nasal mutation that turns Tadau, fathers, to Nhadau. So the correct title is Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau.

A minor point perhaps, but they wouldn't misspell the words to God Save The Queen, would they?


Socrates said...

Yes, even Welsh people like me have trouble dealing with this language.

Teenage Welsh speakers annoy their parents (and indeed over achieving English incomers) by using Gwael Cymraeg - deliberately mangling syntax and grammar.

Given that I'm posting pseudonymously from a safe distance, I'd like to suggest that this is a positive move for a language stuck in the 13th Century.

Noson dda Saesneg oen ;)

Banksy said...

But that's true of all languages, you only have to listen to what teenagers do to English.

And if it was stuck in the 13th century it would not have survived into the 21st. Sure there's a very formal literary Welsh, but that's not what people speak.

But hey, what do I know, I hardly speak it at all, especially now I'm surrounded by the Saes in Yorkshire.

Unknown said...

I may be being pedantic here, but the correct title is "Hen Wlad fy Nhadau". The phrase "Mae Hen Wlad fy Nhadau" doesn't have a direct translation but to a Welsh speaker sounds a bit like "The Land of my Fathers Is", which is a bit jarring.

Banksy said...

Hello Gareth, yes, but that was the line as published in The Times, so I should perhaps have said correct line, not correct title.

Hen Wlad fy Nhadau is the title, but the first line, as you know, is Mae Hen Wlad fy Nhadau