Friday, June 22, 2007

A Bit of a Rant

We all know that English speakers can mangle Welsh names but what about some of the linguistic nonsense inflicted by Welsh speakers on the place names of Radnorshire.

A glaring example is Cwmdeuddwr which I guess most locals would pronounce Cwmteuddwr. Well Cwmteuddwr is infact the correct version, the full name of the place is Cwmwd Deuddwr (the Commote of the two waters if you like) and that d.D in the middle of the words naturally hardens to a T in spoken Welsh. So who decided the locals were wrong and inflicted the modern Cwmdeuddwr on the unfortunate inhabitants?

Here's another example Ffynnon Gynid - that's what the locals call the place, as did Lhuyd in his Parochiala of 1700. Nowadays the authorities insist on Ffynnon Gynydd, no-doubt they were convinced that the Radnorshire folk couldn't pronounce a DD. The fact is that what we have here is the Well of St Cynidr - the final r being dropped as in familiar words like ffenest for ffenestr. So a placename of some historical importance is mangled by the authorities presumably at the behest of a Welsh speaker who thought he knew better.

Next how about Llanyre - Llanllyr - the LL in the middle of a placename quite naturally being dropped in spoken Welsh as in the Cardiganshire Llanllwchaearn or Llanychaearn. The academic publishers of a Welsh atlas came up with the nonsensical version Llanhir. The old cynghanedd of the old bards showed that the local pronounciation is correct, spell it Llanŷr if you like. Something similar happened at nearby Nantmel where the experts decided that the brook must be named after honey or mêl - infact it's named after a person Mael.

A final example - generations of Llandrindod High school pupils have belonged to a house called Aran, named after a river - the Aran - which runs in a valley called Cwm Aran. Trouble is that there is no such place, the river was always called Cymaron by those real experts on Welsh placenames, the Welsh bards.

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