Sunday, April 05, 2009

Welsh in Llandrindod

In 1827 the correspondent of the monthly magazine Y Gwyliedydd left us an interesting description of the position of the Welsh language in and around Llandrindod - this was of course before the present-day spa town was inflicted on the county. Here's a translation of what he wrote:

"If it would be suitable for the writer to venture an opinion on a controversial topic which so many learned literary critics have long argued over, namely the districts where the purest and most beautiful Welsh is spoken, then I would say that Radnorshire can rightly take pride in its native tongue, one of the most splendid of the Welsh dialects. It appears that in this venerable dialect the peculiar elegances of Powys and the South are both encountered. On hearing the Welsh sayings of the Radnorshire elders in the neighbourhood of Llandrindod, the patriotic Welshman feels both enormous pleasure and sorrow. Pleasure because he is always happy to encounter the venerable, sparkling old language with some trace of its youthful beauty. But with sorrow when he thinks that English alone is spoken by the youth of this district, and after another generation passes there will be none of the natives who will understand the splendid language of their ancestors."

In a footnote the author asks readers to speculate as to the reason for the recent retreat of the language - he says it has retreated 20 miles in living memory. His own speculation is a lack of poets and literary figures.

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