Tuesday, November 24, 2009

No-Man's Land

Back in the early 1970s the University of Wales Press came out with a sizeable volume called the Linguistic Geography of Wales, an attempt to map the various Welsh dialects. The methodology was to seek out elderly folk from long established local backgrounds and analyse their use or non-use of various words.

The map shows the location of the individuals providing the data and it is clear that a great deal of care has gone into finding subjects, even in areas where the traditional dialects had virtually disappeared, in Shropshire for example, or on the Usk below Brecon.

But what is this large white hole in Builth hundred, an area of great interest as a place where the Northern, Western and Southern dialects might have overlapped? Surely the researchers could have found subjects in Abergwesyn, Llanafan or Llangammarch. It's an omission that has puzzled me ever since.


Anonymous said...

There are still (native - not learners or immigrant) Welsh speakers around Llanwrtyd. I was speaking to one earlier this year.

Maybe the researchers assumed that the Eppynt clearances and their consequences had been more widespread and even more ruthless than they actually were.

You're right; it seems bizarre to make so much effort elsewhere in Wales and miss out such an important area.

kjj said...

They seemingly relied on local ministers/teachers to carry out the survey so perhaps something happened to frustrate things in Builth Hundred. They actually had subjects on Epynt - Merthyr Cynog for example. Anyway they should have pulled their finger out to cover Irfon valley area.

I think surveys based on vowel sounds are more interesting than word-lists - they are much harder to carry out of course, needing trained researchers, which I guess is why they went with the word lists.

Dialect work in the Irfon valley area has been carried out since of course. Thanks for the comment BTW