Thursday, September 09, 2010

Llandeglau? Where's That Then?

You can't really blame Powys Highways for some of the rather dubious bilingual signs appearing on Radnorshire roads - after all they're only following the advice of Bwrdd yr Iaith's Place-Names Standardization Team.

The latest example I've spotted is Llandeglau/Llandegley. I can see how this name Llandeglau has been created, and it is surely a creation rather than a name with any historical validity. No doubt it originated with the book Rhestr o Enwau Lleoedd / A Gazetteer of Welsh Place-Names (Elwyn Davies, 1967) and comes about from a standardisation exercise where incorrect English spellings ending in ley are Cymricised as lau, for example Dolgelley/Dolgellau. Now Llandegley is an incorrect spelling, but of Llandegle not Llandeglau. Richard Morgan's little book has an example of Llandegle dating back to 1291, while it is also the form used in the 15C bard Lewis Glyn Cothi's praise poem to a local patron, one Ieuan ap Llywelyn Fychan: Hyd Glud a Llandegle wen - to the Radnor Forest and fair Llandegle. The spelling Llandegley appeared much later on the scene in 1557. More recently Ffransis Payne, who lived in the parish, used the form Llandegle in his wonderful volumes about Radnorshire, Crwydro Sir Faesyfed.

The sensible solution would have been to just use the correct Welsh spelling Llandegle on the signs. This would have been cheaper, historically accurate and would not leave Radnorians thinking that their pronunciation of the name was English, when in reality it is Welsh and as old as the hills. Hopefully someone will get it right when they do the bilingual version of this.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

The fact that the church is dedicated to St Tecla should be clue enough that the village is not called Llandeglau.
I'm interested in the 'ey' ending of the names of a few Radnorshire places (and possibly Brilley in Herfordshire, too). Is this an echo of the old dialect? It's common in other parts of Wales for vowels to shorten, especially on the ends of words (pethau -> pethe, mae - ma' etc.), so is the change from Dolau to 'DolĂ®' a Radnorshire variation on this?
I'm afraid my Welsh is not yet good enough to read 'Crwydro Sir Faesyfed', but might the answer be in there?

old radnor said...

I'm pretty sure that the plural ending AU was pronounced as in Doli in some Radnorshire dialects of Welsh. Because the county has lost it's Welsh we tend to think that local pronounciations are anglicisations when infact they correspond to the old dialects.

Brilley is a bit different as I believe it is a name of English origin. The bards Cymricised the EY to AI giving Brulai. Similarly with Whitney = Chwitnai but Weobley which was famous for it's beer in 15C Wales is usually Gweble.

Anonymous said...

Dwi wrth fy modd yn gwbod bo' enwau Cymraeg gyda Brulai, Chwitnai a Gweble! Diolch i chi!

Anonymous said...

Another source of old dialect is the English spelling on House Names on the old census forms. Here we have 'hoolin' or 'hulin' as what-we-heard in 1881 for , apparently 'hwlyn' or even 'hwlym' . So what does this mean? My idea is that its the word for 'wheel'. Olwyn anyone.....

old radnor said...

I agree about the old census forms .... haven't come across hwylyn tho' ..... which parish was that?

Anonymous said...

as in Bailey Hoolin , Clas & Rhiwrhaid. Several youngsters of the house baptised on Dec 27th by Rev Francis Kilvert in 1874 during his 'missing diaries' period. Presume they were so busy except at Christmas to go the 300 yards to Church!

old radnor said...

Sounds as if it might be Beili Hwlyn or Hullin - Hwlyn and Hullin are both pet or hypocoristic forms of the forename name Hywel.