Friday, January 03, 2014

As we do call it

I recently had to admit that I know next to nothing about the history of the Welsh language in the Shropshire Hundred of Clun, other than that the bard Hywel ap Syr Mathew, who died in 1581, was a native of the district.

Help seems to be at hand though as some Aberystwyth academics are beavering away to produce a book on the Welsh place names of Shropshire.  The book - we'll have to wait until the end of 2016 - promises:

" ..... an an introductory chapter, examining the history of the Welsh language in Shropshire (and its neighbours)"

Reading about the project I discovered that one post-graduate has been examining field-names in north eastern Radnorshire from the period 1600 to 1900, in the hope that it will  "reveal information about the linguistic geography of the Welsh language in the border area."  Fascinating stuff.  I guess this may be along the lines of how placenames like llwyn, llyn and llain ended-up as llan as everyday knowledge of Welsh died out.

Anyway that's the Christmas present for 2016 sorted .....  hopefully.

Update:  Interesting comments about identity from some young Clun people at around the 59 minute mark here.  Seemingly they are considered to be Welsh by other YFC clubs in Shropshire and suffer from some low-level ethnic prejudice as a result.  They don't think of themselves as Welsh though, the Welsh consider them to be English while the English consider them to be Welsh, they're happy to be Clun people.


Jac o' the North, said...

I gave myself a little break in Shropshire - on my own - a few years ago. 'Blue remembered hills' and all that. Climbed Caer Caradog and visited a number of places including Clun. Here's the WWI memorial. Just over half the names are recognisably Welsh.

Jeremy Jones said...

Hi Radnorian
Another name you should put next to Shropshire Welsh, is the scholar, Edward Lhuyd (Llwyd) (1660-1709), who was a Welsh naturalist, botanist, linguist and antiquary. He was born in Loppington, Shropshire. His is famous for inventing the names Dinosaur, and Celts, and has He realised that the Welsh, Cornish, and Bretons of Brittany, France, were the last remnants of the Gauls, who inhabited most of western Europe from the late Bronze-Age to the 6th century, and classed them as the 'P' Celts or Brythonic. And named the Irish, Manx, and Scottish Gaels, as the 'Q' Celts or Goidelic/Gaelic. Lhuyd argued that the Brythonic language originated in Gaul (France) and the Goidelic language originated in the Iberian (Spain) peninsular.[ ]
The flower, brwynddail y mynydd (Snowdon Lily) is named after Edward Lhuyd, he was also a friend of Isaac Newton, and fellow Welshman, Mosses Williams.

Cofion (Regards)
Jero Jones, Mab Cymru

Dafydd y Garth said...

The Welsh language of Shropshire fell into two distinct categories. The Welsh of the northern area from about Bishop's Castle northwards, including Oswestry, Whittington and Ellesmerre, spoke NE, Powysian, Welsh, while those in the south, Clunland, etc, spoke SE, Gwentian Welsh.
By the way, there is evidence that the telescoping of 'llwyn', etc to 'llan' was already happening centuries before Anglicization.. I have written about the Welsh name of Llanyre in an article in the latest newsletter of the Welsh Place-name Society. This was clearly originally 'Llwyn-hir', and appears in MSS as 'Thloyneyare' in 1212, and 'Thlanhur' in 1302.

radnorian said...

That's fascinating.

I've come to believe that Gwentian predominated in Elfael and Radnor - while in Gwerthrynion the dialects were more similar to those in Arwystl and Meirionnydd. I wonder how Maelienydd would fit in?

If I remember correctly there were some Gwentian elements in Hywel ap Syr Mathew's history which may well fit in with Clun being a northern outpost of Gwenhwyseg.

In regards to Llanyre, why did that Llŷr element come into favour and cause so much confusion to later spellings, after all hir is a common enough local placename element?