Friday, June 10, 2011

Beast House

Here's a pretty little map from the National Museum of Wales showing Welsh dialect words for cowshed.

I think it's obvious from the map that any remaining Welsh speakers in Builth Hundred don't keep cows, or if they do, they all live outside - the cows that is.

I suppose it is possible that the last Welsh speakers around Llanwrtyd and Llangammarch have finally passed away, or more likely the map is based on that 1970s volume The Linguistic Geography of Wales, which for some strange reason consigned Builth Hundred to the lands where the traditional Welsh dialects had died out. Yes I have moaned about this before.

As it happens in the 1970s Welsh speakers made up 48% of the population of Llanwrtyd town, in the Upper Irfon Valley it was 73%, in and around Tirabad 32%, and in and around Llangammarch 37%. Surely some old fellow could have been found to tell the researchers the local Welsh name for a cowshed. The trouble is maps like these may get re-used to tell a story that isn't necessarily true. Who knows what a decision maker with such a map in the back of their mind might decide.

Given that Builth Hundred has been reduced to the ranks of the terminally anglicised - and OK there have been more realistic studies such as this chapter on the dialect of the area, starting at page 97 of this book - is there any chance of a study of the lost Welsh dialect(s) of Radnorshire? I'm sure there is enough material in field names, slander cases and a study of vowel sounds to come up with something worthwhile. Radnorshire would have been an area where the dialects of North, South East and West Wales came into contact. My uneducated guess would be to agree with John Rhys, see here, with perhaps the dialect of Gwent a stronger iinfluence in Painscastle Hundred and up the eastern side of the county.

Anyway all this is inspired by the fact that S4C is screening a series on dialects called Ar Lafar, facebook page here.


Anonymous said...

Go here:

Se that map on page 6 that, unaccountably, they don't seem to have unfolded and scanned? I wonder what treasures lie within!

radnorian said...

A pity that. You can find a B&W version by doing a google book search for "the Celtic Languages" by Donald Macaulay .. it's on page 254.

Very similar to Ravenstein's map from the 1870s, see here:

alan said...

You could probably find out out the correct term used for 'beast house' by looking at examples the
C19 tithe maps of field names. My guess is that it was 'beudy'.