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  1. Oct 2020
    1. Sioned Davies is Chair of Welsh at Cardiff University. Her special interest is the interplay between orality and literacy, together with the performance aspects of medieval Welsh narrative.

      Oh! This is fascinating. Perhaps some interesting tidbits for my growing theory about the borders of orality and literacy could be hiding in some of her research?

    1. However, if Welsh does not yet possess a spoken standard, it does possess a literary standard which can be traced back to the translation of the Bible by Bishop WIlliam Morgan in 1588, which in turn is based on the language of the medieval court poets who were the heirs of the Cynfeirdd, the earl poets Aneirin and Taliesin. These lived in the sixth century AD and described battles which took place in today's Scotland and Northern England [...]

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  2. Sep 2020
    1. The Mabinogion, translated by Sioned DaviesIn You Goddess! we use “supernatural female” as a definition of goddess and this allows us to include the story of Blodeuwedd, who was created out of flowers by a wizard as a wife for his friend, but who kicks over the traces and finds her own partner. Bloeuwedd appears in this medieval collection of Welsh stories. The first English translation was published in the 19th century by the linguist, go-getter and driver of the Welsh renaissance, Lady Charlotte Guest. This 2007 translation by Sioned Davies is a fantastic contemporary version. In the past Blodeuwedd has been taken as a cautionary tale about adultery, but to modern readers she appears as a floral rebel breaking free from male control. Sadly things don’t end well for her and her metamorphosis from vegetable to human ends with her wizard enemy turning her into an owl. She lives on as the inspiration for Alan Garner’s The Owl Service.

      This has been on my list for a bit. I'm also reminded that I ought to get back to The Celtic Myths: A Guide to the Ancient Gods and Legends by Miranda Aldhouse-Green

    1. Cymraeg Byw was promoted with the intention of facilitating thelearning of Welsh particularly among adults, and providing a stable ‘plat-form’ from which they could progress to fluency – and inevitably, as withLiterary Welsh, the loser once again was the native speech of ordinaryWelsh speakers, dismissed by implication as irrelevant. The counter argu-ment, now all the stronger for hindsight, must be that, as with all languages,the aim of the serious learner is competence in the living language; if thatmeans coping with dialect variation, then so be it – it has to be faced sooneror later, and it may as well be sooner.
    2. Literary Welsh, on the other hand, is no-one’s native language. All thosewho know how to read it, whether Welsh speakers or not, have been taught.In this sense it is an artificial language – consciously planned and designedto standardize the written language at the time of the translation of theBible into Welsh (sixteenth century), and by and large with a deliberatedisregard for the native speech of ordinary people. Its subsequentundoubted success as the medium of a prolific literature has been at theexpense of Colloquial Welsh, neglected and relentlessly disparaged by apowerful (Welsh-speaking) minority who had much to gain from puttingthe main means of expression of the cultural identity out of the reach ofthe majority. In this way a sense of inferiority was engendered among ordi-nary Welsh speakers with regard to their language – one which persists tothis day with native speakers routinely dismissing their own spokenlanguage as something ‘inferior’ (i.e. to the artificial Literary Welsh) and‘not proper Welsh’. Only recently has this situation begun to be redressed.

      Interesting distinction here between the literary and the colloquial and problems it has created.

    3. Within the Celtic family, Welsh has as its closest relatives: Breton (Welshname Llydaweg), spoken in Brittany – estimates of number of speakersvary, but probably somewhat under half a million active users; and Cornish(Cernyweg), extinct since the late eighteenth century, though recently‘resurrected’ by enthusiasts. More distantly related are Irish (Gwyddeleg),Scots Gaelic (Gaeleg yr Alban) and the extinct Manx (Manaweg, whoselast native speaker died in 1974). Welsh, Breton and Cornish constitute theBrythonic group, while the others form the Goidelic group. There arestrong similarities within each group, and considerable differences betweenthe two. All six languages share certain basic characteristics which markthem out as Celtic languages – notably the mutation system (see §§3–12),and inflected prepositions (see §446).
    4. Fynes-Clinton, O.H. (1913) The Welsh Vocabulary of the Bangor District.Oxford: OUP. Reprint (two vols): Llanerch Publishers, Felinfach (1995).

      Downloaded a copy of the 1913 edition from archive.org.