My blogging challenge for this year is to do and write about some gardening each week, and I'm not expecting it to be a particularly difficult challenge. That said, the weather is keeping me indoors at the moment - the wind is making it dangerous to go out - so I'm not sure what I'm going to write about this week. Anyway, there's a much bigger challenge ahead of me: It would seem that now is the time to learn Welsh.
We've lived here for over three years, now, and there's a limit to how long you can keep saying,
Yes, I am going to learn, before you actually have to do something about it. Our friends next door have signed up to Welsh lessons and another friend, who is Welsh, has started a new class in which he talks about local history in both Welsh and English. This seems to be excellent practice for those who know a bit of Welsh, but at the first one I felt totally out of my depth. Rather than chickening out, which is tempting but shameful, I need to pull my finger out and learn at least a few words, so I can catch some of what he's saying in Welsh and not feel totally at sea. First, I need to stop panicking whenever someone speaks Welsh to me.
To this end, I've found a couple of teach-yourself courses to have a go at. I went to the local library and searched until I found one that doesn't insist on just listening without having anything written down - it's so much easier to hear the breaks between words if you can see them written down as well - and includes some instruction in grammar, instead of insisting that it's unnecessary. The library courses were all for the southern version of Welsh, from which I conclude that this is the appropriate form round here, bang in the middle. Then I was talking to someone at a wedding on Saturday, and she said that we're in the north here. Help! I resorted to Google and, unsurprisingly, the question has been asked before. One answer was particularly helpful:
I live in the North and their accent/language sounds very much like the South Wales accent to us. ... Having said this someone from, say, Carmarthen, might think it sounds more like the North. That at least explains why I'm getting conflicting information - the young woman at the wedding was from Carmarthen. I'll take my cue from the library and learn the southern version.
The second course I've found is provided by the BBC. Called the
Big Welsh Challenge, this course claims to teach Welsh in 12 months. This sounds optimistic to me, but I'll give it a go. It has nice little videos with subtitles available in both Welsh and English, and plenty of supporting materials. Now all I have to do is commit the time and effort to working through these courses. Maybe one day, when people are talking Welsh around me, I'll be able to follow what they're saying. Who knows, I might even be able to join in!