Elizabeth Jane Corbett

writing her way home

Little Britain

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Welsh is the language of heaven, something I do for my heart. I expect it is supposed to be good for my brain, too (it certainly beats doing the Sudoku). But I tend to find my old grey matter lacks adhesive. I do homework (sometimes), and I try to listen to my Mp3 lessons, and I attend class, but no matter how hard I try, it does not stick.

That is where the heart comes in.

The heart is not about competition or achievement.It is about connection. It is about the little trill of satisfaction my pulmonary muscle gives when I see or hear a Welsh word. The start of recognition I get upon seeing the word eisteddfod used arbitrarily, by non Welsh speakers, and knowing eistedd means, ‘to sit.’ It is a warm, throbbing, umbilical kind of feeling that give me a sense of history and resonance and belonging. But … enough of that, I am being overly sentimental.

In Welsh we have been studying comparative, equative and superlative adjectives.

Now the Welsh word for tall is: tal If we want to say John is tall we would write:

Mae John yn dal

The equative:

Mae John yn mor dal a Bill reads: John is as tall as Bill.

To say John is taller than Bill we add ‘ach’ to the adjective – Mae John yn dalach na Bill

Please notice that the word, tal, has become, dal. That is because Welsh is Ninja language. It is always mutating.

When we want to say John is the tallest, however, the form changes. We do not say Mae John (john is), we say: John ydy’r talaf

In class I had a great deal of trouble remembering this. I don’t know why, it seems simple now I am writing it, but the lesson was more like a post-it-note than a Super-glue kind of an experience. In the end, we tried playing around with the superlative form and being, well … a little silly.

For example: Rydw i ‘n unig hoyw yn y pentre, means, I am the only gay in the village (now where have I heard that phrase before?).

I am not sure how you would say I am the gayest person in the village. I will have to ask my Welsh teacher. We didn’t tackle the first person superlative. It might be: Rydw i ‘n person hoywch yn y pentre.

But I do know how to say: David is the only gay in the village. It goes like this: Davydd ydy’r unig hoyw yn y pentre.

For some reason, I no longer have trouble remembering the construction.

It’s funny what sticks in your mind.

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2 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Hi There,

    My name is Gabbie and I was one of the “successful” Varuna applicants. I was just wasting time on the net and stumbled upon your post. I’m sorry you didn’t make it through to the next round, but keep working on your writing and keep applying for Varuna – it’s a fabulous place. Good luck with it all and thanks for your well wishes.

  2. Hi Gabbie,
    That is great that you were successful. Were you one of the five Young Adult Novels selected to work with Peter Bishop, or one of the ones selected by HarperCollins? I would have LOVED to get either. I will keep and eye out for your work.

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