Today marked my either my third or fifth Welsh lesson ... depending on whether you count the online videos we have to do away from class as lessons.
A few people have asked why I am doing this now. Do I need to speak Welsh for work or to live here? No. I very rarely come into contact with the language, without an English version of whatever publication being on the reverse. I have dealt with the Welsh Language Board for work, but everyone has been bilingual, so its not as if Ive ever had to sit in a conversation and not know what was being said around me.
Even most Welsh people I know consider it to be a dying language and find the enforced bilingual nature of things by the WAG to be a waste of money.
Again, when you look at my class, I am the only English person. The others are all Welsh but are learning as beginners - and some doing as badly as I am!
I cant say I finding it easy, like say French was at school. Is that due to the nature of the language or that I was taught French from 11 - 16 and i am now 38?
I cant say that I am massively worried whether I pass or fail at this. Just having had a go and picked up a few things will be enough for me - because its an understanding that I want to gain.
I'm not doing this to be able to write blogs in Welsh. Or hold a conversation (although that would be nice) .... but its helping me pronounce words and places that do crop up in my daily life.
Road signs are bilingual - which is fine when you see a sign to Newport/Casnewydd ... because I can read the Newport bit and know where I am going. But the overhead matrix signs will often be one or the other - again fine if you drive for 10 miles and see both versions, but there have been occasions where I have only been on the main road long enough to see one or the other.... so a basic understanding there would be advantageous.
Its knowing how to say Yrstrad Mynach without looking like a cock.
Knowing why a Y can be about 6 different vowels sounds and when each applies.
And its just good manners.
One thing I notice in a lot of comments from friends and family, particularly those in the London area more than say Manchester... is that they are actually have a very racist attitude to Welsh people and don't even realise it. On more than one occasion, one chum in particular has shown massive ignorance in this way, and made comments implying that Wales is a bit backwards, behind the times and its population maybe not as intelligent as English counterparts - and one of my most pc friends, whom I would usually watch my P's & Q's around.
As Blon Fell Fotch Passameer Day Slitheen said, the whole of the south wales coast could fall into the Bristol channel and London wouldn't notice.
I'll say one thing, its one fucked up language though..........
Diolch N fawr.