Cennard Davies,
The Welsh Language
(Y Lolfa, 2006)

This 76-page mini-guide to the Welsh language deals with various aspects of Welsh, its history, its present and its varied dialects.

This is an interesting introduction to the language for those who do not know much about it, but are interested in finding out more. It is full of fascinating facts. For instance: there are about 10 different ways to say "candies" in Welsh, and how you say it pretty much identifies where you are from.

Welsh is considered Britain's oldest living language, since it pre-dates both English and Scots Gaelic, Britain's other native languages, both imported about 1,500 years ago. A form of Welsh was spoken even before the arrival of the Roman legions.

The book also deals with the survival of the language, Welsh personal names, their history and how they are formed, Welsh language publishing and media, and what is being done today to protect the future of the language.

While Welsh today suffers challenges in its heartlands, it is surprisingly strong among young people, even in areas where it has not been traditionally spoken for centuries. In Cardiff, for instance, where Welsh has never been an everyday language, more than 10 percent of the population now speak it.

That Welsh survives at all, in the shadow of the most powerful and widespread language the world has known, is a bit of a miracle in itself, and makes for a fascinating story. This is the short version of that tale.

by David Cox
22 July 2006