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What's in a Welsh place name?

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supercrutch Report 26 Sep 2013 12:03

Lordy, lordy.......he wasn't goaded, he just doesn't like any criticism of the Welsh language, which he takes personally......gawd knows why!

I am so pleased John isn't Spanish and following a certain make of vehicle called a Pajero! My son and his business partner laughed for about 5 minutes when they visitied the UK and one was in front of us :-D

Tenerife Sun

Tenerife Sun Report 26 Sep 2013 11:46

Just got back from shopping, I have visitors arriving Saturday who will want feeding :-D. So I apologise for late reply and especially for not realising that it was not Johns thread.

BUT he was kind of goaded before he even made a post. I just think that often comments are made that are unnecessary and aimed to stir thing up. Then we all complain about nasty threads and the boards not being how they used to be

End of storey from me


Guinevere Report 26 Sep 2013 11:13

Cross posted earlier -

"But the battle to save Welsh in my view will only be won if the young people (many of whom have been taught in Welsh and can speak it very well) have the confidence to use it daily, insist on speaking Welsh with their friends, text in Welsh, watch Welsh TV etc. There are encouraging signs, but not sure the decline in spoken Welsh can now be reversed."

You're probably right in that assumption but the younger Welsh speakers in my family don't use it and don't particularly want to use it, like their friends. They speak it less than my grandparents did, despite being taught in both languages. My friend's son taught solely in Welsh from the age of 4 - 18 is now in his 30s and never speaks it, despite still living there.

You can lead a horse to water ...

Rambling Rose

Rambling Rose Report 26 Sep 2013 11:12

I think, John, that all languages, to survive, must grow and change. 'Preserving' something is great, but making it live is better. :-) I am not sure that it gone about it in the right way always by bureaucracy.

I'll give you a little quote

"Just in the century or so that preceded the Pilgrims arrival in the New World, English gained 10,000 additional words about half of them sufficiently useful as to be with us still" ( Bill BrysonMade in America)

Some of the words that the pilgrims took with them died out in England but are used still in America ( 'fall' instead of autumn for one)

My point being, so one word 'Varteg' has a letter not previously used in the Welsh language... so why not just embrace it :-D

We use skullduggery as a word... but it's origin is not English...and it means something else entirely in its original :-) ( and there is no cryptic meaning behind my choice of that's just a word I like and happened to spot in the book :-) )


supercrutch Report 26 Sep 2013 10:55


I gave in this morning and have returned.

Who said I dislike bilingualism John? Not me! I speak Welsh when I am obliged to and through politeness. Me yabbering in English at Merched Y Wawr wouldn't be appreciated would it?

My grandchildren have Welsh names. Youngest writes speeches in Welsh for influential people in public office and that provides her with a very nice income thank you.

I object to the continual tinkering with local council affairs which necessitate costs which can be ill afforded just to prove 'Welsh is alive and kicking'.

You know full well, following previous discussions that the last party I would vote for is Plaid even when I knew our local candidate personally as he taught all my children English.

Edit: youngest means daughter not grandchild who is very advanced for her age (4 mths) but not that advanced!


Guinevere Report 26 Sep 2013 10:53

"Guinevere. When Welsh people speak English, they use English place names. "

Massive generalisation and not true. Unless you've met them all. And even then you are wrong. Some Tenby living Welsh speaking friends call it Tenby, even when speaking Welsh, as does my aunt. So you are wrong.

I didn't offer any definition of language fascists. A figment of your imagination.

Please never again presume to attempt to educate me on Welsh history. It's patronising and unnecessary. And you are no expert.


JustJohn Report 26 Sep 2013 10:42

Rose. I am bilingual. But not English and cryptic, just English and Welsh. I have tried to learn the main language used on Genes (cryptic) but do not seem to have the natural linguistic ability.

Yes, lots of people love the Welsh language and on a scale of 1-10, I guess I am about 8 or 9. But not a language fascist. It is just difficult to go in less than 30 years from a position where one language is official and the other is werinol (folksy) to the present day when both English and Welsh have equal legal validity throughout the Principality. We have same problems (and costs) as any bilingual country now.

But the battle to save Welsh in my view will only be won if the young people (many of whom have been taught in Welsh and can speak it very well) have the confidence to use it daily, insist on speaking Welsh with their friends, text in Welsh, watch Welsh TV etc. There are encouraging signs, but not sure the decline in spoken Welsh can now be reversed. And doubt Varteg/Y Farteg pushes forward the cause :-(

Edit. Thanks for that post, Rose. I can see now how it may look sometimes as if I am being personal right through a post. :-)

Rambling Rose

Rambling Rose Report 26 Sep 2013 10:39

Actually John I also read it as a dig... purely by your wording, and I will explain why

If you use a persons name in a post, even if only part of the post is specifically 'addressed ' to them , ie "Bilingualism is the law in Wales, SueC. "

The WHOLE post then tends to as if it is also addressed to them: ie
"Not sure which party you vote for if you don't like bilingualism. "

which holds the implication in that second line that SueC doesn't like bilingualism.

This is not something that would happen in actual speech face to face, but it is sometimes what is conveyed on here.

Which is why, when using the word 'you' on here I bust a gut making sure if there is any possibility of misconstrueing intent I specify it with either "you ( general you)" " or "one" as in "I wonder what party one would vote for if....? "


Rambling Rose

Rambling Rose Report 26 Sep 2013 10:28

Tenerife Sun, it's not actually 'John's thread'? :-)

Had I posted the OP ( which would have been quite likely as I saw the article on the topic just before it appeared on here) the responses would have been largely the same I'm sure. Sue who lives in Wales posted the OP, presumably because of her location it is of relevance to her , I, having lived in Wales for around 22 years overall , feel I can comment on the topic from some personal experience. I expect the other posters felt much the same

I do think John is very 'direct in his opinion' on any Welsh topic, and I don't think John would himself say differently...he is passionate about the preservation of Welsh, as are many's just a case of using a hammer to crack a nut...sometimes it is counterproductive, you alienate the people who use the language themselves in order to change a road sign? which makes no sense.

Not having a go, just saying that whoever started the thread or posted on it is not relevant to my opinion.


JustJohn Report 26 Sep 2013 10:21

Thanks, TS. It was SueC's thread and it is quite an interesting story. Some locals clearly don't want to see Y Farteg on their welcome to Varteg sign.

I was shocked that SueC thought I was having a dig. And then "proved" I was having a personal dig by posting one of my posts. Pretty strange, I thought. But we can all do and think strange things from time to time.

I can assure SueC that I have not had a dig at her for several months in any way, shape or form. And have no intention of having a dig at her now or in the future.

Tenerife Sun

Tenerife Sun Report 26 Sep 2013 09:41

I cannot see for one minute why people who clearly don't like Johns threads bother to contribute and worse, to goad him.

I don't contribute because there is always someone who tries to turn it into something else and with the exception of this comment I keep off of them, but I do sometimes read them as sometimes they are interesting.

I did not see anywhere on this thread that John was having a go at anybody. I did see people having a go at John.

Sorry if you don't like my comments but it is as I see it and I am sure that it must be clear to others as well.



JustJohn Report 26 Sep 2013 09:22

Guinevere. When Welsh people speak English, they use English place names. Speaking Welsh, it is Welsh place names if they are familiar with them. Not everyone, but most. Friends of mine who lived in Red Wharf Bay never called it that unless talking to people outside that area. It was "red beach" to them and what do you see when you look down at it? A red beach.

Your definition of language fascists is interesting. All this interest in the language and its resurrection came about because of centuries of trying to subdue and eliminate Welsh - the "Welsh not" worn by any unruly pupils across their shoulders being a good example. You could not teach in Welsh, even if everybody in class was a Welsh native speaker. You could not speak Welsh in an office. There was nothing on the wireless in Welsh. English was the sole official language at a time when most were happier with Welsh in large swathes of Wales and there were still quite a lot of elderly and very young unable to speak more than a couple of words of English. Yes, only 50 years ago!

Not defending foisting "Y Farteg" on a sign under Varteg if villagers are concerned they will become a laughing stock to the millions of non-Welsh speakers who travel through the little village and read Y Farteg as "Why f*rt egg?" and not Uh? Varteg. That seems a storm in a teacup, which does not help to win friends to merits of the Welsh language.


Guinevere Report 26 Sep 2013 07:10

PS. I live not far from Ashby-de-la-Zouch. A place name that is Danish/French In origin.

Should we start calling it "Ash Tree Settlement belonging to the Zouche family" because that's the English version?


PPS Tenby is Tenby. No one I know, Welsh speaking or not, calls it Dinbych y Pysgod


Guinevere Report 26 Sep 2013 07:04

My cousin lives in Red Wharf Bay. And that's what he calls it. He was born in Wales and we have several generations of Welsh speaking ancestors. So not "everybody" in that area uses the Welsh equivalents.

All my Mum's family are Welsh speaking but prefer to use English most of the time. They are heartily sick of the Welsh language fascists (as they call them) and I'm sure they'd be on the side of the residents who should be allowed to call their home town what they want to call it, what it has been called for years. Not all native Welsh speakers are fanatics about the language, my 82 years old aunt feels that it's "incomers" who are more obsessed than natives.

Her neighbour (English parents, English husband) insists on using Welsh in her home, despite not speaking it the way natives do. Her children will grow up speaking what my aunt calls BBC Welsh, which is not Welsh as a lot of people speak it. The spoken Welsh of North Wales is not the same as the spoken Welsh of Ceredigion or Sir Penfro.

Attempts to rationalise the language nationwide have succeeded in eradicating some regional variations. It's as though everyone in England was forced to use received punctuation and eliminate local dialects.

Let genuine Welsh people use the language as they want to use it - as they always have done.

The beauty of every language is in its many variations, to my way of thinking.


JustJohn Report 26 Sep 2013 00:02

What on earth are you on about, Sue? Why do you think that post has anything to do with you? What on earth possessed you to copy it out? I know you are important on Genes, but I really do not consider you or your opinions when I post on Welsh matters. You were not even in my thoughts when I wrote that.

Suzanne. You are right - Liverpool was the largest Welsh speaking city at one time in the whole world, and masses of Welsh heritage there. The only thing I would say is that I felt it was a bit strange living in a predominantly Welsh speaking area (Bangor) in 1960's to see every road sign in English. Everybody said Traeth Coch and Biwmares and Y Felinheli and Porthaethwy - yet signs said Red Wharf Bay and Beaumaris and Port Dinorwic and Menai Bridge. Very strange, as if English was a superior language to Welsh.


supercrutch Report 25 Sep 2013 21:08

JohnLovesFletcherofMadeley Report 25 Sep 2013 11:52
Bilingualism is the law in Wales, SueC. Feet can be stamped as much as villagers in Varteg want, but Y Farteg is how they spell their village in the Welsh language.

Not sure which party you vote for if you don't like bilingualism. All 4 major partries in Wales (Tories, Labour, Lib Dem and Plaid Cymru) support the Welsh Language Board and bilingual policy. And these constant digs are quite funny and I am sure people get aeriated about bilinguism, but not likely to change Government policy unless everyone in Wales votes UKIP at next election.


I wont be back to read any reply so please don't waste your time typing.


Suzanne Report 25 Sep 2013 21:07

in liverpool we have hundreds of welsh place names,roads,streets lanes,chapels,

no one has ever felt the need to change them ,they are just there and always have been.not one of them has ever needed to be translated into english.
this only seems to be a problem in wales :-D


JustJohn Report 25 Sep 2013 16:58

SueC. I was not having a dig!! You keep saying that. Persecution complex comes to mind. Why do you think I am having a dig?? :-S

I actually think I sit on the fence these days as far as Welsh is concerned. I was a hothead in my youth admittedly and had posters of tongues all over the place.

But I think some of it is silly. Bryncoed and Goleufryn are clearly Welsh places and translating them into English seems a waste of time. It is in the Swansea area where the builders have given roads Welsh names (because presumably they sell better with Welsh names and Welsh roads). And then underneath Welsh names they have repeated them in English. And the translations are literal, and sound pretty silly in English. Saw "Road of Two Lakes" on one road sign a fortnight ago!!


supercrutch Report 25 Sep 2013 16:02

Yes our Rose there are words which will not translate, hence the bastardisation I have mentioned before.

I face bilingual signs everyday of course. I still think it's damn silly to have Aberbargod and Aberbargoed on the same sign over and over again until you exit the area.

If I was asked where I lived (before we moved) and replied near Aberteifi I would get blank looks 50% of the time. If I replied Cardigan everyone would have nodded wisely.

John, you can shove your having a dig comment I have lived in Wales longer than you and yes all my children are multilingual including Welsh as they attended a Welsh Grammar school! :-P


AnnCardiff Report 25 Sep 2013 14:42

well I've always known it as Varteg and will continue to call it that - I used to live in a road called Llancaiach - how glad was I when I got married and moved - I got sick to death of spelling it to people - and Welsh people at that :-D