When asked recently about the size of my stewed-end lawn I was a little baffled, but replied it was adequate given the accommodation, although my hydrangeas were a bit off-colour and the border was having a dampening effect on the overall ‘feel’ of the garden. The speed at which the conversation ended – followed by numerous odd glares, and an eventual discovery that I had actually been asked about my student loan – led me to realise the Welsh are a very unique people: and not just for their love of rugby and inexplicable pride about living above some very old coal. Quite why you’re expected to pay to enter Wales, but not to leave the place, has got to be one of the great wonders of the world. I mean, only a die-hard ‘Where’s Wally?’ enthusiast could see the appeal of paying to embark on a game of ‘Where’s Llanedeyrn?’ (with bonus points if you can work out how to pronounce it).
In their native tongue, it seems the Welsh have no words for anything less than 10,000 years old. Listen closely and you’ll distinctly hear, “Mae hi’n flich llach iawn in-ter-net ac hoffi hydd achy recording stiwdio…”. In fact, some would go as far as to say the Welsh don’t actually have a language: it’s just English with an abundance of y’s, w’s and salivating noises thrown in to disguise it (I firmly believe the leading cause of Welsh weather to be the amount of saliva in the atmosphere).
But the Welsh language I can handle (not understand; just handle) – my problem lies with something far worse: the Welsh accent. The Welsh accent can be divided into 3 major segments: “Yur”, “butt” and “izzeh” – but venture around the country and you’ll encounter a wide array of regional greetings, ranging from the formal – “a’iite spaaa” – to the more casual “owz bruv – gor’ any weed?”
“Izzeh” tends to follow factual statements, such as:
“The Eiffel Tower is in Paris.”
“Yes… it is.”
I can only assume this is derived from the English terms “is it?” and “it is” – the meaning of the latter dominating the definition of the former: a prime example of an English phrase being reversed to make it seem more Welsh, and transforming it into an unnecessarily elongated version of “OK” rather than an actual question. Oh, and after nearly decking a guy for comparing me to a stubbed-out cigarette end, I learnt that “butt” is a popular Welsh greeting among people of the Valleys.
I’ll stop moaning in a minute, but not before I get to “yur”…
This is the epitome of Welsh-endorsed confusion. Within this one word is contained every vowel and single-syllable word conceivable. ‘Ear’ becomes “yur”; ‘year’ pronounced “yur”; ‘here’ – “yur” ; ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ – “yur” ; Yup, yes and maybe – all become “yur”. Keep in mind continuity in dialogue is maintained through a constant use of ‘I’, ‘by’, ‘like’ and ‘yur’ and you see how the Welsh are the only race in the world capable of quite credibly saying:
“A’iite butt. I yurd yur movin’ down by yur next yur?”
“Yur. Bu’ you yurd my mewsic like, yur’ll yurt yur yurs like inneh.” *
To which the only response I can muster is… “izzeh?”
* English translation of above conversation:
“Hello my good sir, how are you this fine day? A little bird told me you might be moving down to the vicinity of our humble abode next year. Might there be any truth in this rumour?”
“Why yes indeed, old chap. But I might hasten to add that you’re already familiar with my musical prowess – perhaps my moving down might be somewhat painful on your ears at times?”