(Ég elska velsku…with Ceri V)
‘Velska’ – that’s the Icelandic word for Welsh, which is coincidentally so close to the name ‘elska’, which is the Icelandic word for ‘love’. And I do love Welsh. The accent has always been my favourite of the accents of Britain, but when I got to Wales and actually heard people speak Welsh, I was truly smitten.
Ceri V was the first guy I met during the search for Cardiff boys who was a native Welsh speaker. I secretly hoped I’d find at least one guy for the Cardiff issue who spoke Welsh and would write their story in Welsh, but of course I wouldn’t force it. It’s important to me that Elska be spontaneous rather than curated, so I wasn’t going to do a “Welsh Speakers Wanted” advert no matter how cool I thought it would be to have an issue full of Welsh stories.
In South Wales, English is by far the main language and you rarely hear Welsh spoken on the streets. In Cardiff only around 20% speak Welsh. Still, even at those levels, that adds up tens of thousands of Welsh speakers in Cardiff plus more in the rest of the country, particularly in the north and west of the country. That makes the Welsh language the strongest of all the Celtic languages. Irish, Scots Gaelic, Manx, Cornish… these aren’t doing so well at all. While some of those languages indeed have many speakers, only Welsh and Breton have a very high number of NATIVE speakers. Even if over a million people can speak Irish, only around 50,000 were raised with it as their mother tongue. For Welsh, the number of native speakers is over half a million.
Anyway, when I arrived at Ceri’s place, he was actually sitting in the living room writing his story on paper. He apologised for not having written it yet, and quickly scrawled it down as I set up for the shoot. When he finished he tore off the paper and handed it to me. Later when I got home I tried to type it up it but I couldn’t make out his writing at all, especially difficult because the Welsh words just looked like jumbles of random consonants. So I got one of our Twitter followers, Jack Murphy, to help out. He deciphered the writing, fixed the spelling mistakes (sorry, Ceri, you’re not the best speller), and did a translation. Thanks Jack!
In the end we got three guys who wrote in Welsh. Out of sixteen guys, that represents almost 20%, so the statistics about Welsh in Cardiff are correct, at least in our Elska ‘research’. By the way, if anyone in London fancies giving me some private Welsh lessons, let me know. I’m up for it. I just love how it sounds.
See more of Ceri V and read his story in Elska Magazine Issue (07) Cardiff.