kimkat0131e Wales And Her Language Considered From A Historical, Educational And Social Standpoint
John E. Southall. 149 Dock Street, Newport, Mon. 1892.

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Gwefan Cymru-Catalonia
La Web de Gal
·les i Catalunya
The Wales-Catalonia Website

Wales And Her Language Considered From A Historical, Educational And Social Standpoint  With Remarks On Modern Welsh Literature And A Linguistic Map Of The Country.
John E. Southall. 149 Dock Street, Newport, Mon. 1892.

CHAPTER 1. 1-15.

BRITISH LANGUAGES IN THE 18TH CENTURY — CHANGES IN WALES - INTEREST OF SOME ENGLISH NAMES TO A CELTIC STUDENT — BILINGUALISM AMONG THE SAXONS— FOREIGN NAMES OF CELTIC ORIGIN — INFLUENCE OF WELSH ON THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE.


Y Llyfr Ymwelwyr / El Llibre de Visitants / The Guestbook:

http://pub5.bravenet.com/guestbook/391211408/


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010, 011, 012, 013, 014, xxx,

 

 

CYMRU CYMRY A CHYMRAEG

GWELL PWYLL NAG AUR

 

= Wales, the Welsh people and the Welsh language.

[it is] better wisdom / understanding / intelligence than gold.

 

 




 

 

WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [WALES AND] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE


CONSIDERED FROM A
HISTORICAL, EDUCATIONAL AND SOCIAL STANDPOINT


WITH REMARKS ON MODERN
WELSH LITERATURE

AND A

LINGUISTIC MAP OF THE COUNTRY. JOHN E. SOUTHALL.


 

NEWPORT, MON. J. E. SOUTHALL, 149 DOCK STREET

LONDON: E. HICKS JUN., 2 AMEN CORNER. PATERNOSTER ROW


 

 

 

PREFACE.


A PREFACE is the place for apologies and explanations plus anything else, that may set off the Author's work, or give wings to his vanity.

I shall not apologize to the Welsh nation, because I feel rather indignant that none of them has attempted a similar work, and I shall not apologize to the English public, as this was not primarily intended to meet their eye, if they read it, it must be at their own risk, whether they find it dull or unintelligible, especially as I have in certain instances given quotations without translations, though it might be affectation to deny that a circulation in England would be gratifying.

It is a nauseous practice which some writers in Wales fall into, of giving translations without the original, sometimes for the benefit of a minority only of their readers. It is easy to say, why cannot Welsh be served up in a translated form? Personally, I do not believe that one language can be translated into another, to say so is almost a contradiction in terms, and if Welsh prose is partially untranslatable, Welsh poetry is much more so.

If English people want to become acquainted with the Celtic genius as manifested in Welsh literature, they must learn the language, not merely the scholastic dry bones of it, but they must in some way acquire the accent from living lips who know its power. It will then be demonstrated that Welsh is not a succession of uncouth sounds, but can produce rare combinations of forcible and melodious utterances.

It was, as I have said, not principally for the English that this book was written, but to rouse the Welsh nation and prevent the premature and artificial extinction of their language,

 

 

IV. PREFACE.


by a system which is condemned by a preponderating weight of evidence on almost all hands, as will be seen by the following pages, and to point out that quite independently of the question of the desirability of preserving the language or not, by properly applying the means within their reach, the managers of elementary schools can secure the basis of a much more efficient literary education, than is yet the case in Wales, if they cause their instructions to be bilingual in every stage.

Talk as we may about technical and scientific education, important as they are, a sound basis of literary education, should after all, be one of the chief aims of elementary schools, and in many cases they will have time for little else. The Welsh language then should be looked upon as a means to extend this basis, i.e. a means by which at a minimum of mental labour to himself and the teacher, and of material expense to the community, the scholar has the opportunity of rising into a higher sphere of knowledge, through the training direct and indirect, thereby afforded. When I say a minimum of mental labour this presupposes a Welsh Code which enlightened educationalists, ought to strive for, as well as previous training on the part of the teacher, the deficiency of which is at present a hindrance to education.

If Welsh dies, should the reformation here proposed become general, well and good, let it die: but it is a fact to-day, therefore treat it as a fact affecting not merely a few districts, but the greater part of a whole nation.

It would have been a comparatively easy task to have presented to my readers a hodge-podge of miscellaneous facts and fancies about "Wales and Her Language," pitched-forked together in an undigested mass, without much regard to rhyme or reason, but this was not aimed at, and how far I have steered clear of such a course, the reader must decide.

Literary faults, there are, of which some are felt by the



 

 

PREFACE. V.


author himself, but when it is considered that indifferent health occasioned frequent delays in the prosecution of the work, and that he has seldom felt physically able to attend to it for more than short periods of time at once, the severity of criticism may be mitigated. The principal scope of the book can be compressed under three heads —

I. A demonstration of the defects of the present educational system, in its relation to the language.

 

II. A historical record of the position of the Welsh language, in 1892.

 

III. A commendation of the language to the attention of English people, especially those resident in Wales. I have to add that "Wales" in these pages refers to the thirteen counties. I do not believe that Henry VIII., when he divided the country into assize circuits, and tacked Monmouthshire on to an English one, had any idea of defining the limits of Wales, but that it happened to suit his convenience to make this arrangement.

If this is so, until the limits are fixed by law, "Welsh" is simply a conventional term of the same character as the "Midland Counties," or the "East of England," which has rather by force of custom, than law, become limited to twelve counties. Welsh people do not all admit the custom as a respectable one to follow.

My thanks are due to Principal M. D. Jones, of Bala, who has kindly read through most of theproofs, although so much new matter has frequently been added before going to press, that he cannot be considered responsible for any errors that may occur; also to Col. J. A. Bradney, of Tal-y-coed Court, who has given me valuable information on the geographical limits of Welsh, to Dr. Burlingham, of Hawarden, and Henry Tobit Evans, J.P., of Neuadd Llanarth, as well as other friends for the service they have rendered, and to my subscribers



 

 

VI. PREFACE.


for supporting a man (unknown to most of them) in a comparatively untrodden track.

It may be observed that in the case of certain names, the Author has either dropped the usual prefix of St., or put it in quotation marks. Some of the persons to whom this prefix' is applied were beyond question Saints, i.e. they lived in a heavenly atmosphere above the general spirit of the world. There are however, some serious objections to the use of the term as a formal distinctive — one is, that thereby the men who put such epithets into circulation as current coin are in effect telling the world, " these men and women were holy Saints, they lived in quite an unreachable plane, or one to which a very few need aspire, therefore you may be satisfied to remain as you are — unholy sinners." Another objection is that the authority, which guarantees the fact of so-and-so being a Saint, is the excathedr^ voice of the man who, on a given occasion, professed to hold the power of the Keys. What guarantee have we that these men have at any period lived so near the infallible Spirit as to be able to inwardly discern beneath the surface (without any promptings from Cardinals, Jesuits and the like), who deserved the epithet of Saint, and who not. Take Patrick, of Ireland, for instance — an honest, simple-minded, earnest. God-fearing man; but has one Irishman been inclined to a saintly life through putting him outside the level of every-day life, and calling him Saint Patrick?

It will also be noticed, that I have abstained from calling any places built of stone and mortar Churches. I believe that a religion which attaches any sanctity to places, is nearly nineteen hundred years out of date, at least, when an opportunity is afforded to know better.

JOHN E. SOUTHALL.

6 mo., 1892.

 

 

CONTENTS.

PREFACE III


CHAPTER 1.
PHILOLOGICAL SCRAPS.
British Languages in the 18th Century — Changes in Wales — Interest of some English names to a Celtic Student — Bilingualism among the Saxons — Foreign names of Celtic origin — Influence of Welsh on the English Language 1



CHAPTER II.
HISTORICAL.
Offa's Dyke — Northmen's influence — Leominster and its Welsh name - King Harold in Monmouthshire — The Flemings — Welsh Family names — English despised and ignored in England itself — Baronial Families Welsh speaking — Owain Glyndwr — The Act of Union — Subsequent decay of Welsh Culture and Reasons therefor  16


CHAPTER III.
EDUCATION FIFTY YEARS AGO.
Government Commission of 1846 — Bishop Thirlwall — "Sunday" Schools and Statistics of Language taught — Condition of Day Schools in English and in Welsh-Wales — Inefficiency of Teachers — Welsh Language generally excluded — Parents — Trustees and Managers — Monmouthshire — Delinquency of Employers of Labour — Lewis Edwards, of Bala — Ieuan Gwynedd — Sir T. Phillips — Defective Morals  48


CHAPTER IV.
THE BILINGUAL MOVEMENT.
Intermediate Education — Llandovery Grammar School and the Provisions of its founder for teaching Welsh — The Intermediate Education Commission of 1880 — Establishment of University Colleges — The London Cymmrodorion and their Systematic Enquiry from Welsh Elementary Teachers — Replies pro and core — The Aberdare Eisteddfod of 1885, and the formation of a Society for Utilizing the Welsh Language in Education — Opposition to the Proposal — D. Isaac Davies, his letters to the "Western Mail" and "Baner ac Amserau Cymru." 106


CHAPTER V.
THE BILINGUAL MOVEMENT (CONTINUED).
Discussion in "Western Mail" - George Borrow — Royal Education Commission, 1887, and Notes on the Evidence of Welsh Witnesses — Death of D. I. Davies — Cymmrodorion Meeting in London, and the Paper of Inspector Edwards — Report of Commissioners and Concessions to Wales — Address of Principal Edwards — Practical Experience in Teaching Welsh 161





 

 

 

 

VIII. CONTENTS.

CHAPTER VI.
SOCIAL INFLUENCES.
Henry Richards' Letters on Wales — Power of Tradition — Influence of Gentry, why Declining — Congress at Swansea, 1879 — Lack of a Bourgeoisie in the Past — Necessity to Know the Language to Know Wales — Culture of the Poorer Classes — Monmouthshire Shoemaker — Possible Deterioration under Dominance of English Language — "More Welsh Read than Ever" — Remarks on the Present Educational Standard — French and German — The James Shaw Controversy — Welsh University Colleges and their Scholarships  203


CHAPTER VII.
STUDY OF THE LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE.
English Interest in German, and Reasons therefor - Desire to Learn Welsh Common — Advice to Beginners — Native Grammars — Personal Experience — Educational Value of Welsh, some of its Peculiarities — Welsh and English Languages Contrasted — Modern Welsh Literature — The Twenty-four Metres — Islwyn, Ossian Gwent, Dafydd Ionawr, and others — Welsh Prose — Periodicals and Newspapers — Fugitive Literature — Welsh Publishers — The Future. 245


CHAPTER VIII.
WELSH NATIONALITY.
Nationality a Term not Easily Defined — Welsh National Consciousness - Instances of Divergence of Character and Language in England — Cardiff Anomalous in Character — Irish Nationality not Ethnological — The Flemings — The Welsh and French Approximate each other — Welsh deficient in Mechanical Talent — Oratory — Delusions about "Sacred” Music — Celtic influence in English Writers — Cardiff Dailies and Nationality — Scotland 313

 

CHAPTER IX.
GEOGRAPHICAL LIMITS.
The Extreme Boundaries of Welsh Described, with Personal Experiences and Selections from Communications of Correspondents — The Map - The 60 per cent. Boundary and the Census — Offa's Dyke — Patagonia - Classification of Population 336


CHAPTER X.
CORNISH AND IRISH.
Cornish — Its Rapid Decline — Reason therefor — Relation of a Language to the minds of the Speakers — Irish — Its Difficulties to Learners — Irish Language Society — Scotch Gaelic 365


CHAPTER XI.
THE PAST AND THE FUTURE.
Summary of some Preceding Matter — Possible Future — Compulsory Welsh Teaching Advocated — Welsh Education Board — Illiteracy in Welsh and the Office of J.P. — Conclusion. 376

APPENDIX 385

SUBSCRIBERS' NAMES 390
 

 

 

CHAPTER 1.

BRITISH LANGUAGES IN THE 18TH CENTURY — CHANGES IN WALES - INTEREST OF SOME ENGLISH NAMES TO A CELTIC STUDENT — BILINGUALISM AMONG THE SAXONS— FOREIGN NAMES OF CELTIC ORIGIN — INFLUENCE OF WELSH ON THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE.

 

There are probably not many persons cognizant of the fact  that at the commencement of last century there were no less than eight native languages spoken in the British Isles, viz: —

ENGLISH

WELSH IN WALES, AND PARTS OF SHROPSHIRE AND HEREFORDSHIRE

CORNISH IN CORNWALL

MANX IN THE ISLE OF MAN

GAELIC IN THE HIGHLANDS
ERSE IN IEBLAND

NORSE IN THE ORKNEYS
FRENCH IN THE CHANNEL ISLANDS

In the following pages it is my intention to take notice of historical or present day facts in connection with the use of some or all of these languages, but the one which pre-eminently will claim our attention is the Welsh.

The author cannot lay pretensions to being a Welshman, having been born some eighteen miles east of Clawdd Offa, but within sight of the Welsh hills on the other side, in Radnor and Brecon. It is perhaps some advantage that an Englishman should discuss the history and topography of the Welsh language and its claims on Welshmen, provided it is not to him a wholly foreign tongue.

If we hold a book too close to our eyes the letters become blurred and indistinct; if too far off they again lose their characteristics: so with the Welsh language, it lies too near

 

 

 

 


WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. I.


Welshmen for them, and their relation to it has been such of a character that they are in many cases scarcely able to form an unbiassed opinion of its educational value; to some it seems the badge of nationality, which must be maintained at all costs; to others a millstone round their necks which must be got rid of. Similarly the language lies too far off Englishmen who are ignorant of it and perhaps occasionally nettled by reason of their ignorance in dealing with servants and workmen, or who lack a mind to appreciate its beauties.

I do not write for such if they have no ears to hear, but principally for the more intelligent portion of the English speaking inhabitants of Wales, and those who have more or less influence in its educational arrangements, to call their attention to the fact that they have in their midst a gem, which is capable of being used, not simply as a curiosity or an ornament, but for cutting fair and harmonious characters on the mental mirrors of Welsh children, if it is properly handled and in a way that has hitherto been scarcely attempted.

Starting from the axiom that education in Wales is far from being in a satisfactory state, I endeavour to shew that in one direction at least a considerable and solid improvement may be made, and fortify myself by adding to what might be considered individual fancies, the opinions of practical teachers and others.

Whatever the future of Wales may be, she is now in a transition state — socially, religiously and linguistically.

Socially in so far as a more educated and wealthy middle class is arising. Religiously in so far as the simplicity and zeal of sixty years ago appears to be disappearing, before the influence of custom and fashion. Linguistically in so far as the monoglot Welsh-Welshman is much more rarely to be found, and in some districts his duoglot successors are being replaced by monoglot English-Welshmen, reared under the


 

 

CHAP. I] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE.

influence of the nineteenth century, and an English Government, backed by the educational traditions of generations; although the transition lies in the fact that a knowledge of English is more and more spreading, while it is at the same time possible, that during the last ten years the aggregate of the Welsh speaking population has increased.

Much that is said here, has been said before in one shape or another during the last five or six years. Some things will perhaps be new to most, if not all of my readers, and at any rate what has before been mostly in a fragmentary state, not easy of reference, is here brought together in a collected form; while the map and various statistics will, it is hoped, serve the purpose of present information and interest, and as an historical monument of the year 1891.

The late Dan Isaac Davies' dream of "Tair miliwn o Gymry dwy-ieithawg yn 1985" (three millions of Duoglot Welsh in 1985) may or may not be realized, yet a future generation can hardly fail to reap some instruction as to the laws which govern the use or disuse of language, by reference to the facts that may be gleaned from a linguistic map printed in this last decade of our eventful century.

One thing remarkable however at the present day, is the considerable amount of ignorance which prevails even among those who are well-informed — some of them Welsh speaking people — about the linguistic condition of the country.

If what I have written tends to cause the question of language in Wales to be regarded more intelligently, both in its social and educational aspects, and tends to the better development of the life of the nation, I shall feel that this book and its appendage have not been written nor drawn up in vain.

This is not, however, intended principally for English eyes, but, as I intimated above, rather for those whose lot lies west

 

 

WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. I.

of the Severn and who by birth, association, or intercourse are intimately connected with Wales, or interested in its welfare, inviting them to use the past as a key to the present, and as a possible index to the future.

English people are usually taught to look upon themselves as Anglo Saxons, and are unaware how much they owe to other races or nations, either in the way of blood or ideas, nor what lessons may not be learnt by even humble and prosaic facts presented in the history of the tongues of such other people.

To begin with we will now briefly consider the influence of Welsh on the nomenclature of the speech of England, not in an exhaustive or very scholarly fashion, but within a short compass, which will, nevertheless, point to a new field of thought and observation.

A slight knowledge of Welsh is not, it is true, sufiicient to give a new meaning to every place named on the map of England which cannot be explained by reference to Saxon roots, but it is historically instructive and fruitful in awakening the intelligence.

The following names of English Counties all contain roots of Celtic* origin which are indicated by capitals —

 

North-UMBER-land
DUR-ham
YORK  
CUMBER-land
LAN-cashire
LIN-coln 
DER-by  
WAR-wick

WOR-cester

CAM-bridge

DOR-set

DEVON

CORN-wall

KENT

LEI-cester

BERK-s

* I use the word Celtic here in a general, not in a strictly scientific sense; possibly some of these names have really come down from pre-Celtic times.

 

 

[CHAP. I. [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE.

Of the thirteen Welsh Counties we include all except Montgomery (which is only indirectly Celtic), Radnor and Anglesea. The two latter have, however, Celtic names of their own.

Many of these Celtic roots of County names arise from the names of rivers or from towns named from rivers, which indicate that the river was named before any town was built, or from physical characters of the country, e.g., —

NORTHUMBERLAND — The country north of the Yorkshire Humber.

DURHAM — The old Anglian Kingdom of Deira; the country between the dyfroedd of the Tees and Tyne.

KENT — A singular confirmation of reputed history here presents itself. According to popular account the first settlement of the Saxons in Kent was a peaceful one, their leaders Hengist and Horsa being invited by Vortigern, the British King to assist him in military operations.

However this may be, there is corroborative evidence that a large British population remained on the soil and perpetuated traces of their language in some of the place names with the name of the County as well as to the custom of inheritance of land known now as gavel (gaffael) kind. (See appendix A.)

Vortigern comes to us as a proper name, but in reality he was simply the Gwr Tigern* (c.f, modern Welsh Teyrnaswr) = the man or Ruler of the Kingdom; just as Brennus, who, long centuries before at the head of his victorious hosts of Cymry and Teutones entered the seven-hilled city, was simply the Brenhin or King of the Cymry. #

* Tige (modern Welsh, Ty) as the house and the name applied to the patriarch of the house appears to have gradually become applicable to the head of a confederation; c.f. Irish Tighearna = a, lord.

# It seems probable that the word Cymry itself simply means the federated hosts.

 

 

 

 

WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. I.

DOVER is pronounced by our French neighbours almost exactly as their Gaulish forefathers pronounced it, some two thousand years ago, when it was as now, the main point of reaching the dwfr (or water) which separates England from France; the Saxon settlers were sufficiently in touch with their neighbours to call the place (for probably no town existed there) by the same name, but unwitting that it simply signified water, hence to the present day when speaking of going from Dover to Calais we are really saying from Water to Calais, a proof of the extinction of the Welsh language in the district, but evidence also, if I am not mistaken, that it was gradual and not attended with the bloody slaughter which— must have taken place in the Eastern Counties, and would have caused the Celtic name to become obsolete.

The WAR in Warwick and the WOR in Worcester are undoubtedly the same word, and the root survives in WYRE Forest near Bewdley, and in Caer Wrangon the Welsh name for Worcester, probably also in the Roman City of Uriconium, and in Erging the foundation name of the Archenfield district near Ross, Herefordshire.

CUMBER-land reminds us of the once extensive Cymric Kingdom of Strath Clyde (Ystrad Clwyd) which embraced the tract from the Clyde to the Mersey, bounded probably on the east by a line running through the West Riding Dales. The Celtic names in South West Scotland are however more Gaelic than Cymric; e.g. Sanquahar = Hen Gaer.

The "Lan" of Lancaster, doubtless, comes from the Celtic root of the river LUNE, but the Welsh name Caer hir fryn, reminds us at once of the long ridge, the hir fryn or elevated country, forming the backbone of the county about which the cotton mills are congregated.

In DEVON we find testimony to the deep brooks of the old red sandstone, the dyfneint (dwfn deep, nentydd brooks).

 

 

CHAP. I.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE,

CORNWALL was originally Kernyw. Kernyw Wealas, were Welshmen — foreigners who dwelt in Kernyw.

The term Wealas whence Wales we find illustrated again in the name of the modern European State Belgium. The Belgians, a people older than Caesar, were formerly foreigners to some Teutonic neighbours, just as the Germans were at the same time Ellmynwyr = All-man wyr, i.e. men from another place — to the Gauls and are still so called by the Welsh, while the French call them Allemands; so indestructible amid the rise and fall of Empires have been personal names once conveying simple ideas when fixed on a nation on or before the times of early history.

Of those Counties not in the above list two at least deserve notice.

GLOU-cester may be wholly Roman, and if so was originally Claudii Castra, which was Cymricized as Caergloyw — its name to the present day. It is difiicult to understand the usual Roman name Glevum arising from anything we should find reproduced as Gloyw. Glevum was certainly the Latinized form of an old Celtic place name.

SOMERSET is a remarkable and historically instructive name: at first appearance it is wholly and solely Saxon and to mean the settlement of the Somers folk. Without a knowledge of Welsh, however, we have no real clue to the name, and at first sight, the Welsh name for the district, viz: Gwlad yr Haf, used even in the nineteenth century, does not suggest what appears to be the true derivation.

I venture the following conjecture of its origin: when the Saxons had penetrated as far in the country as Somersetshire, they were not mere hostile and alien invaders, but had become used to the country with its residual British population and were to some extent bilingual. They asked the natives what they called the district and were told it was Gwlad yr Haf.


 

 

8 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. I.

These Saxons possessed Welsh enough to know that Haf meant summer, but were ignorant that the Severn was Yr Hafren, hence they jumped to the conclusion that they were in the summer country and called themselves Somersetas.

In a neighbouring county the new comers were also called settlers — Dorsetas, from the old Roman town of Dorchester (W., Caer dor.)

Another curious case of the mistranslation of a Celtic name occurred in the fifth century. All readers of Church History are acquainted with the name of Pelagius, a Briton whose doctrine was firmly opposed by the noted Augustine, Bishop of Hippo. His original name was Morgan, and some of the learned of that time wishing to translate it into a classic form took for granted that the MOR meant sea, and that Morgan meant, "born by the sea." They accordingly dubbed him Pelagius from the Greek word pelagos, the sea. The real meaning of the name I take to have been Great Head; cean being the Gaelic form of Welsh pen — the head. Possibly he was a Monmouthshire man, as Gaelic was spoken here, according to Professor Rhys, as late as the fifth century; in any case he was one of the numerous clan of "Morganiaid," who have given their name to the Gwlad Morgan, knowm by the Saxon as Glamorganshire. Malcolm Ceanmore, King of Scotland, bore the same surname, but the adjective more [great] followed the noun.

That there may have been a certain amount of bilingualism among early English in the south of England — perhaps Somersetshire — is borne evidence to by a poem of the 13th century, given in Prof. Henry Morley's History of English Literature, the refrain of each stanza in which is " Quoth Hendyng." In reference to the latter the Professor says, —

" As for the name Hendyng, I believe that it suggests only


 

 

CHAP. I.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE.

the wisdom of age and experience and is one of the vernacular words drawn from the Celtic part of the population for Henddyn, means in Welsh an aged person."

The following stanza is from the original, the second is the same translated into modern English.

Yef thou havest bred ant ale,

Ne put thou nout al in thy male,
Thou dele it sum aboute.

Be thou fre of all thy meeles, Where so me any mete deles;
Gest thou not withoute,

Better is appel y-geve than y-ete,

Quoth Hendyng.

Hast thou of bread and ale, no lack,

Put not all in thine own sack,
But scatter some about.

Art thou free with thine own meals

Where another his meat deals;
Goest thou not without,

Better apple given nor eaten, Quoth Hendyng.

Names of important hill ranges, rivers and mountains in England are nearly all Celtic or pre-Celtic: — The Mendips, Quantocks, Chilterns, the Tors, Cheviots, Cotswolds, Malvern, Bredon Hill, Helvellyn, Pendle Hill.

Sometimes however a Celtic name is lost, as y Van near Abergavenny, now called the Sugar Loaf, and while its companion the Skirrid is still Celtic: unimportant hills are generally English, even in Herefordshire as Brierley Hill, Foxley, Lady Lift, &c. Abergavenny (w., y Fenni) was Gobannium in Roman times — Go being an intensitive prefixed to ban, a high mountain.


 

 

10 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. 1

Among the names of English towns, not being County names as well, we find the following which bear evidence of the presence of the Celt —

MALDON
KELVEDON 

CROMER
ARUNDEL
LYNN
ROMNEY
LONDON, including
LUDGATE AND BILLINGSGATE
LEEK

LEEDS

RIPON

WINCHESTER

"ST." ALBANS

COVENTRY

BATH

PENRITH

CIRENCESTER

MANCHESTER
LIVERPOOL
CHICHESTER
CARLISLB
WIGAN
LUDLOW
COLCHESTER
BATH

SALISBURY

These, however, are merely samples, the number of place names with Celtic roots must amount to several hundreds.

LUDGATE and BILLINGSGATE: — Each of these names that romancing historian Geoffrey of Monmouth, who lived as far back as the 12th century connected with the history of mythical kings, viz., Lud and Beli respectively, so with Leicester (Caerleirion) which name he originated from "King Lear." Somewhat singularly there is a place in Leicestershire still called Leir; just as there is a place near Gloucester called Cleeve which appears to correspond with the old term Glevum.

Most probably, such a man as "King Lud" never existed, but Ludgate contains a very ancient name; undoubtedly the same one occurs in the present day Welsh poetic name for London — Caerludd.

BILLINGSGATE has all the appearance of being derived from a Saxon patronymic Billing, but it is scarcely credible that the Saxons should have transmitted a name to that ancient structure, ancient even in the days of the Conqueror which the Welsh would have recognized in their Porth Beli; so that I take Billingsgate to have a simulated Saxon derivation, but, and in reality, a Celtic one.

 

 

CHAP. I.J [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 11

Oxford seems again thoroughly Saxon, — in reaUty it was the ford of the [Tafjwysc, thence Wysc or Uskford and Oxford. Later on, the Welsh, obHvious of the old derivation, translated Oxford by Bhydychain = Oxenford.

Lichfield is a striking instance of a Celtic name, being translated by a Teutonic speaking people, who found it called Maes y Cyrph — "the field of corpses" from the bloody slaughter of Christians there in the days of Diocletian. George Fox when he passed through the streets of Lichfield beheld them with his spiritual vision, streaming with blood, while he believed himself inspired to cry aloud, "Woe, woe to the bloody city of Lichfield,"* and little knew that the very name of the town bore evidence of the fact which he saw by revelation, before he was acquainted with the historical narrative of what had taken place there some 1300 years before.

As we approach the West, Celtic names become more frequent, till in Cornwall we get a preponderating majority of them. In Lancashire we should find a good crop, but for the fact that until moderu times Lancashire was one of the poorest portions of the kingdom, almost the poorest County, and many now important towns could have had no existence when the Cumbrian language was still spoken there, possibly down till the thirteenth century, but Manchester {Manceinion), and Liverpool {Llynlleifiad) still bear evidence of Celtic influence.f

The nomenclature of the Continent of Europe, piesents many interesting facts to the Celtic student.

Here he sees in the Crimea a name that must have belonged to that Peninsula for three thousand years at least, and a


*Leiche-a. dead body, hence the "Xic/i-gate " before burial grounds.

+ The English reader may Ise surprised to learn that the Welsh names in italics are still used in current literature to signify those great towns.


 

 

12 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. I.

primeval home of the Cymry. The word Appennine at once becomes eloquent to him as pemiau wynion; the white historic peaks of the backbone of Italy. The PyRENNBES become the Bar wynion, — the white ridge, keeping the Celtic name in spite of the Basque population still adjacent.

He comes across the Aab in Switzerland and finds it represented on the borders of Wales by a river bearing the apparently English name of the Arrow (near Leominster), but which was undoubtedly the Aarwy {Araf, slow, wy, river,) while he is not slow to recognize that the Douro in Portugal was simply the water to a primitive people.

Near the Arrow he finds the Lugg (Uugvvy) and sees in the busy town of Lyons (Lugdunum) evidence that the same people have wandered in uncultivated simplicity by the banks of the Lug and of the fast flowing Rhone, while they have transmitted identical relics of their speech in the distant cities, of VEN-ice and WiN-chester.

Near the Anglicized Town of Newport he finds the Cefn:; as well as elsewhere in Wales; and in the South of France the Cevennes: the radical idea of a ridge or back being. the same in each case.

In the historical city of MAG-deburg he sees the identical root which has been preserved in Blagor, a Monmouthshire village and in many places in Ireland.— (c./., Manx, Magher a field).

Turning now from English and Continental place-names t« the English language itself, an observer, familiar with both languages, finds that a larger share has to be assigned to the Celtic than is generally supposed.

The Authors of students' handbooks and examiners in Enghsh at Universities are generally all but ignorant of a Celtic vocabulary and more so of Celtic grammar; consequently they are incompetent to deal with an analysis of the Celtic elements in the English language.


 

 

CHAP. I.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 13

Into anything like an exhaustive or thorough treatment of the subject I am not qualified to enter, nor has it ever been seriously attempted, to my knowledge; what is here said is not put forward authoritatively, but rather to indicate that just as in the case of place-names, a knowledge of Welsh throws light on the history and condition of England in past times, so the English language itself is not untinctured by expressions which betray Welsh influence.

A careful examination of English idioms alone would probably confirm this, and apart from phrases, if we only consider verbal constructions, there are instances which arrest our attention — e.g., the peculiar use of do as an auxiliary verb. "I do not see him." "Does he walk quickly "? Where do we find similar constructions in any Teutonic tongue; and yet, in Welsh, as an affirmation, we hear gwnaf, "I will do so," in answer to a command such as "Lock the door "; and in Breton it is even more prominent, as mond a rann — " I am coming," literally " Come, I do."

I am writing, with, but a simple present signification is or might be expressed by a somewhat similar compound in Welsh, yr wyf yn "ysgrifemi; but not usually in German or Danish.

No one has ever, so far as I am aware, made out a complete? list of Celtic words incorporated in the English language. The total it is true, is not comparatively large, but it is larger than such authorities as I have hinted at give, and I suspect too, that technical terms would yield a good harvest in this direction.

When the farmer's wife, picks out her addled eggs, and scatters harley for her new brood of chickens, then, after she has chopped her suet in the kitchen, she sits down with a clean apron and makes gussets, and liems her flannels, or sews on buttons, while, the goodman is preparing his bait for vermin. He goes out of the gabled house and looks at his


 

 

14 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [OHAP. I.

hogs and rams and walks a brisk pace on the road to the common, where he finds an adder which he hurts with his pitch-ioxk {pig a beak); and passes his hi/red labourers tedding hay and some of which is destined to go into a rick and some into a loft with laths under the tile roof, while his fields are manured by aid of carts, drawn by horses fed on hran mash, from the lime kiln and worked up into ridges with mattocks; and his hedges are trimmed with hills (bwyell). He eats his morning meal that has been prepared on the griddle, looks at his infant in the cradle while he is coaxed by his elder children to have a romp with them, and all the while if he is an EngKshman, is quite unaware that many of the words I have italicized were borrowed by his ancestors from their British neighbours; others of them are very similar in Welsh but cannot safely be included, though it is possible that a certain number of such words entered the Anglo-Saxon or Icelandic languages through contact with Celtic speaking people long ages ago.

The engineer talks of Mocks, bosses, butts, chisels, cranes, funnels, cams, plugs, spigots, scuttles, cogs, gimlets, tow, and probably many more things which from their technical character escape the cursory notice of Philologists, but which bear similar relations to the corresponding Welsh words.

As intimated above, the number of Welsh words permanently incorporated in English is small, but it would have probably been very much increased had it not happened that modern English is most nearly derived from a dialect similar to that spoken in Northamptonshire, where Celtic influence must have been very much smaller than in many other parts of the kingdom. Had the dialect of West Mercia, or Wiltshire, or even Derbyshire, ruled the formation of English, many Celtic-EngUsh words, now only confined to local patois or else obsolete altogether would have become part and parcel of the " Queen's EngKsh."


 

 

CHAP. I.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 15

The mere resemblance of an English word to a Welsh one is not in itself sufficient evidence of the former being derived from the latter as such words admit of being divided into three classes, viz.: —

I. Words which are alike by reason of Enghsh and Welsh, being both branches of a common Indo-European stock, from which they divided long before the Christian Era.

II. Words which the English has borrowed directly or indirectly from the Welsh, and which may amount to two hundred or more.

III. Words which the Welsh has borrowed from the
English. Considering the relations of the two countries during the last six hundred years, the number of the latter is surprisingly small. I believe very few English scholars have ever given due weight to this fact, or perhaps been acquainted with it. That a language which has been exiled from secular schools and colleges, with small exceptions for centuries, should be written to-day, with such an unmixed vocabulary as it is, can only be adduced as a proof of its wonderful vitality. English emerged from the ordeal of the supremacy of Norman French saturated with foreign expressions, in fact she may be said to have lost half her old face, and to have reappeared half Latin and half Saxon. Breton has somewhat similarly been drenched with French words, so was the later Cornish with English, so now is the colloquial Welsh of Gwent and Morganwg, but when we come to read Y Geninen and Y Traethodydd, although they perhaps scarcely lay claim to be models of style, we find, notwithstanding all defects, that the proportion of English words is very much less (especially in the poetical portions), than a stranger would have expected.

 

 

 

 

 

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