sollers: me in morris kit (Default)
[personal profile] sollers
Some of you may be aware that I am very pernickety about the distinction between British English and English English. This is largely because I have spent much of my life having to be careful not to use my brand of British English in the presence of English people.

My mother tongue is, I suppose, a sort of creole; the vocabulary is mostly English, with exceptions, but the grammar and syntax is definitely a mixture. Although I can speak and write perfectly grammatical Standard English, I am always aware of it needing something of an effort.

The heart of the problem is that my family was not Welsh speaking, something my mother was also bothered about. She approved of her cousin sending her daughters to a Welsh medium school, partly because of the benefits of bilingualism, and was unhappy that at the time there was no Welsh school in London. She therefore did the next best thing, and sent me to the French school (if you want to see a real sight, stand by when I tell a French person that I learned French as a second-best option). I got the benefits of bilingualism, but that was all.

Fortunately one of the benefits is an ability to pick up the basics of a language easily. Unfortunately that didn't include Welsh. I made a number of efforts, one of which left me able to make sense of a lot of the Mabinogion but unable to ask for a cup of coffee, another leaving me able t6 ask for a cup of coffee but unable to understand what people said to me.

So I took advantage of the move to North Wales to sign up for an intensive course (only one day a week, but 3 1/2 hours). That started in September and I'm startled by the progress I have made. I now also go to a conversation group upstairs in a book shop (which connects into L-space) every Friday morning, and am saying a little but understanding a lot.

The interesting thing is that my perception of myself is changing. When I moved I went from being a non-Welsh speaking Welsh person living in England to being a non-Welsh speaking Welsh person living in Wales but am now beginning to be simply a Welsh person. It's liberating.

Date: 2016-01-31 03:25 pm (UTC)
commodorified: a capital m, in fancy type, on a coloured background (Default)
From: [personal profile] commodorified
That is ... I'm sorry, I'm having trouble finding words. That's a fascinating story of linguistic and geographic roots and how they intertwine, and I'm glad that you've come to a place where your two kinds of roots match comfortably.

The trouble finding words is because I feel like there's a lot of pain and discomfort lurking between the lines and I don't want to discount it but I also don't want to presume to act as if I understand it. I don't, as an Anglophone in Canada, have the same feelings about either English or French, and although there's Welsh in my background, nothing of it had survived in my family by the time I came along. So I can sort of map it onto my feelings about speaking French so poorly in a strongly bilingual area, but the reference points are going to be all wrong.

Date: 2016-02-03 01:33 am (UTC)
fyrdrakken: (Unicorn and Cardinal)
From: [personal profile] fyrdrakken
I'm glad to hear you've been studying something not just because you find it mildly interesting but because it's hitting some important markers of personal significance for you. Learning is good for its own sake, but bringing yourself closer to being the person you've been wanting to be is even better.

Date: 2016-02-08 08:39 am (UTC)
teithiwr: (hrae)
From: [personal profile] teithiwr
Oh, hooray for getting to learn Welsh at last! North Wales must be good for that, I imagine - do people speak a lot of Welsh in your area?

Date: 2016-08-28 02:30 pm (UTC)
loup_noir: (Default)
From: [personal profile] loup_noir
LJ informs me that today is your birthday. Happiest of days to you!


sollers: me in morris kit (Default)

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