Local Culture

This can be quite tricky to define but here we think of Language as well as local customs.

Welsh Language

The 1st language for most of the people who live here is Cymraeg (Welsh), but you should have no difficulty in communicating as almost everyone can also speak English.

Welsh (Cymraeg) is one of the Oldest Languages in Europe.

To help you on your way and as an introduction to the language here are some helpful hints:-

Bore Da – Good Morning
Pnawn Da – Good Afternoon
Diolch yn Fawr – Thank you very much
Diolch – Thanks
Noswaith Da – Good Evening
Nos Da – Goodnight
Bara – Bread
Hwyl Fawr – Good Bye

one two three – un dau tri

The pronunciation of letters differs in a few ways to English, u is sounded like an i, ff like an f, f like v, dd like th.

There is also the terrifying ‘Mutations’ of words where sometimes the spellings, and thus pronunciation, change depending on preceding letters. An example of this is ‘Good Evening’ which becomes Noswaith Dda (instead of noswaith da). In the context of Cymraeg (Welsh) this makes perfect sense as noswaith da is quite difficult to say; in English, one thief becomes 2 thieves as 2 thiefs is also quite tricky on the tongue.

Placenames

In the main places are descriptions of where they are. Aberystwyth is at the river mouth of the River Ystwyth and Abersoch at the mouth of the River Soch. You will find numerous Houses called Plas Mawr – Big House and it’s often quite easy to see why such places have been so named.

Aber – River mouth
Afon – River
Bach or Fach – Small
Bryn – Hill
Bwlch – Pass
Caer or Gaer – Castle or Stronghold
Carreg – rock
Coch or Goch – Red
Coed – Wood
Cwm – Valley
Dinas – Fort
Eglwys – Church
Isaf – Lower
Llan – Parish or Church
Llyn – Lake
Llys – Hall or Court
Maen – Stone
Mawr or Fawr – Big
Pen – Top or Head
Plas – Hall or Mansion
Pont or Bont – Bridge
Sarn – Old Road
Uchaf – Upper or Higher
Wen – White

The Written Word

A visit to a bookshop will contain a number of Local Authors – Phillip Pullman is probably one of the more well known – his book ‘Northern Lights’ became the film ‘Golden Compass’ with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. However, if you search a little more and you’ll find that Robert Graves (I Claudius) lived here for a while with his father AP Graves.

Ellis Wynne, a noted Welsh Poet lived at Las Ynys, a restored timber-framed farmhouse located just to the North of Harlech.

Mabinogi (The Spoken Word)

This is a collection of stories collected from medieval manuscripts although, the stories are much older, possibly dating to pre-christian times.

One begins at Harlech. It tells the Story of Branwen , a daughter of Bendigeidfran, a king, and her subsequent rescue from an unhappy marriage to Matholwch, the King of Ireland. There is huge bloodshed on both sides during the ensuing rescue.

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A Statue, by Sculptor Ivor Roberts-Jones RA, stands next to the Castle depicting Bendigeidfran and his nephew Gwern.

There are many translations available of the original text from good book shops.