Thursday, October 2, 2014

Seren Aur - A Gold Star

My face went bright red, and our Welsh teacher seemed sincere when she told me I deserved a star for how I was doing my homework. When my wife is grading homework, I write out the questions and answers in our grammar workbook. Just trying gets a good grade in Welsh 101 as part of their recruitment efforts. (Even for an audit.) I still live in fear of my German 101 teacher from my freshman days. It was German, after all.

The praise came after I read my "Halloween" story. I started out by saying how brilliant it seemed to me at 11 o'clock the night before as I was making last minute corrections in class. It was well received. We all encouraged each other as we went along. As I said, it's not like we're learning "Saesneg" ["Saxon," actually "English." The Welsh hold grudges for a long time - up to 1600 years, at least].

So, here it is. My first story in Cymraeg. We were assigned to write a Halloween story and given a bunch of new vocabulary words. I still don't like Halloween much and I have a hard time writing fiction. So, I wrote a "true" story. It's almost all correct grammatically. I've even got mutating consonants! Plug it into Google-Translate and see what you get:

Grant Hen
Mae tylwyth teg yn byw yng Nghymru.  Mae Saesnes wedi yn dweud.  Oes tylwyth teg yn byw yn Unol Daleithian?  Nag oes!  Mae gwrachod yn byw yma.  (Nag fy ngwraig!)  Dw i wedi teithio i Gymru.  Dw i ddim wedi gweld tylwyth teg yn Nghymru.  Dw i mynd teithio i Gymru eto.  Dw i yn mynd i gweld.  Pam mae “Halloween?”  Achos mae melys lapio!
It's really pretty amazing that we can write a paragraph in Cymraeg after only a month. That's because we do the homework.

My main trouble is pronunciation. My efforts with Portuguese, Spanish, and dabbling in German and Russian leave my mouth-muscle instincts pretty confused. It's not even the odd, double letters, dd, ff, and ll, it's the vowels. W, drives me crazy. Even if it is literally double u [oo]. And the u almost always trips me up from the Portuguese u which is legally oo. So, I'll keep working on the ee like the Russian И it's supposed to be as I slur those vowels together into the proper diphthongs.

OK. Maybe I should have been a linguist.

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