Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Creoso Chwedeg Nain

The year was 1969. A memorable year. It was the year of my first visit to Wales and to the National Eisteddfod. The Prince of Wales had just been invested in the magnificent ruin of Caernarfon Castle. Welsh Wales was at its most obedient. Or so it seemed. There had been a few nutters from the Free Wales Army to be rounded up so the investiture would not be disrupted. Two guys from Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru obligingly blew themselve up. And then there were Dafydd Iwan's satirical songs Carlo and Creoso Chwedeg Nain to be borne in silence by the Welsh establishment.

Unlike the investiture of Charles's predecessor, in 1911, also in Caernarfon Castle, this one was a little more controversial. This was particularly so since the burning of yr ysgol fomio in 1936 by Saunders Lewis and two of his colleagues, and the publication of his rallying cry for the Welsh language Tynged yr Iaith in 1962. On this occasion, the authorities had reason to be nervous of protests of one sort or another. This is probably why the monarchy made that little extra effort to portray its connections to Welsh culture and the Welsh people as something more than a label of convenience.

The Prince had spent some ten weeks learning the language and familiarising himself with the culture of Welsh Wales. The best available scholars had distilled Welsh history, culture and language in to such readable briefs that they were subsequently published as books in their own right.

But the big gesture, much vaunted at the time, was the Prince's Gracious Reply to the Loyal Address of the People of Wales which he delivered first in Welsh and then in English. His Welsh was rapturously described by the BBC Welsh commentator as bendigedig which, in the circumstances, could be translated as divine.

In my enthusiasm, for the language and not the Prince, I had bought the (vinyl 33rpm) record of the investiture and have just now digitised the Prince's contribution (below).

I leave you to make up your own mind.

Some further sounds from the Investiture.


Póló said...

My own verdict is that, for a marbles in the mouth Englishman, his pronounciation is very good. The delivery, however, is very stilted, which suggests he is not thinking of the meaning and is possibly even reading from a phonetic cog sheet.

Póló said...

I trust my Welsh-speaking friends will appreciate the crest and will be able to complete the phrase of which the words shown are the centrepiece.

Póló said...

You can see the text of the Prince's Investiture contribution here. It starts with the Welsh text, followed by a translation in brackets, and then the English text.

You can get some idea of the frequency of the Prince's use of Welsh, then and since, here,. Of the 10 speeches I found which had some Welsh in them, all but 2 consisted of a speech in English with a short intro and short wrap up in Welsh. The exceptions are the Investiture speech from August 1969 (half in Welsh/half in English, published February 1970) and one on the opening of the Welsh Assembly (published in My 1999 and all in Welsh).

Methodology: There is no separate category on the Prince's site for speeches with Welsh content, so I did a search for those containing "mae" which would be the equivalent of searching texts for "the" in English. In other words, impossible to say anything of significance without using that combination of letters. The search brought up 14 items but one is a duplicate, one is a translation (presumably for PR purposes) and two contain no Welsh. So we are effectively talking about 10 speeches.