Book Review: Cofio Anghofio by Alan Maley

Please note: This review was originally written in Welsh. The original review in Welsh can be found here.

NOTE: There is a Welsh language version of this article, which is suitable for learners on the Welsh language version of our website. To access this click “Newid i’r Cymraeg” in the menu above, or browse to www.defnyddiwcheichcymraeg.com 

I was delighted to read this book, I have to admit. If I had had enough time then I would have been able to finish it in one sitting.

The characters are believable, relatable and you feel like you need to choose one side over the other when reading about the internal fractions of the family that is so close to tragedy.

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I can see different people throwing their support behind different characters, depending on what kind of person you are. There’s the businessman with a stone heart, Huw; Catrin’s daughter who has changed a lot since moving up to the north; his sister Sian with a kind heart, and the mother of the family.

What Elin Meek has done with the book has made it fit into the Welsh language rather well. She has given a little Welsh feeling to the words of Alan Maley without removing too much away from her source.

The only thing I can say against the book is that at 114 pages. I would have been able to carry on reading it for another 100 pages and I felt the book was a little short.

The story evolves as we turn each page and the story is enough to keep your interest and leave you with a desire to read more. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read something where they can relate to the story. You feel that everything builds as the story moves forward.

I was surprised how easy the book was to read. As someone who finds an advanced level book is sometimes difficult, I was surprised how easy it was to follow the story and relax at reading.

This book is suitable for learners who can read a higher level comfortably. Also, if you read a lower level and want to develop your reading skills, I can tell you that this book will be perfectly suited to you, especially with the useful words at the bottom of each page.

I did not find this book difficult at all and more importantly, I enjoyed getting to know the characters. I found myself sometimes reading rather than going to sleep, when I should have slept some hours ago!

Nicky Roberts

It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgment should be included: A review from http://www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.

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Neil Rowlands – Parallel.cymru

Creating the new online bilingual magazine parallel.cymru, by Neil Rowlands

NOTE: There is a Welsh language version of this article, which is suitable for learners on the Welsh language version of our website. To access this click “Newid i’r Cymraeg” in the menu above, or browse to www.defnyddiwcheichcymraeg.com 

Parallel.cymru is a new online magazine which provides side-by-side Welsh-English content from contributors who are working, creating, using and learning the language.Parallel.cymru is a new online magazine which provides side-by-side Welsh-English content from contributors who are working, creating, using and learning the language.
I’ve been learning Welsh in South Wales for the last four years, and after progressing through the reading resources suitable for learners, such as the magazine Lingo Newydd, translations of teen fiction such as Roald Dahl and JK Rowling, Quick Reads and books by Bethan Gwanas and Lois Arnold, I found the jump up to first language books and magazines difficult.  I looked into learning resources in other languages and noticed that many popular language pairs such as Spanish-English and French-English have parallel reading books and websites, with content laid out in both languages, side by side.

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I have experience of creating and marketing websites, and from volunteering at Welsh language centres and events I’ve got to know a few people in the community.  So in October 2017 I simply mixed these ingredients together, asked a few friends to do interviews and popped them on a simple website.  Feedback from people that I shared it with were positive, so I made the website look professional and told a few more people about it.  Over November 2017 I expanded the marketing to include Say Something in Welsh, Twitter, S4C appearances, mailouts to Welsh Language Centres and good old word of mouth.
Rather than being an ordinary blog, I’m focussing on providing first person perspective on the Welsh language world.  So people who write, run businesses, organise activities, create music and art, or simply have interesting stories to tell, share what they are doing.  This also means that each time you come to the site, there will be quality and unique content to savour.

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All the articles are organised by the level of Welsh, so that people can read simple Welsh as people speak it, standard written Welsh, or the formal Welsh as used in literature.  Providing English side by side means it is very easy to check a word or the meaning of a sentence.  In this way I hope that people can become more familiar with reading Welsh and over time improve their abilities.
Another distinguishing feature is that content will remain online- unlike magazines and other sites where exceptional and useful content disappears after the next edition is published.  So, over time parallel.cymru will grow into a corpus of how people use and interact with the language.
One of my long term goals is to provide original short form fiction and long form fiction.  Providing translations of out of copyright English texts that people are familiar with helps reading in Welsh easier. Similarly, making contemporary Welsh fiction available with an English version introduces people to Welsh literature and writers.
Other long term goals include:

  • Providing a bilingual grammar guide.
  • Publishing accessible papers from Welsh-speaking academics and postgraduate students that explains their work to a wide audience;
  • Working with Welsh for Adults tutors to provide resources for informal learning;
    Creating Spanish-Welsh or trilingual articles to support people in Patagonia.

I’m currently running parallel.cymru as a hobby in my spare time.  As all content is, and will remain, available for free, I’ve had to think about a sustainable operating model.  Many websites generate income through referrals to Amazon, but as I want to promote Welsh businesses I won’t do that.  Other websites inject advertising and auto-playing videos, but I don’t want that to distract from the unique content hosted here.Instead I will establish parallel.cymru as a charitable enterprise, prepare grant applications, and later on explore opportunities for organisations to sponsor the site in the form of a weekly post explaining their product.
However, the most important parts of parallel.cymru is its contributors and readers, so I extend heartfelt thanks to the many people who are supporting and enjoying this project.
If you have an area of expertise you would like to share or a good story to tell, then you can get in touch with me on parallel.cymru@gmail.com.
Enjoy reading!

Review: Crwst, Aberteifi/Cardigan.

NOTE: There is a Welsh language version of this article, which is suitable for learners on the Welsh language version of our website. To access this click “Newid i’r Cymraeg” in the menu above, or browse to www.defnyddiwcheichcymraeg.com 

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Crwst, Aberteifi.

I’m a big fan of Cardigan, but I have to admit that I don’t travel down to Cardigan as much as I should, given that I’ve been living only 40 miles or so up the road in Aberystwyth for a year and a half now.

To illustrate that point better, the last time I visited Cardigan, this cafe was still what had been for some times an empty, rundown building.

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Crwst in a previous life!

My friend Nic had been praising the cafe to the hills over recent weeks due to its superb drinks and excellent service in Welsh, so I made a mental note to make sure I popped in the next time I found myself with a couple of hours to spare.

With my wife busy at work and no World Cup fixtures to contend with, I made the hour-ish long drive down to Cardigan to try and hunt it out (I hadn’t actually done the sensible thing and Googled it or anything!, I just assumed I would run into it), so imagine my surprise when I notice that the new place holds home in the previous “Siop y Cardi”

The place is bright and airy with a high ceiling, the furniture is a mix of wooden tables and chairs with some interplaced settees dotted around the place.

In terms of what’s available, there are three separate areas – the coffee bar, the food bar and the bar bar, that is to say the alcohol and soft drinks bar!

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So I made my way over the coffee bar and was delighted to hear staff introducing themselves and taking orders in Welsh first, which was superb to hear.

“Oes gennych chi llaeth soy?” I asked (Do you have soy milk?)
“Oes” came the answer (Yes).
I had a chat with the guy behind the counter for a minute or so, exchanged pleasantries and told him how much I liked the new place and that I’d heard good things.

So I ordered a soy cappucino and took my seat.

Crwst2 Crwst attracts an interesting mix of people, evidenced by the clientelle present. Behind me I had a group of 30-something friends, who arrived at 2.02pm, 2 minutes late for the Brunch that closed at 2pm, but despite being slightly too late, Crwst took their order and served them all in the time it took for me to finish my coffee.

My coffee was superb, expertly made and served by a friendly lady who was keen to make sure everything was okay – and even revisited me a couple of minutes later to double check.

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A Soy Cappuccino, Primark sunglasses, a Cymraeg lanyard and Ford Fiesta keys.

When you visit Crwst you will find a warm Welsh welcome, lovely, friendly staff and a superb coffee to boot!

Highly recommended if you are in the area.
Nicky.

Tiliau Hunan-wasanaeth / Self-service tills

NOTE: There is a Welsh language version of this article, which is suitable for learners on the Welsh language version of our website. To access this click “Newid i’r Cymraeg” in the menu above, or browse to www.defnyddiwcheichcymraeg.com 

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Love them or hate them? Sometimes if you want to Use your Welsh! Self-service tills are the only option available to us as customers.

A lot of people struggle with the moral dilemna of using these machines because it has been pretty well documented that every self-service machine potentially replaces a human worker.

But where do you stand if these machines are your only option for using Welsh?

In my local smaller Tesco (the high street type that sells a smaller range of goods) there are unfortunately no Welsh speakers, despite being in a town that is still very Welsh-speaking. The situation is different in the bigger Tesco supermarket on the other side of town, where most days of the week I can still be served by a Welsh speaker, who are largely easily identifiable as they all wear the orange “Cymraeg” badges to show that they can speak Welsh.

As someone who wants to use Welsh at every single opportunity this presents a bit of a problem, as not only do I want to use Welsh in order to complete my transaction but I suppose there’s also a part of me that is also using the machine through the medium of Welsh in order to show someone higher up in the office at Tesco that there is a need for staff to speak the language in Welsh-speaking areas.

Maybe I’m fooling myself but I know somewhere, in an office in Luton or something, that someone is looking at the statistics for how many people actually chose the Welsh option on these tills.

You also get these little lovely moments when you hear someone else using one of these tills in Welsh and you exchange a knowing glance and a nod!

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The thing is, I actually had a reason to raise a complaint with Tesco (yes I am THAT person!) last year. I took exception to something the machine said to me, I can’t even remember what it was that set me off but it was some kind of spelling mistake or similar.

So I raised my complaint and I was disappointed to find that according to Tesco Customer Services, I had been the first person to EVER complain about the quality of the spelling on these machines.

Which got me thinking… how many of us are actually using the Welsh option on these machines? I thought about asking a cheeky question back to Tesco Customer Services, “Can you tell me how many people actually use the Welsh language option at my local store in Aberystwyth?”

I was thinking “May as well ask it?”, after all they probably didn’t know or they’d ask me to complete a Subject Access Request or write to Head Office or something similar…

Actually, they came back to me within about ten minutes..

“Approximately 1 in every 5000 transactions on our Self-service machines are conducted in Welsh”

Which really deflated me. Now admittedly Aberystwyth isn’t the hotbed of Welsh language that it was 50/100 years ago, but there are still thousands and thousands of Welsh speakers here and I believe Ceredigion as a county still has a figure of 57% of people being able to speak the Welsh language.

So, why are so few of us using the Welsh language option on these machines?

Obviously the answer is that we’re all fluent in English as well, but does it run further than this? Is there anything these supermarkets can do to highlight the availability of these options? Take a look at the photo above? “Cymraeg” appears as a small button tucked away in the bottom right hand corner.

Comically in towns such as Caernarfon, where something like 85% of conversations happen through the medium of Welsh, English is still the default option and you’d be just as unlikely to find someone actually using the machines in Welsh.

So what is the answer? Should companies like Tesco, Asda and co look at making changes to these machines in order to better represent the areas in which they operate? Should these supermarkets be looking to employ more Welsh speakers in these areas?

Let us know your thoughts on the subject.

CROESO I “DEFNYDDIWCH EICH CYMRAEG”/WELCOME TO “USE YOUR WELSH”

Croeso/Welcome

Thank for you taking the time to visit “Use you Welsh!” A brand new website that will help you take your first steps in using the Welsh language.

Whether you want to learn the language to reconnect with the language of your families past, work through the medium of Welsh, take part in the chatter down the local pub or just add another skill to your CV this website will help you achieve your dreams.

As the website is still in its infancy, please accept our apologies for any rough edges or broken links.

If you have any thoughts on the type of content you would like to see on this website, please visit our forum or drop us an email: admin@useyourwelsh.com

Thanks
Nicky