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New resources celebrate the variety of Welsh dialects

8 December 2017

Cardiff University’s School of Welsh was the setting for the launch of a new set of resources on the dialects of Wales and the Welsh Settlement in Patagonia, designed to support educators, actors and scriptwriters, on 30 November 2017.

The resources were created by Dr Iwan Wyn Rees, a lecturer at the School of Welsh and an expert in the field of dialectology, supported by the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol.

There are two resources – one on the dialects of the Welsh Settlement in Patagonia (y Wladfa) and the other to support scriptwriters and actors in their work. Both are now available through the Coleg Cymraeg resource library.

The purpose of the Welsh Settlement resource was to present, for the first time, the contemporary varieties of the Welsh dialects in Patagonia. It offers the opportunity to listen to oral Welsh from a range of different speakers and these sound clips are accompanied by detailed notes highlighting features of the various dialects.

This is primarily an educational resource with the aim of increasing educators’ awareness of indigenous forms of dialects native to the area and heard within certain Welsh-language speakers in the Welsh Settlement.

Dr Rees said: “There is an ongoing debate that any kind of Welsh is better than no Welsh at all and while I don’t disagree I believe that encouraging speakers to feel pride and confidence in their dialects is an excellent way of reviving the Welsh language generally. The Welsh Settlement’s dialects have developed uniquely since 1865 and why should Patagonian learners been required to learn a variety of Welsh that belongs to Wales?”

“My hope is that this new resource will persuade educators not to ignore the Welsh Settlement’s traditional dialects and help to halt the loss of some words and phrases that are unique to this part of the world.”

Supporting scriptwriters and actors

During the launch event, the second resource – for scriptwriters and actors – was presented with the support of the performers Caryl Parry Jones and Rhian Morgan. The two respected performers brought several different characters to life during the evening to show the variety of dialects from across Wales. They were also a tremendous support to Dr Rees as he went about creating the resource.

He said: “The aim of this resource is to help actors and scriptwriters familiarise themselves with different dialects and facilitate practical use during their everyday work. There are sound and video clips representing dialects from all around Wales, and from different eras.”

The resource has already been used by the National Theatre of Wales for its performance of Nansi during the 2015 National Eisteddfod in Montgomeryshire and the Marches. Dr Rees explained: “I was already working on putting the resource together when the National Theatre approached me to ask if I could provide guidelines on the native dialect of Montgomeryshire. Nansi was a very successful production by Professor Angharad Price which went on tour around Wales after the Eisteddfod. It was wonderful to see the sound clips from the resource used by the experienced actors for a very practical purpose. They were very successful in bringing the dialects of Dyffryn Banw and Dyffryn Tanat to life.”

Since then, Dr Rees has completed work on the resource which is now being used more widely by students and performing companies.

He concluded: “I’m very proud that both resources are being used for practical purposes and are helping to promote and protect the dialects of Wales and the Welsh Settlement.”

Explore the resources (Welsh Settlement resource / Resource for Scriptwriters and Actors) on the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol website. These are available in Welsh only.

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