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Mapping changes to dialects

28 July 2015

Iwan Rees

Dr Iwan Wyn Rees will use the Eisteddfod to find out more about changing Welsh dialects

A Cardiff University linguist is using the National Eisteddfod to shed light on how Welsh dialects are changing around the country.

Dr Iwan Wyn Rees, of the School of Welsh, wants to find out more about how dialects have evolved over recent decades.

He is putting together a questionnaire, together with colleague Dr Jonathan Morris, for this year’s Eisteddfod in Montgomeryshire and the Marches to find out about linguistic developments in Wales.

Dr Rees is keen for all types of Welsh speakers to contribute regardless of age, geography or proficiency.

“What, for example, are the linguistic repercussions of the increase in Welsh-medium education in different parts of Wales?” he said.

“Similarly, when north Walian and south Walian parents settle in a town or a city such as Aberystwyth or Cardiff, what kind of Welsh is spoken by their children?

“My survey will therefore begin to shed light on these complex but fascinating issues, and I hope that it will also inspire students at the School of Welsh to carry out their own fieldwork.”

Dr Rees has already started to collect data in different parts of Montgomeryshire, and this work will help him determine the extent to which the use of various dialect features has changed.

However more data is required, especially among younger generations in the region.

The Cardiff University pavilion at the Eisteddfod will feature a recording booth in which visitors are encouraged to contribute.

Dr Rees added: “It should be emphasised that the last attempt to map the use of Welsh dialect words on a national level is seen in Alan R Thomas’s seminal The Linguistic Geography of Wales, which was published in 1973.

“Although still useful today, further work all over Wales is essential if we are to understand the linguistic processes which have taken place over recent decades.”

Dr Rees will be talking about dialects at an event in the University pavilion on Wednesday, 5 August from 1-2pm.

The Eisteddfod is this year taking place in Montgomeryshire and the Marches, at Meifod, from 1-8 August.

The University’s pavilion is staging various events and will feature family activities, films, refreshments and free wifi.

Information will be available about how the University supports the Welsh language, including various Welsh-medium modules on a wide range of degree courses.

The University is home to the Cardiff branch of the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, which makes recommendations about Welsh-medium provision to the Academic Board and considers our plans for further developments in this field.