Passing halfway and getting to grips with soft mutation (y treiglad meddal)
by Mathew Penri Williams
‘Surely you don’t need Bruce for your Entry level students?’ my wife asked nodding towards the dictionary on our kitchen table. ‘Of course not, I’m using it to prop up my laptop so that they can see me on Zoom.’ What would I do without good old Bruce?!
Well, here we are, we’ve reached halfway. Learning ‘isio’ (want). It’s a shame that we can’t practice what we’re learning in a real cafe or a pub. ‘Do you want a cup of tea?’. ‘I want a coffee.’ ‘Not tea.’ ‘Mathew wants a pint.’ Pretending to be at a bar in a Zoom breakout room isn’t quite the same!
Right, soft mutation. It needs to be understood and learnt so that everyone can tell me where they are from correctly. I ask everyone, one at a time ‘‘Dw i’n dŵad o Laniestyn, o le wyt ti’n dŵad? (I come from Llaniestyn, where are you from?). They all understand, thank goodness! Then, to add more confusion I introduce Y Fannod. They get a bit scared. But by the end of the lesson, everyone went to the shop, came from London (it only really works when explaining in Welsh).
Mynd a dŵad (to and from), the title of Unit 4. Teaching this is a challenge in these bonkers times! ‘Where are you going tomorrow?’, ‘How do you say nowhere in Welsh?’, ‘Dw i ddim yn mynd i unlle!’
Going back to the past was the aim of unit 5. But who would return after being scared off by soft mutation and y Fannod? They all do, few! ‘What did you do yesterday?’ ‘I was so afraid of mixing the past tense and mutations Wnes i Donic a jin!’ (I made a gin and tonic) says one of the students raising a glass towards the screen! ‘What did you do over the weekend?’ I went to Abersoch for fish and chips and ate them in the car! Apart from that, gardening, gardening and more gardening! If one good thing has come out of this lockdown, it’s the peace and quiet I’ve had to sort out our garden. We built our home on a concrete yard, and we had to carry tons and tons of soil to create a green space last autumn. This spring has been the perfect opportunity for us to plan, to plant and to build vegetable patches. I’m living in hope for a good crop over these next few months.
We’ve nearly reached week seven of the online course and starting to see the results. We’re also getting closer to returning to the Nant, and I can’t wait to take students on a trip around Pen Llŷn to practice their Welsh once again!