How @S4C saved 2016 for me (Or, qH on Welsh TV: Part I)
Posted on December 29th, 2016
I could post about how 2016 can go suck a bag of dicks, but it’s been done.
I could also post about how my holiday cards were designed and purchased on time but I sent them out late and if you didn’t get one, it was because I lost or never computerized addresses in the last couple of years. THE GUILT IS KILLING ME. (Drop me a line with your address, please!)
In my quest to be
smugly obscure helpful, I’ll present a new series on Welsh TV. Yes, that’s random, isn’t it? But I watch more TV in Welsh now than in English.
To get it out of the way, since “I’m learning Welsh” always comes with the same annoying “Why?” that came with “I’m going to law school,” “I’m having a child,” and “I’m homeschooling my child?” The answer is: I want to. I have wanted to learn Welsh since I was bored in church and, having exhausted the good bits of the Bible (I liked Deuteronomy; no wonder I became a lawyer), and the hymns themselves, I read the tune index in the hymnal (having to listen to a parent sermonize every Sunday will drive you to such things) and discovered “Cwm Rhondda.” It just looked cool. (Spoiler: it’s a valley AND a tune AND a dessert topping.)
Also, W as a vowel? SIGN ME UP.
(Sidenote: in my minister’s kid opinion, all the good hymns are Welsh or German, because both can withstand a mediocre organist playing at dirge-tempo. The Welsh hymns still are lovely and the German hymns still sound like drinking songs, albeit really, really drunk drinking songs.)
I tried to learn Welsh as a teenager but had no resources, even in my university’s library. After a couple of years on Duolingo refreshing German, Welsh became available in beta and is now open. Between Duolingo, lots of grammar books,** and Welsh TV (and music), I’m slowly making headway.
Slowly. Grammatically, Welsh is pretty neat. After decades of German, who on earth could imagine a language where the verbs come first most of the time? Verbs! First! You know the sentence tense before you even know the subject! You don’t have to wait until the end to know the main verb. Alas, I am of mixed feelings about mutations. Maybe someday I’ll like them; after all, I’ve reached a place with German where I appreciate adjective endings. For now, though, mutations are just a thing that terrorize me when I want to look something up in a dictionary.
Oh, sure, I don’t have anyone to speak with, and yeah, that slows things down a bit. Fortunately my ferret is non-judgmental and likes to be called Rhys-bach. And I can’t roll my Rs. I’ve tried, and it’s not pretty.
But you’re here for the TV. There are so many good shows; it doesn’t start and end with Y Gwyll/Hinterland.***
Here’s how it happened.
My husband mentioned that when India wanted to increase literacy, the authorities started close-captioning TV. And it worked. It doesn’t get closer to a permission slip than that. So I thought:
I WILL WATCH WELSH TV. I WILL WATCH ALL THE WELSH TV.
I started with soap operas (two: Rownd a Rownd and Pobol y Cwm), which while very different in tone, somehow manage to all center around a cafe, hair salon, a cab company, a mechanic shop, pub, a couple of teachers, and contractors.
I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.
Y Detectif is hosted by Mali Harries, who plays Mared on Y Gwyll. Then my entire family discovered Fferm Ffactor: Brwydr Y Ffermwr and I found out my husband knew a bunch about farming. All these years together, and that just came out, just like I learned about his “Voltaire phase.” (His words.)
And I discovered Parch and Gwaith/Cartreff and Pen Talar (on DVD). And that’s barely getting going.
Then I discovered that for every show I watched, there was at least one actor (or writer) who was a musician whose work resided on my iPod. It’s totally cliched and it’s totally true.
And sometimes they retweeted me.
In a future post, you won’t be make me to shut up about Parch. My family history: Church? Check. Funerals and funeral homes? Check. Crazy mother? Check. (Although I’d take Myf as a mom in a heartbeat.) Miscreant younger brother who engages in identity theft? Check, check, check.
So, the more 2016 has sucked, the more TV I have watched in another language. (And I have enjoyed it more than I ever liked German TV–Entschuldigung, bitte!)
Thank you, @S4C.
FWIW, though, could someone tell me how to say, “2016 can suck a bag of dicks” yn y Gymraeg? Plîs?
* Dialect-wise, I made a tactical error. I researched where the largest concentration of Welsh speakers reside–the north–and bought instruction books accordingly; courses tend to be divided North/South. The TV is, so far as I can tell, mostly South, since that’s where Cardiff is. Wales, despite being the roughly the size as the county I went to university/got married in, has really distinct dialects. (My husband is convinced people in North Wales are speaking Russian when he can’t see what I’m watching.) But…it wouldn’t be a qH undertaking if I didn’t inadvertently make the entire thing twice as hard as it needed to be. In the future I’ll claim I did it on purpose. You know, for the challenge and well-roundedness. Right now it’s just a PITA.
** If I were to recommend one grammar book…it would be all of them. Seriously. I have all of them, including some random books that are out of print that I found at Powell’s.
I probably spent more money on Welsh books than shoes in 2016.
Ha! Okay, no, I didn’t. I wear Fluevogs. But I did make an investment and I’m glad. Sometimes seeing something the 20th time makes the difference.
***Y Gwyll is filmed twice: once in Welsh, once in English. It airs first in Wales in Welsh with English subtitles, then it airs in the rest of the UK in English with some Welsh, and then the US gets it, but only in English and not in the same form. I was annoyed I was getting a crap version of the show, so I ordered the DVDs from amazon.co.uk in Welsh (warning: it’s Region 2, so you have to have the player, and my second warning is they sell both languages–make sure you’re getting the right one). It is so. much. better. And you guys, Series 3. SERIES 3. AMAZING. Hopefully Netflix doesn’t mess it up.