The Welsh Language

As an American who has visited England three times, I am quite familiar with places being pronounced quite differently to the way they are spelt. Of course I would never dream of telling any English the “right” way of pronouncing these names. Then again, if I did, I’d probably get beaned for it. Still, I think this is more than a bit rude…

 

In A Muddle Over The Mobble

Tourist Information | Wales | Extra Stupid, Funny Names, Language & Words, Tourists/Travel

(Most of our visitors are from England, and although we’re familiar with the ‘tourist’ pronunciations of a lot of town names, sometimes they manage to pronounce something so crazy that we have to ask them to spell it, which for us, usually spells trouble…)

Customer: *a smartly-dressed older lady* “Hi. I want to get to Mobblegarnith.”

Me: “Mobblegarnith? I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of it. Did you perhaps mean [Town Name In Cheshire]? It’s a good two-and-a-half hours from here.”

Customer: “It must be near here; I think we passed a sign for it on our way in.”

Me: “Well, the nearest town to here that begins with ‘M’ is [Town Name].”

Customer: “No. Not there.”

Me: “Well, how about [another nearby town name that begins with ‘M’]?”

Customer: “No. Not there either.”

Me: “What about [town that doesn’t begin with ‘M’ but roughly rhymes with the ‘garnith’ part]?”

Customer: “No, no, NO, stupid! It’s not there. It’s Mobblegarnith!” *slowly and louder* “MOBBLE. GARNITH!”

Me: “I’m ever so sorry, but could you spell it for me? Or perhaps tell me a name of another town you passed by where you saw the signs?”

Customer: “Oh for crying out loud. M. A. C. H. Y—”

Me: “Oh! You mean Machynlleth?! That’s a good hour from us, and it’s back the way you came from [Their Hometown].”

Customer: “Yes, finally! Mobblegarnith. I don’t get why you Welsh people have to pronounce it differently just to wind us English up. It’s CLEARLY Mobblegarnith.”

Me: “I assure you it’s not deliberate. The Welsh alphabet is just a tiny bit bigger than the English one. We actually have 28 letters versus your 26, so we have to combine some of the letters in the alphabet to finish making up our alphabet. The pronunciations are all right once you get used to them, though.”

Customer: “Don’t lecture me, young lady! Your alphabet is nothing more than silly lies; if you’d been properly educated you’d know how to pronounce all these places. Now, could you please, very kindly, if it is not too much trouble, tell me how to get to Mobblegarnith?”

Me: “Right, okay. I can print you some map directions if you like?”

Customer: *sarcastically* “Thank you, you are most kind.”

Me: *prints maps and hands them to customer* “Here you go! Road directions to Machynlleth. Since you had such trouble getting here, I’ll waive the printing fee.”

Customer: “For goodness sakes, girl, say it PROPERLY.”

Me: *dying a bit inside* “I hope you have a safe journey to Mobblegarnith.”

Customer: *gives a satisfied nod, and turns on her heels to leave*

 

Courtesy of Not Always Right

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One thought on “The Welsh Language

  1. Did they really, really say all that? It’s truly awful, isn’t it? And utter ignorance to think that all English place names have a standard pronunciation – Cambois, Greenwich or Keswick, for example. Where are the pronunciation rules for them? I don’t really understand why people cross borders if they don’t respect difference.

    There’s a dreadful attitude, horribly common among the English, that Welsh is not a ‘proper’ language and that the close arrangement of multiple consonants is just some kind of trick, designed to annoy the English. I’m amazed and impressed at your ability to keep your cool in the face of such bizarre xenophobia. Good on you.

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