Blog Archives

O bydded i’r hen iaith barhau: Patagonia 150

One of my earliest language-learning memories is of hot summer afternoons in the early years of high school, when even our unquenchably enthusiastic Welsh teacher would give up and just tell us stories. Of a land far far away, where children

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Posted in history, international, language, translation

Workers of the world unite: you have nothing to lose in translation

Billy Bragg had a 24-hour job at a moment’s notice. He was not going to get paid for his overtime. But he was on a mission. And he made the deadline. Hear him tell the story and sing his translation.

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Posted in international, translation

A language is a dialect with an army

Yesterday was St David’s Day, in self-imposed Finnish exile I’ll have to buy, not pick daffodils and sing the national anthem alone. It includes the immortal line: “O bydded i’r hen iaith barhau” (may the language endure for ever). Welsh

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Posted in language, translation

sounds British? Save our Sounds!

If, like me, you still regret getting rid of your lovingly created mix cassette tapes, complete with breath of radio 1 DJ at the end of each song, even though you haven’t had anything to play them on for years,

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Posted in language, translation

Dead poets translation society: “I was not there I don’t know”

How do you translate a dead poet? The November issue of Poetry magazine  is dedicated to translation, with translator’s notes on each poem. I made a beeline for languages I know – and found they shared a problem. The poet

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Posted in history, poetry, translation

Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai: 100 Japanese ghost stories

Tonight the old year ends; the day of the dead is coming. Halloween is not just All Hallows’ Eve, it’s also the eve of winter in the Celtic calendar; the gate of the darker half of the year. It’s time

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Posted in Edinburgh Festival, Folklore, international, short stories, translation

International Translation Day 2014: Language Rights are Human Rights

There are still many places around the world where linguistic minorities are persecuted and do not have the same access to work, education, health care or justice. Where I was born, the original Welsh Language Act had been in force

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Posted in international, translation

Williams translating Williams

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has a new book of poems out this month, first presented at the Edinburgh Book Festival, where I got my hands on a copy. The Other Mountain, published by Carcanet, includes a couple of

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Posted in books, Edinburgh Festival, faith, literature, poetry, translation, Uncategorized

keeping the language alive: polari, manx, cornish

When I was a teenager in Cardiff, the family next door spoke Welsh, but most people around spoke English. When I went to babysit, the boys were in shock: how could this other person speak their home language too? They

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Posted in international, translation, words

¡habla conmigo! – talk with me!

If you want someone’s mind to grow, you have to start a conversation with them as soon as they’re born. It’s not enough for them to hear language around them, adults talking to each other, people talking on TV or

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Posted in Illustration, language, words
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