This week Newcastle Emlyn will be celebrating its annual Urdd Carnival week. So it seemed like a good time to reflect on the Welsh culture, community and language that we are so lucky to be part of.
Newcastle Emlyn and the surrounding beautiful Teifi Valley area are in the Welsh speaking heartland of Wales. It is part of what gives our area its distinctive feel. After all, Newcastle Emlyn is the resting place of the last Welsh dragon.
But it is something that can make native English speakers like myself and Jill quite nervous. We strive very hard to be bilingual when creating posters for events (with the brilliant support of the infinitely patient Nia at Menter). And we are 100% behind all bilingual policies. But how should we deal with customers in the shop? Is it just us who feels a bit stupid to open a conversation with ‘Bore Da’ when we would be lost within seconds if someone replied in Welsh? Do people appreciate a ‘Diolch’ from us, or does it just seem like paying lip service?
Luckily we have our managing director for help. After one year in school her Welsh is amazing and far outstrips her poor mum. She is also learning to read in Welsh and (not very subtly) corrects me when I try to read to her – I am OK on consonant sounds, but always mangle my vowels – I’m the equivalent of Officer Crabtree in ‘Allo Allo.
It is genuinely wonderful to see Ceridwen and her friends switching between languages without a second thought. And the research on the benefits of bilingualism in terms of brain development in children is very clear. I just wish our older brains were better able to keep up. We will just have to keep trying the best we can! And in the meantime, here is a picture of our little dragon when she had just hatched out of her egg. How could I resist? I think ‘Awww’ works in any language!