• 2004-10-19

I have long wanted to learn another language or two. Apart from the obvious choices (Arabic, Russian, Hindi, Japanese), I have been particularly attracted to the idea of learning a Celtic language (Welsh, in particular) and an African one (thinking of Wolof, Bambara or Soninké).

Today, I had a stroke of luck on this front: Suw Charman of the Chocolate and Vodka blog has offered to give me Welsh lessons! I’m thrilled, of course, and after her supper we held our first lesson on an irc channel. My head is buzzing. Now I have to memorize a long conjugation table of the auxiliary bod (be). It has forms for affirmative, interrogative and negative sentences in the present, future and some sort of past tense. And the word order needs getting used to, but that’s not surprising.

So one thousand and sixty-six thanks to Suw! She also provides an entire site on Welsh and how to learn its basic features. I have taken notes on my new Wiki — here is an export of the rough writeup. Errors included.

Sounds and pronunciation are a problem, of course. I’m trying to hear the words (in my head) not too wrongly. Practising the ll sound (lateral fricative [ɬ] (isn’t this a pretty phonetic character? it’s called “l with belt”), I try to sound “like an annoyed cat”, the way Suw suggests. Voyelle, my cat, seems to agree: she recoiled when I tried to pronounce it while cuddling her. I must be on the right track.

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