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Реферат на тему Survival of the Welsh Language скачати

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Міністерство освіти і науки України

Таврійський національний університет

Їм. В.І. Вернадського

Факультет іноземної філології

Кафедра англійської філології

Гура Єгор Миколайович

Реферат на задану тему: «The Survival of the Welsh Language»

Дисципліна «Лингвострановедение»

Спеціальність 7.030502

«англійську та німецьку мови і література»

курс 4, група 42

Сімферополь 2001

Contents :

Introduction 3

Part I 3

Part II 5

Part III 7

Part IV 8

Part V 9

Part VI 10

Part VII 12

Part VIII 14

Part IX 15

Welsh language guide 18

List of used sources 21


It is the eighth wonder of Wales that is the most wondrous of them all, the survival of the Welsh language in the face of almost impossible odds.

Sometime in the seventh century, a Welsh Bishop heard an Englishman's voice on the bank of the River Severn and was filled with foreboding at the sound.. He recorded his unsettling experience thus: "For the kinsman of yonder strange-tongued man whose voice I heard across the river. . . will obtain possession of this place, and it will be theirs, and they will hold it in ownership."

The bishop was wrong. More than twelve centuries have passed since the strange tongue of the Saxon was heard on the borders of Wales, centuries during which the ancient tongue of the Bishop and his fellow Britons had every opportunity to become extinct and yet which has stubbornly refused to die. The survival of the native language is truly one of the great wonders of Wales, to be appreciated and marvelled at far more than any physical feature or man-made object, and far more than the so-called seven wonders of Wales.

It is a something of a shock when visitors travel from England west into Wales, for, almost without warning, he may find himself in areas where not only the dialects become incomprehensible, but where even the language itself has changed. The roadside signs "Croeso і Gymru" (accompanied by the red dragon, the ancient badge of Wales) let it be known that one is now entering a new territory, inhabited by a different people, for the translation is "Welcome to Wales" written in one of the oldest surviving vernaculars in Europe. For amusement with the language, after getting used to names such as Pontcysyllte, Pen y Mynydd , or Glynceiriog, one can take a little detour off the main route through Anglesey to Ireland and visit the village with its much-photographed sign announcing the now-closed railway station:


To account for the abrupt linguistic change from English into Welsh, one must journey far, far back into history.

Part I

It was about 1000 BC that the Celtic languages arrived in Britain, probably introduced by small groups of migrants who became culturally dominant in their new homelands, and whose culture formed part of a great unified Celtic "empire" encompassing many different peoples all over Northern Europe. The Greeks called these people, with their organized culture and developed social structure Keltoi, the Romans called them Celtai.

In spite of the fact that they were perhaps the most powerful people in much of Europe in 300 BC, with lands stretching from Anatolia in the East to Ireland in the West, the Celts were unable to prevent inter tribal warfare; their total lack of political unity, despite their fierceness in battle, ultimately led to their defeat and subjugation by the much-better disciplined armies of Rome. The Celtic languages on Continental Europe eventually gave way to those stemming from Latin.

The Celts had been in Britain a long time before the first Roman invasion of the British Isles under Julius Caesar in 55 BC which did not lead to any significant occupation. The Roman commander, and later Emperor, had some interesting, if biased comments concerning the native inhabitants. "All the Britons," he wrote, “paint themselves with woad, which gives their skin a bluish color and makes them look very dreadful in battle" (De Bello Gallico). It was not until a hundred years later, following an expedition ordered by the Emperor Claudius, that a permanent Roman settlement of the grain-rich eastern territories of Britain begun in earnest.

From their bases in what is now Kent, the Roman armies began a long, arduous and perilous series of battles with the native Celtic tribes, first victorious, next vanquished, but as on the Continent, superior military discipline and leadership, along with a carefully organized system of forts connected by straight roads, led to the triumph of Roman arms. In the western peninsular, in what is now Wales, the Romans were awestruck by their first sight of the druids (the religious leaders and teachers of the British). The historian Tacitus described them as being "ranged in order, with their hands uplifted, invoking the gods and pouring forth horrible imprecations" (Annales)

The terror was only short-lived; Roman arms easily defeated the native tribesmen, and it was not long before a great number of large, prosperous villas were established all over Britain, but especially in the Southeast and Southwest. Despite defeats in pitched battles, the people of mountainous Wales and Scotland were not as easily settled; their scattered settlements remained "the frontier" -- lands where military garrisons were strategically placed to guard the Northern and Western extremities of the Empire. The fierce resistance of the tribes in Cambria meant that two out of the three Roman legions in Britain were stationed on the Welsh borders. Two impressive Roman fortifications remain to be seen in Wales: Isca Silurium (Caerleon) with its fine amphitheatre, in Monmouthshire; and Segontium, (Caernarfon), in Gwynedd.

In Britain, at least for a few hundred years after the Roman victories on mainland Europe, the Celts held on to much of their customs and especially to their distinctive language, which has miraculously survived until today as Welsh. The language of most of Britain was derived from a branch of Celtic known as Brythonic: it later gave rise to Welsh, Cornish and Breton (these differ from the Celtic languages derived from Goidelic; namely, Irish, Scots, and Manx Gaelic). Accompanying these languages were the Celtic religions, particularly that of the Druids, the guardians of traditions and learning.

Though the Celtic tongue survived as the medium of everyday speech, Latin being used mainly administrative purposes, many loan words entered the native vocabulary, and these are still found in modern-day Welsh, though many of these have entered at various times since the end of the Roman occupation. Today's visitors to Wales who know some Latin are surprised to find hundreds of place names containing Pont (bridge), while ffenest (window), pysgod (fish), milltir (mile), melys (sweet or honey) cyllell (knife), ceffyl (horse), perygl (danger), eglwys (church), pared (wall or partition), tarw (bull) and many others attest to Roman or Latin influence.

When the city of Rome fell to the invading Goths under Alaric, Roman Britain, which had experienced hundreds of years of comparative peace and prosperity, was left to its own defences under its local Romano-British leaders, one of whom may have been a tribal chieftain named Arthur. It quickly crumbled under the onslaught of Germanic tribes (usually collectively referred to as Anglo-Saxons) themselves under attack from tribes to the east and wishing to settle in the sparsely populated, but agriculturally rich lands across the narrow channel that separated them.

More than two hundred years of fighting between the native Celts, as brave as ever but comparatively disorganized, and the ever-increasing numbers of Germanic tribesmen eventually resulted in Britain sorting itself out into three distinct areas: the Britonic West, the Teutonic East, and the Gaelic North. It was these areas that later came to be identified as Wales, England, and Scotland, all with their very separate cultural and linguistic characteristics (Ireland, of course, remained Gaelic: many of its peoples migrated to Scotland, taking their language with them to replace the native Pictish).

From the momentous year 616, the date of their defeat at the hands of the Saxons in the Battle of Chester, the Welsh people in Wales were on their own. Separated from their fellow Celts in Cornwall and Cumbria, those who lived in the western peninsular gradually began to think of themselves as a distinct nation in spite of the many different rival kingdoms that developed within their borders such as Morgannwg, Powys, Brycheinion, Dyfed and Gwynedd. It is also from this period that we can speak of the Welsh language, as distinct from the older Brythonic.

In a poem dated 633, the word Cymry appears, referring to the country; and it was not too long before the Britons came to be known as the Cymry, by which term they are known today. At this point, we should point out that the word Welsh (from Wealas) is a later word used by the Saxon invaders of the British Isles perhaps to denote people they considered "foreign" or at least to denote people who had been Romanized. It originally had signified a Germanic neighbor, but eventually came to be used for those people who spoke a different language.

The Welsh people themselves still prefer to call themselves Cymry, their country Cymru, and their language Cymraeg. It is also from this time that the Celtic word Llan appears, signifying a church settlement and usually followed by the name of a saint, as in Llandewi (St. David) or Llangurig (St. Curig), but sometimes by the name of a disciple of Christ, such as Llanbedr (St. Peter) or even a holy personage such as Llanfair (St. Mary).

Part II

It is in Wales, perhaps, that today's cultural separation of the British Isles remains strongest, certainly linguistically, and for that, we must look to the mid 8th Century, when a long ditch was constructed, flanking a high earthen rampart that divided the Celts of the West from the Saxons to the East and which, even today, marks the boundary between those who consider themselves Welsh from those who consider themselves English. The boundary, known as "Offa's Dyke," in memory of its builder Offa, the king of Mercia (the middle kingdom) runs from the northeast of Wales to the southeast coast, a distance of 149 miles.

English-speaking peoples began to cross Offa's Dyke in substantial numbers when settlements were created by Edward 1st in his ambition to unite the whole of the island of Britain under his kingship. After a period of military conquest, the English king forced Welsh prince Llywelyn ap Gruffudd to give up most of his lands, keeping only Gwynedd west of the River Conwy.

Edward then followed up his successes by building English strongholds around the perimeter of what remained of Llewelyn's possessions, and strong, easily defended castles were erected at Flint, Rhuddlan, Aberystwyth, and Builth., garrisoned by large detachments of English immigrants and soldiers. Some of these towns have remained stubbornly English ever since. Urban settlement, in any case, was entirely foreign to the Celtic way of life.

In 1294, the Statute of Rhuddlan confirmed Edward's plans regarding the governing of Wales. The statute created the counties of Anglesey, Caernarfon, and Merioneth, to be governed by the Justice of North Wales; Flint, to be placed under the Justice of Chester; and the counties of Carmarthen and Cardigan were left under the Justice of South Wales.

In the year 1300, the situation seemed permanently established, when "King Edward of England made Lord Edward his son [born at Caernarfon Castle], Prince of Wales and Count of Chester," and ever since that date these titles have been automatically conferred upon the first-born son of the English monarch. The Welsh people were not consulted in the matter, although an obviously biased entry in Historia Anglicana for the year 1300 reads:

In this year King Edward of England made Lord Edward, his son and heir,

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