Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Learning Welsh from Music: Let's Start With the Anthem!

Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau
(Old Land of My Fathers)

Let's begin!


PLEASE BEAR IN MIND THAT THIS MAY BE THE MOST DIFFICULT POST FOR A WHILE, NOT BECAUSE IT'S PARTICULARLY CHALLENGING, WE ALL KNOW THE WORDS, BUT THE LANGUAGE IS QUITE 'POSH,' IT IS FROM THE OLDEN DAYS! IT'S NOT HARD THOUGH REALLY!!

This is the Welsh National Anthem: Listen to it in its entirety :)




Right, so... I would like to explain the meaning and words in this song, chunk by chunk. 

So, I will firstly deal with the FIRST STANZA, so after I've walked you through it, play just this part again, NOT the whole thing... Just to where I've explained. This will be the pattern through the whole song.

The first lyrics are...

Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi,

So, firstly you'll notice the word 'Mae'.

'Mae' is a very common word in Welsh. Why? Well, because it is the third person singular form of the verb 'to be', AKA 'is'. Simply put, 'mae' means 'is'.  

Simply, and let's NOT COMPLICATE this, shove 'MAE' at the start of a positive, indicative statement, i.e. a sentence that says something is something (positive). Just use it... it goes at the beginning, when we simply state (not question) something. 

Next, Hen means OLD and this is one of the very few adjectives (describing words, green, small, long etc.) that comes BEFORE the thing it is describing... most, most, most come after, 

i.e. Gwlad hir (long country)

So, Hen means Old,

Wlad means Country/Land - in the dictionary it would have a 'G' at the start (GWLAD) but the word Hen comes before (exception not rule), so the letter G get's dropped, left out.

So, we have, HEN WLAD: OLD LAND/COUNTRY

Therefore, Mae hen wlad - The old land (we see how Mae is at the front, it Starts statements like this.) If it isn't a question or negative statement (there are NO, Doesn't etc.) 
There's a good chance you'll simply need to shove 'Mae' at the start. SIMPLE, really, think of it as simply as that! :D

So, Mae hen wlad
     
     The old land

Next, fy nhadau...

tad = dad (father) (simple enough!)

tadau - dads (fathers) the plural.

FY means My - it's possessive, i.e. belongs to, it's MY fathers, Mine!

So, Fy tadau = My Fathers

Howver... like with Hen... the word after mutates, or changes. 

So... after Fy it gets nasal, all nosey, like a blocked nose version, 

T goes to Nh after 'FY'

That's quite simple, don't worry, just remember that! Trying to say 'T' through your nose comes out that way!:L

So - Fy tadau, becomes..... Fy nhadau (my fathers)

Quite simple. T -> Nh. 

It will get shorter...

Next, "yn annwyl" meaning "is dear"


Yn - Is  (Wait, wasn't 'mae' 'is' too?) Well, technically speaking, 'yn' has no independent meaning, it's just a particle (geiryn) that's required to link an adjective to a verb. Thinking about it like the English 'is' can be helpful, but, it's role is purely grammatical.
    
annwyl - dear

"i mi" - "to me" 

The old land of my fathers is dear to me.

Mae Hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi. 

Notice... how we don't need OF... as in, Gareth's bag (the bag OF Gareth) it's his! 
In Welsh is "Bag Gareth" ...bag = bag ;) SEE!, NOTHING for this OF. Just Bag Gareth, Gareth's bag! :) 

Easy!... The explanations will get shorter and shorter, TRUST ME!...

I'll continue, shorter, in the next post... We Will fly through it!... Remember the START was always gonna be the most detailed. 

Just listen to the song, relax, read the lyrics, over and over :D... Until soon!


3 comments: