Unless the peeps down in Nasa presumed that aliens converse in iaith y nefoedd (the language of the heavens), someone thinks extremely highly of the Welsh language.
On a golden record, amongst sounds of thunder and rain, nestled between a silhouette of a man and a woman, just below English and a Chinese dialect in a list of only 55 earthly tongues, the following message yesterday left our Solar System:
“Iechyd da i chwi yn awr, ac yn oesoedd” – Good health to you now, and forever.
No words of the beautiful languages of the Netherlands nor Norway had a place in this eternal record. Someone thinks highly of our homely inheritance.
One member of the Nasa team involved in the Voyager project was born in Caerfyrddin (Carmathen) and many believe this had a positive effect for our ancient Celtic tongue’s inclusion on Voyager’s golden record.
And since it’s the only Celtic language on the record, it represents all of Wales’ Celtic cousins in an inter-stellar stand that demands ‘Celts were here!’ …. or ‘Celtz woz ere’ to any 90’s graffiti artists.
But taking a step back from a floating concoction of metals and other materials, what can this mean for, not just Cymraeg, but for humanity?
Voyager, which already requires some 52 hours to send a message to Nasa, receive one back, act upon it and send back confirmation of completion, will not last forever. It will break down and decay – much like the planet from which it hails. Thankfully, the nature of the golden record ensures at least the important parts of Voyager’s already 36 year-long journey will endure the harshness of space. It will take another 40,000 years for whatever’s left behind to reach the next star after our Sun. Our ‘Haul,’ in Welsh.
But let’s presume there’s no life out there capable of understanding the symbolic instructions required to hear these everlasting sounds. Let’s presume the golden record’s contents will float around in space, keeping close that which makes our planet personal to us.
Meanwhile, a meteor wipes out humanity on Earth.
Imagine a new species (much like the humanoids who roam this lonely planet now) are born and live on our little rock. Imagine they, like us, get curious of their surroundings. Imagine they trawl the vastness in and outside of our Solar System.
Imagine they find Voyager.
How about the 55 languages, as well as a collection of tiger sniffles and rabbit burps, are heard by a new species? A new humanity. These will be alien sounds. Sounds from another time in space. Another people. Another world.
And the language of the heavens, third in a list of tongues comprising but a fraction of our modes of human communication, will once again be heard on Earth. A gift of our everlasting existence.
Should humanity continue on this Earth for millennia more and Project Voyager becomes but a myth about a pioneering event of the very first time humankind left his milltir sgwâr (familiar surroundings), lost in the sands of an ancient Wikipædia page, people will speak of an ancient language. A language of a peoples since gone. A language that was deemed important enough to be locked in time. A proof of an existence.
And our descendants will read.
And they will learn of Welsh.
“Cymraeg am byth“, they’ll whisper.
Everlasting smiley face 🙂