Rúnaí na hAthbhliana

Gach bliain, déanann daoine timpeall an domhain rún na hAthbhliana. Domsa, níl ach rud éigin a dhéanamh idir na Nollaig agus an bhliain nua atá sé. Gach bliain (de ghnáth thart ar mhí na Feabhra!) cloisimid daoine go leor ag rá go bhfuil a gcuid rúnaí na hAthbhliana ‘as an fhuinneog!’

Ach, in ainneoin a ceapaim go bhfuil rúnaí na hAthbhliana maol agus gan éifeacht, gach bliain beidh ceann amháin agam…. agus seo é; ní dhéanfaidh mé rún na hAthbhliana riamh sa bhliain seo!

Cliste, nach bhfuil?

Anuraidh, le mo bhean chéile ag rá go raibh dúil aici ithe seacláid a stopadh (rud ná ndearna sí faoi mhí na Nollag), rinne mise rún na hAthbhliana dáiríre freisin…. agus seo eisean; nuair a chonaic mé aon rud ar suíomhanna meáin-shóisialta sna teangacha Ceilteacha, ní raibh mé in ann neamhshuim a dhéanamh dóibh.

I rith na bliana, bhí mé ag léamh gach rud (bhuel, beagnach gach rud) in aon teanga Cheilteach a chonaic mé. Roimh sin, má nach raibh mé i dtimpeallacht mhaith nó bhí mé gnóthach, bhí mo chuid méasa ag scroláil agus ag scroláil gach uair a chonaic mé rud éigin nach raibh as Breatnais nó as Béarla.

Tá sé cinnte nach léigh mé GACH tvuít nó rud ar Facebook as Gaeilge nó as Coirnis etc, ach thug mé iarraidh mór air. Tá a fhios ag gach duine an smaoineamh coitainta faoi glasraí agus torthaí. An bhfuil sibh ag éisteacht leis agus é a dhéanamh gach lá? Tá sé fíor nach ithim féin cúig glasradh nó toradh gach lá ach tar éis moltaí ‘cúig gach lá’ na realtas, b’féidir ithim dó nó trí ar a laghad anois! Is fearr rud éigin ná rud ar bith, nach bhfuil?

Anuraidh (agus arís i mbliana), tá mé ag léamh rudaí nua agus difriúil as Gaeilge (agus teangacha Ceilteacha eile) gach lá agus nuair a tháinig mí na Nollag i 2018, bhí mé in ann ag rá go chríochnaigh mé rún na hAthbhliana.

Tic. Déanta. Ní raibh orm rún eile a dhéanamh riamh arís. Bhuel…. níl sé sin cinnte go leor. Anois atá ceann déanta agam, ba mhaith liom an mothú sin a bhraitheann arís. Agus i mbliana, tá mo rún na hAthbhliana níos uaillmhianach. I mbliana, beidh mé líofa as Gaeilge.

Do na daoine atá in ann neamhshuim a dhéanamh do mo chuid earráidí gramadaí agus comhréir san alt seo, ná bígí ag smaoineamh go bhfuil mé in aice le a bheith líofa fós…. thug an t-alt seo uaireanta agus foclóirí go leor á scríobh!

Áfach, tá muinín agam as m’fhéin fós go mbeidh mé líofa i mbliana. Tá mé ag éisteacht leis an ráidió gach Satharn nuair atá mé sa chith; tá mé ag déanamh mo chuid Duolingo agus ClozeMaster gach lá; tá mé ag léamh níos mó rudaí ar m’fhón as Gaeilge agus ag léamh leabhair ‘fhisiceacha’ as Gaeilge freisin. Tá mo chairde atá Gaeilge againn ag caint liom agus tá mé ag caint le m’fhéin nuair nach bhfuil aon Ghaeilge eile in aice liom.

Dá bhrí sin, seo mise agus seo mo rún na hAthbhliana i mbliana. Tá a fhios agam nach mbeidh sé éasca ach, go dtí go mbeidh teorainn agam, níl gealltanas dáiríre é mo bhrionglóid.

Agus i ndéireadh na dála, mura n-ithim cúig glasraí nó torthaí gach lá faoi mhí na Nollag i mbliana, beidh mé ag ithe ar a laghad dhá nó trí cinn, nach mbeidh?


Pokémon Coch (Welsh Red Version) – Latest

When something on which you’ve worked rather hard suddenly becomes a true reality that not only you yourself can enjoy but others too, it’s a rather lovely feeling.

For around a month now I’ve been working on translating Pokémon Red into Welsh and it’s going rather well. At a guess I’d like to say that there’s less than 100 phrases left to translate now so the end is nigh!

If you wish to play version 5, click on this link. Please note that any newer versions will only be posted on this link and will not be updated on this page.


As a thank you to those who’ve already downloaded the game (and given some wonderful feedback), here are two extra Easter eggs for players of the Welsh version.


After taking Elm’s package to Pallet Town, go back to the PokéMart in Viridian.Once there you should see free Master Balls as the fifth and final item.


Go over the bridge with the 5 trainers on it in Cerulean City which leads East towards Bill’s House. Instead of visiting Bill, take Route 9 to the East.

Just before the patch of water where you can sail to go to the Power Plant, search through the grassy area.

There are a few Spearows and Ekans hanging around but eventually you’ll bump into a level 150 Mewtwo.

Wouldn’t free Master Balls be handy about now?

Lawrlwytho Pokémon Coch


Cliciwch yma i lawrlwytho fersiwn 9.

DS Bydd rhaid lawrlwytho efelychydd (emulator) yn ogystal â’r ffeil uchod. Mae gwybodaeth ar sut i wneud hyn ar ddiwedd y cofnod hwn.

Nodiadau am y gêm:

  • Dydy’r cyfieithu ddim wedi’i gwblhau eto. Mae dal digon o waith i wneud.
  • Ffeil fyw ydy’r ffeil uchod – byddaf yn ei diweddaru pob tro caf gyfle. Pob tro byddwch yn chwarae’r gêm, mae’n werth ail-lawrlwytho’r ffeil er mwyn cael y fersiwn diweddaraf fydd ganddo mwy wedi’i gyfieithu a llai o namau (gobeithio!).
  • Mae ambell i nam yn codi wrth chwarae – fel arfer gellir mynd heibio hyn trwy bwyso’r prif fotwm sawl gwaith. ‘Dydw i heb ddod ar draws nam sy’n stopio’r gêm rhag rhedeg yn gyfan gwbl…. eto!
  • Dylid sylweddoli mai tasg anodd a pharhaol iawn ydy hon. Mae wedi bod yn anodd cadw’r nodau o dan y nifer a ganiateir gan y gêm ac felly bu’n rhaid i mi gynnwys digon o ‘fratiaith’ (os yw’r fath beth hyd yn oed yn bodoli) a chymysgedd o dafodieithoedd gwahanol – er nad peth drwg ydy hynny!
  • Gweler isod am fideo o’r gêm, gwybodaeth tu ôl i’r prosiect a chysylltiadau at wefannau er mwyn chwarae’r gêm eich hunain.
  • Gadewch i mi wybod os nad ydych yn llwyddo lawrlwytho unrhyw beth o’r dudalen hon. Gellir cysylltu â mi ar Drydar (@SteCymru14) neu drwy fy ebostio.

Diolch yn fawr iawn.

Cliciwch yma i ddarllen am fy mhrosiect

i ddarparu Pokémon Red yn Gymraeg.

Cliciwch yma i weld fideo
gyda 90 eiliad o’r gêm.

Cliciwch yma i lawrlwytho efelychydd
(emulator) er mwyn chwarae’r gêm.

Nodiadau am yr efelychydd:

  • Bydd yr efelychydd hwn ond yn gweithio ar gyfrifiadur personol neu ar gluniadur.
  • Er mwyn ei chwarae ar iPhone bydd rhaid mynd i’r wefan hon.
  • Ar ôl lawrlwytho’r efelychydd, bydd rhaid echdynnu cynnwys y ffeil. Gweler y nodiadau yn y llun isod:Di-deitl

Pokémon Coch

Back in early April I found myself in Iceland after another staff member from the school was unable to go. I suppose it was only right that my visit to Lesotho in the southern extremities of the planet earlier in the year should be coupled with a trip to the Arctic Circle – or close enough to it. My only reservation was leaving Angharad (again) in the year we are to wed. Thankfully, as a teacher, she was fully supportive and accomodating of my own teacher duties.

99.99% of everything I saw was incredible. From geysers to tectonic separations; lagoons to glaciers; waterfalls to volcanoes…. it was truly a wonderful place.

The reason, however, I’m that unable to say I enjoyed 100% of the trip is down to a conversation I overheard in a Subway resturant just outside Reykjavíc between a customer and a cashier.

Two people; one ordering some grub, the other serving it. Both Icelanders. Both speaking English!!!!

On our trip we were lucky enough to boast Björn Rúriksson as our guide. This incredibly knowledgable photographer, pilot and writer (amongst many other things) was persistantly interesting as he pointed out each and every nook ans cranny of his home island. He also learnt how to say Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantisiliogogogoch perfectly in a just few hours. Although to be fair, I can say Eyjafjallajökull pretty well!

The reason I mention Björn here is because he was the first person to whom I spoke regarding my sadness and, in honesty, my surprise that two Icelanders would choose to speak English over their native tongue.

It was then he informed me of something about which, as a Welshman, I’m all too well versed; the damning of smaller languages by the many who speak English before their native language(s).

A similar point was made by Abraham Somers in an article for Nation.cymru where he speaks of Iceland’s struggle in keeping up with the English language’s domination of the digital age.

Björn was amazed to learn, considering Wales’ close proximity to the homeland of the world’s new de facto language, that the Welsh language had survived in the manner it had. I refused to inform him that my language boasted twice as many speakers as his own!

We talked for hours about the situation of our respective languages as we passed some of most beautiful landscapes on the planet until eventually we began to consider how our languages might move forward. How might our languages maintain their relevance in a world rapidly losing its languages at an alarming rate?

One thing that struck me from our conversation the most was how Icelanders had, since the 90s, ensured that as many game developing companies as possible included Icelandic on their games. I guess the reason behind it was to ensure Icelandic maintained its relevance in the world – to ensure that the younger speakers didn’t feel as though they had to learn Norwegian, German or English in order to enjoy the latest games.

Mainly down to our lack of sovereignty as a nation, Wales and the Welsh language were – and still are – totally overlooked when it comes to the gaming world. Even if the population of the world’s Icelandic speakers is less than the entire population of Wales’ capital city, the fact that Iceland boasts its own seat at the United Nations means their language will always have a better chance than ours.

Rarely a day goes by when I don’t spend at least 30 seconds (but often much longer) thinking about how we could strenghten the Welsh language. Sometimes I keep the faith that one day it will hit me and a simple idea will change our language’s future for the better. Most of the time, however, I mainly dispair in the knowledge that via drastic actions only we will save Cymraeg. John Saunders Lewis was indeed correct!

Last week I had an idea. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite the linguistic silver bullet for which I’ve been searching but it at least linked two of my many passions – the preservation and expansion of the Welsh language and retro gaming!

I’ve been messing around with retro games, roms and emulators for years. Little chucks of childhood nostalgia squeezed together in 8-bit colourless harmony. And the best part about being able to relive my gaming childhood is that it’s completely free!

Pokémon Red for the Nintendo GameBoy is one of my personal favourites. It was one of the first games I remember that forced me to lose hundreds of hours and sapping the juice of even more AA batteries.

After (once again) completing the game, I needed a new challenge. A quick internet search led me to various articles on how game text could be edited.

You’ll never guess what I’ve just spent the last 5 hours doing….!

+ Check out my video here with around a minute of gameplay.

Now look, there are a few things I need to mention here:

  • This will in no way save the Welsh language – at best it will give some Welsh-speaking 30-somethings around half an hour of fun.
  • I’m nowhere near completing this ‘project’ and there are various problems such as bugs, dialect choices, character limitations and difficulties in translating such terms as Pokéball and Boulderbadge!
  • I can but hope that my passion for a game first released at the end of the previous milennium enthuses other game developers to contact Welsh speakers with translation requests. Or perhaps Welsh speakers will, themselves, approach gaming companies and pester them to provide Welsh interface options!

Once I’ve completed the first version I will make the game available free-of-charge to all who fancy a try.

Look, I’m under no illusions that this project won’t save the Welsh language like Morgan’s bible translation in 1588 but who knows? Perhaps game developers might take note of the Welsh language in future!

Finally, don’t pity me. It’s actually a lot of fun to do!


UPDATE: Click this link to download the first version of Pokémon Red in Welsh.

Dam it

In preparation for my trip to Lesotho in February I was told to keep in mind that the differences in lifestyles would be an instant shock to the system. “Wales is a developed country and Lesotho is a developing country,” we were told.

When the time came to farewell new friends after 11 humbling days in Hlotse I had discovered that, in so many ways, the ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ labels had been totally misplaced.

The Basotho’s friendliness, kindness, generosity, happiness, willingness to break into song and dance whenever the feeling arose and eagerness to simply smile at everyone in the street proved that Wales is most definitely still a developing country…. by my definitions, at least.

Despite the whole week being packed with eye-opening and interesting things to do, one of the highlights was visiting the Katse Dam. At 185m tall it is Africa’s second tallest double curvature arch dam producing water on-demand for South Africa’s lowlands who so frequently suffer from drought.

During the pre-visit presentation I enquired as to the circumstances of the many farmlands and homes that were to be demolished prior to the dam’s opening – attempting to create parallels with Wales’ Tryweryn valley flooding in the 1960s.

According to the guide, each displaced person was offered an annual grant of cash (or the equivalent value in maize) and the company encouraged all effected to establish business cooperatives amongst themselves to ensure there was employment after losing their livelihoods. Many established trout fishing farms furter up the newly formed river and have done rather well for themselves.

What’s more, for Lesotho as a nation, the South African government pays around £6m per month (plus extra variable royalties based on calculated water usage benefits) to ensure their nation avoids the droughts that so often destroy lives.

In comparison to Tryweryn we see that, aside from (involuntary) rehoming, the residents of Capel Celyn and surrounding areas received nothing on this scale compared to the people of Katse. No annual payments and no cooperative schemes to rehabilitate those who lost family homes established centuries prior. One of the final monoglot Welsh-speaking villages left in Wales at the time gone without second thought.

The Lesotho government were in agreement that the 1996 project would be of benefit to both nations and their people – contrasting the total disregard by the British Government of the Welsh Government’s displeasure.

In addition, the Katse Botanical Gardens were established to rehome displaced plantlife and a visitor centre teaches children from all across Lesotho about hydroelectricity, renewable energy, ecosystems and cooperative business. Tryweryn got a white water rafting site.

Even in Switzerland, various cantons sell the surplus water they produce to other regions in the country for a modest profit. Wales, however, received no money for the water that leaves its boundaries.

As one who believes unequivocally that Wales will be a successful and welcoming independent nation, the fact that many disregard our potential because they believe Wales has nothing to offer standing on her own feet is incredible.

People talk of oil and infrastructure (which we actually already have) and a successful economy (not that our current overlords – who put us in our economic ‘mess’ – have a great one anyway) as keys to building an independent nation.

When we consider the potential of our natural resources one can only deduce that those not in support of Welsh dignity are either somehow misunderstanding our potential or are simply to scared to turn their back on the bullious status quo. There can be no other arguement.

Pum mlynedd


Bore da, gorgeous baba.

Pum mlynedd yn ôl i rŵan oni’n crynu yn fy sgidiau. Oni’n probably trio gweithio allan sut yn y byd naeth rhywun mor beautiful â ti gytuno i gyfarfod fi. Ac ar ben hyne; gwallt i’r chwith neu i’r dde?!?! 😉

Dros y bum mlynedd dwetha ti wedi neud fi mor hapus. Taswn i ‘di gallu creu rhywun i garu allan o awyr tenai (I’m avin that!!!), bysen nhw dal ddim mor berffaith â ti.

Dwi mor sori mod i ddim yne efo ti heddiw ond, fel mae’r cerdyn yn deud (spoiler alert!!), dwi bendant yne efo ti mewn ysbryd.
I fod yn hollol onest efo ti, oni’n meddwl byswn i’n teimlo’r hiraeth dwi wastad yn teimlo pan dwi i ffwrdd dros Gymru a dros fod adre ond dydi hyne ddim wedi digwydd tro ‘ma. Dim ond drosto ti dwi ‘di teimlo’r hiraeth.

Ddim yn hir a fydda i ‘nôl efo ti i barhau i drefnu’n priodas ni – dwi mor excited.
O heddiw den ni’n gallu edrych ymlaen at y bum mlynedd nesa yn ein bywyd…. a’r ddeng mlynedd nesa…. a’r ungain mlynedd nesa…. tan diwedd y byd.

Diolch am fod yne i fi – BOB TRO. Diolch am helpu fi ac am wella fi fel person. A diolch am garu fi. Sneb mor lwcus â fi rhwng Lesotho ag ochr pellach y bydysawd – ac mae hyne yn hollol oherwydd ti.

Am byth.

Everybody needs good neighbours

For years I’ve read, pondered, written about, discussed, posted, made videos of, shared and spoken publically about the vast benefits awaiting Wales as an independent nation.

Put simply, the fact is that Wales is big enough; Wales is clever enough; Wales is resourceful enough. Wales can easily be an independent country.

Feel free to take a minute to skim back through my various excuses for blog-articles to see why I’m so confident in an independent Wales. Today, however, my sights lie set not on what will make us successful, my sights lie on after our independence day.

Let’s jump ahead a few years (hopefully not too many) into a time where Wales governs itself fully. The first vision that comes to my mind is encapsulated in a quotation by Adam Price;

“[Let’s] conduct a quick thought experiment: imagine by some miracle of medical science you’re transported, mind and body intact, to Wales in the year 2050. And imagine that this Wales is independent. Does your heart miss a beat with a mini throb of pride – ‘bloody hell, we did it!’ – or a sense of sadness and loss? …. Aren’t you a little inspired, or at the very least intrigued?”

I know exactly how I’d feel.

But independence for our mythical nation isn’t all about the fairytail legends and if-onlys. We have to think practically also.

Despite my belief that Wales will handle itself exceptionally when governed by those who call Wales their home, the ‘English question’ will still remain. What of our friends from across Offa’s Dyke?

We must not be naïve to ignore the fact that, as seperate nations, Wales will ‘need’ England as much as England will ‘need’ us. ‘Sabotage’ of one another’s laws or ‘burdening’ each other’s taxes will no longer be a problem but, geographically speaking, neither of us are moving anywhere anytime soon.

We’ll need to cooperate maturely – just like EVERY other nation who shares a land border with another nation in this world does.

People will still be free to move, visit and live. Companies will still cross into each other’s country for business. Only our governments will be different.

But when the UK dissolves and England is independent, what England will it be?

Will it be one who shares values of heritage, companionship, hard work and freedom? Or will it choose the path of neo-fascism, xenophobia, hatred and fear? Might it be the new Wales who chooses hatred and fear whilst England prioritises friendship and love? The point is, we’re different – which can be as wonderful as it can be frightening.

Even with ultimate control over our resources, education, transport, taxes, ideas, institutions…. with every single power moulded by Wales’ sovereign hands, one old cliché will always remain…. you can’t pick your neighbours.

Be nice.



Fel siaradwr Cymraeg sy’n gwario llawer iawn gormod o amser ym myd y trydarwyr nag y dylse fod, mae’n anodd osgoi’r llu o gyfrifon a grwpiau sy’n chwilio am (ac weithiau’n derbyn yn uniongyrchol eu hunain) sylwadau yn erbyn ein hiaith.
Am flynyddoedd ‘rwyf wedi dilyn y fath grwpiau – yn aml iawn yn dewis herio’r rhai a wna’r sylwadau amheus am yr iaith treuliais flynyddoedd lawer i’w dysgu. Yn anffodus (ond efallai yn ôl disgwyl sinigaidd), yn aml iawn mai sylwadau’r rhai a symudodd i Gymru o dros Glawdd Offa wrth iddyn nhw gyrraedd oedran ymddeol ydyn nhw.
Bellach mae grwpiau ar gael sy’n gwneud pethau tebyg mewn Gaeleg yr Alban hefyd – pob un yn treillio dyfnderoedd y we am y rhai sy’n dioddef, am wn i, o’r salwch cyfoes a phoblogaidd; diflastod!

Ond oes pwynt i rannu’r fath deimladau sy’ gyn bobl eraill am ein hieithoedd? Beth ‘den ni’n trïo ei brofi?
I fi’n bersonnol, mae amlygu enghreifftiau o ‘Gymrophobia’ naill ai yn dangos yr hyn a wyddom yn barod – sef ‘rydyn ni’n byw mewn gwlad lle mae’n dderbyniol i godi hwyl am bob elfen o’n treftadaeth a’n diwylliant – neu ‘wrach, i lygad y byd mawr, ‘den ni’n ‘bitw’ iawn bob tro dywedir unrhyw beth o’i le amdanom.
‘Rydyn ni bendant yn byw mewn oes lle mae ymosod, gwneud sylw a theimlo fel bod eraill yn ein tramgwyddo yn gyffredin iawn ac yn dderbyniol iawn. Ond, ar y llaw arall, onid ydy pob person, cred, gwlad a syniad yn derbyn sylwadau anghytûn weithiau? Oni ddylsen ni jyst yn ei oddef?

I minnau, yn achos grwpiau fel ‘Cymrophobia,’ mae’n rhaid bod ‘ne falans rhwng tynnu sylw at y rhai sy’n ein drygliwio ac, yn syml iawn, dderbyn ac anwybyddu weithiau.
Wrth i bob sylw negyddol a dynnir atom gael ei rannu a’i feirniadu, crëir teimlad ein bod ni fel Cymry ond yn cwyno.
Onid oes gan bawb hawl at ei farn? Ac felly, onid oes gan bawb hawl i ymateb i farn eraill? Ym mhob achos – oes, wrth gwrs.
Ond hefyd ddylsen ni, ar adegau, ddysgu pryd a sut y dewiswn ein brwydrau?
Yn union fel mae, er enghraifft, gwneud penderfyniad bywyd i ddweud ‘diolch’ a pheidio dweud ‘thanks’ (hyd yn oed wrth sgwrsio’n uniaith Saesneg), mae newid hinsawdd yn y ffordd ‘den ni’n ymateb i’r hyn a glywswn am ein hiaith yn un anodd, ond un hefyd sy’n angenrheidiol er mwyn osgoi parhau i gael ein diffinio fel cael ‘sglodyn ar ein hysgwydd.’

Oes, mae’n rhaid amddiffyn ein hiaith ond mae perygl wedyn y try ein diwylliant yn un sy’ ond yn amddiffyn. Pe wariem ein hamser oll yn diogelu’n hiaith, a fysen ni wedyn yn fforffedu’r cyfle i ledaenu ein hiaith fel un sy’n gadarn yn ei lle fel iaith y byd?

Iaith gref nid iaith gul.


No Visca Delay

Whenever my mam comes round she always comments on how much my cat has grown since the last time she saw her. For myself and Angharad, who live with her day in day out, she doesn’t seem to have grown at all. It only sinks in when we scroll through our Instagram feeds and compare her size to when we first got her. The phenomenon of not noticing progression (especially when it’s directly in front of you) is extremely common in life.

Last year I took a few hours out of being totally a Welsh teacher to also be a history teacher. Part of the scheme of work discussed and analysed the road between both World Wars – Germany’s Wiemar Republic and the League of Nations.
As a teacher constantly trying to understand the psychology of my students in order to empathise with their learning experience and offer the teaching I feel best suits their needs, I find large parts of my lesson planning watching various slideshows and videos attempting to myself in the students’ shoes. One side-effect of this philosophy on teaching is how I interpret myself the information I’m about to teach.
When discussing the timeline of significant events between the wars, I often fall into the trap of thinking that the time taken, for example, for the League of Nations’ failure with Japan and their failure with Italy was long. In truth, it was merely 3 years. When we look deeper into the events that led to WW2, we see that significant events happened once every few days.

As people inhabiting the British isles, it’s easy for us to let the events in Catalunya pass us by. From the terrible scenes of Spanish police battering people simply because they wanted to cast a vote merely two weeks ago, to more recent news that, essentially, a warrant for the arrest of the Catalan President has been granted by the Spanish authorities (despite the fact they no longer have jurisdiction in Catalunya) which could see Carles Puidemont face 30 years in prison for ‘treason.’
As the news trickles down through our ever-biased media we can feel that the cause for Catalans is quitening and we are allowed to ‘lay of the gas’ with regards to showing our support for Europe’s newest nation. There is no doubt that the volatility of the situation in Catalunya at present could easily escalate to being not only a Catalan-Spanish problem, but also a European and a global one.

As a warning from the past: Do not hold back in your support of the Catalan people and their democratic right to self-determination.

Visca Catalunya Lliure.
Saf Cymru gyda chwi.

The Nearly Men

Wales are now ranked below the Faroe Islands in 112th place in the latest FIFA rankings …. is it time for Wales to admit they will never qualify for a major tournament?TalkSPORT, 27th July 2011.

Anyone who classes themselves as Welsh and vaguely enjoys the sport involving 22 men, a spherical ball and 2 sets of goalposts therefore also truly understands sporting heartache.
Only once in the entire 141 years of Welsh football history has our nation qualified for a major tournament without being invited. Up until that point, supporters have endured not only heart-wrenching dispair but also a dwindling interest in the national side. By the early 2010s, we had fallen to 112th in the world – lower than such renowned footballing nations as Benin, Suriname and the Faroe Islands.
It was at our lowest point that a scheme was formulated to start again. Much like Alex Ferguson did with Manchester United in the early 1990s, many of Wales’ often popular names were fizzled out to be replaced with, to a large extent, a wholly new crop. It was an optimistic leap of faith to say the least. Players who had been on the teamsheet before an opponent was even decided were disgarded for a group of youngsters who had grown through the ranks of Welsh football together – rather than via dribs and drabs.
Despite being an avid supporter of the Welsh team (and of football in general) since the early ‘90s, Wales’ Euro 2016 qualifiers and finals tournament made me notice something I’d never before seen in football – the difference between, say, a centreback looking to his left and seeing a leftback, and a centreback looking to his left and seeing his friend.
This group of men were not teammates – they were mates. Perhaps one would sooner fail for a teammate than for a mate? Whatever the reason, my memories of Bordeaux in early June of 2016 prove it worked.

Trwy ddulliau chwyldro’n unig y mae llwyddo – John Saunders Lewis, Tynged yr Iaith, 1962

Who cares about the reason behind Wales’ rise in international footballing renown? Either way, one thing is certain – it took a radical alteraration to bring about change and, ultimately, success.
In honesty, there are many occasions that I notice in life that would benefit from a radical change in behaviour…. the whole Welsh political structure, for one!

Another is the Welsh language and the way it is perveived by the ever-declining (however slowly) numbers of young people who are not yet fluent in the language for whatever reason.
It’s no secret that the hearts and minds of young people are warming more to the fact our nation has two languages – especially when compared with the poor attitudes towards it for large parts of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Even in the relatively short time I’ve been teaching Welsh to those young people not yet fluent in the language I have noticed a huge shift in openness and willingness to let the ancient tongue become a part of their lives in various capacities. It truly is heartwarming.

Not only hear it but understand it

Looking at the bigger picture, however, the teaching of Welsh through the medium of English is certainly not without its flaws. There is no doubt that huge numbers of students leave with positive outlooks on the language but rarely (if ever) do they leave fluent. All I ever wanted to do in school was to learn Welsh yet even memorising a Welsh dictionary from cover to cover prepared me for the leap between my knowledge of the language and my confidence to use it.
One thing I certainly do remember from my time as a youngster learning Welsh were the occasions, probably due to their rarity where I lived, when I heard the language spoken in the streets. The only thing that ever elipsed those feats werethe times when I first began to notice that I could not only hear it…. but undertand it.
The differences in the self confidence and pride for a young person to say ‘I heard someone speaking Welsh today’ and ‘I heard someone speaking Welsh today and I understood most of it’ are not only enormous, but they might just save our language.

Since my early 20s, when I first began to admit my fluency in Welsh and rid myself of the ‘dysgwr’ (learner) tag, I have strived to share the wonderful aura that comes not only from learning a language but from learning the formerly-declining language of the people who forged our fine nation across centuries.
Much like my taid (grandfather) used to say; “always leave a place tidier than when you found it,” I am committed to ensuring, not only that every one of my students leave my classroom with at least a little bit more Welsh than when they walked in, but that the Welsh language is in a stronger state when I snuff it than it was when I was born.
Young people are the key. They are the future of this nation and are paramount in the on-going mission of reinstating Wales’ prized cultural gem into the hearts and minds of those lucky enough to call Wales their home.

Can we not learn to speak two forms of Welsh – a Welsh for speakers and a Welsh for learners?

We, as Welsh speakers, must not only subtly yet obviously offer the provision for young people to hear us using Welsh but we must also ensure that they understand us too.
Now I could blindly proclaim to know all the answers and/or patroniaingly show off all the ways I’ve radically altered my life when using the Welsh language around others but, in the true values of revolutionary change, I instead implore those who speak our language to not only make changes in your use of the language in speech but to also take the time to ponder ways for yourself.

And to those who worry that natural Welsh will subsequently die a death were we all to use our language with non-fluent speakers in mind I ask this; Can we not learn to speak two forms of Welsh – a Welsh for speakers and a Welsh for learners?
Let’s not be the generation who tiptoed into the future and took our language no further than it was 30 years before. Let’s grab it and make it a part of who we are. Let’s be sympathetic and welcoming to others. Let’s not accept a Scottish handball in ‘77. Let’s not hit the bar against Romania in ‘93. Let’s not give away a free kick to Russia in 2003.
We are Wales – and whether it’s in football or in language, we don’t really do ‘nearly’ any more.