Sometimes Twm Ebbsworth enjoys writing, and sometimes it infuriates him. But he really does try his best.
Twm is originally from the village of Llanwnnen, a stone’s throw away from the small town of Llanbedr-Pont-Steffan, in the depths of agricultural Ceredigion. He graduated from Aberystwyth University in 2021 with a First-Class honors degree in Theatre Studies and Film and Television Studies, and is now studying for an MPhil in Creative Writing at the University. His work usually focuses on the influence of the ever-changing modern world on his rural community and has won him several national youth writers prizes. Cancel
Language is an obscenely abstract concept until we attach it to physical material. What I am saying is, we only call a rock a ‘rock’ today because someone called a rock a ‘rock’ however many years ago. But in all probability the inventor of the word ‘rock’ didn’t actually call it a ‘rock’ but some other collection of vowels and consonants that have developed and evolved over the centuries to be ‘rock’. But it’s not only the physical construction of a word that is able to evolve but also its meaning. Like in the way ‘rock’ is a noun for a stone, a signifier for a genre of music and a name of a bald, muscular, middle-aged actor.
To a monolingual English speaker, a fox glove is a fox glove, but to a Welsh language speaker a fox glove is also called ‘bysedd y cŵn’ (which literally translates to ‘fingers of the dogs’) Now one of these sounds particularly more sinister than the other, but despite their differences, both are a fair symbolic representation of the flower.
But my (a first language Welsh speaker’s) perspective on two different words, of two different languages, being a noun for the same flower, is different to a monolingual English speaker perspective. This is because Welsh language ecological terms, as well as place names, are being quite aggressively eroded and being replaced by the English equivalent. This is because of the influx in the number of second homes that are emptying the communities of rural Wales, making it virtually impossible for locals to afford houses in the area due to the difference between the average income and the average house prices in these counties.
In my work I will give you a tour of my habitat, showing the audience where these names are being lost, as well as trying to convey the depth of meaning in the original Welsh place names and ecological terms, in the real hope that an appreciation of the original Welsh terms will secure their future.