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Sketchy Welsh: Mae gobaith ar y gorwel : There is hope on the horizon

12 Feb 2024 3 minute read

Josh Morgan

Horizons, obesity, speeding, thrones, ecstasy, and July. What do these things have in common?

In Cymraeg, all of them use the prefix ‘gor’, meaning over/overly/too/excessive.

Before you stop reading immediately at the word ‘prefix’, I have a little to say in its defence.

As some of you may know, dw i’n dysgu Cymraeg (I’m learning Welsh) and illustrating the language as I go – the project is called Sketchy Welsh.

Prefixes in my first language, English, don’t excite me. Or more to the point I don’t notice them at all.

In Cymraeg, they are astonishing – because each one opens up perhaps 50 new words to me, meaning specific and fascinating things that use simple words I often already know.

Etymology

I recently heard the word ‘gorwel’ meaning horizon. As usual, I went one step further and looked up the etymology, finding –

Gor: over/overly

Gweld: to see

So horizon is being effectively described as the point that is beyond your seeing.

As well as being handy for my art workshops on vanishing points and horizon lines, it brings a new appreciation for the idea of a horizon, instead of leaving it neatly boxed up in one word.

In English, it comes from the Greek ‘horizo’ meaning to separate.

Again, I find learning Cymraeg even enriches my use of English and appreciation of the world around me.

Here are a few ‘Gor’ words in Cymraeg

Goruwchreoli: overrule

Goruwchddynol: super human (uwch: higher, dynol: human)

Goryrru: speeding (gyrru: drive )

Gorgyffwrdd: overlap (cyffwrdd: touch)

Gordew: obese (tew: fat)

Gorlifo: overflow or inundate (Llifo: flow)

Gorgyhyrog: overly-muscular (cyhyrog: muscular)

Gorwneud: to overdo (gwneud: do)

Gorau: best (over choice, or over good)

Gorsedd: throne (sedd: seat)

Gorffenaf: July (gor – phen – haf: over – head/end – summer)

Gorawen: ecstasy, elation (awen: muse/inspiration,  gwên: a smile)

The image I made for Gorwel was this one:

Mae gobaith ar y gorwel: There is hope on the horizon

Response

I’ve had an especially strong response from the Cymraeg learning community from this piece.

I think that much of this tells of the old power of animals in picture books.

While this is a power certainly that can be abused in all sorts of terrible ways, animals are easier vessels to project ourselves into than a human character that doesn’t quite resemble us.

Equally, there is a universal need for gobaith (hope) in the major and minor parts of life. Recently more than ever.

Strange, heartening, and intriguing to have had a flurry of emails relaying the different situations that people have carried this simple message into.

Here is a link to the piece which is available as a print from the website: www.sketchywelsh.com

Wishing you all hope beyond the point of your seeing.

Mae Gobaith ar y Gorwel

Diolch pawb,

Josh


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Phil Evans
Phil Evans
4 days ago

Gwaith arbennig Josh, cadwch ati.

Crwtyn Cemais
Crwtyn Cemais
3 days ago

Dw i’n dwlu ar hwn Josh~ love this, Josh – diolch a phob lwc i ti gyda’r iaith!

Crwtyddol
Crwtyddol
2 days ago

As a Welsh speaker, I had never analysed the word gorwel (and ohers ) like that!! Da iawn, diddorol

adrian savill
adrian savill
2 days ago

Gwych

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