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Californian dog, Puck, learns Welsh language

05 Jan 2021 3 minute read
Ariel Mira Jackson with her dog, Puck

A Californian dog has been learning some Welsh.

Ariel Mira Jackson, from Napa, has been studying the language with Aberystwyth University, and this has extended to her pet pooch, Puck, who joined in most of the classes.

Her mum, Sasha Paulsen, who is features editor of the Napa Valley Register, has written about her experience with the language for the paper.

Puck is described in the piece as “one of the few Welsh-speaking dogs in California”.

Ariel, who studied linguistics UC Davis and the Spanish language at the University of Oviedo, was unable to do her summer immersion in Welsh in Aberystwyth itself because of the Covid-19 crisis, but the teachers moved the classes online, which allowed Puck to join in.


‘Welsh language’ 

The article said: “My daughter was unable to make her annual pilgrimage to her favorite place in the world, Aberystwyth, Wales, for her summer immersion into the Welsh language.

“Ariel embarked on a study of Welsh at the University of Aberystwyth, which is also home to the Welsh National Library.

“This came to a halt because of COVID-19. This, however, did not deter the Welsh teachers, who hope to soon have 1 million people speaking their language. They went online with their classes.

“Ariel joined in and thus I became used to hearing, at odd hours of the day and night, (Greenwich mean time) hearing conversations in Welsh, which, I discovered, has a distinct and lyrical beauty.

“Her dog, Puck, joined on most classes, thus becoming one of the few Welsh-speaking dogs in California. I would awake to hear a jolly chorus from Ariel’s dog-loving Welsh classmates: ‘Hello, Puck!’ or, if he were not up yet at 1 a.m., ‘But where is Puck?’”

‘Extremely fond’ 

It added: “The Welsh are extremely fond of their language, having resisted approximately 1,000 years of the English trying to break them of the habit of speaking it.

“Wales is now a bi-lingual country, and it was a visit to Wales that sparked Ariel’s love of the language. It was all those signs with words such as ysbyty (hospital), bwyd (food), and Crymych, which is really, truly, a town. Another town is Llanfairpwllgwyngwllgogerychwryndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

“I also learned as we moved into fall, that the Welsh were following our presidential election with the kind of horrified fascination usually reserved for movies like ‘Pyscho’ or ‘Night of the Living Dead.’

“I daresay Ariel’s vocabulary expanded profoundly as she tried to explain the electoral college (coleg etholiadol).

“It was just before Christmas when, one morning, our house was filled with the sound of Welsh carols. It was a virtual sing-along, which Ariel had no hesitation to join in, at 1 a.m. or whatever time it was.

“If, in the coming dark months, you need to lift your spirits, I’d recommend googling ‘Welsh choral music.’ That should do it.

“Ariel’s friend, Douglas, a Welsh-speaking Scotsman, had planned to visit Napa last April, a trip that, like everyone else’s, was necessarily postponed. He changed it to October, and then postponed it again, this time to April 2021, pandemic-willing.”

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