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Travel guide defends listicle of ‘Unpronounceable Welsh Town Names’

27 May 2021 5 minutes Read
Bwlchgwyn: Copyright Eirian Evans (CC 2.0)

A travel guide has defended a listicle of ‘Unpronounceable Welsh Town Names’.

In Your Pocket, which produces city guides, came under heavy fire for suggesting Welsh language town names “might give you some problems”.

The listicle was panned as “ignorant”, as well as “utterly dreadful” and “disgraceful”.

Following the backlash the company insisted that the article was “lighthearted”, and that it was “sincerely not meant to be offensive or derogatory”. It added that it was written by a Welshman.

The “disclaimer” also included a “big thanks” to people who had “sent us angry, vitriolic and/or profanity-laced emails telling us how terrible we are”.

In its defence, In Your Pocket, said: “Editor’s Note: We recommend checking the additional editorial note at the end of this article before sending us any angry, vitriolic, profanity-laced emails telling us how terrible we are, but thanks in advance for your feedback if you still feel obligated to send it.

“Due to the high volume of feedback we’ve received about this article, we’d like to kindly clarify that:

“The title is meant to be taken as , tongue in cheek humour, an exaggeration, not a literal statement.

“The article is not meant to be educational or even about the Welsh language per se, its aim is simply to point out that a handful of places have names that would likely be difficult to pronounce for anyone who doesn’t speak Welsh.

‘Sincerely’ 

It added: “It’s sincerely not meant to be offensive or derogatory about Wales in general or the Welsh language in particular, and we apologise if it comes across as such; we love Wales, which is why we’ve included so much about it on our site, despite not having a local office;

“The author of the article is in fact a Welshman, and a proud one at that (rumour has it that he also has a decent sense of humour);

“For anyone who is interested in learning more about the Welsh language, we recommend checking out the official site of the National Centre for Learning Welsh;

“If you’d still like to voice you opinion, please feel free to leave a comment below or share on your preferred social media platform (alternatively you can of course just keep sending us angry, vitriolic, profanity-laced emails telling us how terrible we are, but at this point you’ll really need to put some effort and creativity into your insults if you’d like them to stand out).

“While our company was founded and remains headquartered in Vilnius, our core staff is quite international, so there’s really no need to say mean things about Lithuania or the Lithuanian language, as it just makes you seem petty, silly and, quite frankly, a bit hypocritical; and, last but not least

“A big thanks to everyone who already has sent us angry, vitriolic and/or profanity-laced emails telling us how terrible we are, as this further explanatory text would not have been added without your initiative, and we will gladly admit that the article is all the better for it.”

‘Celtic tongue’

The original article said: “The Welsh language is a struggle, to say the least. The Celtic tongue is known for its absolute disregard for vowels, meaning some words can look completely unintelligible to the uninformed.

“We’ve collected a handful of town names that might give you some problems, to say the least.”

On Bwlchgwyn it said: “We’ll start with the little village of Bwlchgwyn, a little bit northeast of Wrexham. Pronounced ‘Bull-ch-gwin’, the name means ‘White Pass’ but the original is believed to have been ‘Windy Pass’.”

On Ysbyty Ystwyth it added: “Two words, 13 letters, not a single vowel in sight. ‘Uss-butty Uss-bith’ isn’t too tough to pronounce, but it does look a bit daunting, right? The town is 13 miles south of Aberystwyth.”

For Ynysybwl it has this to say: “‘Un-niss-uh-bull’, to be clear. This town in the south of the country was home to Leighton Rees, the first darts world champion in history.”

Social media expert Owen Williams said: “Whatever happened to editorial merit, @inyourpocket? This is an utterly dreadful listicle, and you should *strongly* consider taking it down. It lacks any kind of respect for our indigenous British language.”

The writer Cris Dafis said: “Absolute travesty of an article.”

Brian Moran said: “Here we go again, having to defend the very existence of our language. Peak ignorance!”

Mark Watkins said: “This is a disgraceful article which needs to be removed. It is nothing more than a targeted attack upon a nation, its language and its culture. Awful that this happens in 2021.”

Trudi-Rose Edwards said: “Celtic languages – or Welsh in this case – are not known for disregarding vowels, in fact there are more vowels in Welsh than English, so basic research has been disregarded by @inyourpocket to say the least.”

Alyson Jenkins said: “So ignorant. We love vowels so much we have 7”.

Matthew Yeomans said: “Don’t you just love travel publishers @inyourpocket that make money from travellers discovering and celebrating new cultures yet have no problem taking the piss out of a nation’s language and culture.”

Julie Owen Moylan said: “Dreadful ignorance from @inyourpocket Welsh has more vowels than English – 7 in total AEIOUWY”.

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Eric Hall
6 months ago

In the same way that calling people “coffee-coloured coons” and “piccaninnies with watermelon smiles” is also “lighthearted and that it was sincerely not meant to be offensive or derogatory”, I suppose

Peter Bonney
Peter Bonney
6 months ago
Reply to  Eric Hall

Oh how about ‘sheep shagger’ a common term applied to Welsh people.

Sherry Sears
Sherry Sears
6 months ago
Reply to  Peter Bonney

Peter Bonney — that term, unfortunately, is applied to most every region where sheep are farmed, not just Wales. xx

Mandi A
Mandi A
6 months ago
Reply to  Eric Hall

I imagine you are referring to a journalist who also wrote about letterboxes. However, if you have a look at the correspondence that has ensued on the article about Admiral Max Horton and the Jewish heritage plaque, you will quickly understand how careful we need to be in our communications.

Felicity Roberts
Felicity Roberts
6 months ago
Reply to  Eric Hall

Yn union – exactly

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
6 months ago

Non-Welsh-speakers would have difficulty grasping Welsh phonetics! Hold the front page! Hasn’t it occurred to these morons that the same applies to any language other than their own? Why pick on Welsh?

Richard
Richard
6 months ago

Anglophones who affect to find Welsh pronunciation difficult have no sense of irony. Unlike the ragbag that is English, Welsh is very regular and once you take on board the very small number of rules you can say anything. Sumpls.

Suns ine De se ts
Suns ine De se ts
6 months ago

Remember the first rule of churnalism, angry people click. Stories that anger people have the strongest and greatest number of responses. Don’t take the bait. You see this rubbish everyday in Wales on Line. The ignorant churnalist versus the professionally offended. Cut off the oxygen of publicity to both these groups by simply ignoring this drivel.

Gregory Powell
Gregory Powell
6 months ago

It shows how backward the person is who wrote this article, because it does have vowels, in the welsh language the vowels are A, E, I, O, U, W and Y.
like many other languages in Europe we have different letters to the English language, so please do some research before saying such deragatory comments about the beautifu native British language.

Huw Davies
Huw Davies
6 months ago

For my sins, I found a list of ‘amusing’ names that some would even consider a bit rude. These included Twatt, in the Shetland Isles, Bell End in Worcestershire sounds a bit saucy. A Pratt’s Bottom near Biggin Hill airport goes well with Spanker Lane in Derbyshire and Titty Ho in Northamptonshire is a great place that combines 3 naughty words in one address! I’d even concede that Three Cocks near Hay on Wye is slightly more amusing than the Welsh name Aberllynfi.
If you can’t beat ’em…

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
6 months ago
Reply to  Huw Davies

The thing is, ‘In Your Pocket’ are denigrating the Welsh language as a whole, and by implication those who speak it, learn it, or just support it, as opposed to picking out a few English place-name double entendres.

Onenation
Onenation
6 months ago
Reply to  Wrexhamian

A little bit of humour goes a long way. Who cares? Not me or millions of others.

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
6 months ago
Reply to  Onenation

What one nation would that be, then?

Andy Grey Rider
Andy Grey Rider
6 months ago

Bore Da,
I am a proud English person but when I travel into other nations, I respect their language and culture.
I am learning Welsh, Celtic, Japanese, Nigerian, German, Spanish, Portuguese and I listen to them on the radio.
I also have a grasp other less-spoken languages like Turkish and Aramaic.
I do for me and don’t preach what other’s should do.
I investigate if I am unsure or ask locals and commit to memory with lyrics.
Hywyl

Last edited 6 months ago by Andy Grey Rider
Dilligaf
Dilligaf
6 months ago

‘Hwyl’ 🙂

John Dunworth
John Dunworth
6 months ago

The article is completely sensible in spite of what the Welsh language fanatics say. People without a knowledge of Welsh do find it difficult if not impossible, to pronounce.
Let me add that I lived in Wales for 20 years and did a Welsh language course because I was working with Welsh speakers.

Hannergylch
Hannergylch
6 months ago
Reply to  John Dunworth

Sensible travel guides help their readers by explaining the local orthography. Most of their readers would take only two seconds to grasp something along the lines of “‘W’ is usually like the ‘u’ in ‘butcher’ and ‘y’ is usually like the ‘a’ in ‘sofa.’” Yes, I know there are several other rules, and that “wy” together is somewhat flexible; but just knowing the defaults for “w” and “y” is enough to make roadsigns immediately accessible to visitors. The humour in the article would be perfectly OK if it were used to lead into something like “…but it all makes sense… Read more »

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
6 months ago
Reply to  John Dunworth

That goes without saying, and applies to every language in the world. In what way does that justify singling out one particular language for ridicule? Also, you haven’t grasped the correct definition of “fanatics”, which you have used inappropriately in that particular application.

E Smith
E Smith
6 months ago

I have read the ‘apology’ but why was the original article not checked for accuracy. BWYLCHGWYN – yes there are no English language vowels, but the word is not an English one. Far from having ‘no vowels”, the Welsh language has 7. If a French place name in France has an accent over one of its letters, the same comments would not be made.
One cannot always and shouldn’t compare everything and try to fit it into the English language.
Respect for all please and no more pretending ‘it was meant to be a joke”.

Barrie Evans
Barrie Evans
6 months ago

Pity non-Welsh speaking people don’t realise that the road signs are not actually the Town names.
They’re simply the local WiFi codes.

Alun Davies
Alun Davies
6 months ago

In Australia I asked for directions to cap a labour pronouncing the town name as it seemed written.
I was soon corrected its pronounced cpalaba spoken with no hesitation emphasis on the “C” as C as in cat.
I am Welsh sadly I do not speak Welsh
However I have no problem with pronunciation of Welsh words

Dafydd Hughes
Dafydd Hughes
6 months ago

Your “ proud Welshman “ with a perceived sense of humour is obviously not conversant with Yr Wyddor Cymraeg “ ( Welsh alphabet) – vowels aplenty but alas he shows his slant towards the English interpretation of the oldest living language in Western Europe- ACHYFI 🤮🤮

Dilligaf
Dilligaf
6 months ago
Reply to  Dafydd Hughes

Ych a fi 🙂

Last edited 6 months ago by Dilligaf
Peter
Peter
6 months ago

The place name examples that are allegedly without vowels do in fact include the Welsh language vowels ‘W’ and ‘Y.’ Ignorance is no excuse. While I can see that sometimes listening to the English pronounce can be hilarious, to denigrate the Welsh Language is racist.

Chris O'Sullivan
Chris O'Sullivan
6 months ago

I’m Welsh, and not offended by this listicle. It’s obviously not meant to be taken too seriously. I think it’s great that we have tongue- twisting, “unpronounceable” place names, it all adds to our uniqueness.

Pauline Evans
Pauline Evans
6 months ago

Anyone who seriously thinks that Ysbyty Ystwyth is pronounced Uss-butty Uss-bith either can’t read or is plain stupid. How do you turn tw into b ?? By that criteria Aberystwyth would be pronounced as Aber-uss -bith. Absolutely ridiculous.

Liam
6 months ago

Mond bach o hwyl ydio o though. Mae pobl sy ddim yn siarad Cymraeg yn sicir yn stryglo hefo’r enwau, a mae’n eitha doniol. Yn enwdig ‘Machynlleth’. Dwi wrth fy modd pan dwi’n dweud I ffrindiau lle dwi’n astudio, a ma nhw’n mynd “uh???” 😅 Ond mae rhaid i mi ddweud, dwi heb ‘di darllen yr article teithio sy’n cael ei drafod fama.

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