SSi Forum

What emotions have you experienced while learning Welsh?


Wrote this a couple of years ago (Sorry @Aran you’ve heard it before) but it sums up my feelings

April 2014
Where had I been? in a parallel world perhaps
Real yet unreal. Certainly, the world in which I lived
Though it was real: (joy, sorrow, regret, worry,
All of life, came to my door), I see now there was a veil,
A shadow, between me and it, I seemed detached.

Or was I dreaming, restless, thinking there was more
Yet not knowing what. Was I searching? who can say.
Knowing without knowing, something was missing.
As if to stand before a window, seeing the world,
Through glass, part of that world, yet apart from it.

Until, one day, the old Welsh language whispered in my ear.
“I am the language of your childhood, your family, your history.
Your heritage, your future. Embrace me, learn from me,
Come into the world I offer you, and be glad.
Let me draw back the veil, let me open the window”.

“Gladly” I said.“I have been waiting, unknowing, for your call”
And suddenly my world was changed, I was changed.
Now I could feel, deep inside, new warmth, and comfort.
Now I was happy in my world new found, yet found again.
I had come home, to live, breathe, think in new ways.


I’ve sent you a PM reply. :smile:


This is so beautiful and meaningful. Diolch


That is much more poetic than my attempt to explain that feeling - the fact that living in Wales without speaking Welsh is like living in the ‘film of the book’ - it might be a good adapatation, it might even have extra cool stuff in it - but it’s still shallower and missing huge swathes of the story…


Reading about all of your emotions about Welsh and learning Welsh moves me. I especially wish I could share the deep connection…the feeling that Welsh isn’t “just” another language you learn, but a part of your heart and soul…a part of who you truly are…found again. I think I’m responding to these feelings of coming home, because I miss it. Honestly, I don’t know where I belong. There are many cultural identities I inherited pieces of, but I don’t feel a deep connection to any of them. So, searching…longing for something is the main emotion I feel while learning Welsh…


In my humble opinion I think it really should apply today. Respect for others is a dying part of today’s society and I think it shows respect to the person you are speaking with and, more importantly, to the language.

Pride is the biggest emotion I feel whenever I’ve spoken Welsh. I love being in a completely Welsh environment because I always feel a strong connection to my father and the proud look on his face when we conversed in Welsh. I hope that feeling never goes away.


Well basically this! (OK you probably know a few more welsh speakers than me, but you put it so beautifully…)

And elation! Particularly at the time I felt my Welsh was first starting to take off, I felt totally elated after a successful Skype call - and even just sitting down reading an enjoyable book, all the colours and emotions seemed more intense in Welsh for some reason! :slight_smile:


For what it’s worth, the children (including grown-up children I think) on the Menai Bridge-based soap “Rownd a Rownd” seem to address their parents as “chi”. How characteristic that is of the real world, I have no idea.


What a beautiful thread this has become - thank you all SO much for sharing so openly…:heart:

I’m increasingly of the opinion that the emotional journey is the most important part of language learning (as long as you have access to decent learning materials’…


So far (just done challenge 8 of level 1, so a beginner really) a lot of my emotions aren’t about the material or Cymraeg at all, but about what I was taught about language learning at school. Technically, I studied Spanish and German at school, but what I learned about Spanish was that I would never be a good enough person, and what I learned about German was that there was no point in trying to actually speak it - and that it frequently wasn’t safe to do so, in the sense that being seen to make mistakes was one among many things which would get me bullied even more than usual. That wasn’t helped by a ‘German exchange’ in which my exchange partner regarded any attempt on my part to speak German as both laughable and an attempt to stop her from practising English!

As a result, I spent a long time under the impression that learning another living language would always be impossible for me, until a very supportive teacher of Biblical Hebrew, as well as teaching the usual bits of grammar which go with a mainly written language, created a space where saying things out loud was safe enough for me to try. That was totally about the emotions of the situation, and it being better to try and make a mistake - having that actively welcomed - than to sit there in silence. Something in one of the introductory materials about playing with Cymraeg, being childish with it, almost made me cry because I suddenly realised that I hadn’t been able to do that in language classrooms when I actually was a child. All those emotions before I even start a ‘language learning journey’ - and I suspect a lot of people must be stopped before they begin by this sort of thing.


What a very powerful piece of writing - I’m so sorry you went through that - and thank you very much indeed for sharing it with us.


Diolch, @aran. When I write it out like that, I’m amazed I’m here at all! Hopefully it will make the elation/pride/gratitude/etc. referred to earlier in the thread all the sweeter when (if?!) they arrive. :slight_smile:


I am a bad person. Envy. All those people who learn so quickly - how do they do it?!?


Luckily it isn’t a race! I am amazed at the people who seem to speak multiple languages. It takes me all my time to try to learn one. Add admiration to the list perhaps?


To @bryanroberts Now I am feeling guilt. I tried to learn yr hen iaith fy nhadau many times. I knew very well that I was seeing through dirty windows and sub-titled TV or English Language TV about my own land as if it were not! Even when I was in my own land, but surrounded by other non-speakers, I never really put my heart, soul, back…whatever - all of me - into learning! It took realisation that I was never going to be able to come home to get me even trying to learn again! Your poem sang to me and told me, “See! Remember! This is what you are missing and try to replace with S4C with subtitles!”


It’s still practiced in Germany as well, where you can work closely for years with a colleague and still address them as Sie (chi) instead of Du (ti).

In The Netherlands, it’s the more traditional and conservative parents who require their children to address them with the Dutch equivalent of chi, u instead of je (ti). I think it has more to do with preferred vocatives and preferred etiquette than respect anyway: I will say u to people who are older and unknown to me, but I say je to the people in my life I respect the most.


Yes - and also for me, not just the emotional journey of my Welsh language learning, but also being able to connect in this forum with people who feel so passionately about the Welsh language. The emotions are all there: intense frustration, doubt about my ability to ever learn enough to feel adequate and gain some fluency, and the occasional burst of happiness and elation when I do grasp a bit from Radio Cymru or when I can form a sentence on my own. But I know that I would have quit learning Welsh if it wasn’t for this forum.

I hope you’ll visit this forum often and find it a very safe place. I have not had your experience in language learning but as I mention above, I don’t think I would have persevered without the support of this forum. This is the place where I can visit when I lack motivation, or feel like I don’t learn quicky enough, or even with questions that probably have been answered numerous times before. I’m always met with good cheer, support and answers to my questions. I wish you the same.


That’s moving and inspirational, Nienke - diolch yn fawr iawn i ti… :slight_smile: :star: :star2:


I have realised there is an equivalent in English. My ‘Auntie’ was born in 1906, so was 35 years older than me. Yet, somehow, I never considered calling her anything but by her first name, which is what she wanted me to call her. I respected her enormously. She never, ever lost her zest for learning and had me teaching her astronomy and various other sciences! Now, I was never of the era when it was fashionable to call one’s parents by their names, but for non-parents, I’d say use of given names is equivalent to ‘ti’, so if there is anyone you call Mr., Mrs., Miss or Ms, call them chi!!!


Same here, but somehow I always addressed my uncles and aunties with ‘U’, my parents with ‘je’. No idea why.