Hey guys! 🙂
So yesterday I wrote about how this group’s music very often sounds kind of sensorily creepy to me, but the song by them that I’m going to share with you today sounds anything but creepy. What drew my attention to it is that it’s quite obviously inspired by the Welsh language, and as it seems especially the Welsh concept of cwtch. This enigmatically looking word, as you’ll figure out from the song, is pronounced cootch, and if we wanted to say what it means in English, we’d say a hug or a cuddle, except it’s something more than that. The situation here is very similar as with the Welsh word hiraeth, which is usually translated as longing, but the real feeling behind it is a lot more difficult to convey through English. If I understand it correctly, cwtch is a particularly safe, yet unreserved and containing type of hug, one you really invest yourself in. The cosy feeling behind it is kind of similar to the Danish hygge concept. But also, cwtch is a word that is particularly tied to the Welsh identity. I may well be wrong about it, and if I am and if there are any Welsh people that are gonna read it feel free to correct me (I don’t even live in Wales, after all), but I have a strong impression that while it’s both Welsh speakers and English-speaking Welsh people who use this word, it seems to be more frequently used by the latter, as a way of connecting with the language as part of their national identity even though they don’t speak it fluently or in daily life. I tend to hear it a lot more often when someone is speaking English, especially people from South Wales, so I have a feeling it’s more like a Wenglish word, especially that it actually comes from the Middle English word couche, meaning a resting or hiding place. The “tch” cluster is also not common in Welsh. Yet, somehow the cwtch is almost like a symbol of being Welsh, an essence of Welshness, and also one of the Welsh words that people from outside of Wales are most familiar with, if they’re familiar with any Welsh words. I guess only popty ping, meaning microwave, is more famous, except it doesn’t seem to really be in use, because the actual Welsh word for microwave is meicrodon. 😀 Kind of like with this village in Anglesey called Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, which everyone calls just Llanfairpwllgwyngyll or simply Llanfair PG, and the sesquipedalian official name, from what I understand, is only used for the sake of tourists.
Anyway, as a Welsh learner, I thought it was really cool that this American band embraced even just these two Welsh words, cariad (love, sweetheart) and cwtch, because this is such a small, plus endangered language, so I figure it’s always somehow heartening with languages like that when someone knows even a word. I also really like the angelic vocals of Sarah Copus in this piece.
2 thoughts on “2002 – “Cariad” (Love).”
I love your explanation of the meaning of “cwtch”. I don’t speak a single word of Welsh, but the concept sounds cool. I like how you relate it to the Danish hygge. It makes me think of the Dutch word “gezellig”, which is translated into English as cozy, but means something more than that.
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Oh, that’s very interesting that Dutch has a similar word. 🙂 That makes me really sad that Polish doesn’t really have a word like this. I think we don’t really have a very accurate translation for the English cosy, the word that we do have only cosiness of like a cosy room or a cosy slippers, but not necessarily a cosy evening or the inner feeling of cosiness.
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