Today I’d like to share with you something else from Llio Rhydderch, the Welsh triple harp player, and definitely my favourite one out of those triple harp players with whose music I’m familiar with. This is a set of three different traditional Welsh tunes, which originate from Llio’s native isle of Anglesey, including the popular Lisa Language (Fair Lisa), which I’ve shared on here in a few different versions before.
For the first song of the day this year, I thought I would share with you a song from Y Bandana, a Welsh-language pop-rock group that consisted of Gwilym Bowen Rhys (one of my faza peeps, if you’re still not aware of that for some reason 😀 ), his cousins Siôn and Tomos Owens, and his school friend Robin Llwyd Jones. They were very successful on the Welsh-language music scene and I’ve shared a few songs by them already, and they’re well-known for writing a bit cheeky lyrics, since they were teens when starting out. The group has disbanded in 2016 as the members wanted to try doing some different things, Gwilym is now as successful (or even more so, perhaps), and I believe Robin is a producer for the Welsh-language record label Sain.
Heno yn yr Anglesey” is arguably their most popular and well-known song, next to “Can y Tan”.
I did a translation of it, and I’d like to ramble a bit about the process, because, well, I’m still very unexperienced when it comes to translating Welsh stuff, and find it a lot more challenging than translating from Swedish, I think not just because my Welsh skills are worse than my Swedish skills, but also due to other, more practical reasons. For example, I currently don’t have a Welsh speech synthesiser so read Welsh-language stuff either with a Polish or an English one, which makes the whole process of reading anything in Welsh a lot slower. And finding information about any sort of Welsh words, structures, not to mention idioms is more difficult than in Swedish because it is a so much smaller language. There are more Swedish resources, whether ones for learners or more generally about Swedish language, and there’s even simply more Swedish in Google, so you can often just Google some weird thing you’re not understanding to find out if it occurs anywhere else and try to figure out if it’s a common thing, if it’s an idiom or whatever, while when you do that in Welsh you’re more likely not to get a lot of results even if a specific phrase is in wide-ish use. So I’m absolutely sure that this translation contains some mistakes, and I want to tell you which bits I think may be wrong, so that you know that Bibielz may not necessarily be right, and in case some Welsh or Welsh-speaking peep comes around here some day, perhaps they’ll be willing to enlighten me or something. And maybe it’ll be interesting for some language geeks.
I actually found one translation of it that already exists that was decent, but it still seems to have some odd bits so I wanted to try and write my own that would be a bit better. But I’ll let you decide which one actually is better, in any case at least now there is more than one translation out there in the web so there’s choice. 😀 I still used that translation above as a bit of a crutch to help me out. My other crutches were the Welsh-English dictionary that I use on my Mac, as it’s the fastest for me to use of all dictionaries that I know of, Google Translate, various online resources, and, when other things failed to support my faltering brain adequately, I used my most recently discovered language toy, ChatGPT, because yes, ChatGPT does understand Welsh, even though it has random times where it is adamant that it doesn’t, or does understand what you write to it in Welsh but persistently responds in English (kinda like Swedes when you try to talk to them in Swedish but they realise you’re not a Swede 😀 ), and of course it’s very fallible, a lot more so than in English. ChatGPT likes to make stuff up so you have to be very very careful when asking it anything, but really, tools like Google Translate can also be oddly deceptive and random with Welsh translations, sometimes I truly have no idea where they get their ideas from.
So, the first line that I’m not sure whether it’s right is the second one which in the original contains the word “tennar”. The translation that I linked above translates it to “tenner” which makes sense, because “e” often changes to “a” in North Welsh, and “tennar” could be a sort of Cymricisation (Welshification, if you like 😀 ) of “tenner”. But I’m not even sure what “breaking into the tenner” could mean (perhaps because I’m not a native English-speaker or something), and I couldn’t find any evidence of “tenner” actually being used like that. So not sure it’s correct.
In the second verse there’s a line that is oddly translated as “You’re never with me when I want” which I have no idea why it is the way it is because it doesn’t make much sense compared with the original. I translated it as: “You tell me that I don’t get” which imho is more accurate but perhaps still not perfect.
Then there’s a line where they are holding hands “hyd law y byd”, which is translated to “above the crowd” in the first translation. I had no idea what “hyd law y byd” could mean, but I didn’t believe it could mean that, and Google wasn’t a whole lot of help either. ChatGPT said that it means “forever”, and I found the phrase “hyd law y byd” somewhere else on the Internet, didn’t understand the whole long sophisticated sentence that it was part of but from what I did understand it seemed to me like it could well be a more eloquent way of saying “forever”, a sort of equivalent to “until the end of time/world without end” in English. I have no more sound evidence for it but I went with my intuition and decided to agree and listen to ChatGPT in this instance.
The last verse was the toughest for me. First, there’s the intriguing word “hegar”. The other translation translates the whole line as: “And it’s been a peaceful evening”, wherein “hegar” is supposed to mean “peaceful”. Meanwhile, Google Translate translated this line as: “It’s not going to be a wild night”. I’m curious to know where it got the “It’s not going to be” part from, I mean it’s obviously not like “It’s been” and “It’s not going to be” mean the same thing, and “Mae ‘di bod” definitely means “It’s been”. And does “hegar” mean “peaceful” or “wild”, after all? My dictionary doesn’t know the word “hegar”, and I wasn’t easily able to find any definitions in Google, so I asked ChatGPT and it said “peaceful” too. I thought, well, “peace” is “hedd/heddwch”, so they both start with H, maybe that’s enough to make them family. But I searched once again more thoroughly for some examples of this word in use and found “hegar law” meaning “fierce rain”. So I went with “wild”, because “a fierce night” sounded odd in English. But I’m curious what’s the deal with peaceful and why it showed up, maybe this word has two meanings or something, though it would be funny to have one word with two opposite meanings. Like: try and guess what I mean now. 😀 Also given how seemingly obscure “hegar” is, I wonder if perhaps it’s some archaism, and I like the idea of an archaism being thrown into a “normal” song like this. 😀
Then there are “old women” and “square boys”, at least literally. The word “merched” in the original actually means “girls” rather than women, but I think each language uses its equivalent word for a girl as a slangy word for a woman. But I’m not entirely sure if “merched hen” (literally old girls), is supposed to mean old women, or perhaps more like older girls, or simply adult women who, after all, kind of are “old girls” in a way, because they’re older than the actual literal girls but still girls. 😀 Sticking with “old women” felt safest though, so that’s what I did. And square boys? No idea what that might be. I have a feeling that the word “sgwâr” has some other, colloquial meaning that I’m not familiar with, or else it’s an English calque of something. Are they “square” as in boring/mainstream or oldfashioned maybe?
And lastly, the next line contains the word “sgwario” which literally means “to square”, and in that other translation it’s translated as “square to us”. I tried to find some other meanings of “to square” in English, thinking it’s a calque, but found nothing else that would make sense to me in the context. ChatGPT told me that apparently “sgwario`’ is a slangy way of saying “to roam”, but I found nothing that would make me believe it. So I left “squaring to us”, even though I’m not convinced that this is what the “old women and square boys” are seriously doing. The “sgwâr” thing sounds like it could be wordplay and not all wordplay is easily translatable, so perhaps that’s the case here.
But anyway, I still hope this translation is reasonably good, and in any case, the song is cool.