I decided to make a whole list of reasons why I’m learning Welsh.
I wrote them in my diary at first, but then posted it also on my Polish blog, which I had until December. They aren’t in any speciffic order, I just wrote them down as they were coming to my brain.
So I decided to put this list here as well, and maybe continue it in future with writing lists of reasons why I’m learning all the other languages I’m learning or why I want to learn those I plan to learn in future. The list might be longer than the one I published on my Polish blog, because some time has passed and I found some new reasons. Unfortunately I didn’t write them down anywhere so it depends on whether I’ll be able to recall them all. I might add something to some of them to make them more clear for you.
1. I extremely like it.
and it belongs to the group of my favourite languages, in case of which I have a constant feeling like I just should not even learn them, but have contact with them and moreover to speak them.
2. Because I want to read the Mabinogion in Welsh in future.
As well as other books about the Celtic culture and Welsh folklore, there are so many great Welsh fairytales and I want to read them not only in English, but in Welsh too.
3. I like Welsh music.
Especially Welsh language music, as you surely know well, if you have seen my song of the day series.
4. My current musical crush is Welsh, and he makes Welsh language music.
I started to learn Welsh before I got to know Gwilym Bowen Rhys and his music, but still it is a very important reason for me, even if not direct, and it makes me somehow even more motivated. And it is a direct reason why I chose a North Welsh dialect over South Welsh. Because Gwil is from North Wales. And because people say northern Welsh is more difficult.
5. In a bigger or smaller degree, I have some sense of bond with all the nations which languages are my favourite.
Of course when it comes to Poland and the Polish language, it was rather inversely, because of the fact I’m Polish and via my bond with Poland as my motherland and the Poles, I’ve naturally started to like Polish very much.
Anyway my bond with Celtic nations is quite speciffic and strong, I guess even stronger than with Sweden or Finland or others, which I consider also as a reason in some way, because I’d like to know more Welsh-speaking people and see, if seriously I haave any reasons to feel so much attached to the Celtic countries and if really me and them have as much in common as I feel. As for now, I have one Welsh-speaking pen pal, with whom I’m getting along really well and we seem to have loads of things in common, and I know more or less some people from the online community in which I am learning Welsh. They are learners like me, but most of them are Welsh. With some of them I talked a bit more than with others and I like them.
6. I think that the Welsh themselves – ptui! a large amount of Welsh people – still don’t appreciate their language as they should.
Although in the last few decades situation of this language has significantly improved, it’s still listed amongst endangered languages and it’s mostly in North Wales where it is in everyday use. So… someone has to show them somehow, what a unique language they have. 😀 Although ENglish is also an undenianbly beautiful language, nowadays almost everyone can speak it, so they should be proud that they have their own, in my opinion.
7. To make people ask why and feel amazed. 😀
And to make a good conversation starter of it. Very useful if you have social anxiety like I do and when you are introvert and hate smalltalking about the weather, school etc. Like I do too.
8. To develop my brain and not become intellectually senile and not to go even more crazy at my old age.
I certainly have kind of obsession about developing my brain, I am terribly afraid of neurodegenerative diseases and all that reduces brain efficiency. And multilingualism definitely lessens the risk of reduced brain efficiency in future. For the same purpose, I eat food which improve my brain and as i have Mum who is a lifestyle expert, it isn’t difficult. For example I don’t add lemon to the tea, only ascorbic acid, or sodium ascorbate, Mum always has a lot of it, and it tastes just the same as if you had it with lemon, while when you add lemon to warm tea, you’ll get aluminum citrate and will storage in your brain, so… umm, no, thanks. 😀 But seriously, I’m really sensitive for brain well-being matters, probably more, than the standards anticipate, if there are any. 😀
9. To be able to write something so that noone undesirable should get what it is on about.
I mean such things like my diary for instance, or other notes like that. Right now, my personal diary is a mix of Polish, English and Swedish, sometimes I put some Welsh if things I’m writing about aren’t overly complicated, but I suppose that once I get Welsh well enough to be able to express my thoughts clearly, I will use mainly Welsh. I’ve already told you I am slightly paranoid about my privacy, so, I think that’s a great idea.
Or if I feel like swearing a bit. I think it sounds better in Welsh than in Polish or in Swedish, or even in English. I am not one of those people, who have a habit of swearing on every occasion, but sometimes… can’t resist. And then most often I do it either in Welsh or in Finnish, as it’s also great.
Last year in June there was a situation when some guests came to us for a night. It was my cousins’ First Communion. Mum wanted them to eat the supper first. While I was in my room, but wanted to go downstairs, challenge myself and socialise even jjust for a while. So we went downstairs with Misha, to see what’s up. But they had all they suitcases spaced out around the corridor and one was so perfectly placed in the middle of my way to the living room, so that I hit it with my tibia with a lot of rumble and before I could form any logical thought, I pretty automatically swore in Welsh, (not sure if I should quote it 😀 )
My Mum got a bit scared and screamed “What happened?!” while my Dad only asked me from the kitchen: “Which language are you swearing in?”, loud enough to be heard by the guests, so I said that in Welsh, and so I provided a topic to discuss again and people asked why Welsh. But usually I don’t make such big performances as it was then, it’s way too embarrassing. I just swore almost involuntarily as I hit my tribia really strongly and it hurt badly. 😀
10. To talk to Misha in another language and check if he reacts.
Misha is a very clever creature and knows many things, sometimes such things that I wouldn’t ever think he may know anything about. The idea about talking to Misha not only in Polish came from my Swedish teacher, who talks to his cats in Swedish and he says they understand. I was rather skeptical and thought it’s just his autosuggestion, but decided to try, as I already noticed that Misha responds when you call him Mishka, Misheczka, Mishątko and with other nicknames like that, for example when he sits somewhere high and you just say Misheczka, even talking to someone about him in a rather normal tone of voice, he’ll turn to you. Of course it works only when he isn’t absorbed by something else, more interesting, people also don’t always do what you expect them to do at the moment. So I tried and it turned out that Misha comes to me when I’ll call him “Misha chodź” (in Polish), or “Misha, chodź tu” (come here) or “Misha, come here” or “Misha, kom här” (come here in Swedish). Other than that, we rarely call Misha “kici kici” (which is Polish for here kitty kitty or something like that) or if we do, it simply doesn’t work. My Mum has read somewhere, that everyone automatically would call the cat kici kici so he’ll come to anyone, hence Mum came up with an idea that we can whistle to call him, but then Zofijka and me started to call him Mish Mish Mish. 😀 So since both Misha come and Misha kom work and Misha seems to get what’s going on when I just talk to him in another language, so that when we for example go to sleep and he goes behind me upstairs, I decided when I felt a bit more comfortable with my Welsh, that I will try with Welsh too. “Misha, tyrd yma, melys” (Misha, come here, sweetie). And Misha – although very slowly and offishly (he isn’t very responsive overall and, as my Dad calls it, tends to “freeze” easily, so it took him some time) – but came to me and got immediately that I want something from him. So I talk to him in Welsh too, even though I can’t say much and am far from fluent. And I rather talk to him in any other language when we’re alone. I really like to talk to him in different languages.
11. Because I want to see how it is like to learn a non germanic language.
Until now, I’ve only learnt English and Swedish, and a bit of German at school, so I didn’t have any idea about how it is to learn a Celtic language. Needless to say, it feels brilliant!
12. To understand Wenglish better.
If you don’t know what Wenglish is, it’s simply a mix of Welsh and English, the Welsh English dialect. I love it and Welsh English accent too – as all the British accents and dialects.
13. To understand what they chat about in Radio Cymru and S4C (Welsh tv channel).
I listen to them a lot, so it would be reasonable to understand it, wouldn’t it?
14. To have a laugh at Tolkien’s fans and talk to them in Sindarin. 😀
While creating the Sindarin language, Tolkien apparently was inspired with Welsh and actually if you can read Welsh (know its phonetics), you can as well read in Sindarin. at least that’s what I was told.
15. To scare my gramma.
My gramma is a bit obsessed with theology. She isn’t a bigot, like many elderly ladies, she was just always interested in theology, she even studied it. She insists that Welsh surely is a Pagan language, because the Celts were pagans and those Welsh people who speak Welsh are too, that all the Gaelic languages are pagan languages and that they are nazis, because Celtic cross is a symbol of nazism. She always asks me different things about Celtic spirituality, the early, pagan one and the Christian spirituality, when all those monks started to arrive to these lands and she still can’t believe that Christian people seriously pray in Welsh, Irish and Scottish, that they had their own, speciffic, Christian spirituality. Indeed, with some elements of their old traditions, but we Slavic people also have traditions that are post pagan, but they are a part of our spirituality.
16. Because I want to watch Rownd A Rownd series in which my crush had apparently played.
And I want to know what it is about obviously.
17. Because I want to be able to do something niche.
Niche things are often interesting just because they are niche, and I want to be able to do something interesting.
18. Because I love to hear people switching languages easily.
I love to hear people talking in English, then switching to Welsh, then back to English and I want to at least be able to do so.
19. To scare strangers.
No, not all strangers. This is another idea brought to me by my excellent Swedish teacher. He liked to tell me stories and once he told me that he had a situation when a drunk guy came to him and started to talk bullshit to him and also asked him for some money. And my teacher, who also speaks Latin, started to talk to him in Latin. 😀 Poor guy looked confused and scared and looked at him like he was insane, and walked away. Isn’t that a great way of dealing with intruders? 😀
20. Because I want to challenge my social anxiety.
My social anxiety is very strange. It comes and goes in different situations and sometimes I can’t predict when it will come. Sometimes I might chat freely with my extended or close family and be unable to talk to strangers, sometimes I find myself feeling very comfortable around someone I’ve never seen before and have trouble talking to even such close people like my brother. It’s very flexible and it’s hard for me to notice any patterns of it. One thing it amazes me with is that I am often a bit less anxious when I speak to people in another language. I’ve never had those kind blockades while talking in another language, which many people do have and I suppose my love for my languages is bigger than my social anxiety. So, when I get a chance of talking with someone in English or Swedish, most often my language obsession wins, and although I may be anxious, I jump on it. And it gets better while I’m speaking. My most hardcore experience is staying in Stockholm for a week with my family. My family speaks no English, and no Swedish too. So I was like their translator. I was literally scared. I wanted desperately to go to Stockholm, I planned it for so very long, but finally when I knew it will happen for sure, although I still wanted to go there, at the same time I wanted to escape and not think about it anymore. But I got there and although talking on behalf of three people was extremely challenging and just knackering, it was also very rewarding. So, I want to have another language to help me with my social anxiety. As for now, I’ve never talked to anyone in Welsh, only have written emails or other kinds of messages, and I get anxious when I think about it, but I also want it to happen. So yeah, languages seem to be the only thing which can lessen my anxiety in social situations for a while. And I have a quiet hope that maybe someday I will be able to go to Wales and test my skills. The thing is not with organisation, as I think it wouldn’t be hard in my case, but I need to feel emotionally ready, which may take a lot of time.
21. Because it helps me with depression and all the other kinds of anxiety I experience.
Social anxiety isn’t the only kind of anxiety I struggle with, I very often experience pretty general anxiety and have a bunch of speciffic phobias. When anxiety hits me, it’s rather hard to focus on anything else besides the object of your anxiety, so you won’t absorb any new languages. But you need to distract. Even if all your thoughts are full of anxiety, you can switch to another language in thinking. English doesn’t work, because I already think a lot in English during the day along with Polish and it doesn’t need as much effort as with Swedish or Welsh. And then, when I start to think in that other language, in my case, my thoughts slow down – because I usually have to have more time to form them – and I can gradually distract from feeling anxiety, without desperately trying to find some activities or other topic to think about or something to focus on. I often write down my thoughts then as well. I just let my thoughts go, but in another language, and then they just change their paths and I realise I’m actually thinking about something different that isn’t anxiety provoking. This strategy doesn’t work always, it depends on how severe the anxiety is and how much I can focus right now, but it works usually, to a varying degree. It happens that I can distract from the anxiety completely and it just passes away.
Same is with depression. Or low mood in general. Right now, I am rarely so depressed that I feel really anhedonic, that nothing can make me happy just at all. I’m very glad about it. All my language achievements really boost my mood and I try to celebrate even the smallest ones (although my linguistic skills are the only one area I’m a perfectionist in and it’s always not enough for me). If I feel very depresed, I can listen to music in my favourite languages, write something in one of them and it often lifts me up a bit. I always feel like my favourite languages correspond with different feelings. So when I feel a certain way, I prefer to write in a language that represents this feeling for me, although of course I now only know 4 of those languages so my possibilities are limited. But as for the Welsh language, I feel like the feelings of anger, longing (in any sense of this word), frustration, enthusiasm and joy, like the kind of joy when you see something beautiful, correspond with this language in my mind. But anger and enthusiasm seem to correspond the most. Besides, I always set myself some goals as for what I want to reach in a certain amount of time. So that gives me some routine that I should stick to, something I can go to in life at least short term, so the life doesn’t seem so extremely pointless when I feel very low. When I feel like severely depressed and do have some anhedonia or feel like I just can’t drag out of bed or do just anything, I try to motivate myself to do at least a bit of practice with my language, but if I can’t do it, I don’t punish myself for that. Sometimes the only thing I feel like doing is sleep and I think everyone has the right for feeling this way and it’s OK, even if not nice and even if people may not get it why you’re so non functional at all.
22. Because I want to learn to pronounce…
and in order to pronounce it properly, I need to know at least basics about this language’s phonetics. In fact, I actually achieved it and I can read it as it should be, but my main goal as for that is to learn to pronounce it by heart. Why? JUST for fun. On a Polish site called Nonsensopedia they wrote that you’ll faster get diarrhea than pronounce it. I just wanted to test.
23. Because so many people think it’s difficult.
It is. But Polish is too. And English, in some ways is too. It all depends on your autosuggestion.
23 reasons! Quite a lot, huh? Exactly. So now I’m even more sure that it’s a job worth doing.
Are you learning any language? Why do you do it?
Let me know if you want me to do it as a series and write reasons for my other languages too.