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Ar Lafar

Ar Lafar

Who put the 'eh' in 'Kairdiff'?

The old Welsh dialect of the South Wales valleys, and the new Welsh dialect emerging in Cardiff - these will be the focal points of the S4C series Ar Lafar on Monday, 18 July.

In the programme, poet and presenter Ifor ap Glyn asks whether the old dialect still influences the way we speak today? And are we seeing new Welsh dialects developing as Welsh medium education expands in the Welsh capital and the valleys?

The old dialect is known in Welsh as 'Y Wenhwyseg', or 'the language of the people of Gwent' - although it also characterised the speech of people in Glamorgan as far west as the Afan valley. Later the same evening, sister series Noson Ar Lafar will be in Porth, Rhondda celebrating the rich and humorous literature of the 'Y Wenhwyseg' dialect, in the company of popular valleys' actresses Gaynor Morgan Rees and Shelley Rees.

Some of Ar Lafar's findings may surprise viewers. According to Ifor, "The Cardiff accent has been analysed by a number of dialect experts from England and they tend to emphasise the influence of immigrants from Ireland and the South West of England. But they often forget about the impact the local dialect of Welsh has had on the city's accent.

"Everyone knows that Cardiffians tend to pronounce their 'ah' sounds more like an 'eh' sound - for instance, 'Kairdiff' rather than 'Cardiff', 'dairk' instead of 'dark', etc. But that's exactly what local Welsh speakers would have done years ago. Turning their 'a''s into 'e's is one of the characteristics of 'Y Wenhwyseg'. Perhaps the non-Welsh speaking residents of Cardiff are more faithful to the original pronunciation than the Welsh speakers who have moved to the city in recent years!"

Ifor started taking an interest in 'Y Wenhwyseg' dialect twenty years ago when he recorded two sisters from the Rhondda Valley.

In the programme, he meets a former teacher at Ysgol Cwm Rhymni, Dr Elin Jones, of Ystrad Mynach, who still speaks the old valleys dialect. He also gets a taste of how the young people of the Rhymney Valley speak Welsh today when he meets the pupils and teachers from Ysgol Cwm Rhymni who were involved in the production of the award-winning zombie film, 'Tua'r Tywyllwch'.

Ifor then turns his attention to Cardiff where he was a student 30 years ago. Since then, there has been a significant increase in the number of Welsh speakers living in Cardiff and in the number of parents sending their children to Welsh-language medium schools.

Ifor meets Cardiff novelist Llwyd Owen and a group of young parents to discover how much the English dialect of Cardiff is influencing the city's young Welsh speakers. Although the new Cardiff Cymraeg is not to everyone's taste, Ifor discusses this with dialect expert Dr Gwenllian Awbery, and asks if a new dialect is rising from the ashes of the old Wenhwyseg?

In Noson Ar Lafar Gaynor Morgan Rees from the Cynon Valley and Shelley Rees from the Rhondda present an evening of prose, poetry and films which includes mining humour from the early 20th century and more recent work by dramatist Ian Rowland and poet Meic Stephens.

© 2012 S4C
O Gymru / Made in Wales