Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogery…

Again, not a weighty post, but the weather’s been miserable and I’m editing two books at once, so I trust you’ll cut me some slack. Lori Dorn reports that Welsh Weatherman Correctly Pronounces a 58-Letter Town Name Without Batting an Eye:

While reporting on the warm weather in Wales, broadcaster Liam Dutton correctly pronounced the name of the 58-letter town Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch without batting an eye or breaking a sweat. In fact, Dutton announced on Twitter that he’d be talking about the town in his broadcast and was really appreciative of the growing admiration for his performance.

It’s a very enjoyable 19 seconds.

I’ll pad out the post with a couple of links that have, strictly speaking, nothing to do with LH but which some readers may enjoy as much as I do:

The End of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife Forgery Debate, by Andrew Bernhard (spoiler: it’s a forgery!)

New York Public Library Puts 20,000 Hi-Res Maps Online & Makes Them Free to Download and Use: Twenty thousand hi-res maps! What are you waiting for?

Comments

  1. Shouldn’t it be 53 letters? The Welsh count LL as one letter, separate in the Welsh alphabet. And ch (denoting hard kh) is also counted as one letter written as two characters. Then it should be 51 letters.

  2. cardinal gaius sextus von bladet says:

    I’ve been there, and was duly impressed. But like most things in the observable universe it is actually a Victorian fake or exaggeration:

    This village was originally known as Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll and is sometimes still referred to as Llanfairpwllgwyngyll and was given its long name in the 19th century in an attempt to develop it as a commercial and tourist centre (see Significance of the name below). The village is still signposted Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, marked on Ordnance Survey maps as Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll and known to locals as Llanfairpwll or Llanfair. The railway station, despite having signs displaying the long name, is officially named Llanfairpwll.

  3. cardinal gaius sextus von bladet says:

    Man, I am losing it. That was meant to be a blockquote, of course.

  4. Been there too and can pronounce the full name from memory without batting an eyelid. It may be useful ability if I ever apply for a job as a weatherman in Wales. There are quite a few places called Llanfair (that is, ‘St. Mary[‘s church and parish]’), and the local council had to do something to make that particular Llanfair unique.

  5. Arguably it’s also missing a mutation – the other village named after its parish church of saint Tysilio is called Llandysilio.

  6. I reckon he was concentrating pretty hard – just before that, to my ear, he pronounced ‘west’ ‘whest’.

  7. Llanfair weather forecast caused a media storm in Russia and Ukraine too, with presenters showing off in trying to repeat Liam Dutton’s feat. Here a Ukrainian TV presenter Katerina Bulatova pronounces Llanfair PG with the characteristic Ukrainian fricative g, and here a Russian radio presenter Ksenia Turkova does it with the hard Russian g-s.

  8. @Prufrax,

    The sign at the railway station instructs the visitors to pronounce the Lllandysilio part correctly. I have often seen the name written as it should be, though the “ungrammatical” spelling seems to be official.

  9. “But like most things in the observable universe it is actually a Victorian fake”

    But how does that change anything? Probably lots of things that were originally fake have become real as time passes.

    In my house (and in the houses of most of my siblings and cousins) when we need to use the toilet, we say “I need to talk to Steve” because one time long ago, my great-grandfather said that right before he took a crap. It was a funny coincidence. Nobody even remembers who Steve was, or why someone would need to talk to him.

    Real words and phrases come to exist for a multitude of reasons. Some of those reasons are “fake”, but the words are nonetheless real.

  10. Sashura (who used to live in Wales) had a transliteration of Welsh into Russian a few days ago on Facebook, but I’m not sure how to link and he’s maybe too modest to do it himself.

  11. Here a Ukrainian TV presenter Katerina Bulatova pronounces Llanfair PG with the characteristic Ukrainian fricative g, and here a Russian radio presenter Ksenia Turkova does it with the hard Russian g-s.

    Thanks, that was funny! I note that neither of them attempted to pronounce the “ll” correctly, probably a wise decision.

  12. In Brithenig, the town is known as Pluifairllagunblancoryllentiostillrhebiddgurypluitysiliocafurnrys. Each piece of this morphological monstrosity is the same as in the Welsh version: pluif-fair llagun-blanc-coryll ent-iost-ill-rhebidd-gury pluif-tysilio-cafurn-rhys ‘St. Mary’s church of the hollow of the white hazel near the rapid whirlpool and Tysilio’s church [with the] red cave’.

    Philological notes:

    In Brithenig, u is /u/ (long or short) and y is the same as i. Stress is final, as in Middle Welsh.

    Tysilio is the same in both languages and resists mutation in both.

    Cafurn is a borrowing from English, not a descendant of Latin caverna which would be *cawern.

    Coryll ‘hazel’ is ultimately of Greek origin.

  13. cardinal gaius sextus von bladet says:

    But how does that change anything? Probably lots of things that were originally fake have become real as time passes.

    For Llanfair PG, it doesn’t really. Except in answering the question “How could this remarkable thing have come to pass?” with the bathetic “Victorian humour”. Other times (clan tartans, Ossian’s verse) debunking is more of a downer. (Although the tartanists are apparently resolved to toughing it out.)

  14. transliteration of Welsh into Russian
    Thanks, AJP! I don’t know why they didn’t try the LL sound, it’s so similar to Russian kh-l in quite a number of words, khleb (bread), klyab (slosh) etc. Perhaps they trusted Wikipedia more which spells it the English way ЛЛ.
    What tickled me was another mhemonic they found to make it easier to remember and pronounce – Йо-го-го-гох for the bit at the end Llanfair….iogogogoch. Йо-го-го is the Russian onomatopoeia for Neeeigh, the horse sound.

  15. That made me wonder what Eeyore became in Russian, and I see it’s Иа-Иа [Ia-Ia, or Eeyah-Eeyah].

  16. oh yes, Boris Zakhoder’s translation/adaptation is so wonderful. Some real gems. Piglet became Pyatachok, a five kopeck coin and also a diminutive for a piglet’s snout. He called the game of ‘Pooh sticks’ игра в Пустяки (Poostyak means trifle). And the 70-s animated version is hugely popular with Pooh’s songs known by heart by millions.

  17. I’d remember the whole name if I could work it into a rhyme.

  18. He called the game of ‘Pooh sticks’ игра в Пустяки

    Life to learn, it would have never occurred to me, since this game name lacked the “KH” sound of Russian “Пуx”

  19. Coryll ‘hazel’ is ultimately of Greek origin.

    No, despite the erratic spelling, corylus (also spelt corulus) is not only a native Latin word, but goes back to at least “dialectal” Indo-European. The /r/ is an outcome of Latin rhotacism; the pre-Latin form was something like *koselo- — of course related to hazel and to Celtic *koslo > OW, OIr. coll. Hence Welsh cyll, whose soft-mutated allomorph is part of Llanfairpullgwyngyll.

  20. Gogo ‘cave’ seems to be derived interestingly from older ogof.

  21. The first g in -gogo- is ag ‘with’ after vowel elision, and the final f goes where they all tend to go in Welsh. The Brithenig word for ‘with’ is cun (not surprisingly), and if I’d understood the Welsh better when I made up the Brithenig word, I’d have made it end in -cungavurnrys instead.

  22. The Welsh count LL as one letter, separate in the Welsh alphabet. And ch (denoting hard kh) is also counted as one letter written as two characters.

    The odd thing is, of all the digraphs that are counted as single letters in various languages, Dutch ij is the only one I know of that receives double capitalization, as in IJssel – cf. Llanfair, Ljubljana, etc. I wonder why that is.

  23. In the British Isles, on the other hand, they often don’t capitalise double f in surnames like ffolkes and ffrench.

  24. David Marjanović says:

    Ljubljana

    Lj and nj aren’t counted as single letters in Slovene – but they are in Croatian.

    double f in surnames

    comes historically from a misinterpretation of calligraphic F, so, in a way, it’s already capital.

  25. The modern representatives of the Fiennes family have mostly given up the ffiennes spelling. If they hadn’t, /’reɪf ‘faɪnz/ would be able to sport one more redundant letter.

  26. But how does that change anything? Probably lots of things that were originally fake have become real as time passes.

    Well, it does answer the question of how on earth such an unwieldy name came into being. The name would be much more interesting if it came about organically. And the village is Llanfair or Llanfair PG to everyone and the formal name is never really used and is still thought of as a joke, even by its residents, so in some ways you could say it’s still not real.

    The odd thing is, of all the digraphs that are counted as single letters in various languages, Dutch ij is the only one I know of that receives double capitalization, as in IJssel – cf. Llanfair, Ljubljana, etc. I wonder why that is.

    I don’t know the actual reason, but Llanfair looks a lot nicer than IJssel.

    In other Welsh news, British readers might be interested in the second series of Y Gwyll, which starts tonight at 9 pm on S4C, and can afterwards be found on S4C’s Clic player. I’ll probably watch when I get the chance, if only to find out if they’ve made their depiction of Ceredigion’s language dynamics a bit less wildly unrealistic this time.

  27. Here’s the trailer.

  28. ij, IJ is written that way because it’s a ligature that doesn’t happen to ligate, though in older Dutch it often did, resulting in Y, ÿ (Dutch omits diacritics on capitals). By the same token, the capital version of æ is Æ, not some ligatured form of “Ae”.

  29. And so is the capital version of “double u”: VV, not Vv.

  30. In older Vietnamese dictionaries, I’ve seen Ch, Gh, Gi, Kh, Ng, Nh, Th, and Tr treated as separate (indivisible) letters. Modern Vietnamese dictionaries don’t appear to do this.

  31. Yes, like traditional Spanish ch, ll, rr. But ch capitalizes as Ch, not ch, so it is a single letter for sorting purposes but not therefore a ligature.

  32. Kate Bunting says:

    Gwenllian wrote: Well, it does answer the question of how on earth such an unwieldy name came into being. The name would be much more interesting if it came about organically.

    I’ve been intrigued ever since I noticed on the map the Norfolk villages of Wiggenhall St. Germans, Wiggenhall St.Peter, Wiggenhall St. Mary the Virgin and Wiggenhall St. Mary Magdalen, wondering what on earth the locals call them. Only with the advent of the Internet have I discovered that they are known as St. Germans, St. Peter, St. Mary and Magdalen.

  33. Here are the Unicode representations of ij, IJ as single characters: ij, IJ.

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