Welsh Tongue-Twister Could Keep English At Bay
The ultimate citizenship exam was suggested yesterday for English people planning to move to Wales – a test of their pronunciation of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.
Rattling off the name would be an excellent way of overcoming Welsh fear of cultural domination by the English, according to a local government official in the Anglesey town.
“I am certainly not anti-English,” said Alan Jones, the clerk to Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch community council. “But there needs to be some effort by newcomers to mix in, and learning how to say the word properly would show a real willingness.”
The name’s sequence of 58 letters forms a Welsh pronunciation course in miniature, according to linguists, with almost all the usual difficulties condensed into one word.
The longest place name in the United Kingdom, and second only elsewhere to several interminably named Maori towns in New Zealand, it has the problematic “wyr”, multiple l’s, and other sounds that particularly fox English tourists.
Mr Jones denied yesterday that he was following in the footsteps of 19th century Welsh nationalists, who are said to have extended Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch’s name to embarrass seekers after holiday cottages.
He said: “I am just making the point that, for their sake as well as the community’s, it is really appreciated if new arrivals learn the language. If newcomers did learn the language, they would have much richer lives here.”
The full name is perhaps not a particularly good advertisement for Welsh, translating as “The church of St Mary in the hollow of white hazel near the rapid whirlpool by the church of St Tysilio of the red cave”.
Local people – Welsh as well as English – almost invariably all it simply Llanfair PG”.