My first visit to Anglesey was way back in time, in the late sixties. I can remember very clearly going on a coach trip across the Menai Strait, with my parents, during our annual vacation in Rhyl.
Naturally, as a young boy, I was fascinated by the town on the island which boasted such a long name. In fact, it’s the longest in Britain and second longest in the world.
You have to go to the Southern Hemisphere – New Zealand to be precise – where the eighty-five character town of Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu is to be found.
Over a period of many years I visited Anglesey, and would often look at the sign on the platform of the railway station, and think to myself, how do people even begin to say that.
Then, especially as time moved on and I started to identify very much with my Welsh roots (you don’t always think of these things as a youngster), part of that awakening was to learn the language.
Just recently, I randomly came across Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, as it is often abbreviated to, when I was on the internet.
This time things made a lot more sense. Instead of what I used to see as random letters, now I could read the individual words and understand them.
I know what, I thought to myself, I’ll learn to pronounce the town. I gave myself three days and you can see the result via the video below.
Although I’ve been learning Welsh for some years now, I’m still learning. Even listening to myself, I think I should have pronounced that differently. Whatever you do, It’s always good to want to improve.
The thing is though, I just recorded it. I didn’t do take forty or whatever. It’s all part of the journey. A journey of learning, practise and improvement.
Imagine learning the New Zealand Town name! If I did though, it would be parrot-fashion. Llanfairpwllgwyngyll is very different.
It’s speaking words that I know, not just imitating sounds. Just as when I go to Wales football games, and sing the national anthem, the words themselves mean something.