Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tracks in the snow

The beginning of this week was very cold, with a little fresh snow on top of the scattered masses of old snow still remaining from Christmas week. An inch or two like this makes a good medium for wildlife tracks, and there were plenty - mostly from squirrels, pigeons, and my cats, but occasionally others. The following piece is a practice essay I wrote yesterday on that subject in Welsh, followed by an English translation...

Fe ddaeth e’n ôl.

Bore ddoe, cyn y wawr, fe weles i’r olion ei draed yn yr eira newydd unnos. Traed mwy na thraed gath, leia na thraed ci, a gan ewinedd clir. Ci bach, efallai – ond does dim ci a neidioedd dros ffensys yn y nos fel gath. Fe ddilynes i ei olion. Fe neidioedd e’n gyntaf ar ben y “recycle bin” porffor ger y clwyd gefn, ac wedyn, yn ysgafn, i’r daear. Trwy’r ardd rewllyd aeth e, ac wedyn dros y ffens dde, ac i ffordd.

Ond y bore ‘ma, roedd mwy olion yn yr eira. Ym mherfedd y nos, heb ei weld ac heb ofn, ddaeth yr hên llwynog yn ôl.

He came back.

Yesterday morning, before dawn, I saw the marks of his feet in the new snow of one night. Feet larger than a cat's feet, smaller than a dog's feet, and with clear nails. A small dog, perhaps - but there is no dog that leaps over fences in the night like a cat. I followed his tracks. He jumped first to the top of the purple recycle bin by the back gate, and then lightly to the ground. Through the frosty yard he went, and then over the south fence, and away.

But this morning, there were more tracks in the snow. In the middle of the night, without being seen and without fear, the old fox came back.



  1. Bore da, sut dych chi heddiw? Dia duit, cad é mar atá tú?

    Since I try similar practice essays in my bumbling Irish, I wonder how you find such exercises? It's hard to "make" myself attempt to compose as if thinking for a phrase or two (at best) in broken Irish rather than writing the English down and translating backwards, but it's the only way to wrap one's mind into the other language's "tracks."

    I like seeing what I call "ghosts" of the Gaeilge in the Cymraeg, and so I wonder if you could recommend for a learner of Irish which dialect of Welsh might be easier to grasp. I have not found any advice for what may be admittedly a very limited demographic of students! My hunch based on history leans southward. (I checked out a library book I like-- the only one shelved in all of the Los Angeles Public Library!--DK/Hugo's "Welsh in Three Months" [no tape however] that follows South Walian.)

    Any comments or suggestions?

    Hwyl fawr! Slán go fóill le Fionnchú (c/o Blogtrotter)

  2. Fescur ma - ha mi gle mha. Cimar a ha thu? ... and that's about the end of my (mispelled) Gaelic. (I tried a little Scots Gaelic for a couple of years, but I can't say it took!)

    Practice essays: I am trying to do more. I think it's valuable as an additional step beyond starting to think in the language, in that it lets you try and get all the details (mutations etc) right in what you were just thinking. Writing in English first somewhat defeats the purpose. The trick, I think, is to write about something your active vocabulary almost covers, so you can manage that first coherent thinking step. I mostly mentally "wrote" this one on my way to work that morning (fortunately the traffic was light!) then wrote it down and improved it.

    Welsh for the Gaelic speaker - that's an interesting question. I think it partly depends on what you plan to do with the Welsh. For reading purposes there are not a lot of differences other than the varied forms of the verb "to be", the affirmative marker mi/fe, masculine third person (f)o/(f)e, and a few matters of vocabulary. So if you want to read the news on BBC Cymru, for example, the Hugo book or equivalent should cover the ground for you. Once you start talking, of course, it's more complicated... I think I will elaborate on this as a blog post later today.