Monday, August 27, 2007

My Eisteddfod

This year I spent more time on the Maes then any other Eisteddfod. This was because, along with 7 other members of the Association of Welsh Language Software (CMC) had clubbed together to have a stall. We actually shared a 3 unit stand with The Association of Welsh Language Translators and Interpreters.
Stondin CMC
First day on the stall, and got to meet up again with Dewi and Delyth who are the chair and secretary of CMC and who both work for the Language Technology Unit at the University of Wales, Bangor (see their blog). I was also introduced to Ambrose and David who work part time with the unit and part time for private companies. Ambrose works with Draig, while David works from home (in York) for a firm in the English Midlands.
David had another reason to be present at the Eisteddfod as he'd reached the final round of the Welsh Learner of the Year competition. His Welsh is impressive, even more so considering he's never lived in Wales. In addition to his work he's done a lot of work in his free time helping out with the localisation of OpenOffice into Welsh with Meddal volunteers, and he's also developed a 18,000 word English/Welsh dictionary that can be installed on a mobile phone, called Geiryn. Sarah and I promised to meet up with him when we're next up in York visiting her parents as he doesn't have anyone to practice his Welsh with up there, although he did meet someone who visited the stand that's studying a Computer Science degree now at York Uni.
I mis-read a poster and nearly sent Sarah to a flower arranging session at Maes D (Welsh learners tent) , when she thought she was going to a book launch, only a last minute intervention from my cousin saved her.
Watched Sarah's current favourite band, Brigyn perform on one of the out door stages on the Maes while eating lunch.


First thing was CMC's AGM, which was poorly attended. It was followed by an 'install-fest' where demonstrations were given on how to install the Welsh versions of Windows XP/Office, OpenOffice and show how easy they all are to switch from one langugae to another. One of the criticisms of the 1st Welsh Language version of XP/Office was that it was difficult to switch languages. The is now a new Language Control Centre, which not only switches Microsoft products you've installed, but also Firefox and Thunderbird. Annoyingly, it seems that a separate application called dotNETfx has to be downloaded from Microotf as well for this to work.
In the afternoon, I'd been asked to make a presentation on behalf of CMC in the Societies Tent (where may societies/organisations hold an 'annual lecture'). Mine was about 'Blogging and Social Newtowrking' (see slides/photo). I was worried as to who would turn up, but there were 20+ there, and not just my mum and fellow bloggers! At the end, a few people in the audience asked questions, mostly about Wicipedia.

Got back from a York in time for the gig at Mold Rugby Club , where Cymdeithas yr Iaith had organised gigs all week. That night I saw Sibrydion, Genod Droog and Mr Huw.
In the morning I went to see a collection of Welsh language short films in the Theatr Tent by those busy people who run This meant that I missed a presentation into a study by Bangor Uni into how Basque is taught to adults in the Basque Country, but I picked up a copy of the report which was very interesting.
I then finally put pen to paper and paid for an annual subscription for Y Byd. Y Byd will be the first ever daily newspaper in Welsh. It's been a long time coming, with plans being announced years ago, with many doubting whether it would ever see a light of day especially as the lunch date kept being moved. I even paid £25 as supporter around 3 years ago (which entitled me to a £30 discount once it was launched. My and other people's reading patterns have changed completely in that period, and Y Byd will now be offered on-line. As on-line subscription is only £80, compared to £120 odd for paper copy, plus my discount and the fact it entitles you to a free add, it was silly not to go for it.
In the afternoon I went to the launch of the latest issue of Tu Chwith in the Literature Tent.
Y Babell Lên
This had a Basque flavour too as Basque poets Bernardo Atxaga, Rikardo Arregi and Miren Agur Meabe read their poetry and then young Welsh poets read their Welsh translation of each one under the Literature Across Frontiers programme. As it happend, Bernardo Atxaga's poem was translated by Aneirin Karadog who also raps with Genod Droog!

Last day, chance to buy anything I'd not yet got and chase up anyone who I intended to speak to. In the afternoon there was a blog-meet. As not many had responded to the idea of holding one this year, I hadn't made any firm arrangements, but I met with Meilyr and Rhodri at one of the bars in the afternoon where we had a good chat about the potential of getting income from blogging, plus Rhodri mentioned he was about to start on a project of creating an on-line directory of all Welsh films. We were later joined by Ray and Iestyn. The last Saturday is when the male voice choirs compete, and I must say there's nowhere better than in one of the bars afterwards when all the choir members have downed a few pints and join in together for a huge singsong - I pitied the poor bloke on the performance stage near by as he didn't stand a chance.

Labels: ,

Friday, August 24, 2007

Are we talking about the same Eisteddfod?

I've been thinking of writing a post about what I did at this year's National Eisteddfod in Mold, but haven't got round to it yet, in the meantime, there's a particularly nasty article in the highly respected South Wales Echo by Dan O'Neill titled Let’s tell these dotty druids to byrger off!.

This columnist likes to think of himself as controversial, and his article about the festivals visit to the capital next year annoyed a lot of people, and understandably so. If it was an article 'taking the mick'* out the Eisteddfod it would be fine, I find some of it a bit strange myself, but it was basically an attack on people who speak Welsh - he really goes for it and it's a shame that the echo allowed such hatred towards a language be expressed in it's pages. It starts off fairly mild:
Let’s face it, apart from a few people in Pontcanna does anybody really want it here?
He's a bit behind the times here, most young Welsh speakers live in other parts of Cardiff like Canton, Riverside, Grangetown and Splott while the older ones live in Llandaf and other northen 'burbs. The TV studios moved from Pontcanna decades ago.
in Wales there are indeed two nations: the Welsh who don’t speak the lingo (us); and the far fewer Welsh who do and decree that anyone who doesn’t is not only not Welsh but a second-class citizen as well.
This is the typical garbage that Labour have been spouting for years, and it does nothing for bring Wales together. There may be one or two idiots with such a view, but that's certainly not the attitude of Welsh speakers I know.

He takes offence (quite rightly) at a comment made 6 years ago by one person that compared the threat to the Welsh language to the destruction of Swansea during WWII, but has no qualms at using the word 'fascists' to describe Welsh speakers. hhhmm!

*Hope he doesn't find that too offensive, seeing as he's so proud of his Irish ancestry!

The editor responds on his blog.

It's not the 'poking fun' at the Eisteddfod that's annoyed people Richard, it's his claims about ALL Welsh speakers.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Look out Facebook

Someone posted a link to Lle Aeth Pawb? (Where did everyone go?) on maes-e recently. I don't think it's intended to be launched yet, particularly as the word 'test' appears in the url. Anyway, it's a website to coincide with a series that will appear on S4C next year. The idea behind the series is that long lost friends are reunited, what a great idea! Yes, this could turn out to be another lame S4C program, and it's obviously been inspired by the Facebook revolution.

Having said that, the site looks really good. I've created an account to have a bit of a nose. You then create your profile. Every primary and secondary school, college and university in Wales is listed as default. You're then encouraged to up-load old photos with keywords/tags in both Welsh and English, which other users can leave comments on. This classic photo from 1987 will do nothing to dispel the myth that all Welsh Speakers are farmers!

As you'll have noticed, the site is fully bilingual (although while browsing in Welsh, many pages direct you to English versions at the moment, I guess it's work in progress). Also, it would be useful to be able to click on your school name on your profile to see who else went there.

Even if the program will be complete pants, it at least has a decent website, the first proper social networking site available in Welsh. The only thing is, if it become popular (40+ have signed up already before it's even launched), will it still be kept live once the show is over?

The company behind the show and the website are Cwmni Da from Caernarfon. I've noticed the make use of new Web2.0 technologies to compliment the shows they're commisioned to do for S4C. During the Eisteddfod they were responsible for the Sioe Gelf (The Arts Show), and the website to coincide with the show (now taken down sadly) included blogs by different people at the Eisteddfod (competitors, judges, band members, commentators etc). Although Cwmni Da themselves don't seem to have a website of their own!

Labels: , , , ,