Saturday, 26 June 2010

Green et idéal

Boyo is a lurching emporium of Welsh culture in all its gassy degeneracy. His conversation is a stream of Welshisms - the turgid verbal redundancy, pli selon pli, that I summarised earlier as "clanging tautology".

Boyo is also a delightful source of Mondegreen, such as his subconscious upgrading of the loathsome "Mull of Kintyre" into "Bollocking Time".

A recent conversation of his with another Welsh-speaker yielded a serendipitous conjunction of the two phenomena. They were discussing the lyrics of Welsh Wales's sole contribution to the punk genre, namely "Rhedeg i Paris" ("Running to Paris") by the group Anhrefn.

Boyo cited this song as evidence of the sheer literacy of Welsh popular music, in particular the line "wedi achub Boudu o foddi dan dwr" - "having saved Boudu from drowing".

I was impressed. Few punk singers refer to Renoir's "Boudu sauvé des eaux". Until his compatriot, in a treasonable display of accuracy and honesty, pointed out that the line is "cofio am bentrefi wedi boddi dan dwr" - "remembering drowned villages" - a constant lament of Welsh poetry ever since the English discovered that water is useful for washing and turned various Snowdonian valleys into reservoirs in the mid-1960s.

An amusing mishearing, and an apt puncturing of Boyo's bathetic bumptiousness, but there was better to come. I asked why "remembering drowned villages" takes so long to say in Welsh. The literal translation, it emerges, is "remembering villages that have been drowned under water".

Not just drowned, but drowned "under water". I don't like to imagine what else the Welsh are liable to drown in, but suspect that one day I'll find out.


Gorilla Bananas said...

Isn't "remembering villages that have been drowned under water" how the Welsh say it in English as well?
There must be an ancient druidic method of execution in which the victim is drowned in milk from a freshly sodomised ewe.

Gorilla Bananas said...


Because of its pronunciation, "ewe" and its homophone "you" form one of only two homophone pairs in modern English that share no letters. The other pair is 'I' and "eye", with "aye" also for some dialects.

Mrs Boyo said...

Welshisms are carried from one language to the other in a knotted 'kerchief on the end of a stick, from what I gather.

In Wales, a "homophone" is what they call a BBC staff member hunched over his Blackberry. A charming people, of whom Adorno would have approved.

No Good Boyo said...

I see your early days in that Singapore cathouse are catching up with you.