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chompers
06-04-2014, 09:48 PM
I am considering making my MC originally Welsh. Problem is, I have very, very little knowledge about the Welsh. I'm not even sure where it is. I tried to do some initial research, but I'm still so lost and confused.

(Plus, did I understand it correctly that it's people from Wales? As in Diana, Princess of Wales? But wasn't she British? I thought Welsh spoke differently.)

I'm sorry if I sound ignorant, I don't mean to, but I honestly know very little about the Welsh.

Anyways, I was just seeing if I could get some clarification, anything that would help me understand the Welsh, where they are and who they are. There seems to be a lot of Welsh people on this forum. I know this is a rather broad request, but I know so little I'm not even sure what I need to be asking. I'd like to know a little more to confirm if I indeed should be taking my MC in that direction, and hopefully also be guided in where I need to refine my research.

The reason I'm considering making her Welsh is because I get the sense that the Welsh are very proud of their heritage, and my MC has that deep identification with her roots, even if she is forced to give it up and pretend otherwise. The word 'hiraeth' really encompasses her story (if I'm using it correctly.)

Any help is appreciated. Thanks.

Xelebes
06-04-2014, 10:03 PM
Royal title tells nothing about where they are from. The Princess of Wales is the title of the consort of the crown prince, the Prince of Wales.

Secondly, it would help yourself tremendously to do a bit of basic reading about the Welsh, like going to Wikipedia and then asking further questions once you have done that. It is a bit of a broad question when you ask simply about Welsh.

chompers
06-04-2014, 10:05 PM
Thanks, but as mentioned, I did do some basic reading already. Unfortunately I'm still confused. I do realize it's a broad question.

williemeikle
06-04-2014, 10:06 PM
I am considering making my MC originally Welsh. Problem is, I have very, very little knowledge about the Welsh. I'm not even sure where it is. I tried to do some initial research, but I'm still so lost and confused.

(Plus, did I understand it correctly that it's people from Wales? As in Diana, Princess of Wales? But wasn't she British? I thought Welsh spoke differently.)

I'm sorry if I sound ignorant, I don't mean to, but I honestly know very little about the Welsh.

Anyways, I was just seeing if I could get some clarification, anything that would help me understand the Welsh, where they are and who they are. There seems to be a lot of Welsh people on this forum. I know this is a rather broad request, but I know so little I'm not even sure what I need to be asking. I'd like to know a little more to confirm if I indeed should be taking my MC in that direction, and hopefully also be guided in where I need to refine my research.

The reason I'm considering making her Welsh is because I get the sense that the Welsh are very proud of their heritage, and my MC has that deep identification with her roots, even if she is forced to give it up and pretend otherwise. The word 'hiraeth' really encompasses her story (if I'm using it correctly.)

Any help is appreciated. Thanks.

Oh, dear. If you know absolutely nothing about it, it's probably best to, you know, do some research.

Wales is part of the United Kingdom - they're both Welsh and British. ( but not English )

Some of them speak Welsh but the predominant language is English.

The history of Wales is a long one and best to research thoroughly for yourself.

Willie ( A Scotsman with a Welsh grannie. )

chompers
06-04-2014, 10:12 PM
I think I need to make clear that yes, I have already done some basic research, as I stated in my original post. But it pretty much read like gibberish to me, I am having so much trouble understanding it. That's why I came here, hopefully to get a nudge on areas to start off.

williemeikle
06-04-2014, 10:13 PM
I think I need to make clear that yes, I have already done some basic research. But it pretty much read like gibberish to me, I am having so much trouble understanding it. That's why I came here, hopefully to get a nudge on areas to start off.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wales

chompers
06-04-2014, 10:16 PM
That was where I started.

williemeikle
06-04-2014, 10:18 PM
That was where I started.


Sorry, but if the wikipedia page on the subject reads like gibberish to you, I honestly don't know how we can help you.

chompers
06-04-2014, 10:20 PM
Sorry, but if the wikipedia page on the subject reads like gibberish to you, I honestly don't know how we can help you.
thanks for trying

williemeikle
06-04-2014, 10:22 PM
thanks for trying

I mean, you said you didn't even know where Wales was in your OP -- there's a map on the Wiki page - you could try looking at that for a start?

chompers
06-04-2014, 10:26 PM
I mean, you said you didn't even know where Wales was in your OP -- there's a map on the Wiki page - you could try looking at that for a start?I know where Wales is. I didn't know the Welsh were people from Wales. I was confused by that because I thought they sounded different than Diana (which the royal family was the only thing I knew about Wales, besides the location).

It's just so different from what I'm used to that my brain has a hard time comprehending it. I need more of a breakdown. It's like if someone was looking into the Chinese culture. It's a huge shift from the western culture that the concepts could be hard to grasp.

Medievalist
06-04-2014, 10:28 PM
Thanks, but as mentioned, I did do some basic reading already. Unfortunately I'm still confused. I do realize it's a broad question.

Short Answer: English is an Indo-European language; it belongs to the Germanic branch of I.E. languages.

Welsh is an I.E. language; it belongs to the Celtic branch of I.E. languages.

The people of Wales originally spoke Welsh. Wales is part of the United Kingdom and Britain; it's the part of Britain closest to Ireland (this is crudely put). Today the most common language in Wales is English, though there are many native speakers of Welsh still, and children learn Welsh in school.

The name for the Welsh language in Welsh is Cymraeg; Welsh is what the Anglo-Saxon invaders called the people and the language spoken in Wales. The Anglo-Saxon invaders called the people who lived in Britain wealh; meaning "foreigners."

The very name Britain is derived from Welsh.

Other living Celtic languages include Gaelic (both Irish and Scottish), Breton (spoken in Brittany, France). Gaelic is from one branch of the Celtic languages; Welsh is from another (the same one as Breton) but Welsh and Gaelic are not mutually understandable any more than German and English are.

Wales was largely subsumed by the English crown (via statute, versus several earlier military conquests) during the reign of Henry VIII, after several invasions and conquests of Wales by the English.

Hoplite
06-04-2014, 10:28 PM
Wikipedia mentions the climate, the region, the history, the culture, the ethnic background, the language, etc. etc. etc.

What is it specifically that you're confused about? Willie's wikipedia article is where I would start to gather general information on any state/people. From there I'd go to the library and see what they had in the travel section for more detailed or personal information.

williemeikle
06-04-2014, 10:32 PM
I'm out of here before I say something I might regret...

chompers
06-04-2014, 10:35 PM
Short Answer: English is an Indo-European language; it belongs to the Germanic branch of I.E. languages.

Welsh is an I.E. language; it belongs to the Celtic branch of I.E. languages.

The people of Wales originally spoke Welsh. Wales is part of the United Kingdom and Britain; it's the part of Britain closes to Ireland (this is crudely put). Today the most common language in Wales is English, though there are many native speakers of Welsh still, and children learn Welsh in school.

The name for the Welsh language in Welsh is Cymraeg; Welsh is what the Anglo-Saxon invaders called the people and the language spoken in Wales. The Anglo-Saxon invaders called the people who lived in Britain wealh; meaning "foreigners."

The very name Britain is derived from Welsh.

Other living Celtic languages include Gaelic (both Irish and Scottish), Breton (spoken in Brittany, France). Gaelic is from one branch of the Celtic languages; Welsh is from another (the same one as Breton) but Welsh and Gaelic are not mutually understandable any more than German and English are.

Wales was largely subsumed by the English English crown (via statute, versus earlier conquests) during the reign of Henry VIII, after several invasions and conquests of Wales by the English.
Thank you so much for this!

chompers
06-04-2014, 11:02 PM
I'm out of here before I say something I might regret...
Wow, thank you for making me regret asking a question. I was just trying to get a better understanding, because unfortunately it was a topic that my brain had difficulty breaking down all the vast information. You have a Welsh ancestry. I have no such background and have had very limited exposure to it. It's all foreign to me. My brain was having trouble relating it to what I know.

Medievalist, again, thank you so much for the summary. I now have a better idea of what areas to research further.

ULTRAGOTHA
06-04-2014, 11:08 PM
I am considering making my MC originally Welsh. Problem is, I have very, very little knowledge about the Welsh. I'm not even sure where it is. I tried to do some initial research, but I'm still so lost and confused.

(Plus, did I understand it correctly that it's people from Wales? As in Diana, Princess of Wales? But wasn't she British? I thought Welsh spoke differently.)


Cymru (Wales) is the westernmost portion of the center of the island of Great Britain. It was conquered by England. It is a Principality. Thus the Queen/King of England was also the Prince/ss of Wales. Later England joined the Crown of Scotland under the personal rule of James IV/I and now the Queen/King of Great Britain is also the Prince/ss of Wales.

Anyone with several titles may bestow a lesser title on hir heir. (The Duke of Denver’s eldest son being styled Viscount St. George is an accurate, if fictional, example.)

The Queen of Great Britain chose to invest her eldest son as Prince of Wales on 26 July 1958. This is traditional for the Heir to the British throne. His first wife was Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales. Their children were styled HRH Prince William of Wales and HRH Prince Henry of Wales. (This changed later as the Queen bestowed the title Duke of Cambridge on Prince William. Presumably Prince Harry will get his own title, too, when he marries.)

This is why the very English Lady Diana Spencer was known as the Princess of Wales; and the somewhat German and kind of Greek with a bit of Scots and Dane, and very British but hardly any Welsh (outside whatever Tudor might still linger) Prince Charles is known as the Prince of Wales.


>>Strike the bit I had here on language and I’ll just point ^^^ to Medievalist’s reply.<<



Anyways, I was just seeing if I could get some clarification, anything that would help me understand the Welsh, where they are and who they are. There seems to be a lot of Welsh people on this forum. I know this is a rather broad request, but I know so little I'm not even sure what I need to be asking. I'd like to know a little more to confirm if I indeed should be taking my MC in that direction, and hopefully also be guided in where I need to refine my research.

The reason I'm considering making her Welsh is because I get the sense that the Welsh are very proud of their heritage, and my MC has that deep identification with her roots, even if she is forced to give it up and pretend otherwise. The word 'hiraeth' really encompasses her story (if I'm using it correctly.)


I know very little about Cymru either; but enough to know there’s a can with a multitude of worms and possibly snakes when dealing with “who are the Welsh?” Or, more in keeping with what you’ve stated. “Who do the Welsh consider themselves to be?” There’s centuries of being a subjugated people, resentments of the English, acceptance of the English, people wanting independence, people not wanting independence…

I’d recommend starting with re-reading the Wikipedia page and then checking out the references at the bottom of that page.

Also, and yes here it comes again! WHEN is your story set? WHERE is your story set? Are you dealing with a farmer in the North American colonies during the French and Indian wars? A coal miner’s wife during the reign of Margaret Thatcher? A cheese maker in 2014? (Colliers Powerful Welsh Cheddar is the best cheddar I’ve ever eaten.) A surgeon? An IT professional in France? A Hotel manager? Receptionist, Teacher, Sheep Farmer, Weaver, Seamstress, which?

I have an extremely minor character in my WIP. He is a scryer from Cymru in 1810 and has maybe seven lines in my story. I’ll be looking for a beta spot-reader to read that scene and help me get him right (I will need help with the cadence of his sentences and word choice, amongst other things). I can’t imagine trying to have a main character and get it right with what little I know.

Telergic
06-05-2014, 12:10 AM
Yeah, I'm afraid OP should do some basic research first before asking specific research questions. The original post was essentially "tell me about Wales because I don't know anything", which is I think a little too vague for a serious response.

You might start by googling "Wales", just for fun, because it sounds like that has not yet been done. Of course there will be myriad books at your local library as well as online waiting for your queries to find them, not to mention travel guides at the bookstore. Probably a basic history of Britain would be helpful as well, if you're not sure how England and Wales are related.

waylander
06-05-2014, 01:27 AM
You need to decide which bit of Wales your character comes from.
At the risk of upsetting Welsh AWers here's a brief sketch of some bits of Wales.
South Wales - densely populated, used to have a lot of heavy industry - coal mining, steel - and is now recovering after a tough time. Notable traits - love of Rugby and music. West Wales is called little England beyond Wales - rural agricultural sheep and dairy farming, lots of nice beaches. Mid Wales - hills, lakes, sheep farming, lots of Welsh spoken. North Wales - mountains, sheep farming, slate mining, tourism, lots of Welsh spoken. North coast of N Wales - lots of holiday resorts - anglised. Anglesey - large island off the NW of Wales - last refuge of the druids - lots of Welsh spoken.

Medievalist
06-05-2014, 02:41 AM
I think people who aren't terribly familiar with Wales and think of it as part of England and then Google will be terribly confused when they see the Welsh language.

I actually get this kind of reaction quite a lot from people, including people who tell me that Welsh is not a Celtic language, or that the Welsh are Germanic, like the English.

So I can understand why someone might be confused. It's a bit like the British uni students who wanted to know how long it took to drive from New Hampshire to Dallas, and if New Mexico was part of the U.S.

Medievalist
06-05-2014, 02:43 AM
You need to decide which bit of Wales your character comes from.

Also that Northern Welsh and Southern Welsh sound different, in small but noticeable ways, much like Southern U.S. English sounds a bit different in South Carolina and Texas.

Helix
06-05-2014, 03:05 AM
Chompers, it might be worth thinking about why exactly you need your protag to be Welsh, particularly when you're still not sure about the country.

I'd recommend having a look at Jan Morris' book on Wales as an introduction. It's very readable.

Mr Flibble
06-05-2014, 03:36 AM
Wow, thank you for making me regret asking a question.

To be fair, he Welsh have long had a history of being ignored/misunderstood/ bigotry against them. Hence it can be a touchy subject (I mean the fact that the Queen, part of the subjugating country,n named her kid Prince of Wales and the Welsh -- whose very name means "foreigner" iirc...well it's like Obama named his kids king of Guam or something. It is that prickly)

A bit like asking, so Martin Luther King, was he just some black guy with a smart mouth or what? And then people saying maybe read up on him? Perhaps?

While you may not mean it, it is going to stick some pins in people. Wiki is a start, but like anything only gives you that place to start. If you want to set something there you're going to need to do a lot more research. Wales has a long and vivid history, which colours the present (for instance, the red dragon on the flag has significance -- look up the White Dragon and the Red, and the castle that fell into the swamp. Yes, Monty Python were riffing on Welsh history....)

TL;DR - The Welsh are an individual people whose identity was often wiped out in favour of the English. Write about it to be sure, but do it carefully.

ULTRAGOTHA
06-05-2014, 04:39 AM
I understand the prickly irritation, and more, that giving the Heir to the UK throne the title "Prince of Wales" can cause. However, I think the blame for that more properly falls on Kings Edward I and III and not solely Queen Elizabeth II.

Reziac
06-05-2014, 05:08 AM
Wikipedia mentions the climate, the region, the history, the culture, the ethnic background, the language, etc. etc. etc.

And it does so in this gawdawful wall of text and mass of facts -- the classic infodump. Lots of information, absolutely no context. I don't blame the OP for being confuzzled!

Perhaps a bit more accessible:

http://www.wales.com/
and as the history page isn't immediately obvious,
http://www.wales.com/en/content/cms/English/About_Wales/History_ancestry/History_of_Wales/History_of_Wales.aspx

http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofWales/

Scholarly stuff:
http://www.llgc.org.uk/
Welsh law, a large subject:
http://www.llgc.org.uk/?id=lawsofhyweldda

Couldn't find offhand the site I really wanted, mutter, grumble...

Welsh castles (which are really mostly Norman, but..)
http://www.castlewales.com/
Lots of photos to get a feel for the landscape.

(I'm a distant heir to one of them!)

jeseymour
06-05-2014, 05:59 AM
It's a bit like the British uni students who wanted to know how long it took to drive from New Hampshire to Dallas, and if New Mexico was part of the U.S.

With a horse trailer, roughly 50 hours. Assuming stops to water, and actually, that doesn't include the overnight stop we did.

And Welsh ponies come from Wales. :D

Once!
06-05-2014, 10:59 AM
As others have said, it's a huge topic. Wales is a country in its own right as well as being part of Britain and the UK.

Not only that, but there are substantial regional variations. Someone from north Wales will not necessarily have the same character and beliefs as someone from south Wales. For example, Pembrokeshire in the south west corner is more English than the rest of Wales - sometimes known as "Little England beyond Wales". It makes a lot of its income from tourism and there are relatively few people who speak Welsh. By contrast, Gwynedd in the north is more Welsh and focuses more on agriculture. The big cities of Cardiff and Swansea are different again.

Calling someone Welsh and expecting that to come with a ready made list of qualities and attributes is a bit like calling someone American and expecting the reader to know what that means.

Ravenlocks
06-06-2014, 07:21 AM
I understand the prickly irritation, and more, that giving the Heir to the UK throne the title "Prince of Wales" can cause. However, I think the blame for that more properly falls on Kings Edward I and III and not solely Queen Elizabeth II.
Yes, as I recall it was one of the English kings (Edward I? That part I don't recall) who started the tradition of styling the heir to the English throne Prince of Wales. If I'm getting the story right, the subjugated but rebellious Welsh had demanded to be ruled by a prince who spoke English and Welsh equally well. The English king presented his infant son.

Reziac
06-06-2014, 08:09 AM
Yes, as I recall it was one of the English kings (Edward I? That part I don't recall) who started the tradition of styling the heir to the English throne Prince of Wales. If I'm getting the story right, the subjugated but rebellious Welsh had demanded to be ruled by a prince who spoke English and Welsh equally well. The English king presented his infant son.

As this page (http://www.britainexpress.com/wales/history/prince-wales.htm) says, the tale is probably apocryphal (tho it certainly has the right spirit!), but shifting the title to an English prince does come soon enough after.

And in searching for the origin of current usage, I learned that the current Prince of Wales enjoys honing rural skills (http://www.princeofwales.gov.uk/the-prince-of-wales/interests) like hedgelaying (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedge_laying), which gave me an amusing idea to try on a willow bush.

Ravenlocks
06-07-2014, 04:00 AM
As this page (http://www.britainexpress.com/wales/history/prince-wales.htm) says, the tale is probably apocryphal (tho it certainly has the right spirit!), but shifting the title to an English prince does come soon enough after.

And in searching for the origin of current usage, I learned that the current Prince of Wales enjoys honing rural skills (http://www.princeofwales.gov.uk/the-prince-of-wales/interests) like hedgelaying (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedge_laying), which gave me an amusing idea to try on a willow bush.
Ah, too bad it's apocryphal. I liked it. :(

Hedgelaying sounds like a handy skill! I'm now picturing my backyard with hedges instead of a fence...

KarmaPolice
06-07-2014, 12:23 PM
Then you've got Mid-Wales, or as I call it 'that empty bit between Snowdonia and the Valleys'. I lived in Powys for a few years as a kid, and was struck by how empty the place was - though as I was coming from the Home Counties, that's not surprising. And how frigging difficult Welsh is to learn. And how stupid sheep are.

Bolero
06-07-2014, 09:08 PM
And how stupid sheep are.

Not all sheep...:D And you have to remember they are wired to be prey animals and make allowances for that. :D :D

And on topic - my general understanding is that Welsh language has differences between north and south, including basic nouns like "mum" "dad" and "gran".

Also road signs are written in both Welsh and English. Not sure which Welsh though...... as in whether North Welsh is used in North Wales etc, or there is a standardised road sign Welsh.

Medievalist
06-07-2014, 09:19 PM
Also road signs are written in both Welsh and English. Not sure which Welsh though...... as in whether North Welsh is used in North Wales etc, or there is a standardised road sign Welsh.

The differences in Welsh dialects (strictly speaking there are still several, though the distinctions are sometimes things only a linguist will care about) are largely matters of idiom and pronunciation.

Written Welsh has been standardized since the 16th century in terms of orthography, largely because of the 1588 Welsh Bible translated by William Morgan et al (http://www.llgc.org.uk/collections/digital-gallery/printedmaterial/1588welshbible/). It did for Welsh what the 1611/King James Bible did for the English.

Bolero
06-08-2014, 12:04 AM
OK, I was basing my comments on someone I used to know at a place I used to work who was Welsh. I think he was from Northern Wales and his comments were that:

1. Welsh TV was all based on Southern Welsh - and the Northern Welsh found it hard to understand. (Which could be pronunciation.)

2. The words for grandma, grandpa etc were different between north and south. Cannot remember now what he said they were.

But he very much gave the impression that he was sniffy about TV Welsh and that he regarded the two Welshes as quite different. Whether that is linguistically accurate - you are saying definitely not :) - it is something that colours a character.

Chumplet
06-08-2014, 12:27 AM
My 91 year old neighbour is a sweet Welsh lady who married a Scot during WWII. She is soft spoken, polite, intelligent and active, even at her advanced age. She plays lawn bowling and goes to Florida every winter.

That being said, when I wanted to learn more about another distinct group, the Basque, I scoured the Internet and went to the library. I found a lovely book called The World History of the Basque. It was spectacular, covering the culture from prehistoric times through the 1970s.

If you really want to include the Welsh in your story, read until your eyes bleed. Develop an affinity with the people through research, almost until you believe you're one of them.

Good luck with your research.

mirandashell
06-08-2014, 12:28 AM
I have to say to the OP that this may be more trouble than it's worth. People here think I'm prickly about how my culture and history are portrayed. But it's nothing to how a lot of Welsh people feel about theirs. And for damn good reason.

So, OP, my advice is not to do it. Why piss people off and cause yourself all that stress for no reason?

Chumplet
06-08-2014, 12:44 AM
I have to say to the OP that this may be more trouble than it's worth. People here think I'm prickly about how my culture and history are portrayed. But it's nothing to how a lot of Welsh people feel about theirs. And for damn good reason.

So, OP, my advice is not to do it. Why piss people off and cause yourself all that stress for no reason?

Well... If a writer researches all sides of a culture and writes the story, some might get pissed off. That is the risk we all take.

I'm of Aboriginal and Acadian descent, and I wouldn't be pissed off if someone wrote a story about the history of my peoples. I might correct them in some aspects, but you can't please everyone.

mirandashell
06-08-2014, 01:03 AM
And there in lies my point. They aren't you.

It's up to you. But if it was me I wouldn't want to write about somewhere I knew nothing about.

Mainly cos I wouldn't want to make myself look stupid.

Chumplet
06-08-2014, 01:09 AM
"Write what you know" might be a good rule of thumb, but if everyone did that, we'd have no Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games or Game of Thrones.

mirandashell
06-08-2014, 01:11 AM
But they are fantasy, not representations of real people.

The Welsh are not elves from some post-apocolyptic fantasy land. They are real people with a real language and a real culture and a real history. Mess with it at your own peril.

Chumplet
06-08-2014, 01:17 AM
So are North American Indians and Acadians. Risk the peril. Write your story. We all can't know everything. But it helps to research thoroughly. Did Dick Francis know glass blowing in his mystery Shattered? No. He researched.

I'm sorry, mirandashell if you feel mistakes in a novel will shatter the history and culture of the Welsh. If anything, it could invite an honest discussion.

Discouraging a writer from attempting to do so because of hurt feelings... well, I just don't think it's the way to go.

mirandashell
06-08-2014, 01:21 AM
<sigh>

You are completely missing my point.

From the questions in your OP, you know absolutely nothing about Wales or the Welsh. You didn't even know that people from Wales are the Welsh. You have so much work in front of you it's frightening.

So ask yourself why. Why are you writing this character as Welsh? Because it's exotic? If so, ask yourself why that could be a problem. With your background, you should have some insight into that.

Like I said, it's up to you. Do what you want. But if you want a story you can sell, listen to the advice you've been given. If you're not prepared to think about it, why did you ask for it?

ETA: My apologies. I've just realised that you, Chumplet, are not the OP. The similarity in names confused me. So most of this doesn't apply to you but to Chompers who seems to have hit and run. But I think my main point still stands. Why piss off people when it would be rude to do so and make you the author look like an idiot when you get it wrong?

Chumplet
06-08-2014, 01:42 AM
No problem, mirandashell. I'm just pointing out that if an author is going to research, this is an ideal place to start. Hope the OP finds the story that fits the skill/knowledge level.

mirandashell
06-08-2014, 01:50 AM
I'm not saying that writers shouldn't research. Hell no. But that's the thing with Chompers. He or she knows so little that just the research is going to take ages. So I'm just wondering why the MC is Welsh. Is it necessary for the story or just a bit of exotic colour?

Chumplet
06-08-2014, 01:56 AM
Fair enough. Maybe the OP can check in again?

mirandashell
06-08-2014, 01:59 AM
I hope so. Maybe clear up a bit of the confusion.

Sorry about before. I travelled 300 miles by car today so I'm a bit tired and emotional.

Reziac
06-08-2014, 02:08 AM
The Welsh are not elves from some post-apocolyptic fantasy land. They are real people with a real language and a real culture and a real history. Mess with it at your own peril.

Same for people from Pittsburgh. And from anywhere else.

mirandashell
06-08-2014, 02:10 AM
Not sure I'm getting the reference, Rez?

If you mean what I think you mean, then yes I agree. Mess with anyones culture at your peril. It shouldn't be used to just add a tinge of exoticism to what is basically a character like the author.

Research, research, research. Make the character real.

Reziac
06-08-2014, 02:31 AM
Point is, it's not just $minority or $oppressed or $exotic who have a history and culture and language. Everyone does. Every ethnicity does. Even the most 'ordinary' of folks whose immediate heritage is as utterly mundane as Pittsburgh. (See, now I've offended folks from Pittsburgh.) Why is it only 'bad' if the chosen character identity is $minority or $oppressed or $exotic ??

Hell, in my observation the most common cultural mangling is when some urbanite writes about farm and ranch life, obviously from a total lack of firsthand knowledge. (Such rural folk are one of the smaller minorities in the U.S., being only 2% of the population.)

No matter what you choose for a character's "identity", and no matter how well you research it, you'll get something wrong (if only by omission) and that will offend someone. That way lies paralysis; the only way to be perfectly non-offensive is if all your characters are based on yourself.

mirandashell
06-08-2014, 02:35 AM
I agree. I would totally mess up writing about life on an American farm because I know nothing about it . And I could research my ass off and would get something wrong.

My point isn't about the oppressed. My point is why is the MC Welsh? Is it important to the story? Is it important to the motivation of the character? Or is it just to add something a little different, a little exotic? If it's the latter then I don't see the point. It's going to be so much work and for what?

The only reason that Chompers, knowing so little about Wales, should do this is because the MC absolutely has to be Welsh for the story to work.

chompers
06-08-2014, 03:11 AM
I'm just pointing out that if an author is going to research, this is an ideal place to start.

I had thought so too. But people seemed to take offense to the fact that I was even asking a question, despite the fact that I didn't understand what I was reading from my preliminary research (No, I don't think it was offense to anything I've said about the Welsh). I've learned my lesson. I will ask elsewhere from now on. I was MIA because I needed some distance.

But thank you to all the posters who provided some insight into this culture. You have all given me additional things to thing about and more areas where I can do dig deeper for a better understanding of the culture. And a HUGE thanks to ULTRAGOTHA, Reziac, and Medievalist for clarifying things, and for the links!

Just to add, I am only CONSIDERING using the Welsh. That is why I am doing this research, to see if it's feasible. I need to gauge first if it will be a good fit, or if I will even be able to pull it off correctly. And yes, also because it will require a lot of research, but if it turns out to be a good fit, I'm fine with that. I already know that this book will take a long time to write and a lot of research, even if I decide against using the Welsh.

I understand that oftentimes an author will write about different cultures, but there are some that are particularly sensitive to write about, which is even more reason to do a deep research. My own ancestry has a point of contention, but it's not fitting for my story. And that was why I was looking into the Welsh, because I need a culture that needs that deep pride. My MC is immortal, and her background is important to her outlook on her life. So if it's not the Welsh, it needs to be another culture that has the same deep pride. From my initial impression, the Welsh background is a good fit. However, knowing so little about them, I needed to do further research to confirm it.

I've already written some of the later portions that don't rely as much on her backstory, but I'm now at the point where I need to write the front portions where her backstory is particularly relevant. Depending on the research and the country ultimately chosen, she may or may not go back to her home country.

chompers
06-08-2014, 03:42 AM
Also, and yes here it comes again! WHEN is your story set? WHERE is your story set? Are you dealing with a farmer in the North American colonies during the French and Indian wars? A coal minerís wife during the reign of Margaret Thatcher? A cheese maker in 2014? (Colliers Powerful Welsh Cheddar is the best cheddar Iíve ever eaten.) A surgeon? An IT professional in France? A Hotel manager? Receptionist, Teacher, Sheep Farmer, Weaver, Seamstress, which?


It is in present-day America, although she will be moving. To where, I haven't decided yet. My MC is immortal and moves around a lot so as not to arouse suspicion. The Welsh (?) background will come into play in setting her backstory, and in little snippets of memories. There will also be flashbacks to other countries, but I'm more familiar with those and understand those to not need to ask. I don't know yet what occupations she's had, but there will be a lot haha. Depending on my research, she may or may not return to her home country.

Chumplet
06-08-2014, 04:28 AM
Sounds interesting, Chompers!

chompers
06-08-2014, 06:51 AM
Thank you! :) I hope I do it justice.

Helix
06-08-2014, 07:17 AM
This might get you into the mood (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AM4mIlYKG9s), Chompers.

mirandashell
06-08-2014, 01:01 PM
And Chompers, none of that was recorded. It was the crowd singing live without music.

One of the best anthems in the world to hear in a stadium, that one.

Especially when they are about to play us! LOL!

mirandashell
06-08-2014, 05:11 PM
Yeah.....

Actually I'm not dignifying that with a comment.

mirandashell
06-08-2014, 05:19 PM
Me too, mate.

Helix
06-08-2014, 05:29 PM
One alternative is to do as Edgar Rie Burroughs did. When someone asked whether he had been to Africa, he said something along the lines of No, and I'm not interested in going there.
I don't think that actual Africans complain much, and I'm sure that he never got complaints from the Barsoomians, AMtorians, or Pelludicorians.


I'm not sure what you mean. Are you suggesting that Wales and Africa (and Australia in a previous thread) are equivalent to fictional worlds so who cares about accuracy? Because that would be a really strange thing to say.

Dollywagon
06-08-2014, 05:31 PM
Just passin' through - I'm English and lived in Wales for a bit - and I really like the Welsh.
That's all.

Stacia Kane
06-08-2014, 06:18 PM
Chompers, I don't know how useful you may find it, but Sharon Kay Penman wrote a trilogy of novels about medieval Wales and how its independence was lost to the English Crown; the first is HERE BE DRAGONS. They're excellent books, and I (and many others) found them extremely helpful in providing a basic understanding of how Wales and England/the UK are "connected," and how they came to be that way. Obviously they're fiction, but the stories are based completely on fact and Penman's research was meticulous. Plus, they're excellent books--a fun way to learn more about the subject, and to have a basis by which to more easily understand proper non-fictional sources.

Wales's history is fascinating (Penman's books sparked my interest in it almost twenty years ago, and I actually wrote a romance set in medieval Wales back in 2008); I frankly don't understand why anyone should be discouraged from learning about it, or even just being interested in it. Everybody has to start somewhere, FFS. IMO the more people who learn something about it--for whatever reason--the better; but then, I tend to think that any learning shouldn't be discouraged. (And I fail to see what's "disrespectful" or "offensive" in thinking we want to learn about a topic so as to put it in a book.) I've been to Wales a few times now, and it's a lovely place. I've yet to meet a Welsh person who isn't just as lovely, honestly.

If the topic interests you, if the place interests you, if the people interest you, then go for it!

Stacia Kane
06-08-2014, 06:26 PM
And BTW, if no writer ever used real people or places as the basis for fiction, we'd probably lose about half of our greatest novels.

mirandashell
06-08-2014, 06:27 PM
I think one or two people may have misunderstood me and jumped to a few conclusions.

I'm not saying that people shouldn't write a character who comes from somewhere else. But it will take a lot of work to do it justice and not upset people. And this applies to everyone. Look at what happens on this board when someone uses a PoC stereotype or a lesbian stereotype, for example.

What I was trying to get across to Chompers was that an author needs to do a lot of research if basing a character on real people in a real place. I got a bit led astray by confusing two different posters, which didn't help.

So when Chompers posted the OP that showed no knowledge of Wales or the Welsh and no mention of any real research yet done, I admit I rolled my eyes a little. It struck me as an example of exoticism, such as those often complained about on this very board.

I am not saying that Chompers shouldn't do it. I am saying it's going to be a hell of a lot of work and if the only reason is to have a MC that's 'different' then it's not worth the hassle, IMO.

And no, King Neptune, it wasn't perfectly clear. Maybe a little less obtuse would have been better.

ULTRAGOTHA
06-08-2014, 06:31 PM
It's a *very* alternate history and cannot be relied upon for actual Welsh history but The Dragon Waiting (http://www.tor.com/blogs/2009/07/subtle-history-john-m-fords-the-dragon-waiting) by John M Ford is set mostly in Wales. Jo Walton, book reviewer extraordinaire who was born and raised in Wales really likes this book and says it's the only one set in Wales that doesn't make her teeth hurt. Plus, John M Ford was just a brilliant writer and everyone should read all his stuff.

It's hard to get hold of though. His family hates his work and won't authorize any reprints, much less allowing it to turn into ebooks. Let that be a lesson to all creators. Leave a will that deals specifically with your work (http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2006/10/important-and-pass-it-on.html).

mirandashell
06-08-2014, 06:41 PM
Wow. That surprises me. Surely it's an income stream, if nothing else?

And yes, make a will!

Mr Flibble
06-08-2014, 06:50 PM
Did anyone say don't write it? I don't think I did - and I certainly wouldn't intend to. My posts were only to point out that it would be a subject that could get very prickly so to take extra care

Chompers, have you thought about using school history books for a basic grounding? I find they're very useful for identifying which things I want to research more closely and give a nice clear overview (for those of us who are permanently confused like me :D) British/Welsh ones might be a better bet for this, but I'm sure Amazon or similar will have some.

A few similar websites might help too -- The Wales site (http://www.wales.com/en/content/cms/English/About_Wales/History_ancestry/History_of_Wales/History_of_Wales.aspx) for starters has a section on history as does teh Beeb (http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/history/)

Once you have a basic grounding then you'll know what questions you need to ask. Because Wales is a very broad topic...

Reziac
06-08-2014, 07:23 PM
It's a *very* alternate history and cannot be relied upon for actual Welsh history but The Dragon Waiting (http://www.tor.com/blogs/2009/07/subtle-history-john-m-fords-the-dragon-waiting) by John M Ford is set mostly in Wales. Jo Walton, book reviewer extraordinaire who was born and raised in Wales really likes this book and says it's the only one set in Wales that doesn't make her teeth hurt. Plus, John M Ford was just a brilliant writer and everyone should read all his stuff.

Huh. I wonder what she thinks of the Cadfael novels (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadfael).


It's hard to get hold of though. His family hates his work and won't authorize any reprints, much less allowing it to turn into ebooks.

Well, that sucks :(

I have a copy (it's a very strange, compelling book), and several of his other books. He wrote on a different plane from most.

Cath
06-08-2014, 07:31 PM
Let's focus on the question, folks. Thanks.

Reziac
06-08-2014, 07:47 PM
Is the question "How to learn about the Welsh?" or "Should you write about people you don't know much about?"

Seems to me a good way to get the feel and flavor is to read works about or set in $Culture, which are generally well-thought-of by folks native or familiar with same. You can't get the feel and flavor from dry facts.

Bufty
06-08-2014, 07:57 PM
Your best bet, if you can do it, is to meet and talk with Welsh folk.

Dollywagon
06-08-2014, 07:57 PM
Well, here's my take on the Welsh - the people rather than the culture and history.
They are very proud of their heritage. They are proud of their language. But they are not a defensive people ie they are comfortable being proud and have no need to defend it. In my experience they don't go around shouting 'We're Welsh, therefore we are better than anyone else." They just know it!
However they will defend their culture if attacked.

jennontheisland
06-08-2014, 08:53 PM
Most major cities have "Welsh societies". My grandmother was a big part of the one where she lived, as was her brother in law. Nearly every Welsh person I've met in Canada is part of their local society. I had a chemistry prof who sang in the chior of the one where I went to school.

If you google your area and Welsh society, you'll find all kinds of people who will talk about being Welsh. And if you're lucky, you'll get to try Welsh cakes (those things were like currency when I was a kid).

Mr Flibble
06-08-2014, 10:32 PM
But they are not a defensive people

Except when it comes to rugby :D

(this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wq4ExTFzSu4) link may highlight how the Welsh feel about the English)

Not that I can blame them.

Reziac
06-08-2014, 10:36 PM
Most major cities have "Welsh societies".

Here ya go:

http://www.aberystwythdirectory.com/welshoverseas.html

http://www.walesbooks.com/societies1.php

http://www.transceltic.com/welsh-societies

https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Wales_Societies

http://www.chicagotafia.com/other-welsh-societies-in-the-area/

http://www.gwynedd.gov.uk/upload/public/attachments/775/Cymdeithasau_Cymreig_yn_Americav1gweeng.pdf [PDF]

Egads, they're everywhere! :eek: I read somewhere that the Welsh are among the most widely-scattered of all peoples, tho I have no idea how accurate that is.

[Or should I say we, since I'm about a quarter Welsh.]

Cath
06-08-2014, 10:37 PM
Your moderator is English, for the record, and from the Welsh borders and has had many positive interactions with folks from the other side of the border. I don't find that stereotyping amusing, even when intended in jest. Knock it off.

Dollywagon
06-08-2014, 11:05 PM
I don't mind - even in jest - but I got on well with the Welsh, then again they usually thought I was Welsh (I never looked like an incomer!) Mind you I discovered last year that one of my great grannies was Welsh. So maybe the contemporary Welsh spotted something...

Cath
06-09-2014, 01:42 AM
And back to the question at hand, please.

Bolero
06-09-2014, 01:54 AM
In terms of cities, what do folks think about invented cities? Anthony Trollope wrote about "Barchester" for example rather than picking a particular cathedral community. Is it done much these days? Jasper Fforde based his books on something a bit like Reading and a bit like Swindon (gently warped in an amusing way) - any other contemporary examples?

Not exactly about the Welsh (sorry Cath) but about writing and stretching boundaries.

Stacia Kane
06-09-2014, 04:08 AM
I also found the book MEDIEVAL WALES by David Walker (http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Medieval_Wales.html?id=lrKKiREQ_kYC&redir_esc=y) to be extremely useful. I'm not sure why it's so expensive these days (I'm pretty sure that when I bought my copy ten years or so ago it was cheaper) but if you can find a used copy or a less expensive one, it's absolutely worth it (it's actually worth it even at $35, but it still may not be affordable)--especially if your MC is immortal and so her memories would be from an earlier period.

Many aspects of life in medieval Wales were quite different from medieval England (the first offhand example that comes to mind was that they tended not to eat breakfast or lunch but to only have one big meal in the early evening, but there are quite a few others), which makes it extra interesting to study, IMO.

Just remember: You are writing an individual person, and individual people are different. You're not writing a character whose name is "The Embodiment of Everything Welsh and Every Person Who Ever Lived There." Maybe your character hung out with Gerald of Wales and learned to read and write. Maybe she hung out with a storyteller who taught her all of the legends of The Mabinogion. Maybe she lived in total isolation, or in a village that was part of a trade route so had a lot of exposure to other people. What Wales means to her is important; what it means to others, not so much--at least not if you make her a real, living, breathing individual.

Hiraeth is a beautiful concept/feeling. I can totally understand feeling inspired by it; it's especially heartbreaking if she's feeling it about a Wales that truly no longer exists.

Old Hack
06-09-2014, 10:13 AM
I'm English; my maternal grandparents were Welsh, and they didn't learn to speak English until they moved from Wales to London in the early 1930s. So when my grandfather spoke to me in Welsh I coudn't understand: he was sad that all of his grand children were "foreigners".

Hiraeth is a very strong thing.

The Mabinogion is a collection of wonderful stories but I've never felt that they're terribly helpful in understanding the Welsh: however, there are two books which show the landscapes of the Mabinogion which I have, and they are incredibly beautiful (and they tell some of the stories too, in an accessible way). They were published in the last five years by a Welsh publisher, I'm searching for them right now: if I find them I'll edit in the titles, because they really are gorgeous.

mirandashell
06-09-2014, 11:53 AM
In terms of cities, what do folks think about invented cities? Anthony Trollope wrote about "Barchester" for example rather than picking a particular cathedral community. Is it done much these days? Jasper Fforde based his books on something a bit like Reading and a bit like Swindon (gently warped in an amusing way) - any other contemporary examples?

Not exactly about the Welsh (sorry Cath) but about writing and stretching boundaries.

Malcolm Pryce sets his comedy-noir novels in Aberyswyth but Aber with a surreal fantasy twist. Sort of like Jasper Fforde but more noir.

http://www.malcolmpryce.com/novels.html

Old Hack
06-09-2014, 01:06 PM
I love those novels. But then, I do go to Aberystwyth every summer. My grandmother grew up there. Lovely place.

Bolero
06-09-2014, 01:08 PM
@ Stacia - just wanted to say what very good advice. I especially like the not writing the embodiment of everything Welsh.

By the way, for the OP - nothing to do with Wales as such, but to do with writing characters who are near immortal and have roots in a well defined historic past - I'd recommend reading Barbara Hambly's vampire novels. They are a long way from being standard vampire novels - her vampires have clear roots in the past (one for example was a Spanish nobleman who came to England in the train of Philip of Spain when he married Mary Tudor). She brings the history to life and colours the characters beautifully, without being heavy handed. Whether or not you like vampire novels, I think these are also excellent historical novels - and would give you a good example of how to write such things.


@Miranda - thanks for the recommend.

Reziac
06-09-2014, 07:31 PM
I still haven't found the site I really want! but here's a Wiki page on the basics of the "Laws of Hywel":

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyfraith_Hywel

What the site I can't re-find goes into is how Welsh law, especially the inheritance laws (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gavelkind) impacted Wales historically. Basically, a "share alike" inheritance system (which included bastards (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bastard_%28Law_of_England_and_Wales%29#In_Medieval _Wales)) split the land into smaller and smaller parcels until it became untenable; and at a higher level, it was split into competing princedoms for the same reason... leading to a remarkable lack of 'national unity' in medieval times. If there's a single defining characteristic of the Welsh mindset, it is independent thinking down to levels of fine detail, and the old law reflects that. Wales has been called "a nation of lawyers".

Medievalist
06-09-2014, 08:45 PM
The Mabinogion is a collection of wonderful stories but I've never felt that they're terribly helpful in understanding the Welsh: however, there are two books which show the landscapes of the Mabinogion which I have, and they are incredibly beautiful (and they tell some of the stories too, in an accessible way). They were published in the last five years by a Welsh publisher, I'm searching for them right now: if I find them I'll edit in the titles, because they really are gorgeous.

You're thinking of my colleague John K. Bollard's two books from Gomer Press.

http://www.gomer.co.uk/index.php/authors/johnkbollard.html

The Mabinogion isn't terribly helpful with respect to Wales because four of the stories aren't really Welsh; they're Welsh translations of medieval French romances by Chretien de Troyes.

The word Mabinogion (http://www.digitalmedievalist.com/opinionated-celtic-faqs/mabinogion/) is a scribal error, compounded by the use of the word, mistakenly, by early translators.

Bollard's photographs are lovely. My favoriete translations are by Patrick K. Ford and Sioned Jones.

Old Hack
06-09-2014, 09:11 PM
Those are the books, Lisa. They're incredibly beautiful, and very well done. I didn't know there was a third book, though: I'll add it to my shopping list. What joy!

(I agree that the Mabinogi stories aren't terribly Welsh, but those books? Delightful.)

chompers
06-11-2014, 11:23 PM
I haven't had a chance lately to do any further research, or any writing for that matter, but wanted to thank everyone for all the additional comments. It really helps. Hopefully I will be able to get to the library this weekend. I will definitely look into all those books mentioned here! Thank you so much Stacia Kane, Bolera, Medievalist, and Reziac for those recommendations! I've got a lot of reading in my near future.

Mr. Fribble - That sounds like a great idea! We don't have school books that cover the Welsh/Wales, but I'll take a look at the youth section at the library as well.

My story is more about the heartbreak of having to leave behind all that you love when you are immortal (relationships, home, past, etc.). So, yes, I was excited when I found that hiraeth was so fitting for what I was planning. We shall see if everything else, for the most part, is fitting as well, and that if my impression of the Welsh was correct and is applicable for this story. Because although there's heartbreak there's also strength to go on [for my MC]. Of course my MC would have her own individual identity and background, but knowing the culture and history would definitely have a hand in forming her individual background.

Thanks again, everyone!

Dave.C.Robinson
06-13-2014, 01:16 AM
I would second the Penman books, my mother is North Walian from Llandudno, and she loved them. She's going to be 84 on Saturday and I still wouldn't recommend calling her English.

The Dragon Waiting is also very good, and I'm sorry to hear it's no longer available because it's well worth the reading.

ULTRAGOTHA
06-16-2014, 04:05 PM
I stumbled across this (http://the-history-girls.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/austerity-then-and-now-by-emma-barnes.html) today. Historical fictiom set in south Wales based on the author's mother.

maryland
06-30-2014, 01:29 AM
For a bit of fun (though really it's quite profound) try reading Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas. It gives a round-up of classic Welsh characters and this year it's the centenary of his birth, so there's lots of his writings being broadcast and republished.

Maxinquaye
06-30-2014, 01:59 AM
You are treading on dangerous ground here, my friend. In a country where people can stop speaking to you for placing them on the wrong side of a street, getting the different nationalities wrong can beÖ interesting. :) God, I miss it sometimes. :D

Thatís like going to Cornwall and praising everyone for being so properly English. :D Cornwall too is a Celtic region, related to Brittany and the Welsh and the Irish.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cmtqn8wANLY