Most mornings on the way to work i listen to my 'learn Welsh' CD's. i am determined that little Eli will be bilingual. Ideally I would like him to speak English, Welsh and Spanish. granted, I will need to speak all of those languages in order to teach Eli and help him along as he learns. and lets face it, sometimes I struggle with English!! But nevertheless, i am trying-fighting as hard as i can to learn Welsh. sadly, i am losing the battle. badly. Welsh is a very difficult language. the lofty language experts that be say that it is the fourth hardest language in the world to learn. i agree with that. although from my personal experience, i put welsh right up at the top. there are certain letters and sounds that i cant even pronounce let alone memorize. to make matters more difficult, Welsh has very few vowels. this makes it hard for the american who is used to being able to look at work and pronounce it somewhat phoneitically. I think this stems from the fact that the only other languages I have tried to learn are Spanish and Italian.
I attempted Italian for an 'impendent study' whilst in university. Teaching yourself, with tapes and workbooks, with no teacher to monitor progress? yeah, i set up myself up to fail on that one. Spanish I have been a bit more successful. I have taken Spanish classes off and on since I was in second grade. you think i would be fluent at this point. i am not. but i can get by, and i like that. i like that my basic Spanish was able to get me to a McDonalds late at night in Spain when the cops were ushering all the other foreigners down the street to cabs...my Spanish got us past the barrier, down the street and to the much coveted food! But now, Welsh has taken over. and let me give you an example of just how different it is.
Welsh: Shw mae
I: Addio, Arrivederci
E: Happy Birthday
S: Feliz Cumpelanos
I: Buon Compleanno
W: Penblwydd Hapus
you get the picture..... lots of consonants, not a lot of vowels. I realise that since English, Italian and Spanish are all romance languages, they will be quite similar to one another. but since those are the only languages i have ever even attempted to learn...well it makes the welsh seem that much more insanely difficult. to me Welsh looks like a bunch of random letters throw together. yet magically people say these 'words' to each other and conversation ensues. i am astounded by how people speak this language. my sister-in-law speaks it fluently. in fact, her job is translating English to Welsh. all day long she speaks in this crazy hard language. its impressive. especially to me, the little American who is struggling to even remember the basics of normal conversation.
But I must truck on, for I desperately want little Eli to know Welsh. I am really determined that he will be aware of both sides of his heritage. Rhys is just as passionate about being Welsh as I am about being American. We want to raise Eli to be proud to be both. proud that he is special enough to come from two very different cultures. i know we can teach him about his American and Welsh heritage without the Welsh language, but i would love for that to be a part of it. Plus how great would it be to have our own secret family language? cause lets face it, with less than 500,000 people in the world that speak Welsh, its pretty safe to say that no one will speak welsh at Christmas holidays in Oklahoma!!