It is high time that Snowdon was picked up from the English and referred to only as Yr Wyddfa
Imagine the scene – a tourist was standing at Yr Wyddfa’s base checking Google Maps, turning to his hiking partner and saying, “It’s not Snowdon, Dave. We have arrived at the wrong mountain.
Snowdonia National Park authorities have been told to refer only to Snowdon as Yr Wyddfa and Snowdonia as Eryri, and that sounds like the start of another fierce language dispute.
I agree with the view that you shouldn’t change your name for the fun of it. But that doesn’t change a name.
It’s banishing an unnecessary title that has apparently gained momentum to appease people unable to pronounce Yr Wyddfa. (For reference, “Yr” as in “Err” on the caution side, then “Wyddfa” as in “Oi !, but in a Cockney accent”, “dd” as in a soft “th” at the beginning of ” The “and” fa “as in” VAR “, the acronym for the maligned video assistant referee of football. So Err Oi-th-Var. It’s that simple.)
Snowdon comes from the Saxon “snow dune” which means “snow hill”, while Yr Wyddfa’s meaning is “grave”, due to the legend that the giant Rhita Gawr was buried on the mountain.
Snowdonia is also a useful double, with Snowdon being the capital of Snowdonia National Park.
But it is believed that the Welsh name for the mountain range – Eryri – originated from the Latin “oriri”, which means “to climb”, but was also linked to the Welsh name for “eagle”, “eryr”. (For those in the back, Eryri is “Ery” as in “Erro in Errol” and “Ri” as “Re” in “Reboot. So Erro-ree”.)
But the anglicization of Welsh places and landscapes is becoming endemic in my home country, and it drives a dagger into the heart of the tongue.
The natives have long been driven from idyllic Welsh villages by mainly English people who bought second homes.
Local councils bit down on the new owners who sought to rename their holiday homes ‘The Cottage’ by trying to block their requests, or by instructing them to get rid of the Welsh house name.
But in reality the Galloiserie of Wales is diluted by the ruthlessly jaded use of the language by those who should know better.
Misspelled signs, misguided names and literal translations are a daily reminder to Welsh speakers that they are not taken seriously.
New construction and commercial parks are among the worst offenders. Latitude at The Quays, Longwood Grange, Mermaid Quay – all faceless names of tranquility unrelated to where they are near my hometown of Penarth.
Some will try to appease the Welsh language with a condescending bilingual pat on the head, like Plymouth Park or Cae St Fagans. But it can be argued that when the decision is made to switch exclusively to Welsh, this is where the worst crimes of all come from.
I still shudder at the idea of a new estate in Barry, which is littered with a trail of howlers. These street names are really something to see: Cenin Pedr (daffodil), Afal Sur (sour apple), Coed Criafol (Rowan’s Trees), Esgid Mair (Mary’s Shoe), Carn-Yr -Ebol (The Foal’s Pile)… the route- name the equivalent of shouting “DOS LARGE BEERS, POR FAVOR!” to the Spanish waiter thinking: “It will be fine, I tried it.”