Talking Online in Welsh
E-Mail Lists, Message Boards, Newsgroups and ChatroomsThere are various ways of exchanging messages online. An e-mail list is just a list of people that have agreed to receive the same mails. When you sign up you can send messages to the whole group, and look at the archived messages that have been sent in the past. This should not be confused with e-mail newsletters, which are one-way communication, a broadcast rather than a conversation. In a newsgroup, anyone can read the messages that have been posted (using a newsreader such as you can find in Microsoft Outlook or Netscape) and contribute their own. The same kind of information can be displayed on web-pages as a message board, where your message ends up on the Web rather than in someones mail in-box.
Subscribing to a Welsh-language e-mail list, or contributing to a newsgroup or message board, is a good way of keeping in contact with the language, especially if you are far from Wales. Dont be shy about contributing, whatever your level of Welsh. Its always encouraging to make contact with other learners, even in English, and realise youre not alone: theyre experiencing the same frustrations (and joys) as you.
A few warnings, however. . . Talking online can be very time-comsuming. Dont get carried away and spend all your time chatting away in English: there is a difference between actually learning Welsh and just talking about it! Bear in mind that the standard of debate may be nothing special, sometimes descending into trivia and petty squabbles (flame wars). Bear in mind, too, that most (if not all) of the contributions do not come from Welsh native speakers, so you may see some strange Welsh. Be very careful about copying what you see without being sure its correct, or you may get into bad habits that will be hard to unlearn. A little learning can be a very dangerous thing in the kingdom of the blind, and opinions are sometimes handed with great authority by people who started learning Welsh last month. Caveat dysgwr!
E-Mail ListsOnce upon a time, about ten years ago, there was just one e-mail list, WELSH-L. It had about 400 members, bringing together Welsh speakers and learners of all levels. Then some learners began to feel somehow threatened by the presence of advanced learners and native speakers, while others, it must be said, gave the impression they thought the native speakers were there just as a free service to teach them Welsh. Disputes broke out and the result was a separate list specifically for Welsh learners, CYMRAEG-L, soon to be followed by another with the same purpose, WEL-L. Since then it has become very easy to start a mailing list, and if you look at Yahoo Groups (formerly e-groups) you can find dozens, some of which have never made it off the ground. It seems a pity that the original WELSH-L, with its wide mix of speakers, from absolute beginners to native speakers who live their whole lives in Welsh (hence, learners were exposed to plenty of authentic, idiomatic Welsh), has been superseded by a range of more specialised lists, and is in fact more or less dormant these days. The number of native speakers on the learners lists is very low indeed, and this can sometimes make learning Welsh seem like a rather artificial exercise, as well as making it harder to get authoritative answers about the language.
A technical point: when you join a list you get an automatically-generated message telling you various useful things including what to do if you want to unsubscribe. Donít delete this message: youll save yourself and other people a lot of trouble if you read and keep a record of what it says, instead of sending unnecessary messages to the list asking for help.
WELSH-L allows discussion of any subject in Welsh, and discussion of the Welsh language in English. Breton and Cornish are also permitted languages and subjects of discussion. It is technically a moderated list, which means your contribution is passed to the moderator for approval before being broadcast. This is the place to go to ask a difficult question that would be beyond the scope of the other lists, though bear in mind that this one is no longer very active.
CYMRAEG-L, like WEL-L, is intended for Welsh learners who may feel out of their depth in WELSH-L though of course no-one need feel intimidated there by the fact of being a learner or non-native speaker.
To join WEL-L send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the the command subscribe WEL-L in the body of the message, followed by your first name and last name. (The website at http://www.netspace.org/cgi-bin/lwgate/wel-l is no longer available.)
All three of these lists have become very quiet over the last year or three, with the bulk of activity moving to the new Yahoo lists below.
CLWB MALU CACHU (The Bullshitting Club) at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ClwbMaluCachu is a new club for learners of all levels, which includes an e-mail list. The list is linked to Welsh Bands Weekly so theres much discussion of Welsh-language music (and indeed sometimes not so much in or even about Welsh). Join via the website or by sending a blank e-mail to ClwbMaluCachuemail@example.com. There is also a large and rapidly-expanding website at http://www.clwbmalucachu.co.uk, featuring grammar tips, articles, stories, sound files, Welsh song lyrics and a weblog (online diary).
Yahoo has a group for, and called, WELSH LEARNERS. There are some helpful advanced learners on hand to offer advice or gently correct your Welsh if you ask nicely. Adding an English translation of your Welsh message, or some vocabulary, is encouraged. Details at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WelshLearners. Join via the website or by mailing WelshLearnersfirstname.lastname@example.org. The website at http://www.welshlearners.co.uk has been abandoned (October 2003).
If your Welsh is better than basic, WRITE WELSH may be more in your line. It was founded by the great Bob Wennol Evans, who says: No corrections will be made to messages on the discussion board itself and it is of no real importance if mistakes are made. The flow of communication is what is important. [ . . . ] English translations of the messages are not required. Details at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WriteWelsh. Join via the website or by mailing WriteWelshemail@example.com.
In Cardiff, TRAFOD-CAERDYDD-L is a bulletin board for Welsh-speaking lecturers and students to provide a forum for the use of the language and serve as a focal point for related issues. To join, mail Majordomo@Cardiff.ac.uk with the command subscribe trafod-caerdydd-l in the body of the message.
Message Boards (Discussion Forums)You can look through the postings on most of these boards without having to subscribe.
CYMRY CWL (Cool Welshfolk) is a Welsh-language online discussion forum at http://www.cymrycwl.ipfox.com (suitable for fluent speakers and advanced learners).
TAFOD Y DDRAIG (The Dragons Tongue), comprises several message boards of a generally political/controversial flavour, and can be found at http://communities.msn.com/TafodYDdraig/tudalengartref.msnw.
CLECS CYMRU (Wales Chat) is a mediated (supervised) message board hosted by the BBC at http://www.bbc.co.uk/clecscymru/. You must register to see or post messages. Opening hours are from 9.30am to 10.30pm Monday to Friday and 10.30am to 6.30pm at the weekend.
MAES-E (E-Field) at http://www.maes-e.com/ is a forum suitable for advanced learners or natives.
NewsgroupsNot a strong bet. You may find postings in Welsh on the following newsgroups:
There seem to be none at the moment (December 2003), the chatrooms associated with the WelshLearners e-mail list having lapsed.
© 19992003 Harry Campbell
Last updated: November 2003