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The Welsh Language



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by Cennard Davies

welshlanguage.jpg

ISBN 0 86243 866 7
Y Lolfa, 2006
77pp, paperback
Retail price 3.95 
 
 
 
 

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Welsh Pirates
 
by Dafydd Meirion

pirates.jpg

ISBN 0 86243 866 7
Y Lolfa, 2006
77pp, paperback
Retail price 3.95 

Open Book

Review by Deborah Fisher

Here are two more volumes in Y Lolfa’s It’s Wales series, and I am still confused as to the publisher’s intention. It seems as though they see themselves as being in competition with the University of Wales Press, whose Pocket Guides to various aspects of Wales and its history have been very successful over a number of years. In that series, there is an admirable study of the Welsh language by Janet Davies. What does Cennard Davies’s version offer that the existing title does not?

It’s cheaper, for a start. The It’s Wales series retails at 3.99 per volume, as opposed to the Pocket Guide price of 6.99. The price comparison reflects the difference in size between the two editions, in this case 77 pages as opposed to 160. On studying Cennard Davies’s book more clearly, it appears that it is intended for those with no prior knowledge of the subject. The arrangement is somewhat haphazard, with chapter headings based on individual initiatives such as Welsh-medium education, but the contents read logically enough, even if they do not represent an "in-depth" study. The text does not meet the same academic standard as the University of Wales Press publications: a chapter picked at random contained a couple of factual errors (the Conservatives did not win the 1974 general election!). However, it also contained some titbits of information that would be new to all but an expert in the field.

There is surely a market for this kind of cut-price approach. Welsh people may be curious about their language and want to learn exactly where it came from and how it works. Visitors to Wales are more likely to be satisfied with a cursory introduction to the subject, which is really what this book is. At the price of a glossy magazine, there is some chance that they will pick this up in a bookshop, whereas they are not likely to splash out 6.99 for something better-produced and more informative for their holiday reading.

Now we come to the other new title in the series, Welsh Pirates by Dafydd Meirion. University of Wales Press has not (as yet) produced a title on this subject, and the competition lies elsewhere. In 2003, Terry Breverton, that well-known one-man publishing industry, produced an encyclopaedic work on the subject, which the author of Welsh Pirates has clearly drawn on. Again, this is not to say that there is not a market for a book on this subject, particularly since the Breverton book retails at 17.99 as opposed to 4.95. But Terry Breverton’s book is 400 pages long, with lots of illustrations. Mr Meirion’s is 125 pages, with a handful of monochrome illustrations. On the whole, I know which I would rather own.