/ North Wales Bouldering Guide Review - Mick Ryan Spills the Beans
Don't expect another insipid - "nice book, didn't like the action photos much and the grade of this problem is wrong" style of review though; this is something completely different. Mick has examined all aspects of the guidebook, of our current attitude towards bouldering and the documenting of bouldering information. He analyses Simon's reasons for producing the book in 2 languages and assess what impact this might have on other guidebook producers. He looks at the grading systems and gives a full-scale appraisal of this book, its layout, its photography and its possible impact.
Read the review here - http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/nwbouldering.html
Discuss it here.
Well I'd be bloomin' chuffed if one of my books got a review like that!. Not just because Mick says it's good, but for the depth and thought that has obviously gone into the review. Nice one Mick, but even more of a nice one Simon.
Nice guide, nice review.
Didn't realise the CC were going to do another NW Limestone guide. Have they stolen a march on Rockfax or aren't bothering with updates to this area?
not finished reading it yet, but why is SP belaying in the picture? surely MR could have found an image of him 'sans' rope?
Only Joking, nice to see a full report for once, rather than what the OATCR got in one mag.
This is the same guide that they were "just about to publish" in 1997 when I was working on North Wales Limestone. I believe that work has restarted recently after a long period of inactivity, however I think the intention is to also include Clwyd in it and that part of the book is miles away from being finished from what I understand.
Is the Clwyd part the one that Lee is doing or is there going to be another one?
Wonder if anyone will finish the "Angel" project on LPT in time for the new guide.
PS Not sure about the Bruce Springsteen Born in the USA-style cover..
No, Lee (and Mark) are doing a guide for us.
"Amazingly even girls are bouldering in Wales now, I spotted photos of at least three different women cranking on small rocks, unroped. This has got to be a good thing for the male and macho-dominated world of UK climbing."
Nice sentiment but we are legion....
Uhhh.... gwasanatheau allan twmpathau merched myrfyrwyr undeb llantsiliogogoch cantaloup.....
Diolch a nos da.
bowldro gogledd cymru?
mae hi'n bwrw glaw!
Apparently we climb frequently in the same small area my friend. What do you think of the new routes?
BTW I said something along the lines of "Services exit humps in road women student union church of St someone something red cantaloupe".
I have no idea what you said. :o)
Oh - and then "thank you and goodnight" :o)
Simon paints his reason for the bilingual production as political sensitivity (plus the fact that his mates all spoke in Welsh at the climbing wall), but another slant on this is provided by John Redhead's uprooting from Nant Peris to the Pyrenees partly because of the problems of bringing up his children in a Welsh speaking environment.
I don't think that this is a trivial point - I believe that people who speak fluent Welsh and English but do not possess the fundamental human decency to accomodate English only speakers by speaking in their language are lacking in consideration and manners. This is small mindedness at its worst, and I have heard emigré Welshmen say the same.
Another objection (and I hope Simon does not take this personally because he's obviously a good bloke and I enjoyed reading the historical section very much even though I'm not a boulderer myself) is that is that the determination to extend the vocabulary of a language which ceased to develop of its own accord some time ago is reminiscent of the effete harking back to Merrie England of Professor Welch in Lucky Jim - an activity which is pointless in itself and leads one to wonder whether the energy might better have been utilised elsewhere.
But this is a small point, and I don't wish to give the impression that I think this is anything other than a brilliant guide.
In what way has it ceased to develop of it's own accord? You've just cited evidence that it does, just like any language.
Strip english down to it's constituent parts and... well bloody hell there's a surprise.... it's made up of bastardisation of other languages - far more so than Welsh is.
It's a beautiful language with simplicity, clarity and eloquence.
The Welsh language and culture has survived pretty much everything including the Roman empire. It is a vibrant and ever-changing thing - like anything ALIVE. The Welsh don't owe anyone anything and can use their language as they please. It's grass roots man. Dig?
I don't climb there that frequently - the routes were still under construction yesterday.
Mae hi'n bwrw glaw! - It is raining!
That's about it as far as my mastery of Welsh goes. Funnily enough, I lived in Llanfair PG for a while, many years ago.
I don't question that Welsh is a beautiful language, moreover I am aware that it has a significant literature. However I think that making up words in a futile attempt to pretend that a language has kept up with the modern world is a self defeating activity. The Pope actually employs a man to translate words such as Popemobile and helicopter into Latin so that he can continue to speak in that language. He does not even have the excuse that anybody wtill exists who speaks to his neighbours in Latin on a day to day basis.
On a more serious level, we now live in an increasingly multiracial society. The only way in which we can minimise the problems that this creates is by going out of our way to make ourselves understood by those from a different background - e.g. by not speaking to an Englishman in Welsh at the climbing wall. If we pretend with sufficient fanaticism that our own way of life is better than that of somebody else, in Welsh terms we end up burning down the holiday cottages of Englishmen. In Islamic terms we destroy the twin towers.
<Excuse for over-reaction but this is a bit of a bug bear of mine>
Whilst you may have been referring to particular social occassions that need to be inclusive, this observation is fairly typical of mono-ligual Brits who are intimidated by people talking in a language they can't understand.
My wife is Dutch and we fight a continual battle to try (so far successfully) to bring our children up bi-lingually. To do this in such a mono-ligual society as Britain is pretty tricky, made even harder by the fact that the dominant language is English. In order to stimulate the children my wife often ends up speaking in Dutch when there are non-dutch speakers around. She isn't being rude, she isn't being small minded, she is doing her best to hang on to her cultural roots and bring up her children in the manner of our choosing.
In the school playground, the young friends of our kids stare with vacant expressions when my wife talks to ours. It is a real conversation killer. Contrast this to the reverse when we visit Holland and I speak to them in English. Suddenly every child in the playground thinks out kids are dead cool and they all want to try saying some basic phrases, yet most Dutch kids below the age of 10 speak virtually no English. The attitude to language goes right the way through the whole of society and it is the attitude of the Brits that is our biggest problem in learning another language. If we weren't so uptight about it we make make much better communicators.
I realise that the situations you are talking about may not have the same pressures as we experience but there is no need be intimidated or offended by something you don't understand, they probably aren't saying anything of interest to you anyway.
Well I haven't even seen the book but feel I know it quite well having read Ryan's review. Hope the book itself is as good as the review.
I'm not monolingual, indeed I'm hoping to get to Kalymnos next year partly in order to see how much sense I can make of modern Greek with my ancient Greek. Moreover, I'm seriously considering relocating to France (where I can make myself understood).
I do understand the word 'pinchgrip' when it interrupts a a stream of Welsh words (and I think the fact that I am sufficiently interested in languages to listen to the sound of a language that I do not understand is evidence of a reasonably open mind). I think it a pity that Simon's reaction to the situation in which he found himself was to feel compelled to make up Welsh equivalents for a series of words which the Welsh themselves had felt no need to translate.
I am inclined to agree with you on this one. In my reply I was reacting almost exclusively to the section I quoted.
You weren't really; more like making a completely different point.
Kipper - a Welshman that can speak Dutch.
> Kipper - a Welshman that can speak Dutch.
Nee, mijn mening was goed. Je moet het nog een keer lezen.
Were you there yesterday John? Until when? Darkinbad and I were there 8:30 to late'ish. No beta available on red haired chap though. Unless 'chap' is not gender-specific, in which case that was probably curlymynyn .. <spell-check please>.
Some of the points here are bizzare. Bouldering terms were invented in English in recent times. I am guessing that pinchgrip was made up by some hone in the last few decades. Developing Welsh along the same lines is eminently sensible. Simon did not himself engineer new Welsh words for the guide, the translation was done by Iwan Arfon Jones who has an excellent & creative command of both Welsh and English, who is also a proper climber. What Simon did do was take the constructive and creative step to work the two languages side by side; this decision works on several levels, one of which is setting the 2 languages alongside each other instead of in opposition.
Do youthink that they may be interested in my bolt free ascent of a bolted line on the Marine drive?
I reckon that's a northern, rather than Brit, thing. Down this way polyglot playground are exceedingly normal.
> Nee, mijn mening was goed. Je moet het nog een keer lezen.
"..do not possess the fundamental human decency to accomodate English only speakers by speaking in their language are lacking in consideration and manners.." sounds inherently different to someone speaking to their children in a language different to the local tongue.
Ik heb het opnieuw gelezen :-)
> Ik heb het opnieuw gelezen :-)
But the predjudice in the reaction is the same, that's the whole point.
Is Wales officially bilingual, monolingual in English, or monolingual in Welsh (suspecting the former)?
If the latter, then I'd say that its the same as a foreign country (thinking in my head of France as my example here), where I generally at least try to speak some of the language, even if more complex conversations end up in a mix of languages, and where I do appreciate people recognising the fact I'm trying by generally helping me out (translating words, slowing speaking rate down, even switching to English for part of it).
If the middle option, then this whole debate is fairly pointless.
If the first option, I'd say that since English is an official language which everyone has to be fluent in (or at least, as fluent as school education can make you), then speaking in English if you know you are speaking to someone without a word of Welsh is only polite really - I've no problem with Welsh remaining a spoken language, but if you want to include me in the conversations, then English is going to be the way forwards - I'll try to pronounce things right, but sadly anything beyond the occasional place name is likely to be incomprehensible..................
I don't think that you need to make your response an excuse Alan, in fact I'm certain of it.
I lived in North Wales for nine years and made every effort to learn the language, including going to evening classes. As a side note, Iwan Jones was my landlord for a while and is still a mate. I can grab the gist of much written Welsh though it would take a few days to get back into picking out what is being spoken. Both my wife and I occasionally still use Welsh phrases in our speech, though I usually have to explain to my co-workers what I have just said!
Before moving to Wales I thought, like many others, that the locals would be speaking English until we walked in the pub when they would switch to Welsh. Not true! Being bi-lingual they move from one language to the other with ease - I heard one old lady in our local shop switch from Welsh to English to state: "it's very cold isn't it?" which is just as easy to say in Welsh ("mae'n oer tydy, ydy?") then slipped straight back to Welsh!
It is true that many technical terms do not have Welsh equivalents but then neither does English so getting Iwan to come up with a term is not really that strange. The Welsh actually had a competition to come up with a word for television - the winner was "teledu" which is a compound noun similar to those quoted by Mick's review.
I agree with your sentiments about the English (specifically rather than Brits) not wanting to learn other languages - I think it may have something to do with not wanting to make fools out of ourselves. Having said that I find that trying to learn the language of somewhere you visit and making a fool of yourself is the best way to learn more about the place etc, etc. When I worked in Oman we used four languages: English, Arabic, Urdu and Swahili and often a mixture of all four in the same sentence. It may not have been linguistically correct, but it meant that we could get on with all the staff.
I think that has now decided my plans for my next two days off work later this month.
Additionally, Mick's review is probably the best article I've read online this summer. It's a real shame that reading prose of that quality is an increasingly rare online experience.
Me too! I will also be crouched down in Waterstones, reading the guide from cover to cover :)
I can't believe you could waste a perfectly good weekend doing that. Why not just nick it, its not like the people who work in Waterstones are on the lookout for shop lifters, any shop lifter worth their salt is casing JB sports.
This in some ways is a difficult thread to comment on, we have a link to a review you know is thoughtful, articulate and readable so i feel compelled to comment on it.
But this thread should be about the Guide - but i havent seen it so i cant comment,
I could comment on the use made up welsh words, but that really should be a different thread. (Great use of language though)
However, i do think including the welsh language is admirable, i am not a welsh speaker, but any exposure to another language is a good thing. This was wasnt a local book for local people, it seems to be a book by locals for everybody.
Nice work everybody.
We must have been there at the same time.....
I was the not-very-red-anymore-and-certainly-not-the-ginger-guy girl (ahem - Toby...). :o)
On the NWBG subject - loved it. Used it a couple of times. Think it's bloody marvelous. Strange the "homoerotic" picture verdicts people are coming out with though. I thought that was far more for the "small and struggling for recognition" female bouldering contingent. I appreciate them anyway - inspirational. ;o)
" and five V3's in the Peaks "
Pure Class Mick.
aside from the rather glaring error, theres no apostrophes required in that sentence.
If Michael would care to list me the fifteen V3s he's thinking of I'll be happy to compare them.
I think you'll find that there are (apostrophes required) :-)
obviously there's one in "you'll" but none in "V3s", as there isn't in any plural. I've love to see mick working a fruit and veg stall down the market.
"15 banana's for a pound"
Coming from a Man who wouldn't know a V3 from his own arse you may well be wrong there!
In reply to Bob:
Well I am aware of how forthright responses can sound on forums and I just wanted to soften it a bit.
I agree about your point bi-ligual people talking in a mix of languages - you should hear the conglomeration of words in our house! Only the kids seem to be really consistent although my wife is when she talks to them.
As for English instead of Brits, I think that might be in danger of starting another predjudice going since I know a few Scots that show the same symptoms. A more accurate assessment would probably be the vast majority of mono-ligual English speakers. That brings in the Americans and the Aussies as well who are no great linguists.
Interesting statistic - over two thirds of the world's population are bi-lingual.
I think you are wrong there Francis! A V3 is something small and insignificant which cannot be said of my arse.
Another point that hasn't been picked up is the political dimension mentioned by Panton (and the apparent political agenda of the publisher). I often feel quite uncomfortable in North Wales to witness the attitude of the English towards the Welsh 'place' and people. I don't feel at home there as I do in the Peak but I don't blame the locals for that. As well as climbing (and, more widely, 'outdoor pursuits') in Wales being very obviously anglicised and English-dominated; I perceive an almost colonialist and chauvinist attitude of some visiting English. It's on show when they mock the multi-lingual roadsigns, the obviously non-Welsh origin of words like tacsi, and in that pathetic myth that locals switch into Welsh when an Englishman walks in the door.
I just think it's really sad that people come to 'consume' the incredible landscape but ignore, belittle or disrespect the inhabitants. I admire Simon's sentiments on that and hope the guide goes some way to changing things.
A fine response.
> Some of the points here are bizzare. Bouldering terms were invented in English in recent times. I am guessing that pinchgrip was made up by some hone in the last few decades. Developing Welsh along the same lines is eminently sensible.
Well spotted!! One 'fault' of the Welsh is that they have failed to do this more. In an ever changing world, languages evolve like everything else.
Simon should be commended for attempting to enhance his language. One of the strangest things for a non speaking listener is hearing the lapses into english of a foreign tongue.
Teledu will always sound better now than television.
There does seem to have been an effort to use words derived from Welsh rather than imported from English in recent years. I know many Welsh speakers who spend there 20s living in England and when they returned 10 years later found that many (english based) words they had used as children were deemed to be improper. The case that springs to mind is ysgariad replacing divorsio.
On a different tact I have heard it claimed by Welsh speakers that Welsh is a better hill language as it can be more easily understood when shouted in the countryside because of it's slightly higher pitch.
> Well spotted!! One 'fault' of the Welsh is that they have failed to do this more. In an ever changing world, languages evolve like everything else.
> Simon should be commended for attempting to enhance his language. One of the strangest things for a non speaking listener is hearing the lapses into english of a foreign tongue.
> Teledu will always sound better now than television.
Did I say 'ginger'?
The discussion about the language issue is interesting, in fact I'm glad to see so many open minded folk out there.
However, to John 2 I would like to say a few things:
You might wish to hang your coat on John Redhead's parting shot article, but do not think that he is typical, or that his experience is typical. The truth is that JR (wild artistic persona 'n' all that) would struggle to fit into any small rural community regardless of any perceived language barrier. The truth is that JR's attitudes are a legacy of a more divided time (i.e. the 80s).
My experience of settling and raising a family in North Wales is entirely different. I see no problem with my kids growing up learning 2, 3 or even 4 languages, and reading Welsh stories to my daughter has helped my Welsh enormously. I don't claim to be fluent by any stretch (I'm pretty useless actually), but I would say that my entire attitude to life in these parts changed for the better, the minute I went to my first Welsh class.
As for the development of the language - as others have pointed out - all languages are developing, all the time, this is just progression. If it wasn't this way, we would all be still saying 'thee' and 'thou'.
A similar thing happened, so i'm told with footballing terms in the late 80s when the S4C program 'Scorio' was started. Nowadays those terms are an accepted part of everday speech.
Further to Bob's debunking of the 'shifting into Welsh' myth: what people need to recognise is that many people in this area speak 'Cofi Welsh' (a slang version of posh Welsh), which does feature a fair smattering of English phrases and words, and that (according to my friends) it is very uncomfortable for a Welsh speaker to not speak the 'usual' language they speak with any given person.
If someone is speaking Welsh in front of you, you can be assured that the conversation is not of any 'general interest'. In my experience, as soon as something important or of 'general interest' comes up, the conversation will flit into English to accommodate the non-Welsh speaker.
Also, listening to Welsh conversations is an excellent way to learn. You have plenty of time to decipher the message without having to worry about formulating an answer.
And finally, can I just reiterate the point about the size of the guide: adding the Welsh text only made it approximately 20% bigger. So, if the bilingual thing doesn't interest you, it is hardly a big deal, is it?
Quit stirring! No one called her ginger or a guy!
No, but 'Was that you bouldering with the red haired chap yesterday evening?' sort of implies 'Ginger Guy', wouldn't you say???
Luv Barra! xx
As a welsh-speaking welshman currently in London sitting in front of a computer desk, I always follow threads such as these closely.
It always annoys me when people say, like one of my best (English) mates did the other day, "okay I know everybody speaks welsh in the area, but everybody speaks English too, so what's the point of having signs and stuff in Welsh as well as English?". This was from a guy who I'd known for years, who'd seen me speaking Welsh with my family and friends at home, and who new how much it meant to me. But he still just didn't get it. Alan's point about a mono-lingual Brits sums it up perfectly - to my mate, English (his only language) is just a tool, nothing more.
So, respect to those open minded individuals who make the effort to understand why the Welsh language is important, is what I say.
And even bigger respect to Simon for the excellent guide, which has opened my eyes to bouldering in Wales. Diolch.
PS And to keep the post vaguely on-topic - good review by Mick!
If you make a more forensic study of the thread you'll realise that we still don't know who either 'you' or the 'red haired chap' are. Critically neither Curlym<insert welsh bit>, Darkinbad or John2 know what each other look like ...
Just to be 100% sure it was Colonel Mustard in the Library ... what kind of time was all this excitement?
Do I know you? Are you the ginger-haired one?
A bit closer to the topic of the thread, I heard a nice analysis of the Irish attitude to Gaelic whilst I was in Wicklow last month. From a 50-something photographer who is also one of the '100 Greatest Irishmen', according to some book (so should be an authoritative source?). He reckons that Irish adoption of English, far from being pragmatic or whatever, is just reaction to official government policy. Because the state pushes Gaelic down everyone's throats at school and onward, the general response is 'fock that' and die-hard insistence on English. He reckoned that the best route to reviving Gaelic would be an official ban ...
Thinking along those lines, maybe the way to eradicate Welsh would be to start teaching it in English schools, prehaps especially in the South and as a substitute for Latin in the private school curriculum. A few years of hoity Surreyites and Wills- and Harry- clones flocking to Gywnedd for immersion learning, correcting the locals on their Llans and flans should do the trick.
Yeah I am just bitter because everywhere I try to buy it has sold out ...
Yes that's a REALLY USEFUL SHOP WITH FRIENDLY STAFF isn't it.
(I reckon we should be let off the thread-digressing now, John. Best not over do it.)
I think you over egged your cake a bit Alan! I was so excited reading your intro that I printed off Mick's review and took it home to read in comfort expecting some kind of Gertzian textual analysis, Mick explaining how the climbing guide is necessary for us understanding our climbing experience or some such psuedo-balls but instead we go a long, thorough and well thought out review of a bouldering guide. Imagine my dissappointment! ;-)
On the language issue - Finnish climbers do something similar, some words that obviously exist from pre-climbing times like rope (kosi), or some that can be made out of Finnish words relatively simply like (jääraudat or literally 'ice irons' for crampons) are used solely in Finnish, but no one could be arsed coming up with Finnish versions of "Friend" or "Layback" so the normal Finnish habit of adding an "i" to the end of the word and being done with it exists. If people want to try new words out go for it! 'The people' will decide if they like the Welsh word for bouldering or just stick with the English in the middle of a welsh sentence.
I think all languages borrow a lot from others (isn't much of english borrowed from elsewhere, norman french, hindi, arabic, invented words from latin & greek routes ?)
I know french both borrows & invents words, my mother speaking spanish with close friends & family would use a lot of english words. Here in my office (everyone bilingual french/english) we tend to speak mostly french but use technical words from english quite often &/or switch language frequently.
So for me, welsh is doing just the same as any other living language & I think Alan is right thinking the objections to welsh are comming from a monolingual anglophone group who do seem both arogrant & ignorant
Perhaps you're unfamiliar with the "Welsh Not"?
I've since given it to Cordee, so anybody who wants it can get hold of it easily.
If your local climbing shop doesn't have it in, please hassle them - I'm still in debt!
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