By Neil Rowlands, April 2019
To me, what makes Wales unique as a country is not just its mountains, beaches, rugby or singing, but the language. Many parts of the world have a strong cultural identity, but without an indiginous language that culture can be swamped in this English-dominated world.
However, how do we present the Welsh language in a way that all can access it while embracing the modern publishing trends?
Parallel.cymru is a digital magazine that provides first person perspective on the Welsh language world, in which people who write books, do science, run businesses, organise activities, create music and art, or simply have interesting stories to tell, share what they are doing. What makes Parallel.cymru unique is that articles are not just bilingual, but the Welsh and English are presented side by side, which means that people fully fluent in Welsh, those without Welsh language skills, and anyone on the spectrum inbetween can read and enjoy the content. Each item is free and available on any web browser on any device around the world.
All the articles are organised by the register of Welsh, so that people can read simple spoken-style Welsh, standard written Welsh, or the formal Welsh as used in literature. For those not fully comfortable with reading Welsh, providing English side by side means that it is very easy to check a word or the meaning of a sentence. In this way, people can become more familiar with reading Welsh and, over time, improve their abilities.
Another distinctive feature is that content remains online – unlike magazines and other sites where exceptional and useful content disappears after the next edition is published. So, over time parallel.cymru is becoming a corpus of how people use and interact with the language.
Welsh-language literature, songwriting and culture doesn’t really appear to those who don’t speak the language, and parallel.cymru can help bridge people into that. The language is the door to being able to read our thousand years of literature and poetry and fully enjoy the hundreds of musicians who create incredible and unique works.
For those reading this who have an interest in the Welsh language, I’d really encourage trying out a class through Learn Welsh or the exceptionally effective online course and community Say Something In Welsh.
There’s a number of Welsh-focused blogs and websites that have sprung up in the last couple of years, such as Nation.cymru which focusses on current affairs; Mam Cymru publishes items about parenthood, Meddwl.org raises awareness of mental health, Podcast Pel-droed talks about football, AmeriCymru provides resources and articles for our North American cousins, and Elin Williams’ My Blurred World gives a unique youthful perspective on life. Also, Tŵt is a new bilingual micro-blogging platform that’s worth taking a look at.
It’s great to see The Sovereigner join this group, and to see digital publishing start to take off in our country.