Tweet Follow @Planet_TWI

Welsh Keywords: Angerdd

From Planet 214

This is the eleventh contribution to our Welsh Keywords series – inspired by Raymond Williams’ Keywords – which offers contemporary perspecives on contested meanings of words in Welsh and how these shifting meanings continue to shape our society.

The composer JohnCage used to love the co-presence of music and mushrooms. In the same way,Ilove words that echo of the sounds. Take angerdd and the way it lingers on one’s lip, the sound itself needing a long exhalation to encapture the ‘a’ and the ‘g’ sound. Angerdd means ‘passion’, but look again and if you leave out the ‘dd’ sound – as i fynydd, up a mountain, became in time ‘i fyny’, to go up – it could indeed render a very different word, that of ‘anger’. It has a kind of enchanting and haunting quality of a gnomic verse, or haiku, in that it is succinct while also being expansive, captivating and liberating.

One could say that I am passionate about the word, and when asked to explain the feeling before the onset of creativity, it’s a word I turn to for affirmation. Without angerdd there would be no poem, no play or song. And yet angerdd on its own doesn’t achieve anything. It’s simply a call to enact and ensoul words that can solidify that feeling.

What makes angerdd such a powerful word inWelsh is that it is multifaceted. In Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru (the University of Wales Dictionary) we get the letters ‘an’ alongside the Old Irish of cerdd /sain-cherd meaning song or poem. Indeed, there is a sonic element in the word, as it is one we still associate with song. Eventually, it evolved into ‘angerdd’ and why this took place is illustrated through another example, ‘angen’, which means ‘to need’. Aha! I almost have a two word gnomic verse – angen yw angerdd, need is passion.



Buy the issue here