Welsh Keywords: Cymysgrywedd

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

by Rowan O’Neill

Cymysgrywedd derives from cymysgryw meaning ‘hybrid’. Cymysgrywedd means ‘hybridity’. In Gomer’s newly published dictionary of the Welsh language, cymysgryw is confined to its origins in the biological sciences, ‘cymysgryw ans [am anifail neu blanhigyn] wedi’i greu o fridiau cymysg, hybrid, mongrel’ (hybrid adjective [animal or plant] created from different breeds).1 In Latin the hibrida was the offspring of a (female) domestic sow and a (male) wild boar. In modern times the range of the use of ‘hybrid’ or ‘hybridity’ has expanded to include anything of mixed ancestry, and can relate to people, cultures, traditions and even languages, though some question the appropriateness of this tendency given the term’s biological origins. In the closing chapter of my PhD thesis Croesi’r Bar: Archwilio Hunaniaeth y Mewnfudwr Prydeinig Trwy Gyfrwng Archif yr Artist Cliff McLucas (Crossing the Bar: Exploring the Identity of the British Incomer Through the Medium of the Cliff McLucas Archive) I state that the primary cultural strategy used by the artist Cliff McLucas to manifest his work in Wales was that of ‘cymysgrywedd’, hybridity.

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