A fresh start at 60: I learned Welsh at 71 because I hated to lose.life and style

D.afydd Emrys Jones has not lived in the country since childhood, but describes himself as a “passionate Welshman”. For the past 32 years, he’s had a home in Cincinnati, Ohio, but the 74-year-old has come a “long way” to get there. He was born in Wrexham, North Wales. It was “a city put on the map by the generosity of Ryan Reynolds.” bought a local soccer club 2021). He moved south to Cardiff and IT through England, Germany, Belgium, France, Switzerland and Holland in his troubleshooter career, but his Welsh identity has always been a valuable asset. . When people ask him if he is English, he categorically replies that he is Welsh. I say no!

However, he did not speak Welsh. This is perplexing. But when the Covid pandemic hit, Jones realized he had an opportunity to fix it. When everything shut down, his usual hobbies of tango and ballroom dancing, or his Celtic playing music in his band, were Chol Mall – was not available to him. “I wasn’t married, I had friends, but I never went out. I was bored every night. But it gave me an opportunity.”

His parents spoke Welsh, which was his father’s first language, but Jones and his siblings grew up speaking English. At Cardiff school, he took his two years of classes, but “wasn’t interested at the time,” he says. Now he was. As Jones proved to be 65 when he set himself the task of learning the button accordion, he lacks determination. A late-night YouTube prowl led him to fall in love with an instrument that was both beautiful and terrifyingly complex. “I wanted to get one of those before I died.” The next day, he bought his $6,600 Italian beauties online and set out to learn how to play with them. With the local teacher gone, he was soon back on his YouTube and was able to master his first song within five weeks. “I don’t like to lose out on things. Early on, I thought I bit into it too much, but I was like, ‘If that guy on the internet can do it, so can I.'”

At 71, with Covid emptying his calendar, he turned his resolve to learning his native language, even though he was 5,800 miles away. Jones duolingo Apps, and still are. “Looking at Duolingo, I can see I’ve practiced Welsh for 838 days straight.” Duo, the app’s infamous guilt-ridden owl, must be happy.Tiruan’ he says. “That’s Welsh for owl.” Pronunciation is the hardest, he says, but his childhood surrounded by Welsh speakers helped a lot.

Jones began listening to Welsh podcasts and taking online conversation classes. North American Welsh Instituteattracts Welsh speakers from the United States and abroad. “You would be surprised how many Americans have Welsh heritage. They were born here but speak Welsh. Starting at level, he plans to jump to ‘advanced’ soon. Last summer he also entered the Welsh Essay Contest. “The subject matter Daw yr Haul ar y Brynmeans “the sun is coming over the hills”. Most people write about the end of the pandemic, the sun shining again. But I love sports and decided to do something different. Jones said of Welsh football his team (which he calls football, betraying his 32 years in the United States) and his journey to the World Cup final in 2022: It is written as he won “I felt happy, proud and everything else.”

Finding a Welsh-speaking partner in Cincinnati was predictably difficult. “I haven’t found many, and certainly not around here.” This summer he gets the chance to attend a language immersion class in Vermont. During that time he wrote a song in Welsh: Mae gen i (I have). first poem, May gen y angen (I have a need), he explains, is a song about nostalgia for people he’s lost in his life. Second, mae gen i obaith (I have hope), I hope there will be less conflict and a more peaceful world. “It’s very likely that it will happen, but you can always hope…” Third verse, mae gen i breuddwydd (I have a dream) is about the Welsh football team’s hopes for the World Cup. Rhyming was difficult, but he wants to continue writing songs in Welsh.

The rest of his family moved back to the Cardiff area, but nonetheless no one has gone to Wales like him. “My sister speaks a little bit, but she doesn’t speak the same way.” He has watched with keen interest the revival of his native Welsh. It is the oldest living language from Europe still spoken. never died. ‘ Jones was late in his visit, and he hadn’t been since he learned the language. He even considered returning. “I’m still trying to figure out my life,” he says. For now, sunny mornings spent playing the accordion on his deck give him pause. It’s 27 degrees there. “Then we watched a rugby game and saw terrible weather, high winds and torrential rain. I think the sun is shining in Cincinnati…”

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2023/apr/17/a-new-start-after-60-i-dont-like-being-defeated-so-at-71-i-learned-welsh A fresh start at 60: I learned Welsh at 71 because I hated to lose.life and style

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