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  • Writer's pictureCathryn Gwynn

Hen yn newydd...Old is new

Dwi'n caru geiriau; hen eiriau coll yn arbennig.

I love words, especially old lost ones.

That's where I'm going with this today. Maddeuwch bostiad Saesneg, ond mae'n werth rhannu ein cyfoeth.

I've known the word 'amgueddfa', which is the Welsh word for museum, since I was old enough to be able to say it. I know that 'fa' at the end of Welsh words means 'place'. But I had never stopped to ask what, then, does 'amguedd' mean?

Yesterday, I was watching a film about the displaced communities of the Epynt mountains of mid Wales - land which which was taken over by the MoD, leaving a black hole in the centre of Wales which was once full of life, industry, language, culture and belonging. And in that film, I found out its meaning.

It means treasure, wealth, valuable property. So it makes perfect sense. Amgueddfa - a place of treasures.

We never use 'amguedd' in day to day language any more. It just exists safely on display inside the 'amgueddfa'. But it is one of the lucky words; at least it is still there. So many others have just slipped away into oblivion. Opening an old dictionary and letting them escape for a few hours into the light of day is a wonderful feeling.

That is what inspired my textile art book - The Wardrobe of Lost Words. Cwpwrdd y Geiriau Coll. All these lovely old Welsh words for fabric, thread, colours - we could really do with using them again, because nothing as good ever replaced them.

Cedennog - shaggy. Rhifwnt - a yellow jaundice colour. Ungor - single ply.

They are old, but it's good to see them with new eyes. Give them fresh air and a bit of an adventure in the digital age. Perhaps use them now and again and see if they can have a new lease of life.

Cenedl heb iaith, cenedl heb galon.

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