Localisation, language, Welsh in work and non-work

Yes, we spell it “localisation” round ‘ere. *

Quick addendum to the previous post about the difference between this blog and a fully bilingual website…

It’s amazing how many people get localisation and language wrong. Even Amazon and so on.

If I were creating a truly bilingual website then I would translate every single post, page, category and tag.

I would have two user-selectable language interfaces, which would be served based on browser language selection where possible.

The browser choice could be overriden by visible options for English and Cymraeg. There would be language-specific RSS feeds. If done correctly, the number of RSS feeds would double when the second language is added.

While I’m on it, there would not be any country flags on the interface. A massive bugbear of mine! A flag does not stand for a language. Never ever. **

If I were starting my own consumer-facing organisation or company in Wales, I would consider it important to offer both languages. (I would like to start doing this for work-related things where possible.)

For large companies in particular, usually this is possible but we sometimes get excuses (about demand but usually about cost) which add up to zero really. It’s about people feeling – and being – welcomed in their own country! There is help and expertise available for this, with design, “best practice” and so on.

If done well, it’s obviously a good PR move which can give an edge over competitors and boost your bottom line.

Besides, language itself is wealth.

* Or “lleoleiddiad”. But I couldn’t make a self-referential gag out of that.

** For example, I’ve seen the Union “Jack” flag stand for the English language. Can Jamaicans click this? Or is this some kind of joke on USA web visitors who might want English language, as if we’re now calling the Declaration of Independence into question? It’s hopeless to use the Welsh flag to stand for Cymraeg, it’s a country and not everyone living here uses it. Flags do have their uses though. Please join me in saluting the flag of the North Caucasian Emirate.

Bilingual people with monolingual blogs. Give people a Make It Large option.

I’ve tried to avoid talking about blogging itself too much here. As in, I don’t do blogging about blogging. That’s not because there’s no value in that exercise nor because I have any particular aversion to meta (in fact quite the reverse). It’s just that I didn’t think I had anything new to say or contribute to the discussions. There are some great resources and conversations out there relating to blogging which are easy to find. This blog isn’t one.

Blogging has outlasted any forecast of its demise. Not a fad after all then. It’s been absorbed into our minds and society and new technologies. But some of those crazy myths still remain.

So let’s just shoot these down first. Some of the myths have re-emerged again around newer forms of blogging.

The general guideline is, if you find something of ultra-niche interest online – however boring or trivial – then maybe it’s not intended for you.

That includes somebody talking about their breakfast. I defend the right of people to “babble” and talk about their breakfast. It’s what people talk about.

As well as that, because of this kind of online sharing somebody can retroactively compile a pie chart of how many people had porridge this morning and so on, or rather talked about it. If they want to. There’s a cumulative set of data which might become interesting even if you don’t find the individual posts interesting. (Thanks to Mandy Rose for this observation.)

That said a blog doesn’t have to be merely a personal diary, again a common misconception.

My first blog was nothing like a personal diary anyway. It was and is named Sleeveface. It had a specific format, which has remained as I’ve continued to maintain it to the present day. It actually gets better and better because it has a “community” of amazing contributors. It clearly wasn’t really a place for my writings about anything.

One blog is rarely ever enough for one person. So last year I started this blog which has become a handy place for thoughts, sometimes of an experimental nature. If I just want to add a page to the web, I do it here. I have a couple of sekrit projects which will arrive here when I get around to them.

Starting was difficult because I didn’t want to repeat anything that people had done online. On the web there is always somebody else who is more expert than you. That is initially intimidating. What is the point of writing about ANYTHING? (Eventually you chill out with your status as an expert at just being yourself.) In time the activity becomes its own reward and sometimes I hardly think about who might or might not be reading. Then to get a little comment or to have someone mention it when I see them, those are bonuses.

But initially, thinking I could actually risk rehashing what other people might have said elsewhere, except in my own words was quite liberating. Originality is over-rated!

It’s all in the words. Which I why I sometimes love to use indulgent prose, long words and also refuse to kill my darlings.

From the start I knew what it wasn’t. “What not to blog?” is a useful exercise. Let’s just say that Twitter revenue speculation, cats and advice sheets for aspiring “thought leaders” were not on the agenda. Again, those interests are more than adequately served on the web if you look.

The fact it’s called Quixotic Quisling of all things should tell you I wasn’t aiming to be a “pro-blogger”. Likewise it’s not intended as a cross-section of my life. There are big bits of my life that haven’t made it to this blog.

Now that in 2009 the all-conquering domination of the mighty Welsh language continues apace, at least in my world, I’ve been looking online for things in that language. I’ve been banging on about how I’d like to see more Welsh language blogs in existence. Eventually I resorted to offering to set up some WordPress installations and otherwise help a few individuals who I thought would be interesting – out of the epic kindness of my heart. But people were too busy. And all the usual crap.

🙂

The most obvious partial solution was staring me in the face – just start your own. In line with the carefully constructed house brand for this blog (blobby at best), I have decided just to insert the Welsh language posts in arbitrarily.

There is actually a nice number of multilingual bloggers (in various countries), from which I’ve taken inspiration here, when it comes to the practice and conventions and so on.

I won’t be doing anything bilingually like writing something then carefully attempting to translate it. Pfft! The Welsh posts will have unique things. Each will have a quick summary paragraph in English so you can decide if you want to use machine translation to check it out.

Obviously if you understand Welsh, you can just look. And laugh at the mistakes.

If you’re something in between, i.e. a Welsh learner, you can do something in between.

I was chatting to nwdls about all this and also Daniel Cunliffe who does Datblogu. Often Welsh speakers choose 100% English for their blogs and maybe it’s because people buy into the idea of the big worldwide audience and the pro-blogger thing. Obviously there’s a bigger potential worldwide audience for an English language blog. Conceivably, at least. But it all depends which world you think you live in. If we really cared about maximising raw potential numbers, we’d all learn Mandarin right?*

When I went to Barcelona earlier this year I chatted to a German lady who pointed out “Ah, you speak Welsh. Well done. That will really help you in the world.”. This isn’t a general point about German people, it’s quite a common attitude.

One reason I originally decided to learn Welsh was because it’s the second most used language in My World. So it is helping me in the world, thanks very much for the insight lady. As much as it has been useful for work, it’s not just about utility.

It is actually bringing a tremendous amount of joy to my world.

So the actual reasons for blogging in the medium of Welsh are related to this point. It’s the bespoke, personal world within the web which I see. And would like to see. After the chat with nwdls, I realised there was no need to make a big choice. I’ll do both languages in one. And Google Translate could help non-Welsh language** readers to access the extra stuff.

So, thanks Google Translate.

Google Translate is not the first attempt at machine translation for Welsh (see also: Apertium project) and is also a bit wonky. But as with any machine translation, you’ll get the gist and it may not be long before we can truly link cyber-arms and skip to a better tomorrow.

If you’d like to read some proper research on Welsh language use in blogging and other social media then Datblogu is good.

Are you in a similar position? As in, you’re not monolingual but your blog is? Consider reconsidering.

* By the way, I would like to know Mandarin. But for different reasons.

** Incidentally don’t say “English speakers” if you mean “non-Welsh speakers”. The Venn diagram resembles a fried egg and Welsh speakers are the yellow bit. When you say “English speakers” you are ignoring the fact that it’s one of those bulbous fried eggs where the yellow bit actually includes the white directly beneath it. Heh heh. Enjoy white and yellow if you can.

Maes space

You might be wondering what exactly happened at the National Eisteddfod in Bala earlier this month.

Well, so am I.

And I was there.

There are many eisteddfodau (which is the correct plural, where the last syllable rhymes with ‘pie’) around Wales and the world. But the National Eisteddfod is unique, it’s the biggest and varies its location, alternating between north and south Wales annually.

This was only my second National Eisteddfod. To the people who’ve been attending since a very young age, I described it as being this exotic thing in my mind, like Rio Carnival, which was perhaps overstatement. But what you get in this blog post is an atypical viewpoint of a newcomer, or possibly outsider.

(By the way, if you can write Welsh and you have any comment to make on this you should consider starting your own blog and making it there. Lle mae fy mlogs, gyfeillion?)

For most other attendees, I imagine the Eisteddfod takes on a familiar, reassuring regularity every summer. On one hand it’s a Welsh language idyll for a week, understandably protected in order to retain the essential vibe which makes it unique (because there are plenty of other events catering for various languages and tastes – the Eisteddfod is just plain different mmkay?).

It’s also a chance to do things common to all humanity like listen to music, have a drink, see friends and cousins. And then maybe compare children. You know, with the Joneses.

Cymry Cymraeg take the latter to a whole new level. To my mind, the default state of a young child is shyness and total inability to step in front of a crowd, let alone entertain one. When I was eight years old, say, I was in Berkshire and we had roughly one or two light entertainers per class, which is maybe 5% give or take. I don’t know how the schooling is done but by the time a Welsh language child gets to the stage, he or she will possess total confidence to sing, perform and dramatically contort the face with a very fine degree of eyebrow control.

Obviously at the Eisteddfod you get the top percentile, the very apex of primary school level performance craft, but it is definitely embedded in the culture. I could list all the things about the Eisteddfod that were novel to me but this is a good one because it means there is a constant flow of competition-ready offspring being bred in folk artforms and Eisteddfod traditions before I’ve even built my tent. Or figured out the appropriate Welsh verb for this (codi to raise, not adeiladu to build).

I had a great, great time. Gigs, camping, good weather, good company. The Eisteddfod took over the whole of Bala town, which felt like the heartland and small enough to be conducive to fringe events and spontaneous happenings and encounters. Last year in Cardiff was very dispersed by comparison, where the maes was on the margins of the city centre at a distance from fringe gigs and other goings on. That and it was diluted, by the rest of the city and by actual rain.

In Cardiff the focus ended up on the maes which is not the sum total of the Eisteddfod experience. Please don’t let it be the sum total. In fact, reaching the point around the fifth hour of deciding which of three quango stands to visit – all of which totally irrelevant to your life and work – yields a kind of existential despair as you crumple the day ticket in your pocket. What I’m trying to say is, there are a lot of organisations who mistakenly think it’s important to have a presence and show the face at the maes and it ends up feeling like a row of uniform display stands at a business expo. Unless they can pack a mean display stand and dazzle us then they probably shouldn’t bother at all. Oh and cool freebies. Little tractors I can give to my nephews would be good.

I had to dig to find the cultural stuff at the maes but it was there, stuff like Tu Chwith at the Pabell Len (literature), Pictiwrs showing shoestring films and Twm Morys roaring and banging a stick on the ground. I saw someone singing Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper but in Welsh and on a harp which is something to write home about, I guess. There were a couple of noteworthy tech launches too (Cysill grammar checker and a belated but welcome phone from Samsung that does predictive text in Cymraeg).

Over in town, the inaugural Gorsedd Y Gîcs event was good too. It’s fun to be in a gorsedd.

The (proper) Gorsedd and the costume is what many people associate with the Eisteddfod and is again, only a part but admittedly rather peculiar.

Watch the video above. I missed this bit so I’m glad I caught it here. The commentary is in English. As you can see, any remaining poetry hopefuls are lambasted for a lack of vision, organisation and clarity. There is no poet decent enough this year so the chair kinda just yawns at the audience. The audience can’t do much but applaud – I don’t think it’s the TV edit – it looks like they do just break out into applause at such mediocrity regardless.

(For moments like this somebody should invent negative applause where you suck bursts of sound from the air in disapproval.)

In the clipped parlance of Twitter, lolspeak and leetspeak this is known as a #fail.

In life itself I’d like to create this kind of tension at times by announcing to a packed auditorium there is a chair for something but that nobody deserves to sit in it. I’d reserve it for things which make me disappointed and very cross, like public transport and the general state of things.

In which the monoglot looks at the bilingual baby

Contrary to some inspirational self-help guff out there, there is a time when one should quit. But like Edison and his lightbulb and Moses in the wilderness, this ain’t it. Despite the clear lack of any other similarity between me and those guys, this post is about that. Today’s blog post is about carrying on.

People often ask me “how’s the Welsh going?” and it’s good that they ask. When I started learning in 2007 I decided to fully commit. Part of that decision meant telling anyone who might care. I wanted to signal to Welsh speakers that I welcome them to try addressing me in Welsh and expect to get something back. I also ended up enlisting the indirect support and pester power of my friends, family, peers and colleagues at large, to progress this thing.

So I told people. I was interviewed by a newspaper about my (then) work at My Kung Fu, so I mentioned the Welsh and they printed it. I told more people. I even wore the badge.

It turned out to be a good tactic. Enlist the crowd to hold you to a decision. You will limit your options to just two – to carry on with the project or to quit. And the quitting would be of the most public and humiliating kind. So it gets you through.

So how is the Welsh going?

Kindly permit me a tenuous analogy about the world of open source software releases. If my ability in Welsh were an operating system, right now you could say it was almost at the alpha stage. It’s messy, it’s buggy and the user interface is far from sorted. You will encounter crashes and blank stares if you give me unexpected inputs. Nevertheless the will to progress and develop the product is there and experienced people can test it (by speaking to me in Welsh). You can even expect some useful and worthwhile output as long as you have a bit of patience. If it all goes wrong you can boot to a different partition and use another operating system (English) which has been fully installed and tested.

Much as I like a tenuous analogy, the software one is weak because we’re not here just to function. To be sure, Welsh to me is a useful language: a language of business where you can get things done. But it’s also a language of self-expression. I want to express myself in it and I want to understand other people more fully when they express themselves. Whatever the language, in this world we understand each other merely approximately. Therefore I can try to reduce the distance of that approximation.

Ample research has suggested links between acquiring a second language and various kinds of wellbeing or something like that. If you want to read about that, you can probably find a study. However true any of it might be, it’s not enough of a strategy or day-to-day motivator to keep going – not for me anyway.

I’ve mostly been trying to stop trying to be clever and just think like a BABY. When I started the wlpan course in late 2007, I figured I was a grown-up in English and a baby in Welsh. This amused me but it was totally wrong of course. I’m a grown-up in everything. Not long after starting the course I was attempting to describe the weather and my day job, which are things babies rarely do.

I don’t envy much about the lifestyle or appreciations of your average baby. (He has no equivalent of beer – nor jazz.) But the way a baby learns a language is superb, just mapping words directly on to things. The language becomes set and the mapping of words to things never fails, except for the possibility that he becomes a structuralist philosopher later in life.

Thing – word, word – thing.

Peth – gair, gair – peth.

It’s babies who are exposed to yr iaith Gymraeg who I envy the most. Not only do they acquire Welsh without hardly caring, they also learn English and map both languages separately and directly on to thing-space. The fact I know, say, the word “investment” and its Welsh equivalent (“buddsoddiad”) while they probably don’t is not really any consolation.

Each time I learn some Welsh, I map it on to the English equivalent, which then maps on to the thing or concept or meaning. English is the middleman which is clumsy at best, but try doing it any other way. And the whole thing falls apart regularly for prepositions (“to”, “on”, “over”, “for” and the like) and which verbs they relate to. And also for things like verbs and possessives (dw i’n dy garu di and all that weirdness), I still struggle with that.

Different languages will not map directly on to each other. This is a truism about languages which also happens to be true. Welsh doesn’t map to English. The phrasebook can only be an aid. It’s mental scaffolding.

“Hwyl” does not mean “fun” or “good times” or “mood” or “fervour”, those are just rough guesses. “Hwyl” means “hwyl”. The only way to understand “hwyl” is to go out and experience some genuine hwyl. Preferably in Caernarfon, I might add, with an assortment of local characters. And so it goes for every other word and utterance.

In Welsh you don’t really say you own an object. You don’t say “I’ve got money”. In place of that, as a southerner, you might say “Mae arian gyda fi” which roughly translates as “There is money with me”. So ownership has a different perspective embodied in the expression. It could be a healthier and less greed-prone concept of relating to stuff. That’s a maybe. Anyway, it’s different. A truer understanding of the insights within will only come if one lives in the world of “Mae arian gyda fi” for a while. These are just examples and it’s enough to make a point.

The other method of language learning is to get magically zapped in the forehead. The downside to this method is it doesn’t happen. But even if it did you might miss the life bits.

The product is the process. So even if I can’t think like a baby anymore, I shall continue to walk like one.

Why do we have Anti-Terrorist Hotline in Cardiff? (More poster madness.)

These chemicals won't be used in a bomb because a neighbour reported the dumped containers.

Just a couple of days ago, I mentioned some really odd police posters I’d seen in Cardiff. This isn’t about those posters. (At least those police ones were trying to make some kind of valid point, but failed.)

It’s about the ones that say “These chemicals won’t be used in a bomb because a neighbour reported the dumped containers” and the like. I’ve only seen one so far, on Clare Road in Cardiff just now. When I say poster, it’s actually a huge billboard.

Cory Doctorow already did a pretty fine job of covering the lunacy and “socially corrosive” effect of these posters in London. So I won’t rehash what he said.

I’m mainly here to point out the amplified ridiculousness of having this poster displayed in Cardiff, Wales – where we have no living memory of bomb planting nor acts of terrorism. (Correct me if I’m in any way wrong on that. Sheesh.)

Is this a threat now? Do they know something we don’t? The answer to both those questions is “no”. If London doesn’t need this, we in Cardiff really don’t need this. Clare Road is a main road running through Grangetown – which enjoys fairly decent levels of respect and integration between different people, thanks very much.

I can think of several things more appropriate and meaningful to do in the locality than reporting my neighbour because they might appear to have weird hobbies. Here’s the spot on Google Street View. You might prefer to remember it as the location where the band Super Furry Animals did a couple of photoshoots.

The remixes of the posters are well worth a look – a great antidote to the fear mongering.

Apparently I have the right “not to remain silent”… Well, cheers. Here’s what I think.

anything you say may be taken down and used as evidence

The police have some new posters on display around the UK. I don’t like the posters. It was a definite case of dislike at first sight.

It turns out the posters are there to advertise the new Policing Pledge:

The Policing Pledge is a set of promises to local residents that not only gives more information about who their local neighbourhood policing team is, but also ensures that communities will have a stronger voice in telling the police what they think is most important and what they are most worried about.

We’ll have to see if that turns out to be successful. The posters themselves contradict both of those aims. So judging by the posters, I don’t think they’re on to a good start.

PR, publicity and communications for the police is a difficult job, worth doing carefully. I think they’ve got it wrong because the way they’re communicating clashes with the intended message. The medium, the method and the message are all at odds. I’ll try to focus mainly on the posters as communication. This is not a personal rant against the police – I’ve not had any major dealings with the police as an organisation. If anything I try to avoid them wherever possible, as a good citizen should. Who knows what the police themselves think – this campaign is mainly about Home Office diktats of course.

I had a whole load of thoughts about this campaign all at once. I’ll attempt to summarise them now.

Confusion
As other people have pointed out, the perceived message of the posters is unclear. I first saw the posters on bus shelters in Cardiff city centre. They are very eye-catching but I was in a hurry to go elsewhere. So I was left wondering what they’re advertising. My first question was “are these teaser ads for a new film?”. Really it just made me think of cop shows and how awful it would be to get arrested and hear those words in their original form. (I had to use my imagination. I’ve never been arrested.) I wasn’t left with any impression of how personable and nice the police now are. Or are being commanded to be.

Lack of depth
How many people will take time to research the underlying message about the Policing Pledge? The original press release about the adverts might tell you something. I learned that the adverts ostensibly publicise some well meaning changes in the police that Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has ushered in. And that other citizens are subject to a large scale campaign of confusion, not only in Cardiff but across the UK and across a variety of media including radio, press adverts and digital. On closer inspection of the poster it says “The police now pledge to listen and respond to residents’ concerns about neighbourhood crime”. Isn’t that what they’re supposed to be doing anyway? By that measure, it’s merely a publicity campaign, spending our money to correct our perceptions. It raises more questions than it answers.

Unintended messages
You may have seen the slogan “Keep Calm And Carry On” on posters and t-shirts recently. It’s a poster design from the archives of World War II, when invasion of these islands was expected. It’s now the direct inspiration for this new police campaign. The original has grown in popularity because it’s a quaint relic of a bygone era which has seen its message of stoic British resolve reapplied now. It’s all very tongue in cheek. By using this format, the Home Office may be seeking to be trendy – but they just end up co-opting aspects of what the message meant then and means now. The original was simply a propaganda poster. Draw your own conclusion from that.

Institutional
Orwellian is a word that has been used about the police posters. It’s an almost artless design and very “official” looking. This just likens the police to an institution, rather than individuals who speak with a human voice – and listen back. I did have a thought that PR Week may have covered this and would give me the details of which agency had received how many thousand to throw together this campaign. I found a recent quote from Jacqui Smith saying she hoped to “increase public confidence by 15%“. This is vague at best. It made me think of the film adaptation of Nineteen Eighty-Four when the tannoy repeatedly announces to the proles that living standards have improved by x percent. Smith says in the article that she’s “scrapped all but one central target for the police – to raise public confidence”. Public policy is not my area of expertise but I thought “public confidence” was something you earned indirectly by conducting your service in a way that’s effective, sensitive, impartial, speedy, intelligent and things like that. They could have gone for a cheesy picture showing community relations in action. In my head I’m imagining a uniformed police officer shaking hands with a smiling youth while an old lady looks on approvingly. That would have been clichéd, but better.

Advertising
Mainly though, my confidence in the police was unaffected by this advert. Arguably, advertising is a poor medium to get that across. You can’t use a cheap tactic to grab attention and then make your more subtle points in other media. It just doesn’t work like that. If it’s part of a media mix then each element has to make sense in isolation. Advertising is by and large, in my opinion, a self-referential medium. You always know you’re reading adverts. They make you think about the way advertising pervades society and also about specific advertising campaigns – whether they’re effective and that sort of thing. With other media you “zone out” and listen to the message. That applies to a conversation, phone call, television programme, radio, a newspaper article or this blog post. You have a chance of thinking about someone’s thoughts and taking your mind off the medium itself. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in saying that – advertising makes you think of advertising. If you’re interested in communications as I am, then you also wonder how much money was spent and what’s being done to measure the effectiveness (if at all). It’s comparatively easy to measure value of marketing for a commercial product, but less so for a Home Office strategy. Besides, advertising is one of the least trusted forms of communication. The value of print advertising to business buyers is declining – look at the way newspapers are struggling. That should tell you something.

Broadcasty
This is supposed to be about local policing. But there is a pool of only three slogans (I think) which are the same, uniformly across the UK. There is one aspect of this which forms an exception – there are Welsh language versions of the posters on bus shelters, at least in Cardiff and probably elsewhere in Wales. They look very similar and say essentially the same thing as the English versions. That’s at least a concession to “local”. But it’s not local enough. Try harder. Again, model what you’re trying to say. It’s not enough to broadcast the promise that you’re listening to individuals.

Only a bit digital
The mention of a digital part of the campaign intrigued me. But when you follow the URL mentioned in the poster, you go here. It has a copy of the Policing Pledge and a search engine taking you to a page about your neighbourhood policing team. Unless I’m missing something, that’s it. I also found a bizarre page of commands about linking to Directgov which I’ll ignore, thanks.

There are other ways to communicate which are more nuanced and interactive. Initially, you can monitor blogs. This will give you some insights into what people are saying in local communities about the role of the police. It won’t tell you what everyone’s thinking because at the moment only a few individuals have blogs, arguably within a certain social group. But you would get some genuine feedback. You also have the opportunity to comment directly, in a transparent, open fashion.

In a wider way, you can also monitor Twitter searches (which can be thought of as a kind of blog). Even Flickr is a bit like a blog platform, in the sense that somebody can run their own media outlet for photos. The barriers of entry to both services are lower than that of a written blog. Again, that’s a good way to get opinion and respond. Be prepared to see people remixing your messages, as they did with the recent terror scare posters in London.

For companies, social media now allow you to do some of your customer service in public. That could work equally well for the police, even though they don’t have “customers”. While I’m on it, neither should they use the term “service users”. “People” might be a good term. I genuinely hope they’re reading this blog post – that would be a welcome bit of police surveillance. (Disclosure: my work involves online community building.)

You could possibly use online video. Show your face. Introduce the neighbourhood policing team for each area. It would be cheaper than advertising and it would persist for longer. It would be a start. (What about the digital divide, does that create a barrier to access? Well, the current ads only give two options if you want to find out more – visit a URL or send a text. I sent a text and it just sent me the info on my local neighbourhood policing team, as above. Either way, the technological requirements remain the same.)

There are also good established ways. Go out and meet people. Listen to them and have a two-way conversation. I’m pretty sure there are police who understand this. It’s about earning trust. Public confidence increases by one person at a time.

PALL mawr (Or maybe METHU mawr)

However you translate “epic FAIL” into Welsh, this recent Guardian error tickled me:

A letter to the editor, which touched lightly on English ignorance of Welsh matters, was attributed in an early edition to Hwyl Fawry. It should have been attributed to Gill Caldwell. She signed off her letter with hwyl fawr, which translates roughly as “all the best” (March frogs, 6 March, page 35).

From 11th March Corrections, sent to me by a friend.

Let it not be said that The Guardian is ignorant or dismissive of the Welsh language – last October they advertised for a Welsh-speaking online content editor based in London. Whoever grabbed that position could well be laughing now, as the salary was advertised at £21k per hour.

The Point RIP

I was DJing there only last Friday, now it’s finished.
🙁

Full statement from The Point.

The Point has been a terrific place for the music scene in Cardiff. I have witnessed and participated in so many awesome gigs and events there. Just off the top of my head, who remembers Polar Bear, Johnny Clarke, Candi Staton, Euros Childs and Threatmantics, Roy Ayers, Mary Anne Hobbs and Virus Syndicate, Richard James, Devendra Banhart, Oxjam, Super Furry Animals, Faust, Horace Andy, Bounceathon (twice), Secret Garden (several), Beirut and David Holmes, Swn Festival (twice), Soft Hearted Scientists, Josephine Foster, Battles and Truckers Of Husk, Lightning Bolt and DJ Scotch Egg, Iron and Wine, The Fall…? That’s just a few.

It’s such a shame to see that they now have to close, brought on by extremely short-sighted planning of nearby apartments – which led to noise complaints and unexpected costs in already tight economic conditions. This kind of situation is not unique for a gig venue in the UK either.

Do You Use WordPress? Cardiff welcomes WordCamp in July 2009

WordPress has become the platform of choice for many people, for conventional blogs and also as a fully-fledged, customisable CMS.

It’s a seriously good piece of software. If you don’t care about the technical reasons, it’s very easy to use. In my opinion, that’s what a blog should be – as simple as possible so you can jot out your thoughts freely and unencumbered. It’s for normal people. But if you want something customisable and extensible, it allows that too.

This blog is powered by WordPress – as is Sleeveface.

If you’re not familiar with it and you want to test it out you could start with the hosted version – just open an account at WordPress.com

And so to WordCamp.

WordCamp is an annual event for people interested in WordPress, whether they be developers, designers, bloggers, users or half-curious bystanders.

This year’s UK edition of WordCamp will be held in Cardiff on 18th and 19th July. It’s just recently been announced but already you can signal your interest in attending.

The whole thing is run by volunteers so the ticket price will be low, just to cover costs. The ethos of the event is fairly in keeping with WordPress as a piece of open source software. People are happy to contribute their time, energy and skills to the effort because they will all get more value back.

Cymry! This is a massive opportunity for WordPress enthusiasts in Cardiff and wider Wales to exchange notes and learn stuff, not only with each other but with other people from many parts of the world.

Personally I’m really keen to see usage of the Welsh language – on the event website, press relations and around the site. So I’ll be working with other volunteers to make this happen. I’m also working on a group effort to get the WordPress 2.7 software available in Welsh, as well as the extra stuff that comes on the hosted version at WordPress.com.

So this spring will be translation-a-go-go for me. What do I get? I get good practice with the language, chats and co-operation with other people and the chance to watch a significant part of the Welsh language online world bloom and flourish. Plus there are a couple of projects I’d like to start which would be aided greatly by this…

With WordCamp coming, I might have said that an up-to-date WordPress in Welsh will be good timing. But it’s actually been a long time since the software was last translated. I know there are people who want to see this and use it. It just needs a smidgen of activation energy.