Blydhen Nowydh Da!

I hope the blogosphere hasn’t got too bad a hangover this morning. I don’t, although I did have a nice lie in until about 11am when the lure of the Guardian prize crossword drew me out of bed and down to the newsagents. Luckily, I remembered to get dressed first. The crossword turned out to be quite a nice one to start the year with, by the perennial Araucaria, but it didn’t take all that long to do so I’ve got time to do a bit of shopping and a go on my exercise bike. Yes, that’s my New Year’s resolution. More shopping.

I know 2010 was a tough year for many people for many different reasons. I wouldn’t say it’s exactly been brilliant for me either, but I am looking forward to 2011 whatever it might bring. The first results from Planck will be released very soon (on 11th January, in fact), which will give me something exciting to blog about. More generally, the recent financial settlement for STFC was not as poor as many of us expected so the future doesn’t look quite as grim for UK astronomy as we feared.

There are exciting developments in store for the School of Physics & Astronomy at Cardiff University, where I work, with (hopefully) a number of new staff members joining us soon. Later on in the year we’ll be rolling out a completely redsigned set of physics courses which we’ve been working on for over a year. In addition we’ll be starting to work more closely with Swansea University in order to provide a broader range of advanced options for physics students at both institutions.

Of course behind all this there’s still considerable uncertainty about the funding situation for universities which are facing big cuts in government grants and having to increase tuition fees charged to students. Whether and to what extent this will deter students from going to university remains to be seen. The financial pressure will certainly lead to mergers and possibly to closures across the UK over the next few years, although only time will tell how many.

On the cultural side there’s a large number of concerts at St David’s Hall and a full season of Opera at WNO to look forward to, including a performance of Cosi fan Tutte on my birthday. Cardiff plays host to the First Test match between England and Sri Lanka at the end of May, and a one-day international against India in September. I might even get myself a membership of Glamorgan Cricket Club, something I’ve toyed with doing for a couple of years now. There’s also a good chance that Cardiff City F.C. might get themselves promoted to the Premiership, something that would be great for the city of Cardiff. It wouldn’t be beyond them to fall at the last fence, as they have a habit of doing..

May 2011 will also see the Welsh Assembly elections, and there will be a referendum on further law-making powers for the WAG on 3rd March.

On the wider political scene the question is whether the governing coalition’s cuts will force the economy back into recession or not. I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that many ordinary working people are going to lose their jobs and many less advantaged members of society will have their benefits cut. Meanwhile the people who took us to the brink of economic ruin will no doubt carry on getting their bonuses.

In spite of all that, let me end by wishing you peace and prosperity for the New Year and beyond. And if that’s not possible, just remember Nil Illegitimi Carborundum.

25 Responses to “Blydhen Nowydh Da!”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    Just enjoyed the New Year lunchtime concert from Vienna, held in the Musikverein where many of the great symphonies were premiered – a place my father, who loved both classical music and cricket, referred to as “the long room of music”. Now Radio 3 is playing all of Mozart’s works over the next 12 days!

  2. Bryn Jones Says:

    But why the Cornish title?

  3. Rhodri Evans Says:

    Where does the title to today’s post come from. I know that you know the Welsh is “blwyddyn newydd dda”. I haven’t been on google to try and find out, yet.

  4. Rhodri Evans Says:

    Ah, it’s Cornish is it Bryn. Goes to show that my first impression of Cornish, from hearing it when I was 16, is that it’s like Welsh badly spoken 🙂

  5. Rhodri Evans Says:

    And, do they not mutate in Cornish? I thought mutations were in all Celtic languages, both the Brythonic and Goedelic ones. “year” could, I guess, be masculine in Cornish despite being feminine in Welsh.

  6. telescoper Says:

    I thought I’d play a trick on all the Welsh speakers who assumed I messed up “Happy New Year”, but Bryn was right straight away.

    It was one of the versions of Happy New Year flying around on Twitter last night…

  7. Bryn Jones Says:

    Yes, Rhodri, I also thought that Cornish also had mutations.

    And the Latin means “don’t let the illegitimate ones grind you down.” Or is that slightly too literal a translation?

  8. telescoper Says:

    Agh. Bristol City 3 Cardiff City 0.

    Cardiff are now down to 5th. I take back what I said about falling at the last fence. They’re falling already!

    • Rhodri Evans Says:

      Cardiff, like Chelsea, have had a nightmare last 4-6 weeks….. The two teams I support.

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      Yes, an exchange operator has recently been applied to ManU and Chelsea. Happily for me; now let’s win the Ashes series!

  9. Rhodri Evans Says:

    So far I have confirmed that there are mutations in Cornish, as I thought:

    and, according to

    the word “blydhen” is feminine, just as “blwyddyn” is in Welsh. I find it very unlikely that the rules of the mutation of an adjective after a feminine noun are different in Cornish, so is the “da” just a mistake and it should be “dda”??

    • Bryn Jones Says:


      That’s interesting. Perhaps Cornish does not have the rule about a soft mutation after a singular feminine noun? Or perhaps the mutation is not carried on to a second adjective? Looking at the word for “year” on shows that feminine singular nouns are mutated after the word “the” (blydhen -> an vlydhen).

      I’m wondering what I would have said “happy new year” is in Welsh if I didn’t know the answer already. I’m wondering whether I would have considered mutating only the adjective immediately after the singular feminine noun (newydd) and not the adjective after that (da). Would I have said “blwyddyn newydd da”?

      I do wonder about the spelling and pronuciation of Cornish today. The spelling of Welsh a few centuries ago had not settled down into a standard system, like most other languages. What would Welsh look like today if it had died out as a spoken language around 1700 and been revived in the 20th century? Would the spelling standardisation have been totally different? Would the restored spoken language have anything like the same pronunciation it originally had? Is modern Cornish pronounced anything like it was in the 17th or 18th centuries?


    • Rhodri Evans Says:

      If Cornish mutate singular feminine nouns after the definite article than that rule is the same as in Welsh. Yes, it is possible that either (i) adjectives don’t mutate after singular feminine nouns or (ii) that only the first adjective does (“n” does not mutate, so that is why one cannot say which of the above is the case). I’d like to get to the bottom of this 🙂

      As for the spelling/pronunciation of Cornish, and how it has been affected by its dying out, that is a very interesting question. I did A-level Welsh, and from what I remember it was Ifor Williams who standardised much of the spelling and grammar of Welsh in the early part of the 20th century. But, although you say that Welsh spelling has changed a lot, I do also remember how comprehensible the 6th Century poetry of Aneurin and Taliesin is to a modren Welsh speaker, much more than e.g. Chaucer would be to a modern English speaker.

    • Bryn Jones Says:


      I believe another example of a soft mutation after the definite article in Cornish is the phrase for “Where is the toilet?” given at : the P mutates to a b.


  10. Rhodri Evans Says:

    Oops, I can see in Cornish the soft mutation of “d” is “dh” not “dd” as in Welsh. So it seems it should be “blydhen nowydh dha”.

  11. telescoper Says:

    Isn’t that what I wrote?

  12. Rhodri Evans Says:

    Oops, I meant “then mystery solved”.

  13. Rhodri Evans Says:

    According to

    the Cornish is “da”, not “dha” in the phrase. Hm, mystery back on….

  14. Rhodri Evans Says:

    On the page

    the last phrase, “good night” is given as “nos dha”, showing a soft mutation which would seem to suggest that an adjective does indeed mutate softly after a feminine noun (the same website gives “nos” as feminine).

    So, either “da” should be “dha” in the New Year phrase, or 2nd and subsequent adjectives do not softly mutate after a feminine noun, even thought they do in Welsh.

    Incidentally, the fact that in Welsh we say “nos da” with no mutation, even though “nos” is feminine in Welsh too, shows that mutation rules do get broken. I remember asking my Welsh teacher in school about this, and he said it was to do with the “s” in “nos” being followed by a “d”. But, that does not make sense because we say “wythnos dda” (good week), where one has the same “s” followed by a “d”.

  15. Ed Slattery Says:

    Sorry, not familiar with phi-squared inflation, could you maybe let me know if it’s a large-field theory or a false-vacuum one? Thanks.

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