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A man of few words when its Welsh.

Byline: paternity test DAVE OWENS

DAVE OWENS ' I don't know whether it's an age thing or just the result of circumstance, but I've been reliving my school days in a series of ever more vivid flashbacks.

And I have my daughter to thank for this educative walk down memory lane. Since September as part of the local education authority's wraparound provision, she's been spending two and half hours every morning at school - the unstintingly excellent Ysgol Pwll Coch in Leckwith.

There she has thrived being taught in Welsh and it's certainly provided her dad with a test of his memory capabilities. I'm not a Welsh speaker, but through learning alongside my daughter it has opened a door to the past that I thought was previously firmly shut.

It's 27 years since I passed my Welsh O-level. The fact I sat the pre-GCSE O-levels should tell its own story of how firmly rooted in middle age I am. Nevertheless, this historical gap hasn't stopped me helping Elinor with her homework and turning on a tap to words and phrases that have propelled themselves through the merry mists of time into my mind.

I can sing the Welsh national anthem and have the ability to wow my non-Welsh speaking friends with the pronunciation of the ultimate Welsh place name - the perennial tongue twister that is Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

Although it has to be said the first phrases I could ever remember when my daughter started on the road to a bilingual future were singularly unhelpful.

My starting point of "y gath yn y cornel" or "the cat is in the corner" (I don't have a cat) and "rydw i'n hoffi coff"' or "I like coffee" (I don't) were unimpressive for both father and daughter.

Some eight months on from that shaky foundation, both parents and daughter are coping well. I've invested in a Welsh dictionary and phrasebook to help with common everyday occurrences like meal time and bed time, while my English wife is learning at a regular weekly class.

The greatest joy, however, has been Elinor's sheer enthusiasm. Where previously CBeebies ruled her televisual habits, now S4C's children's strand Cyw rules the roost (and anyone who speaks Welsh will know that is a terrible pun!).

For my own part I wish that there were Welsh language phrasebooks for mums and dads. Such sentences as: "don't do that", "don't put that in your mouth", "eat your food", "go to sleep" and "stop throwing things at my head".

You know, the really useful stuff.

' My starting point of 'y gath yn y cornel' or 'the cat is in the corner' was unimpressive for both father and daughter
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 4, 2013
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