Welsh Nursery Songs
Byline: By RHODRI CLARK Western Mail
One of the great advantages of a bilingual upbringing is that it puts your feet in two cultural camps. The benefits start early. Parents who speak Welsh and English can pick the best from two treasure troves of nursery rhymes and songs to sing to their children. Your baby can giggle in delight at favourites like 'This little piggy went to market' and Humpty Dumpty. But they can also enjoy a big fall when you sing Gee Ceffyl Bach, the story of two children riding a horse which slips on the river-bed rocks. The kids dry their tears, forget the blood and ride the horse again, culminating in a leap over the moon and down to the lake. Most of the Welsh songs feature animals. When they're not farm animals or pets, they're wild ones such as jackdaws and robins. In one rhyme, a child is horrified that a friendly bird might fall from its lofty nest. Some English classics have been translated into Welsh. The hand movements for 'Incy Wincy spider' need no alteration for the Welsh version. However, most of the Welsh rhymes are not translations but verses sung to infants for centuries. They make for interesting comparisons.
Many of the English songs conform to the stereotype of English class distinction and wealth. A cat goes to London to see the queen. A child rides a horse to Banbury to see a fine lady with rings on her fingers, and a king calls for his fiddlers. Oranges and lemons is about defaulting on a debt.
The Welsh songs protect infants from financial worries. They convey an impression of a society that's happy in its toil and relative poverty. Dacw dadi'n mynd i'r ffair explains the farmer's life with beautiful innocence and not a trace of envy. …