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‘Dictionary’ of Welsh Place-names published

A list of place-names in Wales will be published by the Welsh Language Commissioner on 20 June, which will offer the standardised spellings for the names of villages, towns and cities in Wales.
 
The list, which will be available on the Welsh Language Commissioner’s website, is described as a 'dictionary' that people can use to check the spelling of Welsh place-names. There are nearly 3,000 names on the list, and it is the fruit of many years of research and consultation in the field.
 
During the Urdd Eisteddfod, visitors were invited to test the list at the Commissioner’s stand. By the end of the week, over 750 pins had been put on the map to indicate that the name of a town or village was on the list, and any names that appeared to be ‘missing’ are in the process of being added.
 
The Welsh Language Commissioner, Meri Huws, said, “I am very glad that we are now in a position to publish our list of standardised place-names.  This event notes many years of hard work by our small team within the Welsh Language Commissioner in consultation with the panel of Welsh place-names experts.  We are very grateful for their important contribution to this project, ensuring that there is a sound basis for each recommendation.
 
“Many of us will have personal opinions about how to write the names of places in our home turf and it is possible that not everyone will agree with each recommendation on the list. We do not intend to force these spelling, but rather offer recommendations, with the view to promoting consistency in the way we spell place-names across Wales in official contexts.”
 
One of the organisations that will use the list as a guide to spelling place-names is Ordnance Survey. Pam Whitham, Relationship Manager for the OS, said:
 
“OS has a long standing and valued partnership with the Welsh Language Commissioner’s office.  They have played a key role in developing our Welsh Naming Policy and ensuring consistency of Welsh place-names throughout our products. We’re delighted to continue working with the Commissioner and welcome the database as a valuable resource for defining Welsh place-names.”
 
The list will be published at an event in Cardiff Bay, sponsored by Dr Dai Lloyd AM.  Dr Dai Lloyd attempted to create a bill to secure Historical Welsh Place-names in March 2017.  He said, "Publishing place-names in a list like this will go some of the way to ensure that the standardised forms will be recorded and respected. However, to truly protect the names, and to ensure that no other names will be adopted on a whim, I believe the list should be given legal status, as is the case in many other countries."
  
When standardising place-names, the panel of experts follow specific guidelines.  They consider the pronunciation and origin as well as the local use and the historical use of the name. 
 
Dr Dylan Foster Evans of Cardiff University is a member of the panel. He said, “Place-names are part of our heritage and our identity – that is why so many of us have a keen interest in them.  The Welsh spelling system was only thoroughly standardised in the twentieth century. The spelling of place-names took longer to follow suit: Caernarvon appears to be an Anglicized and old-fashioned way of spelling the town’s name today, but that was the spelling on the National Eisteddfod chair in 1935!
 
“The spelling of place-names is not a black and white matter, and not everyone will agree with all of our recommendations. But agreeing on standard forms is crucial if the Welsh language is to become a modern language that will survive in this digital age.”
 
The list will be available to search and download under an open license from the Welsh Language Commissioner’s website:
 
welshlanguagecommissioner.wales/placenames

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