I'm the Hen Ferchetan. This is my take on the world through the eyes of Wales. While mostly about Welsh politics (that most famous of dour topics!) I try to scatter some humour around, but I doubt anyone but me will find it funny! Have a read, and if it bores you then feel free to never come back!

Monday, 7 April 2008

Inspector Horse

So the BBC, Western Mail, South Wales Echo, icWales,the Daily Mail and even the Tivyside Advertiser are incensed by the Welsh nationalist thug who "slashed" a horse's nose and wrote racist graffiti on his stable wall. The stupid idiots who, according to all these articles, wrote "English Out" on the wall didn't even realise that the couple were English-speaking Welshmen! According to the horse's owner the area is mostly Welsh-speaking and the vile thug who carried out this attack must have mistaken english-speaking for being English.

Here's a picture of the barn and the graffiti.


Now, if you are a Welsh speaker you will probably have already noticed that something doesn't quite add up here. If you are a monoglot, let me clue you in. See those words on the side of the barn? They don't say "English Out", whatever the respected media named above might tell you. I'd love to tell you what it says, but I can't. Why? Because it doesn't say anything. It is gibberish.

Now Sais clearly means "Englishman", every Welshman knows that. But "Maes"? Well that means field (or town square). "Cai" doesn't mean anything, it is not a Welsh word (it is actually a Welsh name, like Kai in English). So what is the painter trying to say? Beats me!

Could he be saying Cer Mas Sais (Get Out Englishman)? Or maybe Gai'r Maes Sais (Can I Have The Field Englishman)?. Western Mail thinks it says Cer Maes Sais (Go Field Englishman, makes no grammatical sense in Welsh either!) or Cae Mas Sais (Field Go Englishman). The answer is no. This isn't some mis-spelling or typo, most of those suggestions don't makes sense (Go Field Englishman?) and the ones that do (Cer Mas Sais) do not sound anything like Cai Maes Sais and are way too far off to be the words of a grammatically challenged Welsh-speaker or even a poor learner.

Clearly someone up in Trinity Mirror has realised something is wrong, they just havn't quite put their finger on it. The South Wales Echo would have us believe that it's common slang for "English Out" while icWales disagrees and tells us it's actually very old Welsh for "English Out". The Western Mail disagrees again, telling us that the writing doesn't say "English Out" but "English Out of This Field". Top prize for awful reporting must go to BBC Newyddion Arlein (Welsh BBC News) which actually quotes the graffiti as saying "Sais Mas" (English Out) even though the picture of the actual words used above comes from the BBC!

As a Welsh speaker I can assure you that those words certainly don't say "English Out". Not in slang, not in old Welsh, not in proper Welsh and not in misspelt Welsh. Or do they?

This is where things get interesting. I'm sure you all know of the infamous InterTran, one of those diabolical online translators. To you and me "Get out Englishman" clearly doesn't translate as "Cai Maes Sais" - but to InterTran that is exactly what it translates as.

So let us get this straight, whoever painted that slogan had to use an infamously awful online translator to work out how to translate "Get Out Englishman"? What nationalist worth his salt can't say or spell that?

Something smells here, any budding detectives among you?

(Congrats to Cwlcymro at Maes-E for making the InterTran connection - oh and I'm sorry about the god awful headline pun!)

18 comments:

wonkotsane said...

Firstly ... CAI: Welsh form of Roman Gaius, meaning "rejoice."

Secondly, my personal opinion is that it's a couple of recent converts to saesneg hating who don't speak Welsh (or do, but badly) who've use the internet to get a translation.

Hen Ferchetan said...

Welsh form of Roman gaius?Now that is very old Welsh - still makes no sense right!

The problem with the idea that it's non-Welsh speaking english-haers is obvious though. If you're a monoglot english speaking welshman, you wouldnt automatically assume (like some welsh speakers unfortunately would) that another monoglot was not Welsh (these people were from Cardiff, not english)

Rhys Wynne said...

To add another twist to this conspiracy theory, does anyone now if notorious Welsh-hating wonkotsane has been for a holiday in Pembrokshire recently?????

Siân said...

Wonkotsane - the "couple of recent converts to saesneg hating" have very tidy handwriting, especially as they are trespassing and afraid of getting caught.

Anonymous said...

hen ferchetan, your argument makes no sense at all! Why am I, as a Welsh speaker, more likely to misplace a Cardiff accent than a 'monoglot'? Nonsense.

Hen Ferchetan said...

Anon (god I hate anons, just type in a name!)

Be it true or false, many non-Welsh speakers think that Welsh-speakers in the heartlands assume all monoglots are English.

I'm not sayng that's true, but that's what many monoglots think.

While that may or may not be true, it is ridicilous to suggest that a Welsh monoglot would automatically assume that another monoglot was not Welsh

Rhys Wynne said...

Without wanting to belittle the man's intelligence (he does such a gret job himself), wonkotsane's comment:

Secondly, my personal opinion is that it's a couple of recent converts to saesneg hating who don't speak Welsh (or do, but badly) who've use the internet to get a translation.

shows the danger of using an on-line translator.
Saeseng = (the) English language
Saeson = The English (people)*

Remember that when you're next in Wales with a pot of paint ;-)

*Mind you, this happens a lot in Wales as well, with people mixing up '.....Cymraeg' (something that is in Welsh) with '....Cymreig' (something that is Welsh). You can sometimes buy Welsh speaking cheese in supermarkets!

mrmark said...

i live in the village in question and would like to say that as an englishman living here i have found no racism at all!! just very nice helpful friendly people with a fantastic communal spirit..i have lived in the community for 7 years and own horses here too..why would anyone pick on this one specific person??..at this time of year horses are losing their winter coats .so they itch maybe the pony cut itself whilst itching on barbed wire!!!...i am proud to live in the village and am extremely proud of all of my children who are now fluent welsh speakers..i am upset that a slur has been placed on the welsh community i dont believe it could possibly have been anybody locally!!

Hen Ferchetan said...

Nice to hear from someone who lives near by MrMark.

Let's just hope someone down the local pld office can work out what happened, and that our rpected media sort themselves out ASAP!

O'Neill said...

??..at this time of year horses are losing their winter coats .so they itch maybe the pony cut itself whilst itching on barbed wire!!!

I presume the woman in question is not a complete idiot and can tell the difference between a self-inflicted wound and a deliberate cut.

Re the translation debate, I'm going to get a bit parochial here...but in Northern Ireland Irish Gaelic is very often used as a weapon by those who have no real genuine love or indeed knowledge of the language and are prepared to use it simply as a racist/sectarian tool- you'd be amazed how many different dodgy linguistic variations of "Brits Out" you can come up with.

What we've got here is:

a)a horse which has been slashed
b)a ropey translation of "We're not very fond of English folk down here".

Motivation for a) is presumably not insurance- vandalised barns and I can see a motive leading in that direction- vandalised horses, no.

Find your reason for a) and then the reason for b) follows.

If you're asking me, then it's a couple of 15 year old nob-heads beered up, who after a night out on the cider and internet translation sites have decided it's time to make their mark in the fight for Welsh independence- just a pity the horse had to suffer in the process.

Hen Ferchetan said...

First problem with that theory O'Neill is that every 15 year old kid living there would have already had years of Welsh education - Would hardly need an internet translator to be able to say "Get Out".

The second problem is the obvious one which I've already mentioned - why would an english speaking Welshman assume that another english-speaker was not Welsh?

The writing on the wall is not "a ropey translation" - it's not any kind of translation, it's gibberish. It's like some Irish Republican painting "Helen Basketball Brits" on a wall round yours and everyone assuming that it was a racist message.

My guess would be someone with a grudge trying o cover up his arse with dodgy slogans - the only other possibility I can see is that the woman hersel painted it to cover up hurting her own horse - farfetched it may be but still more believable than saying "Cei Maes Sais" means "English Out"

Gael gan Náire said...

"you'd be amazed how many different dodgy linguistic variations of "Brits Out" you can come up with."

Name one. Just one.

O'Neill said...

g-g-n
Name one. Just one.

That's a rather bizarre, ever slightly off-topic intervention-try looking at the slogan in the photograph attached to this post-is that not a dodgy linguistic variation of "Brits Out"?

hen ferchetan,

Point taken that ,in a Welsh-speaking village, this is not the kind of mistake you'd think a Welsh-speaker would make.

My guess would be someone with a grudge trying o cover up his arse with dodgy slogans - the only other possibility I can see is that the woman hersel painted it to cover up hurting her own horse - farfetched it may be but still more believable than saying "Cei Maes Sais" means "English Out"

Theory one: if you've just got a grudge then slash the horse, leaving a slogan, in whatever languag,e is leaving possible incriminating evidence.

Theory 2: it is far-fetched. If she'd damaged the horse she wouldn't want to bring attention (Auntie Beeb et al) to the matter.

Hen Ferchetan said...

Theory 1 - not really, clearly the plan would have worked, look at how fast the papers gobbled up the anti-english slant.


Theory 2 - some people are just thick. If you're going to give a sob-story to the beeb about your horse being so distressed after being slashed on the nose he doesn't let you come near him, don't let yourself get a photo taken of you standing right next to the horse with your hand on his bloody nose!

Both are far-fatched, but neither as far-fetched as believing that an anti-English Welsh nash needs an internet translator to know what "English Out" is, that's the first thing kids learn :-P

Al Iguana said...

Well, I'm not commenting on the conspiracy theories, I'll leave that to the plod. But I will say that I think that was sprayed by a woman/girl. The writing is too neat and curvy. If sprayed by a young male it would be more pointy and angular, or done in a hip-hop stylee. Just my 2p (without any Welsh symbols on it)

Linguanaut.co.uk said...

Sheer speculation, but the horse would most likely have been insured. Horses are not cheap. Let us muse on the words insurance job....

Anonymous said...

This story is so sad....I feel sorry for the poor horse.
Has anyone in Tegryn heard this couple speak? Do they sound ENGLISH or WELSH??????????!!!!!!!!

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