Alwyn ap Huw, in his Miserable Old Fart blog, talked about the Caernarfon prison fiasco in this post.

In it he referred to what Dyfrig Jones had written, and put a Google Translate link beside it. I couldn't resist clicking it. Dyfrig's first sentence was:

Dwi'n dal i fod yn gandryll ynglyn a phenderfyniad y Llywodraeth i beidio ac adeiladu carchar yng Nghaernarfon.

Which Google had translated:

I'm still on-Wye about the Government's determination to build a prison and not in Caernarfon.

I smiled. Of course no translation program is perfect—between any pair of languages—but having spent most of the past couple of days trying to figure out how computers think (I was having problems re-encoding some video) I could see how it had taken this strange excursion. The Welsh name for Hay-on-Wye is Y Gelli Gandryll: Celli meaning a copse or grove, and Candryll literally meaning shattered ... although that probably isn't the etymological origin of the name. Google had gone haywire and taken gandryll to mean "on-Wye".

In fact "yn gandryll" has a different modern meaning, which to my mind is best conveyed by the wonderful English phrase "incandescent with rage" ... although "furious" will do if you want to be less imaginative!

But that got me thinking. Perhaps this was how the town got its English name. They simply translated the Gandryll as "Hay-wye-er". And who knows ... perhaps that's how "haywire" became a word in the English language.


You were looking for a literary explanation ... weren't you?

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Alwyn ap Huw said...

Dryll is a stick! Gelli Gandryll is a field of hazel trees where one could gather one hundred (ie lots) of hazel sticks within a season.

Candryll as a term of anger probably relates to the fact that before the cane a native stick would be used for punishment. A person who deserved a 100 stick punishment must be quite a wiled kid, an angry young man!

MH said...

And dryll is a gun, too. So perhaps "Candryll" describes someone who's so angry that he's armed himself to the teeth with a hundred guns to perpetrate some Claude van Damned massacre.

... motivated, no doubt, by having been hit a hundred times with a stick!

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