Welsh translations from English (16th to 19th century): a digital parallel edition

The importance of translations in the history of the Welsh language and culture is receiving increasingly more attention ( here are some details*). Whereas during the 20th century translators were often blamed for transferring the norms of the source language into Welsh and thus polluting it, the focus now shifts towards the understanding of the work of translators as an enrichment of the Welsh language and contribution to its preservation. Translation is also an important industry in modern Wales, with new technologies being developed to facilitate the functioning of a bilingual society. It thus makes sense to take a closer look at the work of translators of the past and analyse their methods.

In this pilot project four translations from the 16th to the 19th century are presented (entirely or as shorter samples); these follow their originals very closely and allow online parallel edition. Such parallel editions are a useful tool to analyse translators’ strategies in different genres and times. They offer a unique possibility for comparing language structures at different levels, from orthographical conventions to syntactic patterns and lexical choice (the use of loanwords, inter alia).

Work has been carried out by Elena Parina with the assistance of Raphael Sackmann and was supported by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

The texts edited are:

Welsh text Abbr English original Welsh words
Huw Lewys. Perl mewn adfyd […] Rhydychen: Joseph Barnes ai Printiodd, 1595. [first 13 chapters] pma A Spirituall, and most Precious Perle […] Wrytten […] by […] Otho Wermvllervs. And translated into Englishe, by M. Miles Coverdale. London: Hugh Singleton, 1574. 15479
Groniosaw, James Albert Ukawsaw. Berr hanes o’r pethau mwyaf hynod […] Aberhonddu: Argraphwyd dros y Parch. Mr. W. Wiliams, gan E. Evans, 1779. jaug Groniosaw, James Albert Ukawsaw. A Narrative of the Most Remarkable Particulars […]. Bath: Printed by W. Gye, 1772. 15104
Richmond, Legh. Crefydd mewn bwthyn; neu, Hanes Jane Bach […] Bala: Argraffedig ac ar werth gan R. Saunderson, 1819. cmb Richmond, Legh. The Annals of the Poor: The Young Cottager. By the author of the Dairyman’s Daughter. London: Printed for W. Whittemore [Religious Tract Society, 1814]. 14031
Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Caban F’Ewyrth Twm. Cyfieithad Hugh Williams, gynt golygydd "Y Cymro." Llundain: John Cassell, Ludgate Hill, 1853. [first 100 pages] cfet Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Uncle Tom’s Cabin. London: John Cassel, Ludgate Hill, 1852. 51178

The edition comprises 96939 words in the English and 95792 words in the Welsh part.

This project allows to read a parallel edition of each text (caveat), find information on the texts and the editions we used, or to search through the texts. The search function will return all the relevant matches in both Welsh and English texts.

The project should be referred to as:
Parina, Elena. 2015. Welsh translations from English (16th to 19th century): a digital parallel edition, http://www.online.uni-marburg.de/welshtranslations/.

Our thanks go to:

The compilation of this project was made possible with the help of Dr. David Willis. The three earlier Welsh texts were taken from David Willis’ and Ingo Mittendorf’s Corpws Hanesyddol yr Iaith Gymraeg 1500–1850 (‘A Historical Corpus of the Welsh Language 1500–1850’, http://people.ds.cam.ac.uk/dwew2/hcwl/menu.htm) by his kind permission. The 100-page extract from Caban F’Ewyrth Twm was kindly provided by David Willis personally.

Sincere gratitude goes to Professor Erich Poppe (Philipps-Universität Marburg) for his support during work on this project and to Jan Niehues (Philipps-Universität Marburg) for his advice.

The texts were aligned with the English originals by means of Euclid 3 program developed by Timofey Arkhangelskij (Higher School of Economics, Moscow) http://www.hse.ru/en/org/persons/34257708.

Text alignment: Raphael Sackmann; Webdesign: Michael Lisniak; Logo: George Mazhuga.

*Recent developments in Welsh translation studies

Among the most important developments one should mention an AHRC project Translation in Non-State Cultures: Perspectives from Wales http://translationcymru.org/en-GB/Home and the conference Cyfieithu i’r Gymraeg yng Nghymru yn y 18fed a’r 19eg Ganrif on 7 March 2015 at the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies http://www.wales.ac.uk/Resources/Documents/Centre/2014/Cyfieithu/Rhaglen.pdf. A database of translations into Welsh is Cronfa Cyfieithiadau’r Gymraeg supported by Coleg Cymraeg Genedlaethol https://www.porth.ac.uk/cyfieithiadau/.

Recent surveys can be found in Price, Angharad. 1997. ‘Cyfoeth Cyfieithu [The riches of translation]’, Taliesin, Gaeaf: 11–39 and Davies, Sioned. 2012. ‘O Alice i Alys: cyfieithu clasur i’r Gymraeg [From Alice to Alys: translating a classic into Welsh]’, Llên Cymru, 35: 116–46.


During the data preparation all XML markups for text divisions and comments were removed from the text files to enable alignment by means of Euclid 3 software. Markers of text emphasis like italicization, the use of small capitals and so on could not be taken into account. Small capitals, however, were rendered as regular capital letters. Word divisions at the end of lines were removed throughout. Different font styles were ignored, catchwords and page numbers were later marked as comments.

© Elena Parina, 2015
Any comments on the project are welcome to elena.parina@gmail.com.