Whenever we hold events at the storefront, people request that we livestream them on the internet. That’s not usually possible because we have our hands full taking care of customers or getting more toilet paper for the bathroom.
Yesterday we hosted a book-release party for Kara Gebhart Uhl and her new book “Cadi & the Cursed Oak.” Kara and her family and friends took care of everything (and then some) related to the event, so I had just enough time to snap a few photos and take some video of the event. So if you’ve ever wanted to see what these open-to-the-public days are like, here’s a short video.
And congratulations to Kara on her first book. It’s a great one!
I owe a great many thanks to Dr Iwan Wyn Rees, senior lecturer and director of the Cardiff Centre for Welsh American Studies, located in the School of Welsh at Cardiff University, which serves to promote the study of the culture, language, literature and history of the Welsh in the Americas.
First, we hired Iwan to provide pronunciations for each of the Welsh words in “Cadi & the Cursed Oak,” and he used the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). It was perfect except we worried children may not understand it. But simplified pronunciation guides are tricky. There is a lot of room for interpretation and criticism, and one must be mindful of regional dialects as well. But Iwan, who has a young daughter, understood. And despite the rush of the holidays he created one for the book. Here’s the difference:
Yr Hen Ardd (The Old Garden)
IPA: ər heːn arð
simplified: uhrr hain arrthe
He also provided a wonderfully detailed pronunciation guide tailored to the book, which we, unfortunately didn’t have room for – but it’s included at the end of this post.
We then hired Iwan to record himself speaking each of the words. You will find those recordings below. Simply press play on the audio file underneath each word. If two audio files exist, you’ll be treated to a different pronunciation in the local dialect.
— Kara Gebhart Uhl
Aran Fawddwy (AHRR-anne VOWTHE-ui): mountain peak in southern Snowdonia, North Wales
Aran Benllyn (AHRR-anne BEN-ttlin): mountain peak in southern Snowdonia, North Wales
ASGRE LÂN DIOGEL EI PHERCHEN (ASK-rreh larne DEEOGG-elle ee FAIRRchenne): a good conscience is the best shield
Cader Idris (CAH-derr ID-riss): a long mountain ridge in southern Snowdonia
Ceubren yr Ellyll (KAY-brren uhrr ETTLittl): the hollow oak of the demon
Coed y Brenin (koyd uh BRREN-in): a forest near Dolgellau, in Snowdonia National Park
Coed y Moch Lodge (koyd uh mawch): built in 1830 on the Nannau estate by Sir Robert Williams Vaughan, second Bart, who insisted dinner guests arrived on time. The lodge was a six-minute ride from Nannau, hence the clock permanently painted six minutes to five.
Coraniaid (korr-ANNE-yighed): magical and malevolent beings from Welsh mythology with an acute sense of hearing
cwtsh (kootch, as short as in ‘cook’): hug
cyfarwyddiaid (kuv-ahrr-OOWITH-yighed, with ‘th’ as in ‘the’): storytellers
Dolgellau (doll-GGETTL-aye): a small town in northwest Wales
geol (GGEH-aul): jail
goujons (GOOJ-onz, with ‘j’ as in the French ‘je’ or ‘Jean’): breaded chicken tenders
gormesoedd (ggorr-MESS-oythe): oppressions or plagues
Lle gwreiddio y Fesen, Llwydded y Dderwen (ttlair GGOORRAYTHE-yaw uh VACE-enn TTLUITHE-ed uh THEIRR-wenn): the oak tree may succeed where the acorn takes root
Nannau (NANN-aye): an estate near Dogellau, once home of the Nannau oak
Owain Glyndŵr (OWE-ine gglin-DOORR): (1354-1416), rebelled against English rule; considered the father of Welsh nationalism
The Tale of Lludd (ttleethe) …
… and Llefelys (ttleh-VELLE-is): …
… one of several Welsh prose tales from around the 11th century, found in the “Red Book of Hergest (HERR-guest)” …
… and in fragmentary form in the “White Book of Rhydderch (HRRUHTHE-errch),” …
… and translated and published by Lady Charlotte Guest in a series called “The Mabinogion (mab-in-OGG-yon),” published between 1838 and 1849
yr hen a ŵyr a’r ieuanc a dybia (uhrr hain ah ooirr ahrr YAY-ank ah DUB-jah): the old know and the young suspect
Yr Hen Ardd (uhrr hain arrthe): The Old Garden
The following guidelines are not by any means comprehensive but relate rather to Welsh-language words which appear in the story.
Note that emphasis (or word stress) is placed on the penultimate syllable (i.e. the last but one) in all words consisting of more than one syllable, (bar Glyndŵr) e.g. CÁD-er (not cad-ÉR), BRÉN-in (not bren-ÍN) and Dol-GÉLL-au (not DÓL-gell-au or Dol-gell-ÁU).
a – as in the English ‘man’ in all positions, e.g. ardd /arð/ ‘garden’ and Aran /ˈaran/, the first element in Aran Fawddwy and Aran Benllyn (two mountain peaks).
â – lengthened ‘a’ similar to the English vowel in ‘art’, e.g. glân /glaːn/ ‘clean’. A mutated form of glân is found in the proverb Asgre lân diogel ei pherchen.
e – as in the English ‘net’ or ‘edit’ often, e.g. Dolgellau /dɔlˈgɛɬaɨ/ and Cader /ˈkadɛr/.
ê / e – similar to the English vowel in ‘fair’ (but closer to the quality of ‘fay’ in most dialects, although never diphthongized to /ei/). It is always this long vowel that we find in hen /heːn/ old, e.g. Yr Hen Ardd.
i – as in the English vowel in ‘pin’, e.g. Idris /ˈidris/ and /ˈbrɛnin/. It is sometimes pronounced as a semi-consonant too, as in the initial sound of the English yes, e.g. ieuanc /ˈjeɨaŋk/ ‘young’ and gwreiddio /ˈgwreiðjo/ ‘to root’ / subjunctive form of ‘to root’.
o – as in the English ‘hot’ or ‘knock’ often, e.g. Dolgellau /dɔlˈgɛɬaɨ/ and gormesoedd /gɔrˈmɛsoɨð/ ‘oppressions’.
ô / o – similar to the English vowel in ‘law’ (but closer to the quality of ‘low’ in most dialects, although never diphthongized to /ou/). It is always this long vowel that we find in moch /moːχ/ ‘pigs’, e.g. Coed y Moch.
u – pronounced as ‘i’ as in the English ‘pin’ in south Wales but with the centralized vowel /ɨ/ in the north of the country. It appears in the text as a second element of diphthongs, e.g. ieuanc /ˈjeɨaŋk/ ‘young’ and /dɔlˈgɛɬaɨ/.
û / u – pronounced as ‘ee’ as in the English ‘tree’ in south Wales but with the centralized vowel /ɨː/ in the north of the country. It appears in the text in the personal name Lludd /ɬɨːð/.
w – as in the English vowel of ‘put’ in cwtsh /kʊt͡ʃ/ ‘hug’. It is sometimes pronounced as a semi-consonant too, as in the initial sound of the English well, e.g. dderwen /ˈðɛrwɛn/ (mutated form of derwen) ‘oak (tree)’ and gwreiddio /ˈgwreiðjo/ ‘to root’ / subjunctive form of ‘to root’.
ŵ / w – as in the English vowel of ‘zoo’. In this text, it is found in (Owain) Glyndŵr /glɨnˈduːr/ (personal name) as a simple long vowel and in the verb ŵyr /u:ɨr/ (mutated form of gŵyr) ‘know(s)’ as a first element of a diphthong.
y – pronounced as ‘i’ as in the English ‘pin’ in south Wales but with the centralized vowel /ɨ/ in north Wales in final (unstressed) syllables, e.g. Penllyn /ˈpɛnɬɨn/ (placename), Llefelys /ɬɛˈvɛlɨs/ (personal name) and ellyll /ˈɛɬɨɬ/ ‘demon’. This is also the case in monosyllables too usually; however, in some common monosyllabic function words, e.g. the articles y and yr ‘the’, it is pronounced as in the English ‘but’ (with the schwa vowel), e.g. y dderwen /ə ˈðɛrwɛn/ ‘the oak (tree)’ and yr ellyll /ər ˈɛɬɨɬ/ ‘the demon’. In non-final syllables of words with more than one syllable, we also find the schwa vowel in these contexts, e.g. dybia /ˈdəbja/ (mutated form of the verb tybia) ‘suspect’ and cyfarwyddiaid /kəvarˈuɨðjaid/ ‘storyteller’.
ai – as in the English ‘light’ or ‘my’, e.g. Owain /ˈouain/ (personal name).
au – as in the English ‘light’ or ‘my’ (with the centralized vowel /ɨ/ rather than /i/ as the final element in north Wales), e.g. Dolgellau /dɔlˈgɛɬaɨ/.
aw – as in the English ‘now’ or ‘owl’, e.g. Aran Fawddwy /ˈvauðuɨ/ (mutated form of Mawddwy).
ei – similar to the English ‘way’ throughout Wales, e.g. gwreiddio /ˈgwreiðjo/ ‘to root’ / subjunctive form of ‘to root’.
eu – similar to the English ‘way’ (with the centralized vowel /ɨ/ rather than /i/ as the final element in north Wales), e.g. ceubren /ˈkeɨbrɛn/ ‘hollow oak’ and ieuanc /ˈjeɨaŋk/ ‘young’.
oe – as in the English ‘toy’ (with the centralized vowel /ɨ/ rather than /i/ as the final element in north Wales), e.g. coed /koːɨd/ ‘trees’ and gormesoedd /gɔrˈmɛsoɨð/ ‘oppressions’. Note that the first element is long in northern monosyllables, as opposed to /koid/, which varies with /koːd/, in south Wales for coed.
ow – as in the English ‘owe’, e.g. Owain /ˈouain/ (personal name).
wy – similar to the English ‘fluid’ (although both elements appear in the same syllable). In north Wales, it is the centralized vowel /ɨ/ rather than /i/ that we find as a final element, e.g. Aran Fawddwy /ˈvauðuɨ/ and cyfarwyddiaid /kəvarˈuɨðjaid/ ‘storytellers’.
The following consonants are pronounced in the same way in both Welsh and English usually: b, d, h, l, m, n, p, ph, s, and t. The following list therefore draws attention to some of the differences between the two languages.
c – always hard as in ‘cat’, e.g. Cader /ˈkadɛr/ and cwtsh /kʊt͡ʃ/ ‘hug’.
ch – as in the Scottish ‘loch’, e.g. moch /moːχ/ ‘pigs’ in Coed y Moch.
dd – always pronounced as the first sound of the English ‘the’ and ‘then’, e.g. y dderwen /ə ˈðɛrwɛn/ ‘the oak (tree)’ and cyfarwydd /kəvˈaruɨð/ ‘storyteller’.
f – always corresponds to the English ‘v’ as in ‘van’, e.g. y fesen /ə ˈvesɛn/ ‘the acorn’
ff – always pronounced as the first sound of the English ‘farm’ or ‘free’. Unlike English, the sounds of f and ff are always kept separate in Welsh (see f above).
g – always hard as in ‘gate’, e.g. gormesoedd /gɔrˈmɛsoɨð/ ‘oppressions’ and Dolgellau /dɔlˈgɛɬaɨ/.
ll – a typologically rare sound which turns up in all varieties of Welsh. When native speakers pronounce ll /ɬ/ and l /l/, the lips and front of the tongue are generally in a similar position in both cases. However, to pronounce ll, learners are commonly advised to blow air around the sides of the tongue. The nearest sound in English is heard when ‘t’ is followed by ‘l’, e.g. ‘little’ or ‘kettle’, but even this rather strange sound is not identical to the Welsh ll. Examples of ll from the text include Llefelys /ɬɛˈvɛlɨs/ (personal name) and ellyll /ˈɛɬɨɬ/ ‘demon’.
r – native speakers of Welsh roll their rs regularly. This involves vibrating the tongue to produce a trill or a tap. This r sound is not silenced after a vowel (as is often the case in varieties of English in Wales), e.g. in ardd /arð/ ‘garden’.
th – always pronounced as the first sound of the English ‘thanks’ or ‘through’. Unlike English, the sounds of th and dd are always kept separate in Welsh (see dd above).
Join us Saturday, April 16, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. (837 Willard St., Covington, KY, 41011), for a release party for Kara Gebhart Uhl and Elin Manon’s “Cadi & the Cursed Oak.” Kara will read an excerpt from the book, give a short talk and answer questions. You’ll get to view Elin’s beautiful illustrations on large screens, as well as some pictures of real-life objects from the Nannau oak, and scenes from the book.
“Cadi & the Cursed Oak” will be for sale, as well as the entire line of Lost Art Press tools and books. You can also check out some stick chairs, similar to the ones Cadi’s dad builds in the book. Kara’s generous friend (and excellent cook) will also be serving homemade Welsh cakes with preserves and lemon curd, Welsh rarebit, and drinks. Kids are welcome!
Perhaps the most important books we’ll make at Lost Art Press are children’s books.
If I had to point to a moment in my young life when I decided to make things, it’s when I became obsessed with the books of David Macaulay, especially “Cathedral.” I checked that book out from the Fort Smith Public Library at least a dozen times.
With that in mind, we have decided to invest significant time and resources into children’s books. And our first book* from this initiative is “Cadi & the Cursed Oak” by Kara Gebhart Uhl and illustrated by Elin Manon.
And I’m pleased to announce that we are now selling and shipping this book. It is $19 and features all the core principles of other Lost Art Press books: a beautiful book, printed on outstanding paper and clothbound with a sewn binding.
“Cadi” is the first of many new children’s books in the works here at Lost Art Press. This effort is being headed up by Kara, an expert in the field of children’s literature. So it seemed appropriate to have one of her books kick this off.
“Cadi & the Cursed Oak” is the tale of a girl who finds a wooden cup that was made from the wood of the famous and haunted Nannau Oak in Wales. Objects made from the oak are said to be cursed (the story of the oak is true).
When Cadi drinks from the cup, she begins to see strange things. And with the help of her grandmother, Cadi learns how the cursed cup is tied forever to a skeleton stashed in the old Nannau oak. But how will she stop the terrifying visions?
And, because this is a Lost Art Press book, you know there will be woodworking parts. Cadi’s father is a Welsh chairmaker, and some of the scenes happen while the two are hunting for arm bows in the forest.
The illustrations by Welsh artist Elin Manon completely suit the story, with every page richly drawn with delightful and spooky details.
We hope you’ll consider purchasing a copy for the children or grandchildren in your life. You never know what acorns you might be planting with the gift of a book.
— Christopher Schwarz
* “Grandpa’s Workshop,” now out of print, was a translated title from a French publisher. “Cadi” is our first “from scratch” children’s book.
I experienced several surprising coincidences and discoveries while working on “Cadi & the Cursed Oak.” In the beginning, all I had was a short passage about the Nannau oak while working on “Honest Labour.” To turn the tale into a children’s book, I wanted the story of the oak to be so much more than what happened on that fateful day in 1402, when Hywel Sele and Owain Glyndŵr went hunting, which is the tale that has long made the Nannau oak famous.
The longbows carried by Owain and Hywel on their hunt brought to mind an entirely different hunt – an Instagram post by Welsh stick chairmaker Chris Williams in which he was arm bow hunting with his daughter, Alice.
Couldn’t my main character, I thought, be a Welsh stick chairmaker’s daughter? Hence, Cadi.
I spent hours considering Welsh names. At the time, Cadi ranked No. 90 on a “popular names in Wales,” list. It’s one of the Welsh diminutives of Catrin (then ranked No. 82). Owain Glyndŵr had a daughter named Catrin, Catrin of Ferain (c. 1540-1591), a noblewoman known as “the mother of Wales.”
How do you connect a present-day character to a tree that no longer exists and an event that took place more than 600 years ago?
That’s one of the beauties of wood, and a good editor.
I discovered there were actual objects claimed to have been made from the Nannau oak, that still exist today, including some acorn-shaped cups (how fitting!). The acorn cup became the tie between past and present, and the reason for which the story of the Nannau oak was passed down to Cadi.
After reading my first draft it was Christopher Schwarz who told me that he expected a scene in which Cadi drank from the acorn cup. After seeing pictures of it, he asked, “How could anyone not?”
I researched the cup some more. According to Remy Dean, it had been said “that those who drank from the cups were plagued by ghostly apparitions and suffered nightmares for several nights afterward.”
Without giving too much away (the book is, after all, only 48 pages), Cadi, finds the cup, accidentally cracks it, drinks from the cup and hides it by stuffing it into her backpack.
There are two silver discs attached to the wooden sleeve of the cup. In my research, I discovered that there are inscriptions on each disc. One is an engraving of an oak tree with the words Ceubren yr Ellyll, and 1813. The other? A coat of arms and ASGRE LÂN DIOGEL EI PHERCHEN: a good conscience is the best shield.
Sometimes, when I’m in the thick of a project, I lose sight of the obvious. Months had gone by when I realized I had forgotten that the four acorn cups also have four inscriptions or toasts. (You can learn more about them here.) By this point, “Cadi & the Cursed Oak” had become longer and a bit more complex; the Nannau oak was also representative of stories that are passed down through generations.
Cadi’s grandmother pulled out a small pile of acorns from her coat pocket.
“These acorns may be from the same tree. Or different trees. They might be related to the blasted oak, holding its stories within. But each acorn has a different story, depending on where it grew on the tree, what it witnessed, where it fell – what it will be. All you can do is gather and listen. All of it, the bad, the good, the mundane, the thrilling, it’s all part of the acorn’s truth. And with time, the stories can change. In fact, they almost always do.”
Now Cadi was mad. She didn’t understand why things had to be so complicated. She didn’t understand why some stories could be so scary. Or sad. She didn’t understand why she had to be the one to find the cup and she didn’t understand why the cup had to crack – she didn’t want it to crack, she didn’t mean for it to crack. And she didn’t understand why the spirits’ stories were haunting her so.
“The worst thing you can do,” her grandmother said, interrupting Cadi’s angry thoughts, “is hide a story that needs to be told.”
They walked back to the car park, mostly in silence. As Cadi climbed into the car, her grandmother turned to her.
“Sometimes,” her grandmother said, “I hear the cries, too.”
Suddenly, Cadi realized what she had to do.
I fully expected the second inscription on the acorn cup to be something about a toast for a birthday celebration (which was the reason the acorn cups were made). Imagine my delight when I discovered the transcription:
Lle gwreiddio y Fesen, Llwydded y Dderwen: the oak tree may succeed where the acorn takes root.
It fit the story, particularly the already-written end, so beautifully.
Near the end of the production of “Cadi & the Cursed Oak,” we hired Dr Iwan Wyn Rees, lecturer and director of the Cardiff Centre for Welsh American Studies, to edit and correct the transcriptions, and create a simple pronunciation guide for the 20+ Welsh words and phrases we have scattered throughout the text. He was so incredibly thorough and patient and wonderful to work with. Also, as if it were meant to be, he said he remembers his Nain (grandmother) telling him that her own Nain was head housekeeper at none other than — the Nannau estate.
“Cadi & the Cursed Oak” is at the printer and will be available for $19 hopefully sometime in March.