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English and Welsh

As an adjective "English and Welsh" refers to England and Wales.

English and Welsh is the title of J. R. R. Tolkien's inaugural O'Donnell Memorial Lecture of 1955.

The lecture sheds light on Tolkien's conceptions of the connections of race, ethnicity, and language.


Tolkien begins with an overview of the terms "British", "Celtic", "Germanic", "Saxon", "English" and "Welsh", explaining the latter term's etymology in walha.

Tolkien also addresses the historical language contact between English and Welsh since the Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britain, including Welsh loanwords and substrate influence found in English, and conversely English loanwords in Welsh. Comparing the Germanic i-mutation and the Celtic affection, Tolkien says

"The north-west of Europe, in spite of its underlying differences of linguistic heritage – Goidelic, Brittonic, Gallic; its varieties of Germanic; and the powerful intrusion of spoken Latin – is as it were a single philological province, a region so interconnected in race, culture, history, and linguistic fusions that its departmental philologies cannot flourish in isolation."

In the final part of the lecture, Tolkien explores the concept of phonaesthetics, citing the phrase cellar door as a recognized beautiful-sounding phrase in English, adding that to his own taste, in Welsh "cellar doors are extraordinarily frequent". Tolkien describes the working of phonaesthetics inherent in the moment of association of sound and meaning,

"this pleasure is felt most immediately and acutely in the moment of association: that is in the reception (or imagination) of a word-form which is felt to have a certain style, and the attribution to it of a meaning which is not received through it."

Tolkien alludes to his view that such tastes are inherited, "an aspect in linguistic terms of our individual natures. And since these are largely historical products, the predilections must be so too". To refer to such an inherited taste of language, Tolkien introduces the term of "native tongue" as opposed to "cradle tongue".


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