Wednesday, 28 December 2011

What's in a name?

I've had a few people recently ask me what my blog name means, or why I chose "glanalaw".  So I thought it might be interesting to do a post explaining the name!

When I first set up my blog I knew I wanted it to reflect both my love of God, my love of singing, and my love of Wales.  I am partly Welsh and for years I've been fascinated with the country, the music, and especially the language (which is exceedingly difficult to learn, as I found!)  In high school I spent several years trying to teach myself Welsh with the help of a Rosetta Stone program and a couple of grammar books, and one of my favourite opera singers is Welsh.

I wanted to come up with a name that would reflect "pure song" or "pure music" -- as my singing is done for the glory of God.  After some research I chose "glanalaw".  "Glan" is an adjective meaning "pure", "clear", or "untarnished".  "Alaw" means "tune", "melody", and (interestingly) "water-lily".  So the literal meaning is "clear/untarnished melody", which I think is a good reflection of what I wanted to convey!

When I first set up the blog I didn't think "glanalaw" was a real word - I thought it was my own hybrid.  But today I got curious and decided to google it.  Apparently there is a town or area in Wales called Glanalaw.  

There is also a lovely little church called Capel Glanalaw in Patagonia, which had a large number of Welsh settlers.
Capel Glanalaw
There's also an ancient standing stone or menhir called Glan-Alaw, or Bod Deiniol, in Anglesey.  I can't find anywhere which translates "Bod Deiniol", but "bod" is supposed to mean "being" or "wight" (like Tolkein's barrow-wights?).  Deiniol is a given name, the Welsh form of Daniel.  I'm not sure why the same menhir should be called "Daniel's Wight" and "Pure Melody", but there it is.  Fascinating!
View of the standing stone, borrowed from this website.

 Bod Deiniol/Glan-Alaw is in the middle of a field, and I found a note which said it is on private property but visitors are allowed when there are no crops or hay in the field!

Another view of Bod Deiniol, from here.
I don't know if anyone else will be as interested in this information as I am, but I thought it was fun to see that I hadn't actually made the word up, and discover some of its history!

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