Independent Wales-based publisher Graffeg is to publish the Welsh-language edition of the award-winning The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris.
Welsh author and linguist Mererid Hopwood has adapted Macfarlane’s acrostic spell-poems to create the Welsh language edition, Geiriau Diflanedig, publishing in hardback at £25 on 10th October 2019.
The Lost Words (Hamish Hamilton) began as a response to the removal of everyday nature words – among them ‘acorn’, ‘bluebell’, ‘kingfisher’ and ‘wren’ – from the Oxford English Dictionary because those words were not being used enough by children to merit inclusion. Although not ‘lost’ in the same way, Geiriau Diflanedig exposes the fact that the same words are disappearing from common use here in Wales, underlining a similar disconnect between people and the natural world around them.
Hopwood said: "In his poem ‘Cofio’ Waldo Williams longs for the ‘little words of lost languages’, and every day, somewhere, little words are disappearing. This book is an attempt to stop more from slipping away and to conjure some back to life. This is why the poet of the original text, Robert Macfarlane, called the poems ‘spells’ and filled them with rich language. The Welsh version follows his example. By looking at Jackie Morris’s inspirational illustrations and listening to the language of the spells, there’s no need to fear unfamiliar words. Enjoy their taste on your tongue and let the magic of the vowels and consonants of the natural world fill your imagination."
Since its publication in October 2017, The Lost Words has captured the imagination of thousands of readers, selling 119,504 copies for £1.83m through BookScan. The Lost Words won the Children’s Book of the Year at the 2018 British Book of the Year Awards, Hay Festival Book of the Year 2017 and BAMB Most Beautiful Book of the Year Award 2017. Most recently, Morris received the prestigious CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2019 for her illustrations.
Macfarlane said: "The Lost Words was born partly in Wales, in Jackie Morris's artist's studio on St David's Head, her paintings inspired by Welsh nature and landscape; copies of the book have been donated to scores of Welsh primary schools, and care homes in Wales; and its art and poems are filling the walls of the new Critical Care Unit at Cwmbran. So it is a great joy to me that it should also now be appearing in a Welsh-language edition, with my spells conjured into Welsh by Mererid Hopwood – made to tumble and flow and ripple and jump anew by the magic of Mererid's ear and pen. I hope this edition will bring the book to many more Welsh readers, and help close the gap between nearby nature and everyday life in the country."
Morris added: "To know that The Lost Words will be available in this beautiful edition makes my heart sing. Mererid Hopwood understands the way words work, makes the air sing with rhythms and internal rhymes. I was so excited when she took on the task. And somehow, in Welsh, they do sound like the ancient magic of conjuring. I hope our book, mine, Robert's and Mererid's, finds its way into every school in Wales."
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