January 28, 2011 8:28 AM
London Comment: Welsh Castle
If you ever venture into a strange corner of these islands known as Wales please be very diplomatic. The Welsh are proud. They pride themselves on their language, which very few of them can speak. They pride themselves on their food, which is usually unspeakable. And they pride themselves upon local legends - like the red dragon, their national symbol, a fire-breathing monster which never actually existed, except in their vivid imaginations. A few miles outside the capital city of Wales, Cardiff, lies a pretty little seaside town the name of which is spoken with great reverence. It pays to pronounce it correctly. This place is dedicated to an ancient Norman aristocrat, Baron Reginald de Sully, one of the twelve knights of Glamorgan, no less, who probably made a decent living slaying imaginary dragons back in 1093. Anyway the King of England, William II, rewarded Reginald with a great big Welsh estate. So he built a castle and called it Sully. The castle fell down years ago. The Sully family have long since died out, but in Wales they never forget. So Sully it remains. There is, however, something of a problem right now. In Wales they are so proud of their language that every signpost written in English requires another signpost, just as prominent, written in Welsh. It's crazy, but it's the law. This means that Wales has to be called Cymru, even though nobody does call it Cymru, and Sully has to be called Abersili - because that is how it translates. Except the word Abersili is too long to fit on signposts originally designed for the name Sully, so some imaginative official took it into his head to abbreviate. And so, as you now approach the village, the road signs simply say: "Welcome to Sili" ! The locals are furious: "Cynddeiriog" and consider it an insult to their beautiful town, and are threatening action: "ad-daledigaeth". The local Residents' Association has organised a secret ballot of the 2000 households in the area -- you could call it Proposition One -- Sully or Sili. The result is due in a few days time. This is Ed Boyle for CBS News in London.
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