Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Weird Word Wednesday: CRWTH

Welcome to the first Weird Word Wednesday! I love weird words so this may become my favorite day of the week! Only time for a quick entry today, but it's a fun one.

Today's word is a great one for when you find yourself with a crazy set of Scrabble tiles and no vowels in sight. It's also awesome if you get a chance to play it across the two double word scores in WWF, as you will seriously rack up the numbers with a C, W, and H in the word.

So what is a crwth? The word comes from the Welsh, and is the name of an ancient musical instrument played in Wales and other Celtic places. It looks like a cross between a harp, a lute and a violin.

Crwth is pronounced as if it were spelled "crewth" -- the word "crew" with a -th sound added. It rhymes with "truth." How do we get that sound? Do you remember rattling off the vowels in grade school (a-e-i-o-u-and-sometimes-y-and-w)? Well this is one of those sometimes-w times. They are very infrequent (and often associated with Welsh words).

Back to the instrument, here is a picture of a crwth player from the 9th century:

Britannica Crowd 9th Century Crwth

There are very few players of the crwth in modern day, but there are a few! You can see above that the player is playing it as you would a guitar, by fingering chords with one hand and plucking the strings with the other. Modern players play it more like a violin, with a bow. Here is a video of a modern player named Benjamin:

He holds it something like a cello; there are other players who hold it as you would a violin.

Sorry to run off so quickly today, but I'll be back tomorrow with another the meantime, here's another video with a bit more history of the crwth, and some lovely playing by Cass Meurig:

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