The Shape of Water – an onomastic consideration

*Am fersiwn Gymraeg o’r erthygl hon, cliciwch yma.

At the 2018 Academy Awards (Oscars), a rather unusual film won ‘Best picture’ and also three other awards – ‘Directing’ (Guillermo del Toro), ‘Music’ (Alexandre Desplat), and ‘Production design’ (Paul Denham Austerberry; Set decoration: Shane Vieau and Jeffrey A. Melvin).

‘The Shape of Water’ (TSoW), is a story about janitor Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) who works at a government laboratory with her friend Zelda Delilah Fuller (Octavia Spencer). Whilst Elisa is not D/deaf, she is not able to verbalise and thus communicates with Zelda and her neighbour, Giles (Richard Jenkins), in (context-specific) American Sign Language (ASL). Elisa becomes drawn to a humanoid amphibian creature (Doug Jones) being held at the laboratory; upon learning that he is in danger from his captors, Elisa and her friends help him to escape. An unusual romance then blossoms between Amphibian-man and Elisa, culminating in them escaping together to the ocean. TSoW is described on its Wikipedia page as an:

“American romantic dark fantasy drama”.

Elsewhere it has also been described as an “otherworldy fable”, and “magical or marvellous realism” – with editor Rachel Hatzipanagos making the connection between this genre and writer/ director Guillermo del Toro’s Mexican Heritage. Meanwhile, film critic Christopher Orr quipped:

“If the phrase magical realism hadn’t already been coined, someone would have to coin it quickly”.

An article about TSoW in ‘Vulture’ begins by describing the film as del Toro’s:

“Phantasmagorical espionage-drama/fantasy-romance”.

This article goes on to report how a slightly inebriated del Toro first described the film to actress Sally Hawkins whilst at a Golden Globes party in 2013; meeting her for the first time, he apparently told her:

“I’m writing a movie for you where you fall in love with a fish-man!”.

Anyway, regardless of how we choose to describe this film, it is certainly thought-provoking and has generated much debate on a wide variety of topics. As I have previously pointed out, it was one of three films at the 2018 Oscars which depicted signed languages and their role within everyday life. This is part of a wider trend in which more attention is beginning to be paid to signed languages, deafness and Deafhood, within films and popular culture; this is a welcome development and I am following it with much interest.

Recently, I came across a journal article about TSoW, in which the three authors (Wilde, Crawshaw & Sheldon, 2018) explore the sensitive debates regarding the portrayal of a disabled woman in this film, and how this has been received by the disabled people’s community/ disabled academics. The discussion on this subject is fascinating, complex, and warrants focussed attention in a separate essay. However, it was whilst reading this article that I became aware of the subtle, semiotic clues of onomastic interest, nestling within TSoW; I will thus now set about exploring some of these matters.

Esposito – an onomastic clue as to the protagonist’s amphibian ancestry?

One of the central themes of TSoW is that of humanity. As Wilde et al (2018) note, there is a scene in which Elisa is trying to persuade her friend Giles to help save Amphibian-man from the vivisection planned by his primary captor, Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon). In this scene, Giles complains that Amphibian-man isn’t even human, to which Elisa replies: “if we do nothing, neither are we” (p2).

This, of course, is an interesting linguistic point in itself – what do we mean in everyday parlance when we use the word ‘human’? However, on a more onomastic note, Wilde et al (2018) point out that Elisa’s surname perhaps hints that she may not, in fact, be human:

“Esposito is an Italian surname thought to derive from the term for ‘placed outside’ or ‘exposed’. Historically it was often given to abandoned children. This works on both literal and metaphorical levels. As an infant, Elisa was found in the river where she had been ‘placed outside’. As an adult with a communication impairment, whose best friends have also experienced racism (Zelda) and homophobia (Giles), she found herself ‘placed outside’ mainstream society” (Wilde et al, 2018, p3).

Obviously, as an onomastician, I found this intriguing. According to the Wikipedia page for the surname ‘Esposito’, etymologically it is thought to derive from Latin ‘expositus’ (Italian esposto, Old Italian or dialect Esposito), which is the past participle of the Latin verb exponere, which literally means ‘placed outside’ or ‘expose’. Apparently, this surname was given to children who were abandoned, given up for adoption or handed over to an orphanage – which in Italian would be called an ‘Ospizio degli esposti’- literally a ‘home or hospice of the exposed’.

Interestingly, following the unification of Italy, or the Risorgimento, in the 19th century, laws were introduced forbidding the practice of giving surnames that reflected a child’s origins in this manner. However, given that Elisa was born in the USA during the 1960s, it would be reasonable to conclude that her surname may reflect her origins, following this tradition.

The transformation of the ‘Elisas’?

In an article in ‘Mental floss’, Scott Beggs points out that Elisa’s forename may also be significant, in that it makes a connection with the film ‘My Fair Lady’ (1964). According to Beggs (2018):

“Both Elisa from ‘The Shape of Water’ and Eliza (Audrey Hepburn) from ‘My Fair Lady’ are working-class characters who undergo a transformation that allows them to find their own voice. Elisa does that literally in the dreamy musical act where she professes her love, but discovering her voice is largely metaphorical, an act of refusing to remain silent in the face of oppression. The connection is purposeful, too. Hawkins studied Hepburn, among other classic actors, for the role, and Giles has a drawing of Hepburn in his apartment studio”.

I’ll begin here with the caveat that, as Beggs alludes to in his article, and Wilde et al (2018) explicitly address in their article, the dream sequence where Elisa can, all of a sudden, magically verbalise, is problematic and has been heavily criticised. However, I find the idea that Elisa’s forename may be a subtle nod to her character’s transformation, a la Eliza Doolittle, pervasive, particularly considering the other semiotic clues such as the drawing of Hepburn in Giles’ apartment, coupled with the fact that her surname is quite overtly meaningful.

A very particular film title?

The importance of film titles should not be underestimated. Much thought, effort, analysis and, no doubt, money, is expended on finding the right title. However, as I have previously discussed, in relation to the science fiction film ‘John Carter’, the choices made do not always reflect this effortful process, which can have unfortunate consequences for the film-makers and the fans.

Now then, on the face of things, ‘The Shape of Water’ would seem to be a perfect, made-to-measure title for this particular film. Amphibian-man is, in some ways, the perfectly embodied ‘shape of water’ – representing a life form which has been snatched from some otherworldly, watery place. There are hints throughout the film that Elisa is also ‘of water’, with her sexuality seemingly connected to water, and her final destination, along with her Amphibian-Man lover, being the ocean.

Meanwhile, Wilde et al (2018) point out that the three scars on Elisa’s neck, and the fact that they open at the end of the film when Amphibian-man touches them, would appear to suggest that Elisa’s natural home is in the water she was originally found in. Furthermore:

“The opening credits’ dream sequence, showing her contentedly floating in her home which appears to be at the bottom of a river, suggest this, along with the almost exclusively bluey-green aquatic palette of the film. Her somewhat melancholic demeanour and designation as outsider underlies imagery which suggests that her human life is one where she is literally ‘a fish out of water’ (Wilde et al, 2018, p3).

There is also a narrated section, near the end of the film, where Giles is reflecting on Elisa’s departure, and he refers to a poem “whispered by someone in love, hundreds of years ago”:

“Unable to perceive the shape of you,

I find you all around me.

Your presence fills my eyes

with your love.

It humbles my heart,

for you are everywhere”.

If I had to guess at the title of this poem, I might have said “The Shape of Water”, and thus might assume that the title of the film derived from this ancient poem (which, incidentally, is a much debated issue). It also brings to mind other metaphors about love and the fluidity of being, for example the verse in Roxette’s “It must have been love”:

“Make-believing we’re together

that I’m sheltered by your heart.

but in and outside I’ve turned to water

like a teardrop in your palm”.

So anyway, I therefore personally found the title ‘The Shape of Water’, to be onomastically satisfying and appropriate, and I thus did not think to question it; that was, however, until I began casually browsing the academic literature, to see what other scholars had said about this film thus far, and I came across a film review in the journal Women’s Studies Quarterly, dated Fall 2007. I was confused. Upon reading Sharmila Lodhia’s review, however, it became clear that she was talking about a different film – a feature documentary film written, produced and directed by Kum-Kum Bhavnani, a Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

At the time of writing this review, I have not seen Bhavnani’s 2006 documentary film, but I have ordered a copy from her website and so I will be able to provide a second instalment of this onomastic consideration, regarding “The Shape of Water” as a film title. In the meantime, from Lodhia’s 2007 review of Bhavnani’s film, I have learnt that it is about feminist activism and social justice, and that it provides insights into topics such as female genital cutting and sustainable development in rubber harvesting in the rainforests. Bhavnani apparently does this by “weaving together the stories of five uncommon women from Brazil, India, Israel, and Senegal” (p312). Interestingly, Lodhia comments that:

“The Shape of Water provides viewers with a visual embodiment of Chandra Mohanty’s critique of the essentializing gaze of Western feminism. Avoiding rescue narratives and colonial scripts, Bhavnani’s film enables viewers to gain astonishing insights into the lives of ordinary women working to create change in their communities – and succeeding.” (p312)

I found this particularly interesting, since it resonated, not only with Beggs’ (2018) description of Elisa as a working-class woman who undergoes a transformation, but also with a comment by Wilde et al (2018) regarding the sensitive depiction of Elisa’s presumed ‘disability’:

“Despite some suggestive scarring on Elisa’s neck, we are not told why she cannot, or does not, communicate verbally. We all found ourselves thinking about this, then questioned why it should matter. Few of us appreciate being quizzed about the causes and manifestations of our impairments. Arguably, the decision to withhold such details in the film averts the medical gaze of the viewer, allowing us to focus on the disablement Elisa faces and the way she lives her life. It might also allow us to reflect on the way that what is and is not a significant impairment is largely determined by context. Is ‘mutism’ Elisa’s most significant impairment or is it her inability to breathe under-water?” (p3).

There are, therefore, some overt similarities between these two films, at least as they are perceived by reviewers, particularly in terms of the aversion of intrusive gazes of more powerful outsiders, into the lives of ordinary women – women who exhibit individual agency and the ability to enact change within their own lives. Without having seen the Bhavnani’s 2006 film, my ability to compare the films themselves is obviously limited – I am, however, intrigued and excited by the prospect of viewing the 2006 documentary film. Whilst I cannot find any reference in which del Toro makes any connection to the 2007 documentary of the same name, it is highly likely that he is aware of it and that perhaps in choosing this title for his film, he is in some way making a connection (though this is of course pure speculation on my part.

In addition to the Bhavani documentary film, there is also an Italian/ Sicilian novel whose title “La Forma dell’acqua”, when translated into English (in 2002 by Stephen Sartarelli) is “The Shape of Water”. According to the Wikipedia page: “This was the first novel in the internationally popular Inspector Montalbano series and the third of the RAI TV Montalbano films”. So it would appear that this phrase has been popular as a name for stories, in many countries and many formats.


Guillermo del Toro’s 2017, Academy Award-winning film is, in itself, intriguing – even just as a very enjoyable film. The attention to detail, for example the context-specific ASL, is impressive – though as Wilde et al (2018) discuss in their article, has been criticised in terms of quality and inappropriateness of not ‘impairment-matching’. On the other hand, as has been discussed, it is not entirely clear what Elisa’s impairment actually is and her character’s context means that she would not have had access to Deaf culture and thus native-level ASL fluency – thus it could be argued that the portrayal may be quite authentic of a character in Elisa’s somewhat unique set of circumstances. There is now a novelization of the film, available in a variety of formats, so perhaps new details might be gained from this resource.

In any case, it would seem that the same level of detailed consideration has extended to the film’s onomastics. In this essay, I have discussed the forename and surname of the main protagonist and also the name of the film itself. However, I am sure that if I were to spend time analysing various aspects of the film, including other character names, more onomastic treasures could be unearthed, analysed and enjoyed. However, such a detailed analysis is beyond the scope of this essay and, in any case, throws down the gauntlet quite neatly to those of you reading this blog: have you spotted any other onomastic clues in TSoW? Or perhaps you have seen the 2007 documentary film, or read the 1994 novel or seen the associated film, and can shed some light as to the intriguing shared title and its relevance for some or all of these? I would be delighted if you might share your thoughts in the comments section below.


Bhavnani, Kum-Kum. The Shape of Water. USA: Kum-Kum Bhavnani Productions, 2006. Film.

del Toro, Guillermo. The Shape of Water. Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2018. Film.

Lodhia, Sharmila. “A Film Review: Kum-Kum Bhavnani’s The Shape of Water.” Women’s Studies Quarterly 35.3/4 (2007): 312–313. Print.

Wilde, Alison, Gill Crawshaw, and Alison Sheldon. “Talking about The Shape of Water: Three Women Dip Their Toes In.” Disability & Society (2018): 1–5. Web.


The Shape of Water – ystyriaeth onomastaidd

*For an English version of this essay, please click here.

Yn yr 2018 Academy Awards (Oscars), enillodd ffilm anghyffredin iawn y wobr am ‘Ffilm gorau’ a hefyd tair gwobr arall – ‘Cyfarwyddo’ (Guillermo del Toro), ‘Cerddoriaeth’ (Alexandre Desplat), a ‘Dylunio cynhyrchu’ (Paul Denham Austerberry; Addurno set: Shane Vieau a Jeffrey A. Melvin).

Mae’r ffilm ‘The Shape of Water’ (TSoW) yn stori am lanhawr Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) sy’n gweithio mewn labordy llywodraethol hefo ei ffrind Zelda Delilah Fuller (Octavia Spencer). Er nad yw Elisa yn F/fyddar, nid yw hi yn medru siarad, ac felly mae hi yn cyfathrebu hefo Zelda a’i chymydog, Giles (Richard Jenkins), mewn Iaith Arwyddion Americanaidd (IAA) (yn benodol i’r cyd-destun). Mae Elisa yn teimlo atyniad tuag at greadur amffibiaidd (Doug Jones) sydd yn cael ei gadw yn y labordy; ar ôl clywed ei fod mewn perygl gan ei daliwr, mae Elisa a’i ffrindiau yn helpu iddo ddianc. Yna, mae rhamant anghyffredin yn tyfu rhwng y Dyn-amffibiaidd ag Elisa, sy’n arwain atynt yn dianc hefo’i gilydd i’r môr. Disgrifiwyd TSoW ar ei dudalen Wikipedia fel:

“Rhamant dywyll ffantasi drama Americanaidd”.

Fel arall, mae hi wedi ei ddisgrifio fel “chwedl arallfydol” a “realaeth hudol neu wych” hefo golygydd Rachel Hatzipanagos yn gwneud y cysylltiad rhwng y genre yma ac etifeddiaeth Mecsicanaidd yr awdur/ cyfarwyddwr Guillermo del Toro. Yn y cyfamser, gwnaeth y beirniad film Christopher Orr y cellwair:

“Os nad oedd yr ymadrodd “realaeth hudol” yn bodoli yn barod, mi fyddai raid ei bathu yn sydyn”.

 Mae erthygl am TSoW ‘Vulture’ yn cychwyn trwy ddisgrifio ffilm del Toro fel:

“Ddrama-ysbïo/ ffantasi-rhamant phantasmagorig”.

Aeth yr erthygl ymlaen i sôn am sut wnaeth del Toro, a oedd wedi meddwi ychydig ym mharti’r Golden Globes 2013, disgrifio’r ffilm i’r actores Sally Hawkins; gan ei chyfarfod am y tro cyntaf, yn ôl pob sôn wnaeth o ddweud wrthi:

“Rwy’n sgwennu ffilm i ti lle rwyt yn syrthio mewn cariad hefo dyn-pysgodyn!”

Beth bynnag, dim ots sut rydym yn dewis disgrifio’r ffilm yma, mae hi yn sicr yn ysgogi’r meddwl ac mae hi wedi creu llawer o drafodaethau ar ystod eang o bynciau. Fel yr wyf wedi trafod ynghynt mi roedd yn un o dair ffilm yn yr Oscars 2018 lle cafodd ieithoedd arwyddion, a’i rôl nhw mewn bywyd pob dydd, ei darlunio. Mae hyn yn rhan o duedd newydd lle mae fwy o sylw yn dechrau cael ei ddangos i ieithoedd arwyddion, byddardod a Byddarwydd, o fewn ffilmiau a diwylliant poblogaidd. Mae hyn yn ddatblygiad rwy’n ei groesawu ac rwy’n ei dilyn gyda chryn ddiddordeb.

Yn ddiweddar, mi ddes ar draws erthygl cyfnodolyn am TSoW, lle mae tair awdures (Wilde, Crawshaw & Sheldon, 2018) yn archwilio’r trafodaethau sensitif ynglŷn â phortreadu dynes anabl yn y ffilm hon, a sut mae hyn wedi cael ei dderbyn gan y gymuned o bobl anabl/ ysgolheigion anabl. Mae’r trafodaethau ar y materion yma yn ddifyr, cymhleth, ac angen sylw arbennig mewn traethawd ar wahân. Fodd bynnag, wrth i mi ddarllen yr erthygl yma ddes yn ymwybodol o’r cliwiau cynnil, semiotaidd o ddiddordeb onomastaidd, sy’n nythi o fewn TSoW; felly a’i ati yma i archwilio’r materion hyn.

Esposito – cliw onomastaidd ynglŷn â hynafiaeth amffibiaid y prif gymeriad?

Un o theme canolig TSoW yw dynoliaeth. Fel mae Wilde e tal (2018) yn nodi, mae yna sîn lle mae Elisa yn ceisio perswadio ei ffrind Giles i help hi i achub Dyn-Amffibiaidd rhag y bywddyraniad mae ei daliwr Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) yn cynllunio ar ei gyfer. Yn y sîn yma, mae Giles yn cwyno fod Dyn-Amffibiaidd ddim hyd yn oed yn bodyn dynol, ac mae Elisa yn ymateb: “Os nad ydym yn ei helpu, tydan ni ddim ‘chwaith” (t2).

Mae hyn, wrth gwrs, yn bwynt ieithyddol diddorol ynddo ei hun – beth rydym yn ei olygu mewn llafariad pob dydd pan rydym yn dweud ‘dynol ryw’ neu ‘bodyn dynol’? Fodd bynnag, ar nodyn onomastaidd, mae Wilde e tal (2018) yn pwyntio allan fod cyfenw Elisa efallai yn awgrymu nad yw hithau’n bodyn dynol:

“Mae Esposito yn gyfenw Eidalaidd sydd, yn ôl pob sôn, yn deillio o’r term ‘wedi ei gosod tu allan’ neu ‘ddatguddio’’. Mae hyn yn gweithio ar lefel llythrennol a trosiadol. Fel plentyn, cafodd Elisa ei ddarganfod yn yr afon lle’r oedd hi wedi cael ei ‘rhoi tu allan’. Fel oedolyn hefo anhawster cyfathrebu, gyda ffrindiau sydd hefyd wedi cael profiadau o hiliaeth (Zelda) a homoffobia (Giles), ffeindiodd ei hun wedi ei ‘gosod tu allan’ o gymdeithas prif ffrwd” (Wilde et al, 2018, t3).

Yn amlwg, fel onomastegydd, mi wnes i ffeindio hyn yn ddiddorol. Yn ôl y tudalen Wikipedia i’r cyfenw Esposito yng ngeirddariadol, credir ei fod yn deillio o ‘amlygiad’ Lladin (esposto Eidalaidd, Esposito Hen Eidaleg neu dafodiaith), sef cyfraniad y gorffennol yn y Lladinaidd, sy’n golygu’n llythrennol ‘y tu allan’ neu ‘ddatguddio’. Yn ôl pob tebyg, rhoddwyd y cyfenw hwn i blant a gafodd eu gadael, a roddwyd i gael eu mabwysiadu neu eu trosglwyddo i gartref amddifad – a fyddai’n cael ei alw yn Eidaleg yn ‘Ospizio degli esposti’ – yn llythrennol yn ‘gartref neu hosbis i’r sawl wedi ei datguddio’.

Yn ddiddorol iawn, yn dilyn uniad yr Eidal, neu’r Risorgimento, yn y 19eg ganrif, cyflwynwyd cyfreithiau yn gwahardd yr arfer o roi cyfenwau a oedd yn adlewyrchu tarddiad plentyn yn y modd hwn. Fodd bynnag, o gofio bod Elisa wedi cael ei eni yn UDA yn ystod y 1960au, byddai’n rhesymol dod i’r casgliad y gallai ei chyfenw adlewyrchu ei darddiad, yn dilyn y traddodiad hwn.


Trawsffurfiad yr ‘Elisau’?

Mewn erthygl yn ‘Mental Floss’, mae Scott Beggs yn tynnu sylw at y ffaith fod enw cyntaf Elisa hefyd, efallai, yn arwyddocaol, trwy’r ffaith ei fod yn gwneud y cysylltiad hefo’r ffilm ‘My Fair Lady (1964). Yn ôl Beggs (2018):

“Mae Elisa o ‘The Shape of Water’ ac Eliza (Audrey Hepburn) o ‘My Fair Lady’ yn gymeriadau dosbarth gweithiol sy’n cael eu trawsffurfio sy’n eu galluogi i ddod o hyd i’w lleisiau. Mae Elisa yn gwneud hynny yn llythrennol yn y sîn gerddorol breuddwydiol lle mae hi’n proffesu ei chariad, ond mae darganfod ei llais yn trosiadol i raddau helaeth, yn weithred o wrthod i aros yn dawel yn wyneb gormes. Mae’r cysylltiad yn bwrpasol hefyd. Astudiodd Hawkins Hepburn, ymhlith actorion clasurol eraill, am y rôl, ac mae gan Giles lun o Hepburn yn ei stiwdio”.

Wnâi ddechrau yma hefo’r cafeat fod, fel mae Beggs yn awgrymu yn ei erthygl, ac fel mae Wilde e tal (2018) yn dweud yn blwmp ag yn blaen yn eu herthygl, mae’r dilyniant breuddwyd lle mae Elisa yn sydyn, ac yn hudol, yn medru llefaru, yn broblemataidd ac mae hi wedi derbyn cryn dipyn o feirniadaeth. Fodd bynnag, rwy’n gweld y syniad fod enw cyntaf Elisa yn gyfeiriad ysgafn at drawsffurfiad ei chymeriad, a la Eliza Doolittle, yn dreiddiol, yn enwedig gan ystyried y cliwiau semiotegol eraill, megis y llun o Hepburn yn stiwdio Giles, a hefyd y ffaith fod ei chyfenw yn amlwg yn llawn ystyr.


Enw penodol iawn ar gyfer ffilm?

Ni ddylid tanamcangyfrif pwysigrwydd teitlau ffilmiau. Mae llond fawr o ystyriaeth, ymdrech, dadansoddi ac, mae’n debyg, pres, yn cael ei wario wrth geisio dod o hyd i’r teitl iawn. Fodd bynnag, fel yr wyf wedi trafod ynghynt mewn perthynas â’r ffilm ffuglen wyddonol ‘John Carter’, nid yw’r dewisiadau wastad yn adlewyrchu’r broses ymdrechol hyn, gan gael goblygiadau anffodus i gynhyrchwyr y ffilm a hefyd y ffans.

Felly, ar wyneb y mater, mae’r teitl ‘The Shape of Water’ i’w weld yn berffaith, wedi ei creu ar gyfer y ffilm yma yn arbennig. Mae Dyn-Amffibiaidd, mewn rhai ffyrdd, yn ymgorfforiad berffaith o ‘siâp dwr’ – yn cynrychioli ffurf bywyd sydd wedi ei cipio o rhyw lle dyfrllyd, arallfydol. Mae yna awgrymiadau trwy gydol y ffilm fod Elisa hefyd ‘o dŵr’, gyda’i rhywioldeb wedi ei gysylltu i ddŵr, a’i cyrchfan terfynol, hefo’i chariad Dyn-Amffibiaidd, yn y môr.

Yn y cyfamser, mae Wilde et al (2018) yn pwyntio allan fod y tair craith ar gwddf Elisa, a’r ffaith ei bod nhw yn agor ar ddiwedd y ffilm pan mae Dyn-Amffibiaidd yn ei cyffwrdd nhw, yn dangos, efallai, fod cartref naturiol Elisa yn y dŵr lle cafodd ei ddarganfod yn wreiddiol. Ymhellach:

“Mae dilyniant breuddwydion y credydau agoriadol, gan ddangos ei bod hi’n hapus yn ei chartref sy’n ymddangos fel ei fod ar waelod afon, yn awgrymu hyn, ynghyd â phalet dyfrol y ffilm sydd bron i gyd yn las. Mae ei hymdriniaeth a’i ddynodiad braidd yn ddibynnol ar ddelweddau sy’n awgrymu bod ei bywyd dynol yn un lle mae hi’n llythrennol yn ‘pysgod allan o ddŵr’ (Wilde et al, 2018, t3).

Mae yna hefyd rhan naratif, ger diwedd y ffilm, lle mae Giles yn adlewyrchu ar ymadawiad Elisa, ac mae’n cyfeirio at gerdd “a sibrydwyd gan rywun mewn cariad, cannoedd o flynyddoedd yn ôl”:

“Methu canfod eich siâp,

rwy’n dod o hyd i chi i gyd o’m cwmpas.

Mae’ch presenoldeb yn llenwi fy llygaid

gyda’ch cariad.

Mae’n darostwng fy nghalon,

am eich bod chi ym mhobman “.


Os oedd raid i mi ddyfalu teitl y gerdd yma, efallai fyddwn wedi dweud “The Shape of Water”, ac felly byddaf efallai wedi cymryd yn ganiataol fod enw’r ffilm yn deillio o’r gerdd hynafol hyn (gyda llaw, mae’r mater yma wedi ei trafod yn ddygn). Mae’r gerdd hefyd yn wneud i mi feddwl am gwahanol trosiadau am cariad a hylifedd bodoli, er enghraifft y pennill yng nghan Roxette “It must have been love”:


“Cogio ein bod ni hefo’n gilydd

fy mod wedi fy nghysgodi gan dy galon.

Ond o fewn a thu allan rwyf wedi troi i ddŵr

fel deigryn ar dy gledr”.


Beth bynnag, felly, roeddwn i yn bersonol yn gweld y teitl “The Shape of Water” yn addas ac yn foddhaol o ran materion onomastaidd, a ni feddyliais am ei gwestiynu; hynny yw, nes i mi ddechrau pori’r llenyddiaeth ysgolhaig, i weld beth oedd ysgolheigion eraill wedi dweud am y ffilm yma hyd yma, a ddes ar draws adolygiad ffilm yn y cyfnodolyn Women’s Studies Quarterly, wedi ei ddyddio Hydref 2007. Roeddwn wedi drysu. Wrth ddarllen adolygiad Sharmila Lodhia fodd bynnag, ddaeth yn glir ei bod hi’n sôn am ffilm wahanol – ffilm dogfen wedi ei hysgrifennu, cynhyrchu gan Kum-Kum Bhavnani, Athro o Gymdeithaseg ym Mhrifysgol California, Santa Barbara.

Wrth sgwennu’r traethawd yma, nid wyf wedi gweld y ffilm dogfen 2006v gan Bhavnani, ond rwyf wedi archebu copi o’i wefan ac felly byddaf yn medru darparu ail gyfran o’r ystyriaeth onomastegaidd yma, yng nglyn a “The Shape of Water” fel teitl ffilm. Yn y cyfamser, o adolygiad 2007 Lodhia o ffilm Bhavnani, rwyf wedi dysgu ei fod am gweithrediaeth ffeministaidd a chyfiawnder cymdeithasol, a’i fod yn rhoi mewnwelediad i bynciau megis torri genitalia menywod, a datblygu cynaliadwy mewn cynaeafu rwber yn y coedwigoedd glaw. Yn ôl pob tebyg, mae Bhavnani yn gwneud hyn trwy “gwehyddu gyda’i gilydd storïau pump o fenywod anghyffredin o Frasil, India, Israel a Senegal” (t312). Yn ddiddorol, mae Lodhia yn dweud:

“Mae The Shape of Water yn rhoi ymgorfforiad gweledol o feirniadaeth Chandra Mohanty ar drem hanfodol ffeministiaeth y Gorllewin. Gan osgoi naratifau achub a sgriptiau trefedigaethol, mae ffilm Bhavnani yn galluogi gwylwyr i gael mewnwelediadau rhyfeddol i fywydau menywod cyffredin sy’n gweithio i greu newid yn eu cymunedau – ac yn llwyddo”. (t312)

Roeddwn i yn gweld hyn yn hynod o ddiddorol, gan ei fod yn cyseinio, nid yn unig hefo ddisgrifiad Beggs (2018) o Elisa fel dynes dosbarth gweithiol sy’n cael trawsffurfiad, ond hefyd sylwad Wilde et al (2018) am y portread sensitif o ‘anabledd’ tybiedig Elisa:

“Er gwaethaf rhai creithiau awgrymiadol ar wddf Elisa, ni ddwedir wrthym pam na all hi, neu pam nad yw hi, yn cyfathrebu ar lafar. Fe wnaethom ni i gyd ein hunain (yr awduron) feddwl am hyn, yna ystyriwn pam y dylai fod yn bwysig. Ychydig iawn ohonom sydd yn gwerthfawrogi cael ein holi am yr achosion a’r amlygrwydd o’n namau. Yn ôl pob tebyg, mae’r penderfyniad i wrthod y fath fanylion yn y ffilm, yn bwrpasol er mwyn osgoi trem feddygol y gwylwyr, gan ganiatáu i ni ganolbwyntio ar yr analluedd sy’n wynebu Elisa a’r ffordd y mae’n byw ei bywyd. Gallai hefyd ganiatáu inni fyfyrio ar y ffordd y mae’r hyn sy’n cael ei hystyried yn nam, neu ddim yn nam, yn cael ei phenderfynu, i rannau helaeth, gan gyd-destun. A’i mudandod yw nam fwyaf arwyddocaol Elisa neu a’i ei analluedd i anadlu dan-dŵr?” (t3)

Mae yna, felly, rhai bethau amlwg yn tebyg rhwng y ddau ffilm yma, neu o leiaf yn y ffordd maent yn cael eu dehongli gan adolygwyr, yn enwedig ynglŷn a osgoi tremiau ymwythiol gan pobl fwy pwerus o’r tu allan, i mewn i bywydau fenywod cyffredin – fenywod sy’n dangos ‘agency’ unigol a’r allu i weithredu newid yn eu bywydau eu hunain. Heb weld ffilm 2006 Bhavnani, mae fy ngallu i gymharu’r ffilmiau eu hunain yn amlwg yn gyfyngedig – rwyf, fodd bynnag, yn edrych ymlaen at gwylio’r ffilm ddogfen 2006 sydd yn swndio’n difyr iawn. Er na allaf ddod o hyd i unrhyw gyfeiriad lle mae del Toro yn gwneud unrhyw gysylltiad â’r ffilm ddogfen 2006 o’r un enw, mae’n debygol iawn ei fod yn ymwybodol ohoni ac efallai wrth ddewis y teitl hwn ar gyfer ei ffilm ef, mae’n gwneud rhyw fath o gysylltiad rhwng y ddau (er bod hyn, wrth gwrs, yn ddyfalu pur ar fy rhan i).

Yn ogystal a ffilm dogfen Bhavnani, mae yna hefyd nofel Eidalaidd/ Sisilianaidd hefo’r teitl “La Forma dell’acqua”, a pan cyfieithwyd hyn i Saesneg (yn 2002 gan Stephen Sartarelli) “The Shape of Water” yw’r canlyniad. Yn ôl y tudalen Wikipedia: “Dyma oedd y nofel gyntaf yn y gyfres poblogaidd ar lefel rhyngwladol am Arolygydd Montalbano a’r trydydd o’r ffilmiau Montalbano i RAI TV”. Felly mae’n ymddangos fod yr ymadroddiad yma wedi bod yn boblogaidd fel enw ar gyfer storïau, mewn sawl gwlad a fformat.



Mi wnaeth ffilm 2017 Guillermo del Toro’s ennill Gwobr Academi, ac mae hi, ynddo’i hun, yn ddifyr iawn – hyd yn oed jest er mwyn ei wylio a’i fwynhau fel ffilm. Mae’r sylw at fanylder, er enghraifft yr IAA penodol i’r cyd-destun yn nodedig – er, fel mae Wilde et al (2018) yn trafod yn eu herthygl, mae’r portread o IAA yn y ffilm wedi ei beirniadu o ran ei ansawdd a’r amrhiodoldeb o beidio ‘cyfateb-namau’. Ar y llaw arall, fel sydd wedi ei thrafod, nid yw’n hollol glir beth yw nam Elisa, ac mae cyd-destun y cymeriad yn golygu na fydda hi wedi cael mynediad i ddiwylliant Byddar ac felly rhuglder IAA ar lefel-brodorol – felly gellir dadlau fod y portread y cymeriad Elisa, o dan yr amgylchiadau unigryw yma, yn reit ddilys. Y mae yna, y nawr, nofel o’r ffilm, sydd ar gael mewn amryw fformatau, felly efallai byddai manylion pellach yn medru cael ei ddarganfod o’r adnodd yma.

Beth bynnag, mae’n ymddangos fod yr un lefel o ystyriaeth fanwl wedi cael ei ymestyn i onomasteg y ffilm. Yn y traethawd hwn, rwyf wedi trafod enw cyntaf a chyfenw’r prif gymeriad, a hefyd enw’r ffilm ei hun. Ond rwy’n siŵr os byddaf yn treulio amser yn dadansoddi pob agwedd o’r ffilm, gan gynnwys enwau’r cymeriadau eraill, byddai fwy o drysorau onomastegaidd yn dod i’r amlwg, i gael eu dehongli a’i fwynhau. Fodd bynnag, mae dadansoddiad mor fanwl â hyn tu hwnt i’r traethawd hon ac, beth bynnag, mae’n gyfle da i agor y mater allan i chi sydd yn darllen y blog: a ydych chi wedi sylwi ar fwy o gliwiau onomastegaidd yn TSoW? Neu efallai eich bod chi wedi gweld y ffilm dogfen o 2007, neu wedi darllen y nofel 1994 neu wedi gweld y ffilm gysylltiedig, ac yn medru rhoi rhyw fath o fewnwelediad i’r teitl maent i gyd yn ei rhannu a’i pherthnasedd  i rai neu i gyd o rain? Byddaf wrth fy modd os byddech yn rhannu eich syniadau yn yr adran sylwadau isod.



Bhavnani, Kum-Kum. The Shape of Water. USA: Kum-Kum Bhavnani Productions, 2006. Film.

del Toro, Guillermo. The Shape of Water. Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2018. Film.

Lodhia, Sharmila. “A Film Review: Kum-Kum Bhavnani’s The Shape of Water.” Women’s Studies Quarterly 35.3/4 (2007): 312–313. Print.

Wilde, Alison, Gill Crawshaw, and Alison Sheldon. “Talking about The Shape of Water: Three Women Dip Their Toes In.” Disability & Society (2018): 1–5. Web.



The importance of being Piloto

This is an essay by guest blogger, Verónica Policarpo, @VMPolicarpo. I’d like to thank her for sharing her creative writing story on the matter of names in our everyday lives, and, in this case, in the context of family pets.

Am fersiwn Cymraeg o’r traethawd yma, cliciwch yma.

Portread o piloto_well

A portrait of Piloto the Third. Tribute from a friend.

As the landline phone rang that day, it seemed to bring with it a tone of expectation and future joy. It was Grandpa. ‘Come’, he said. ‘Come now, to see a surprise I have for you.’ As usual, whenever Grandpa called me, I left everything and ran to his home. I was then 21. Grandma had passed away one year before, and her departure had left us, me and Grandpa, feeling lost and lonely in the world; growing inside us this unspeakable feeling of abandonment, of having become orphans and drifting. As I rushed to his flat, I kept thinking what the ‘surprise’ might be, and my heart ached with expectation.

I reached the flat gasping, after climbing the steps hurriedly. Grandpa led me to the kitchen. ‘Meet Piloto III (the Third).’, he said. ‘Meet the heir of a long lineage of Pilotos in our family.’

My eyes opened wide and I gazed at the small creature, curling inside an old and dirty carton box. His eyes like two shining marbles, he was a brownish stray, trembling inside his hole. Whenever people talk about ‘love at first sight’, it is his gaze that immediately comes to my mind. His immense delicate vulnerability pouring from his eyes, helplessly.

I held him immediately. He was fat and dirty, the fleas jumping all around him. In that moment, his life immediately became entertwined with mine. First decision: to call a few people to come and meet him! My mother, cousin, best friends, another couple of friends who were pretty much dog-lovers just like me. ‘Come! As soon as you can! There’s someone new in this family. You have to meet him at once!’

This was how Piloto the Third came into my life. He was the third of a long lineage of family dogs, all rescued and stray. Their story thus encompasses the very story of my family, at least in part. It is weaved into how the family passed across time and history, building its identity and memory along the way.

Here, I must say that Piloto is the Portuguese version of ‘Bobby’. In the sense that it was once one of the most popular names given to domestic dogs in certain social milieus. If we go back in time, some 50 to 80 years ago, we would probably find many ‘Piloto’ dogs among the working classes, both rural and urban. As the Portuguese Nobel of Literature, José Saramago, put it in one of his books:

A name that he [the dog] could catch without difficulty directly through genetics, as it must have been the cases of Fiel and Piloto.

So common were these dog names amongst the working classes that their resonance should pass via genetics to the succeeding generations. The name then reveals a practice of social distinction among social groups: naming a dog is yet another way of finding and fixating your place in the social structure, in the intricate (im)balance of power relations.

Hence Piloto the Third could only have been ‘Piloto’, no other name would have suited the role he was being ascribed in that family, by his lonely, aged and widowed guardian. Piloto was the single name that would make him the helping compass in the grieving process of this old man, floating through the lonely months to come. Both trying, together, to tie the knots of memories of people and dogs already gone, and turning emptiness and loss into joy and laughter.

But why was he named Piloto the Third? Who were Piloto the First and the Second? And why was it so important for Grandpa to name him after his ‘ancestors in role’?

Piloto the First was Grandpa’s dearest niece’s dog. Back then, as today, family roles were blurred, and this niece was to my grandfather, actually like a daughter. Her legendary beautiful mother had passed away while she was a little child. She was left to be raised with a father who soon re-married to a not so loving stepmother, who would leave her to starve and other forms of maltreatment, just like in children’s horror stories.  Eventually, her father – Grandpa’s brother – migrated to Argentina to make a living, and Maria, as she was called, stayed with her uncle (my Grandfather) and family, with whom she was raised until adult age, and her father returned.

Piloto the First was Maria’s little rescue dog. Actually, his main role was as company to my great grandfather, Maria’s (as well as my Mother’s) grandfather. The old man came to live with his son and family, sometime after his wife passed away. He was overwhelmed by grief. Everyday he would walk to the cemetery, taking his own little timber bench, and sat beside his wife’s grave. There he stayed, under the merciless sun, staring at the tomb and talking… to his wife, to her memory, to her soul. Piloto the First always accompanied him. He lay on the floor, patiently, while the old man grieved. The little granddaughter (my aunt) often went along as well, and kept them company. The hours passed peacefully by; they even got locked in once, inside the graveyard.

Piloto did not wait for the old man, as though he wanted him to do something different, such as going back home, or walking in the park. No. He simply was there, with him. Kept him company. Unconditionally accepting what he was doing, sitting endlessly in the graveyard while talking with someone who was dead.  Unconditionally accepting what he was being, an old man going through a complicated grief process, that had lost not only his wife, but his life compass and a proper reason to stay alive. Piloto the First did not ask himself questions about all this, I believe. He just went, every single day, even ahead of his guardian friend, reaching the cemetery in advance and finding the best-shadowed spot to spend the rest of the day.

After 6 months, my great-grandfather did not resist and passed away as well. Of grief? Of sadness? Because he simply did not want to live anymore? Six months was the time he survived his wife, as if to prepare himself to join her as soon as possible. But Piloto the First could not join him. Therefore, he kept going to the cemetery every day. Confused, he would look for the old man, and lie near what was now also his tomb. He knew his way by heart, of course. And so off he went. Did he wonder about what had happened to the old man? Or did he know? Piloto the First would eventually die of old age. What happened to his body is uncertain, but according to the customs of that time (the early 1950’s in Portugal) he would have probably been buried in the woods nearby. This was Piloto the First.

After only a few years, Piloto the Second entered the life of the family. He was also a rescue dog and was given to my 5 or 6-year-old aunt, as her little pet. But in the end, he was everyone’s pet. He stayed for hours in my Grandfather’s coffee shop, entertaining the clients, who already knew him and cherished him. He made them laugh with his pranks, and they would usually buy him quite unhealthy treats, such as candy bars and sugar drops, as a way to indulge him for the joy and good spirits he would bring with him. Also, in the story that my human family have told and retold about him over the years, he would listen for the car of Maria (my Grandfather’s niece, remember?) while she was still several kilometers away from town. Most of all people, he loved her. And she loved him. Every time she came over, it was as if they hadn’t seen each other forever. Eventually, he also passed away of old age. The destiny of his body is also uncertain. The family mourned and grieved mainly through his narrated memory, across generations. And this was Piloto the Second.

It took my Grandfather around 40 years to take home ‘another Piloto’. Because a Piloto in the family carried, despite being completely unaware of it, all the affective memory of his ancestors in name, if not in blood. And the act of taking in ‘another Piloto’ demanded from the humans thereafter living with him, the will and the emotional capability of living not only with that particular individual, but also with all the living memories of the ones that had preceded him. The emotional ability to endure the rupture of the rules of linear time, and the haunting of past affective figures that coexisted in more or less harmonious ways with the ones living in the present.

And that is where Piloto the Third enters the story. During my grandfather’s last year of life, Piloto the Third was his full companion. The challenges of having a puppy soon hit Grandpa’s life. A whole new routine invaded their days, pervasively. They would leave the house very early in the morning, so Piloto could pee and poop. And because there were so many stairs to climb back to reach the flat, Grandpa would often leave Piloto outside, in the garden, while he went for coffee, the morning newspaper, or simply for a walk. Also, Piloto was a bit of a fugitive himself: he would often flee and run all over the town, with his gang of stray dogs, returning with what almost looked like a shameless smile, with no regrets whatsoever for the worries Grandpa had been through because of him. And then he would curl up at the foot of his bed, and snore deeply into a world of dreams and nightmares, in which we could still hear the sound of his past adventures chasing or fighting other dogs.

When Grandpa died, two years after Grandma, and one year after Piloto had entered the family, I already had my sentence. Many times, after each Sunday roast, Grandpa had declared that Piloto was our – my Mother’s and mine – inheritance. Even if he hadn’t declared it, this was as it was meant to be. Because since the very first day, Piloto had clung to me in such a particular way that I knew we could never be set apart. We were like two castaways from a drowning ship of memory. Together, we were liberating ourselves from the pain of loss, and the despair of enduring the void and loneliness that follows it.

For another 13 years, Piloto lived with me. Keeping him inside was actually a talent. He often stayed outside overnight and came back home late the next morning, exhausted and exhaling the smells of freedom wrapped up in mood and litter. But that is another story, to be told another day: the story of Piloto’s life, during the years that followed. Today, we stick to the importance of his being (a) Piloto. He taught me everything about love, connection, freedom, respect for the Other, fear of loss, pain and illness, and eventually the inescapability of death. He was my gateway to both joy and living mindfully in the moment; and to my family’s past, most of all Grandpa’s memory living inside me. For another 13 years, until he finally had to be put to sleep at 14, Piloto kept Grandpa alive, and with him all the stories he used to tell over and over again, about his ‘Piloto ancestors’. It was not until his own death that my grieving process for Grandpa had its closure. Mourning Piloto, in the years that followed, was a complex process in which many other people and things were also mourned. And in which the present could finally come to terms with the past, the possibility of a future with the burden of the family’s memory. It meant learning how to live without some of the most important cornerstones of my life. With a slightly frightening and exhilarating sense of freedom. And that was part of the importance of being (a) Piloto.

Nodyn am Piloto

‘A name that he could catch without difficulty directly through genetics, as it must have been in the cases of Fiel and Piloto.’ José Saramago, O Homem Duplicado [The Double]. Handwritten in the back cover of a notebook with messages of condolences.

Pwysigrwydd o fod yn Piloto

Dyma draethawd gan blogwr gwadd, Verónica Policarpo, @VMPolicarpo. Hoffwn ddiolch iddi hi am rannu ei stori creadigol ar y mater o enwau yn ein bywydau pob dydd, ac, yn yr achos yma, yng nghyd-destun anifeiliaid anwes.

For an English version of this essay, please click here.

Portread o piloto_well

Portread o Piloto y trydydd. Teyrnged gan ffrind.

Wrth i ffon y tŷ ganu’r diwrnod hwnnw, roedd hi fel petai’n dod a dôn o ddisgwyliad a llawenydd y dyfodol hefo hi. Taid oedd yna. ‘Dewch’, meddai. ‘Dewch rŵan, a gweld y syrpréis sydd yma i chi’. Felly, yn ôl fy arfer, pryd bynnag yr oedd taid yn galw, gadewais bob dim a rhedeg i’w gartref. Roeddwn yn 21 ar y pryd. Roedd nain wedi marw’r flwyddyn gynt, ac roedd ei hymadawiad wedi ein gadael ni, fi a thaid, yn teimlo’n unig ac ar goll yn y byd; y tu fewn i ni thyfodd y teimlad anhydraeth o gael ein hepgor, fel ein bod ni nawr yn amddifaid ac yn bwhwman. Wrth i mi frysio i’w fflat, meddyliais beth all y sypréis fod, ac roedd awydd mawr gen i gael gwybod.

Cyrhaeddais y fflat yn ebychu, ar ôl dringo’r grisiau mewn brys. Dilynais daid i’r gegin. ‘Hoffwn i chi gwrdd â Piloto III (y trydydd)’, meddai. ‘Etifedd llinach hir o Pilotoau yn ein teulu.’

Roedd fy llygaid yn lled agored wrth i mi syllu ar y creadur bach, a oedd wrthi’n gorffwys mewn hen focs carton budur. Roedd yn anifail crwydr frown, yn crynu yn ei dwll, a’i lygaid yn ddwy farblen ddisglair. Pan mae pobl yn sôn am ‘cariad ar welediad cyntaf’, ei drem ef sydd yn dŵad i fy meddwl yn syth. Ei bregusrwydd cain yn llifo o’i lygaid, yn ddiymadferth.

Anwesais ef ar un waith. Mi roedd yn dew ac yn fudur, gyda chwain yn neidio o’i gwmpas. Yr eiliad honno, ddaeth ei fywyd i fod yn rhan o fy mywyd i. Y penderfyniad cyntaf: i alw rhai pobl i ddod i gwrdd ag ef! Fy mam, cefnder, ffrindiau gorau, cwpl o ffrindiau eraill oedd yn ci-garwyr fel fi. ‘Dewch! Cyn gynted a fedrwch chi! Mae yna rywun newydd yn ein teulu. Mae’n rhaid i chi ei gyfarfod ar unwaith!’

Dyma sut ddaeth Piloto’r Trydydd i mewn i fy mywyd. Fo oedd y trydydd mewn llinach hir o gŵn teuluol, pob un yn anifail crwydr wedi ei hachub. Mae eu stori nhw felly yn cwmpasu stori ein teulu, yn rhannol o leiaf. Mae hi wedi ei phlethu mewn i sut wnaeth y teulu pasio trwy amser a hanes, gan adeiladu ei hunaniaeth a chofion ar hyd y ffordd.

Yma, mae’n bwysig i mi ddweud fod Piloto yw’r fersiwn Portiwgaleg o ‘Bobby’. Yn yr ystyr yr oedd, ar un tro, yn un o’r enwau fwyaf poblogaidd a rhoddir ar gŵn domestig mewn cynefinoedd cymdeithasol penodol. Os awn yn ôl mewn amser, rhyw 50 i 80 mlynedd yn ôl, mae’n debyg y byddem yn ffeindio llond o gŵn hefo’r enw ‘Piloto’ ymysg y cymunedau dosbarth gweithiol, mewn ardaloedd gwledig a trefol. Fel y dywedir y Nobel o lenyddiaeth Portiwgaleg, José Saramago, yn un o’i lyfrau:

‘Enw y gall  [y ci] ei ddal heb drafferth yn syth trwy’r genynnau, fel mae’n debyg ei fod wedi bod yn achosion Fiel a Piloto.’

Mor gyffredin roedd yr enwau yma am gŵn ymysg y dosbarth gweithiol, fel tyle eu cyseiniant pasio trwy enynnau i’r cenedlaethau olynol. Mae’r enw felly yn datgelu arfer o wahaniaeth cymdeithasol ymysg grwpiau cymdeithasol: mae enwi ci yn ffordd ychwanegol o ddarganfod a gosod eich lle yn y strwythur cymdeithasol, yn yr (ang)hydbwysedd cymhleth o berthnasau pŵer.

Gan hynny, dim ond ‘Piloto’ y gall Piloto’r Trydydd cael ei henwi, ni fyddai unrhyw enw arall wedi siwtio’r rôl o fewn y teulu yr oedd yn cael ei ymestyn iddo, gan ei gwarcheidwad unig, oedrannus, gweddw. Piloto oedd yr unig enw y byddai’n ei wneud yn gwmpawd cefnogol mewn proses galaru’r hen ddyn yma, wrth iddo fwhwman trwy’r misoedd unig i ddŵad. Y ddau ohonynt yn trio, hefo’i gilydd, i clymu cofion y pobl a’r cŵ n o’r gorffennol, a throi’r gwactod a cholled oddi mewn, i fod yn lawenydd a chwerthin oddi allan.

Ond pam mai Piloto’r Trydydd oedd ei enw? Pwy oedd Piloto’r Cyntaf a’r Ail? A pam roedd hi mor bwysig i Daid ei enwi ar ôl ei ‘hynafiaid yn y rôl’?

Piloto’r Cyntaf oedd ci nith anwylaf Taid. Yn y dyddiau hynny, fel ag y maent rŵan, mi roedd rolau teulu’n niwlog, ac mi roedd y nith yma, i fy Nhaid, fel merch mewn gwirionedd. Mi roedd ei Mam chwedlonol brydferth wedi marw pan roedd hi’n blentyn ifanc. Gaeth ei gadael i gael ei magu gan Dad wnaeth ailbriodi yn fuan, i lysfam lai na chariadus, fyddai’n ei gadael i lwgu a mathau eraill o gamdriniaeth, yn debyg i’r hyn a ddigwyddith mewn storïau arswyd i blant. O’r diwedd, mi wnaeth ei Thad – brawd Taid – ymfudo i Argentina er mwyn ennill bywoliaeth, ac mi wnaeth Maria, dyna oedd ei henw, aros hefo’i ewythr (fy Nhaid) a’i deulu, a gyda hwy cafodd ei fagu nes ei bod yn oedolyn, a ddychwelodd ei Thad.

Mi roedd Piloto’r Cyntaf yn gi bach wnaeth Maria ei hachub. Mewn gwirionedd, ei brif rôl oedd rhoi cwmni i fy hen Daid, sef Taid Maria a fy Mam i. Daeth yr hen ddyn i fyw hefo’i mab a’i deulu, rhywbryd ar ôl i’w wraig farw. Roedd e wedi ei gorlethu a galar. Pob dydd byddai’n cerdded i’r fynwent, gan gymryd hefo fo ei mainc bren fach ei hun, er mwyn eistedd ger bedd ei wraig. Yno fu’n aros, o dan yr haul didrugaredd, yn syllu ar y bedd ac yn siarad…i’w wraig, i’w cof a’i enaid. Wnaeth Piloto’r Cyntaf gwastad mynd hefo fo. Gorweddai ar y llawr, yn amyneddgar, wrth i’r hen ddyn galaru. Yn aml, mi aeth y wyres fach (fy modryb) hefo fo hefyd, i gadw cwmpeini iddynt. Pasiodd yr oriau’n heddychlon; unwaith, wnaethon nhw hyd yn oed cael eu cloi mewn yn y fynwent.

Nid oedd Piloto yn aros am yr hen ddyn, fel petai eisiau iddo wneud rhywbeth arall, fel mynd yn ôl adref, neu gerdded yn y parc. Na. Yn syml, mi roedd o yna, hefo fo. Yn cadw cwmpeini iddo. Yn ddiamod yn derbyn yr hyn yr oedd yn ei wneud, yn eistedd yn ddi-baid yn y fynwent wrth siarad hefo rhywun oedd wedi marw. Yn ddiamod yn derbyn yr hyn yr oedd yn bod, hen ddyn a oedd yn mynd trwy broses galaru cymhleth, a oedd wedi colli nid yn unig ei wraig ond ei chwmpawd bywyd a’i reswm priodol am aros yn fyw. Ni wnaeth Piloto’r Cyntaf gofyn cwestiynau i’w hun am hyn i gyd, rwy’n credu. Mi aeth o, pob diwrnod, hyd yn oed o flaen ei gwarcheidwad ffrind, gan gyrraedd y fynwent ymlaen llaw gan ffeindio’r lleoliad gorau, wedi ei chysgodi o’r haul, i wario gweddill y diwrnod.

Ar ôl 6 mis, mi wnaeth fy hen-daid rhoi’r gorau i wrthsefyll, a bu farw hefyd. O alar? O dristwch? Oherwydd, yn syml, gan nad oedd am fyw rhagor? Chwech mis fydd iddo fyw heb ei wraig, fel petai’n paratoi ei hun i ymuno a hi cyn gynted ag oedd yn bosib. Ond ni all Piloto’r Cyntaf ymuno ag ef. Felly, parhaodd i fynd i’r fynwent pob diwrnod. Fel petai wedi drysu, chwiliodd am yr hen ddyn, gan orwedd wrth beth y nawr oedd yn fedd iddo. Roedd yn gwybod ei ffordd yno fel cefn ei law, wrth gwrs. Ac felly fwrdd a fo. A oedd e’n ystyried beth oedd wedi digwydd i’r hen ddyn? Neu a oedd e’n gwybod? Fu farw Piloto’r Cyntaf o henaint, yn y diwedd. Mae beth ddigwyddodd i’w gorff yn ansicr, ond yn ôl yr arfer ar y pryd (y 1950au yn Portiwgal) mae’n debyg y byddai wedi cael ei chladdu yn y goedwig ger llaw. Dyma oedd Piloto’r Cyntaf.

Ar ôl ddim ond ychydig flynyddoedd, daeth Piloto’r Ail i mewn i fywyd y teulu. Mi roedd ef hefyd yn gi roeddem wedi ei hachub, a chafodd ei roi i fy modryb a oedd yn 5 i 6 mlwydd oed, fel anifail anwes. Ond erbyn y diwedd, mi roedd yn anifail anwes i bawb. Arhosodd am oriau yn siop goffi fy nhaid, gan ddifyrru cwsmeriaid, a oedd yn barod yn ei nabod ac yn ei thrysori. Wnaeth iddyn nhw chwerthin hefo’i phranciau, a byddent yn prynu iddo foethau afiach, megis fferins, fel modd i borthi ef am y llawenydd ag ysbryd da yr oedd yn ei ddarparu. Hefyd, yn y stori y mae fy nheulu dynol ryw wedi dweud ac ail-ddweud amdano dros y blynyddoedd, byddai’n gwrando am gar Maria (nith fy Nhaid, cofia?) tra roedd hi’n sawl kilometr o’r dref. O bawb, mi roedd yn ei charu hi. Ac mi roedd hi’n ei garu ef. Pob tro ddaeth draw, mi roedd fel tasent nhw heb weld ei gilydd am hydoedd. Yn y pen draw, mi wnaeth Piloto’r Ail hefyd farw o henaint. Mae tynged ei gorff hefyd yn ansicr. Mi wnaeth y teulu galaru, yn bennaf trwy ei chofiannau wedi ei hadrodd ar lafar, ar draws y cenhedloedd. Dyma oedd Piloto’r Ail.

Mi wnaeth gymryd fy Nhaid tua 40 mlynedd i gymryd ‘Piloto arall’. Oherwydd bod Piloto yn y teulu’n cario hefo fo, er gwaetha’r ffaith nad oeddent yn ymwybodol o’r beth, cofion cyfan hynafiaid yr enw, er nad oedd hyn trwy waed. Ac mi roedd y weithred o gymryd ‘Piloto arall’ i mewn i’r teulu yn galw ar y bodau dynol yn y teulu i fyw hefo fo, gan gynnwys yr ewyllys a’r gallu emosiynol i fyw hefo’r unigolyn penodol yna, ond hefyd i fyw hefo’r cofion byw am y rhai fuodd cynt. Yr allu emosiynol i ddioddef y rhwyg o reolau mewn amser llinellol, a’r aflonyddwch o ffigyrau’r gorffennol sy’n cyd-fyw mewn modd fwy neu lai mewn cytgord hefo’r rhai sy’n byw yn y presennol.

A dyma le mae Piloto’r Trydydd yn dod i mewn i’r stori. Yn ystod flwyddyn olaf o fywyd fy Nhaid, mi roedd Piloto’r Trydydd yn cymar llawn iddo. Wnaeth heriau cael ci bach taro bywyd Taid yn fuan iawn wedyn. Daeth trefn cwbl newydd i oresgyn ei ddyddiau, yn dreiddiol. Roeddent yn gadael y tŷ yn fuan iawn yn y bore, i Piloto gael mynd i’r tŷ bach. Ac oherwydd bod yna cymaint o risiau i’w ddringo yn ôl i gyrraedd y fflat, roedd Taid yn aml yn gadael Piloto tu allan, yn yr ardd, pan aeth am goffi, papur newydd boreol, neu yn syml am dro. Hefyd, mi roedd Piloto braidd yn ffoadur ei hun: fuodd yn aml yn dianc ac yn rhedeg trwy’r dref, hefo’i gang o gŵn crwydrol, gan ddychwelyd gyda beth oedd yn edrych fel gwen ddigywilydd, ddim yn difaru o gwbl am y poeni yr oedd wedi achosi i Daid. Yna byddai’n cyrlio’i hun wrth droed ei wely, gan chwyrnu’n ddwfn mewn byd o freuddwydion a hunllefau, lle fedrwn dal clywed ôl ei anturiaethau o helfa neu ymladd hefo cŵn eraill.

Pan fu farw Taid, dwy flynedd ar ôl i Nain farw, ac un flwyddyn ar ôl i Piloto dŵad i mewn i’r teulu, roedd gen i fy nedfryd yn barod. Sawl gwaith, ar ôl pob cinio Sul, fu Taid yn datgan fod Piloto yn etifeddiaeth i fi a fy Mam. Hyd yn oed os nad oedd wedi ei ddatgan, dyma oedd fod i ddigwydd. Oherwydd, ers y diwrnod cyntaf, mi roedd Piloto wedi glynu ataf mewn ffordd mor benodol, fel roeddwn yn gwybod na fedrwn ni byth cael ein gwahanu. Roeddem fel dau llongddrylliedig o ryw gof o long wedi ei boddi. Hefo’n gilydd, mi roedden ni yn rhyddhau ein hunain o’r poen o golled, a’r anobaith o ddioddef y gwagle ac unigrwydd sydd yn ei ddilyn.

Am 13 mlynedd arall, fu Piloto yn byw hefo fi. Mi roedd cadw fe tu fewn yn dalent. Fuodd yn aml yn aros allan trwy’r nos gan ddŵad yn ôl yn y bore, wedi blino’n lan ac yn allananadlu’r arogl o ryddid. Ond mae hynna’n stori arall, i gael ei hadrodd rhywbryd arall: stori o fywyd Piloto, yn y blynyddoedd i ddod. Heddiw, mi wnawn ni cadw at bwysigrwydd iddo fod yn Piloto (un ohonynt).

Mi wnaeth ddysgu pob dim i mi am gariad, cysylltiad, rhyddid, parch i’r Arall, ofn o golled, poen a salwch, ac yn y diwedd y ffaith fod hi ddim yn bosib dianc rhag marw. Roedd o yn borth i mi at lawenydd a byw yn ystyriol yn y foment; ac i orffennol fy nheulu, a fwy na dim, yr atgof o Daid y tu fewn i mi. Am 13 mlynedd ymhellach, nes cafodd ei rhoi i gysgu yn 14 mlwydd oed, cadwodd Piloto Taid yn fyw, a gyda fe, yr holl storïau roedd yn ei hadrodd drosodd a drosodd, am ‘Piloto a’i hynafiaid’. Doedd hi ddim tan ei farwolaeth ef y daeth fy mhroses galaru am fy nhaid i derfyn. Roedd galaru am Piloto, yn y blynyddoedd wnaeth ddilyn, yn broses cymhleth ac mi roedd llond o bobl a phethau eraill yn cael ei galaru ar yr un pryd. Lle’r oedd yn bosib i’r presennol dod i delerau â’r gorffennol, a’r posibiliad o ddyfodol hefo’r baich o atgofion teuluol. Golygai dysgu sut i fyw heb rhai o’r clustfeini pwysicaf yn fy mywyd. Hefo synnwyr o ryddid oedd braidd yn frawychus a gyffroes. Ac mi roedd hynny yn rhan o’r pwysigrwydd o fod yn Piloto (un ohonynt).

Nodyn am Piloto

‘Enw y gall o ei ddal heb drafferth yn syth trwy’r genynnau, fel mae’n debyg ei fod wedi bod yn achosion Fiel a Piloto.’ José Saramago, O Homem Duplicado [Y dwbl]. Wedi ei ysgrifennu gan law ar orchudd cefn llyfr nodiadau hefo negeseuon o gydymdeimladau.

My father’s old thrupenny-bit bracelet (with apologies to Merêd!)

Am fersiwn Gymraeg o’r traethawd hwn, cliciwch ar y linc yma.

Freichled pishyn tair

*Authors note: This post was written originally in Welsh and the pun in the title is therefore somewhat lost in translation. Here I am making reference to an old Welsh folk song, the title of which translates as: ‘My grandfather’s old penny-farthing bike’; it was written by the song writer/ performer Meredydd Evans, who was known colloquially as ‘Merêd’

I’m not a follower of fashion, whether that be scholarly topic, perspective or methodology, music, or clothes. It’s no surprise, therefore, that my favourite piece of jewellery is something quite unusual – an heirloom of sorts, which has more sentimental value than monetary value; my father’s old thrupenny-bit bracelet.

During the Second World War, my grandfather, Edward Glyn Edwards (Glyn), was over in Germany for the first few years of my father’s life. Before he returned, he had a bracelet made for him as a present. The strap of the bracelet is made from thrupenny-bit coins, attached to each other in a row. Then, in the centre of the wrist, there’s a silver plate with my father’s forename on it, which is Raymond.

Now then, my father was born and raised in the village of Rhosllannerchrugog during the 1940s. At this time, the numerous coal mines in the area were still thriving, as well as the famous red bricks industry in nearby Ruabon, and as a result the village was prosperous. The village is renowned, during this period, for having a traditional coal mining culture, like the one written about by Dennis Potter in relation to ‘The Forest of Dean’ – that is: a close-knit community with choirs, chapels, playing bowls, and a dialect unique to the area.

The dialect is an issue which is of great interest to me, since I speak it (to an extent anyway), and this will be the subject of a future essay; however, the important thing here is to note that it was a Welsh dialect. Indeed, Welsh was the language of everyday life in the community when my father was born, and he didn’t start learning English until he began attending school.

English names for Welsh children?

So, if we consider that Welsh was the language of the community, and that my father’s parents had names which would be considered ‘Welsh’, so Alwen and Glyn, why then did they give my father the name ‘Raymond’? Apparently (Wikipedia), Raymond was borrowed into English from French, having first been borrowed from German; so, it isn’t a Welsh name nor has it any connection to the area.

Well, you may say, perhaps his parents knew someone named Raymond, or they had read it somewhere – perhaps a character in a book? But my aunty, my father’s sister, was given the name ‘Brenda’, which is, apparently (Wikipedia) a name given in the English language (though, through preparing for this article, I have read that Brenda was in the medieval legend of Madoc, so perhaps this name does have some Welsh roots).

If we consider that many of my father’s school friends from the area also had names which would index for English, such as Richard and John, it seems more likely that there was some kind of pattern/ trend during this time period, rather than the whimsy of my grandparents.

Anecdotally, I would suggest that there is an observable trend across the generations, where people from my grandparents’ generation had very Welsh names, then a pattern emerged of very English names, which lasted until sometime in the 1980s, when there was, perhaps, a shift, and then we see Welsher names becoming more popular and obvious. These days, there are many children and young people with very Welsh names. It is possible that this trend, and period, varies from area to area.

A possible explanation for this trend, is that Welsh speaking Welsh people, at a certain point in time, and in certain areas, decided to give English or Anglicized names to their children, in order for them to be able to fit in and ‘get on’ and thrive. There are certainly times in our history when lots of Welsh speaking Welsh people have moved across the border and beyond, in order to find work and a better life for themselves, so it would make sense that they might want to adapt their names as well, to fit in with their new environment.

Also, since the Acts of Union of 1536 and 1543, the traditional patronymic system had gradually been replaced by the English surname system – so ab Owen became Bowen (Rowlands & Rowlands, 2013, page 9-29). So, changing forenames would have been a continuation of this trend.

Pragmatic decisions in linguistic and cultural minority communities?

There is a certain amount of support for this idea if we consider naming patterns in other minority communities. For example, in discussing the work and identity of Stanley Kubrick, the New York Jewish film director, Abrams (2018) discusses the fact that Jewish immigrants to America adapted their names in order to fit in. Kubrick’s parents were a part of this trend, with his father having changed his Jewish name ‘Jacob’ to ‘Jack’ (page 2). According to Abrams, there was also a trend amongst immigrants to choose ‘regal-sounding’ names for their children, such as ‘Stanley’ or ‘Leonard’, in order to improve the opportunities of their sons for social mobility (page 223).

We can then consider, anecdotally, that the trend may have done an about turn, to some degree – at least from the point of view of Welsh names. I would argue that we see lots of children today with very Welsh forenames, and their parents show pride in their Welshness in selecting names for their children. Also, perhaps adults are deciding to do the opposite of what Jacob Kubrick did, in that they Welshify their names, for example changing Stephen to Stifyn, and Rebecca to Beca etc.

Interestingly enough, it is likely that the privilege and opportunities happen each way. So, if a ‘regal-sounding’ name (and I would add, a name which ‘indexes for English’) would give a certain amount of ‘privilege’ to Jewish/ Welsh children in a certain time period and in some contexts, perhaps now Jewish/ Welsh names extend the same kinds of privilege and opportunities. Personally, I have felt this, as I changed my surname from ‘Edwards’ to ‘Wheeler’, and the reaction I receive as a ‘Welsh person’ – but this is the topic of another essay (to come!)

Onomastic research in a Welsh context

These are the sorts of matters I have been discussing and considering in my most recent journal article:

“Enwau Prydeinig gwyn?” Problematizing the idea of “White British” names and naming practices from a Welsh perspective.

The link to the published article is here, but you will need a university password to get access, so you can also gain access to the pre-formatted version for free here.

However, obviously what is needed now, on this particular issue, is some quantitative research to map the naming trends across the generations, to see if there is an explainable pattern; I am hoping to make a grant application to research the matter further and I would be interested in hearing from anyone who would be interested in working on this with me. I would like to hear your ideas generally – do you agree, disagree, or have similar or different views? My e-mail address is on my contacts page, or you can leave a comment at the bottom of this essay, so that we can start a discussion.

An old penny-farthing bike, an old thrupenny-bit bracelet…

So back to the thrupenny-bit bracelet and we can see that it’s a cultural artefact of possible trends or patterns in Welsh naming practices and traditions. And, to bring us back to the pun in the title of this blog entry from the song ‘Hen Feic peni-fardding fy nhaid’ (‘My grandfather’s old penny-farthing bike’)1, it is symbolic of the fact that I, like the character in the song, tend to favour traditional old-fashioned goods, instead of following the crowd!


  1. The song was written by Meredydd Evans – ‘Merêd’.


Abrams, N. (2018) Stanley Kubrick: New York Jewish Intellectual. New Brunswick, Camden, and Newark, New Jersey, and London: Rutgers University Press.

Amgueddfa Cymru (no date) Tafodiaith Rhosllannerchrugog. Available at: (Accessed: 13 Awst 2015).

Jones, Mari, C. (1998) ‘Case Study II: The Rhosllannerchrugog Dialect’, in Language Obsolescence and Revitalization: Linguistic change in two sociolinguistically contrasting Welsh communities. Oxford: Clarendon press, Pages. 155–238.

Potter, D. (1996) The Changing Forest: Life in the Forest of Dean Today. London: Vintage.

Rowlands, J. and Rowlands, S. (2013) The Surnames of Wales – updated and expanded. Ceredigion: Gomer Press.

Wheeler, S. L. (2018) ‘“Enwau Prydeinig gwyn?” Problematizing the idea of “White British” names and naming practices from a Welsh perspective’, AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples, July 23rd, pp. 1–9.

Wheeler, S.L. (2018) ‘”Enwau Prydeinig gwyn?” Problematizing the idea of ‘White British” names and naming practices from a Welsh perspective’, AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples. Pre-formatted version.

Hen freichled pishyn tair fy nhad (gydag ymddiheuriadau i Merêd!)

Freichled pishyn tair

For an English version of this essay, please click on the link here.

Dwi ddim yn un am ddilyn ffasiwn, boed e’n bwnc, persbectif neu fethodoleg ysgolhaig, cerddoriaeth, neu ddillad. Nid yw’n syndod felly, fod fy hoff ddarn o emwaith yn rhywbeth ddigon anghyffredin – eiddo etifeddol o ryw fath, a ganddi fwy o werth sentimental nag ariannol; hen freichled pishyn tair fy nhad.

Yn ystod yr ail ryfel byd, fuodd fy nhaid, Edward Glyn Edwards (Glyn), allan yn yr Almaen am flynyddoedd cynnar bywyd fy nhad. Cyn iddo ddychwelyd, cafodd freichled ei wneud iddo fel anrheg. Mae strap y freichled wedi ei wneud o geiniogau pishyn tair, wedi eu bachu gyda’i gilydd mewn rhes. Yna, yng nghanol yr arddwrn, mae plât arian hefo enw cyntaf fy nhad arno, sef Raymond.

Nawr ta, ganwyd a magwyd fy nhad ym mhentref Rhosllannerchrugog yn ystod y 1940au. Ar yr adeg yma, mi roedd pyllau glo niferus yr ardal yn dal i ffynnu, yn ogystal â’r diwydiant brics coch enwog yn Rhiwabon gerllaw, ac o ganlyniad mi roedd y pentref yn llewyrchus. Mae’r pentref yn adnabyddus, yn y cyfnod yma, am ei ddiwylliant traddodiadol ardal glo, megis yr hyn a sgwennwyd amdani gan Dennis Potter am ardal ‘The Forest of Dean’ – hynny ydy: cymuned glôs hefo corau, capeli, chwarae bowls, a thafodiaith unigryw i’r ardal.

Mae mater y dafodiaith yn un sydd o ddiddordeb mawr i mi, gan fy mod innau yn ei siarad (i raddau beth bynnag), ac mi fydd hyn yn destun traethawd arall yn y dyfodol; ond y peth pwysig yma yw ei bod hi’n dafodiaith Cymraeg. Yn wir, Cymraeg oedd iaith bywyd pob dydd y gymuned pan ganwyd fy nhad, ac ni ddechreuodd ddysgu Saesneg nes iddo fynychu’r ysgol.

Enwau Saesneg i blant Cymraeg?

Felly, os ystyriwn mai Cymraeg oedd iaith y gymuned, a bod rhieni fy nhad hefo enwau fyddai’n cael ei ystyried yn ‘Gymraeg’, sef Alwen a Glyn, pam felly rhoddwyd yr enw ‘Raymond’ i fy nhad? Yn ôl pob sôn (Wikipedia), benthycwyd yr enw Raymond i mewn i’r Saesneg o’r Ffrangeg, a hithau’n wreiddiol o’r Almaeneg; felly nid yw’n enw Gymraeg nag yn un sy’n gysylltiedig â’r ardal.

Wel medde chwi, efallai roedd ei rieni yn nabod rhywun o’r enw Raymond, neu wedi ei ddarllen yn rhywle – megis enw cymeriad mewn llyfr, neu jest yn ei hoffi? Ond galwyd fy modryb, chwaer fy nhad, yn ‘Brenda’, sydd, yn ôl pob sôn (Wikipedia) yn enw a rhoddir yn yr iaith Saesneg (er, trwy baratoi at yr erthygl yma, gwelais fod Brenda yn chwedl Madoc, felly efallai fod yna wreiddiau fwy Cymraeg i hyn).

Os ystyriwn fod llond o ffrindiau ysgol fy nhad o’r ardal hefyd hefo enwau fyddai’n indecsio am Saesneg, megis Richard a John, mae’n edrych yn fwy tebygol fod yna rhyw batrwm enwi penodol yn ystod y cyfnod yma, yn hytrach na chwimsi fy nain a thaid.

Yn anecdotaidd, fyswn yn cynnig fod yna batrwm i’w weld dros y cenedlaethau, lle’r oedd gan genhedlaeth nain a thaid enwau tra Gymraeg, yna dechreuodd patrwm o enwau tra Saesneg, a pharodd tan rywbryd yn ystod yr wythdegau, lle fuodd, efallai, shifft, ac yna gwelsom enwau fwy Cymraeg yn dod yn fwy poblogaidd ac amlwg. Erbyn heddiw, mae yna lond o blant a phobl ifanc hefo enwau tra Gymraeg. Mae’n debyg fod y tuedd, a’r cyfnod, yn amrywio o ardal i ardal.

Un esboniad posib am y tuedd, yw bod y Gymru Gymreig, ar adeg benodol, mewn ardaloedd penodol, wedi penderfynu rhoi enwau fwy Saesnegaidd i’w plant, er mwyn iddynt gael ffitio mewn a ‘dod yn ei blaenau’ i ffynnu. Wedi’r cwbl, mae yna gyfnodau yn ein hanes pan roedd llond o’r Cymry Cymraeg yn symud dros y ffin a thu hwnt, er mwyn cael gwaith a bywyd gwell i’w hunain, felly mae’n gwneud synnwyr y byddent eisiau addasu eu henwau i’w amgylchiadau newydd. Hefyd, ers y deddfau uno yn 1536 a 1543, mi roedd y system tadenwol yn raddol wedi ei disodli gan gyfenwau yn y system Saesneg – felly fysai ab Owen yn troi’n Bowen (Rowlands & Rowlands, 2013, tudalen 9-29). Felly fyddai newid enwau cyntaf yn barhad o’r tuedd yma.

Penderfyniadau pragmataidd cymunedau lleiafrifol ieithyddol a diwylliannol?

Mae rhywfaint o gefnogaeth am y syniad yma os ystyriwn batrymau enwi mewn cymunedau lleiafrifol eraill. Er enghraifft, wrth drafod gwaith a hunaniaeth Stanley Kubrick, y cyfarwyddwr ffilm Iddewig o Efrog Newydd, mae Abrams (2018) yn trafod y ffaith fod mewnfudwyr Iddewig i America wedi addasu eu henwau er mwyn ffitio mewn. Mi roedd rhieni Kubrick yn rhan o’r tuedd yma, gyda thad Kubrick yn newid ei enw Iddewig ‘Jacob’ i ‘Jack’ (tudalen 2). Yn ôl Abrams, mi roedd yna hefyd tuedd i’r mewnfudwyr yma dewis enwau ‘brenhinol’, i’w plant, megis ‘Stanley’ neu ‘Leonard’, er mwyn gwella cyfleon eu meibion am fudoledd cymdeithasol (tudalen 223).

Gallwn wedyn ystyried, eto’n anecdotaidd, fod y tuedd wedi troi’n wyneb i waered, i raddau – o leiaf o safbwynt enwau Cymraeg beth bynnag. Fyddwn yn dadlau ein bod yn gweld fwy o blant heddiw yn cael enwau cyntaf tra Gymraeg, gyda rhieni yn dangos balchder yn eu Cymreictod wrth benderfynu ar enwau i’w plant. Hefyd, efallai fod oedolion yn penderfynu gwneud y gwrthwyneb i’r hyn a wnaeth Jacob Kubrick, sef Cymreigio eu henwau, megis Stephen i Stifyn, Rebecca i Beca ayyb.

Yn ddiddorol iawn, mae’n debyg fod y fraint a’r cyfleoedd hefyd wedi digwydd y ddwy ffordd. Felly, lle fyddai enwau ‘brenhinol’, a hefyd fyddwn yn ychwanegu ‘yn indecsio am Saesneg’, yn rhoi rhywfaint o ‘fraint’ a ‘cyfle’ i blant Iddewig/ Cymraeg ar un cyfnod ac mewn rhai cyd-destunau, efallai nawr mae’r enwau Iddewig/ Cymraeg yma yn ennyn yr un math o freintiau a chyfleon. Teimlaf hyn yn bersonol, wrth i mi newid fy nghyfenw o ‘Edwards’ i ‘Wheeler’, a’r ymateb rwy’n ei chael fel ‘Cymraes’ – ond mae hyn yn destun traethawd ar ben ei hun (ar y gweill!)

Ymchwil onomasegaidd mewn cyd-destun Cymraeg

Dyma’r math o faterion yr wyf wedi ei thrafod a’i ystyried yn fy erthygl cyfnodolyn diweddaraf:

“Enwau Prydeinig gwyn?” Problematizing the idea of “White British” names and naming practices from a Welsh perspective.

Mae’r linc i’r erthygl gyhoeddedig yma, ond mae angen cyfrinair prifysgol i gael mynediad, felly medrwch hefyd cael mynediad at y fersiwn cyn-fformatio yn rhad ac am ddim yma.

Ond yn amlwg, beth sydd angen rŵan, ar y mater penodol yma, yw gwaith ymchwil meintiol sydd yn mapio’r patrymau enwi dros y cenhedloedd perthnasol, i weld os oes batrymau esboniadwy; rwy’n gobeithio gwneud cais grant i archwilio’r mater ymhellach a byddai diddordeb gen i mewn clywed gan unrhyw un fyddai hefo diddordeb mewn gweithio ar hyn hefo fi. Hoffwn hefyd clywed eich syniadau yn gyffredinol – ydych chi’n cytuno, anghytuno, neu hefo syniadau tebyg/ cwbl wahanol? Mae fy nghyfeiriad e-bost ar y tudalen cyswllt, neu mi fedrwch adael sylwad ar ddiwedd y traethawd yma, i ni gael cychwyn trafodaeth.

Hen feic peni-ffardding, hen freichled pishyn tair…

Felly yn ôl at y freichled pishyn tair, a gwelwn ei fod yn arteffact diwylliannol o batrymau neu duedd posib o fewn traddodiadau enwau ac enwi Cymraeg. Ac, i’w glymu yn ôl at y mwysair yn deitl y blog am y gân ‘Hen feic peni-ffardding fy nhaid’1, mae’n symbolaidd o’r ffaith fy mod innau, fel y cymeriad yn y gân, yn tueddu i ffafrio nwyddau a thraddodiadau hen ffasiwn, yn hytrach na dilyn y dorf!


  1. Sgwennwyd gan Meredydd Evans – ‘Merêd’.



Abrams, N. (2018) Stanley Kubrick: New York Jewish Intellectual. New Brunswick, Camden, and Newark, New Jersey, and London: Rutgers University Press.

Amgueddfa Cymru (no date) Tafodiaith Rhosllannerchrugog. Ar gael: (Cyrchwyd: 13 Awst 2015).

Jones, Mari, C. (1998) ‘Case Study II: The Rhosllannerchrugog Dialect’, in Language Obsolescence and Revitalization: Linguistic change in two sociolinguistically contrasting Welsh communities. Oxford: Clarendon press, Tud. 155–238.

Potter, D. (1996) The Changing Forest: Life in the Forest of Dean Today. London: Vintage.

Rowlands, J. and Rowlands, S. (2013) The Surnames of Wales – updated and expanded. Ceredigion: Gomer Press.

Wheeler, S. L. (2018) ‘“Enwau Prydeinig gwyn?” Problematizing the idea of “White British” names and naming practices from a Welsh perspective’, AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples, July 23rd, pp. 1–9.

Wheeler, S. L. (2018) ‘“Enwau Prydeinig gwyn?” Problematizing the idea of “White British” names and naming practices from a Welsh perspective’, AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples, Cyn-formatt, mynediad am ddim heb cyfrif.

Layers of semiotization in branding and advertising – playing with words and images

(Am fersiwn Gymraeg o’r erthygl yma, cliciwch yma)


I recently attended the ‘Everyday Creativity’ conference, at the Morgan Centre, University of Manchester – a thoroughly enjoyable experience. There were so many interesting people there, and the theme of ‘creativity’ brought a plethora of varied and fascinating talks. I gave a presentation about encouraging creativity and flair in undergraduate student essays; I received kind words from other delegates, and warm encouragement to write it up for publication – which I now feel emboldened to do. However, in terms of onomastic interests, there was one presentation which really stood out for me, and that was the keynote given by Professor Sue Heath and Dr Andy Balmer, entitled:

“Seeing through the lines: some lessons in observational drawing”.

This presentation drew on the recent collaborative ‘sketching research’ project between academics at the Morgan Centre and Lynne Chapman, a reportage artist. The research involved developing observational ‘ethnographic sketching’ as a research tool. This had brought some interesting insights as ‘sketching’, regardless of output quality, involves slowing down and engaging in what was termed ‘concentrated seeing’. As I listened to the explanation, it brought to mind the concept of ‘effortful listening’, which those of us with hearing loss are said to engage in. Amusingly, as I translanguaged this article, I realised that there was a similarity with this process and its effect also. All of these activities involve focussing on one particular thing, absorbing every detail and any available information, trying to understand it from a variety of angles – much like the concept of triangulation in social research. Interestingly, I had the opportunity to experience the benefits of ‘concentrated seeing’ during the keynote and it has caused me to consider incorporating ‘ethnographic sketching’ into my future projects.

Sketching and concentrated seeing

At the beginning of the presentation, the audience were invited, by the opening slide, to sketch something in the room. Obviously, since most of us were non-artists, we felt a bit self-conscious (certainly I have no talent in this direction!) However, as an onomastician, I soon found something of interest to draw – the University of Manchester logo, which adorned the front of the computer desk. I had a purple and a yellow highlighter, so I also set about getting the colour scheme right. As I wrote the word Manchester, I noticed, for the first time, that it was written in capitals, but the s and the t were not. Immediately beneath these letters, was the date: 1824. The Est and 1824 were also in yellow, where the rest of the writing was in white. I have seen this logo many times over the years, but have never noticed this detail.

Badly drawnlogo

At the end of the keynote I asked around and was told by people from the University of Manchester that this was to signify that the University of Manchester was ‘Established’ in 1824. I was astonished at my prior lack of perceptive skills with regards to the logo, but also impressed with what the ‘concentrated seeing’ had helped to reveal in my very first attempt. I am very much looking forward to reading more about this research technique in the forthcoming paper on the matter: ‘Observational sketching as method’.

Humument painting as a method of inquiry?

Another fascinating research technique which was discussed during the keynote, this time pertaining to the data analysis and participant verification stage, was that of adding layers of expression and meaning through painting. The technique drew on a very interesting art project – ‘A Humument’ by Tom Philips. Taking as its foundation an obscure Victorian book called ‘A Human Document’, Philips altered every page of the original monograph through painting, collage and cut-up techniques. Some words are left uncovered, creating a new narrative and bringing new meaning. The title also emerged through this technique, Philips explains:

The book’s rechristening resulted from another chance discovery. By folding one page in half and turning it back to reveal half of the following page, the running title at the top abridged itself to A HUMUMENT, an earthy word with echoes of humanity and monument as well as a sense of something hewn; or exhumed to end up in the muniment rooms of the archived world. I like even the effortful sound of it, pronounced as I prefer, HEW-MEW-MENT.

In applying this technique to the data collected during their project, Heath and Balmer invite participants from their study to semiotize transcripts of their interviews – so their own words as captured by the researchers – with layers of paint and other craft materials, also often with words left uncovered. Participants then also are encouraged to explain the layering and what it represents. Having previously used techniques such as ‘tape-assisted recall’ during the course of my research, I was impressed at the level of engagement that this technique might offer, and the depth of feeling and understanding which might be achieved. This is definitely a data analysis technique that I will also, therefore, be considering for future use in projects.

Upon leaving the lecture theatre I reflected on how, somewhat neatly and satisfyingly, my example of semiotized layers within the University of Manchester logo, revealed through my own ‘ethnographic sketching’ and ‘concentrated seeing’, also dovetailed with the ideas from the ‘Humument’ project – in that the purposeful use of colour and font revealed words, in this case within words, with additional meanings built in.

Semiotized layers and humument in the University of Manchester brand logo

According to Nuessel (2018), branding is a complex semiotic strategy, designed to call to the consumer’s mind a set of associations, intended to entice and persuade the consumer to purchase a particular product through a web of latent meanings. This is achieved through encompassing, within the brand, a constellation of meaningful cultural markers that generate an appealing product that satisfies not only the consumer’s palate, but also his or her subliminal needs and desires. Table 1 below outlines the possible chain of signification that alludes to specific referents and implied meanings, in relation to the logo of the University of Manchester:

Table 1: Chain of signification of the University of Manchester logo (adapted from Nuessel 2018)

Brand logo Referents Implied meanings


Use of uncapitalized lettering within the otherwise capitalized name of the University, revealing ‘Est’, short for established, with the addition of the date 1824 beneath.



Conveys the date that the University was established, which was in the 19th century; this may afford the University a certain degree of status, heritage and pedigree, since this is quite an early date of establishment and universities generally are keen to demonstrate a long history to their institutions.


Humorous use of humument in advertising and everyday life

Following the conference, I travelled home to the Wirral on the train. Since it was late, and I didn’t feel like cooking, I went into the village to get a take away; whilst there I popped into ‘Bargain Booze’, where I encountered an amusing example of playing with words within words. Behind the counter was a sign, in which every instance of the word ‘gin’, within other words on the sign, had been highlighted through the use of colour.


This amused me greatly and I would usually index these as ‘puns’, which I am very fond of (and will deal with in a separate blog entry). However, given the activities of the day, and my subsequent reflections, I think I will index this as an example of an everyday use of the ‘humument’ technique!


Nuessel, F. (2018). A note on selected craft beer brand names. Names: A Journal of Onomastics, 66(2).