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Wales’ Highest Peak May Ditch Its English Name to Be Known as Yr Wyddfa

News National Parks Languages
by Olivia Harden Apr 30, 2021

One of the most popular national parks in the UK, Snowdonia National Park, and its resident giant mountain, Snowdon, might soon get a name change.

Wales County Councillor John Pughe Roberts proposed that the Snowdonia National Park Authority refer to the park and the highest mountain in Wales by their original Welsh names and drop the English versions, The Guardian reported. Snowdown would then be known as Yr Wyddfa (pronounced Uhr-with-va), and Snowdonia would be Eryri (pronounced Eh-ruh-ree).

Similarly, in 1993, Ayers Rock in Australia was officially renamed Uluru, a term traditionally used by aboriginal Pitjantjatjara speakers. In 2015, the name of the highest peak in North America, located in Alaska, changed from “Mount McKinley” to “Denali,” its traditional indigenous name.

Wales has been working to preserve its language. In 2011, the Welsh Language Measure 2011 declared Welsh an official language of the country. More recently, the Cardiff and Denbighshire councils have both ruled that all new streets in the country will bear Welsh-only names.

According to the park authority, the Welsh name Yr Wyddfa translates to “grave.” Legend has it that a mythical giant, Rhita Gawr, was defeated in a battle against King Arthur and was buried under a cairn of stones on the summit. Snowdon comes from the Saxon “snow dune,” meaning snow hill.

Eryri is thought to come from the Welsh word eryr (“eagle”) or the laying work oriri (“to rise”).

The Welsh language seems to be on the rise. Wales’ government wants 1 million people to speak the language by 2050, BBC reported.

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