A Welsh Lesson

Chances are you don’t speak Welsh! I hope you’ll read today’s post anyway. I think it raises an interesting point. (Here’s something you can look forward to: an English teacher is going to fall on the floor.)

I’m studying Welsh via Duolingo and slowly learning how to construct complicated sentences. This week’s challenge is sentences like this one:

I went out after I had coffee.

Here’s the Welsh version (with “after I had coffee” in bold):

Es i allan ar õl i fi gael coffi.

Here’s what’s interesting (to me, anyway). After I have coffee uses exactly the same words as after I had coffee.

People who speak Welsh can’t make a distinction between “had” and “have” in some complex sentences. Their grammar won’t let them do it. The result is sentences like this: “I went out after I have coffee.” And guess what? Everybody understands anyway!

English teachers love to tell you that if the grammar of a sentence isn’t perfect, people won’t understand you. But today’s Welsh sentence proves (to me, anyway) that your brain will probably figure out the meaning even if there’s a mistake.

(That thunk you just heard was an English teacher falling on the floor.)

So let’s not belittle people who make mistakes. A student who struggles with a sentence isn’t stupid or confused. They made a mistake. That’s all! And we’ll probably figure out the meaning anyway.

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