aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

How many Wales are we talking about?

I like to read Daniel Hannan's blog. He's my kind of writer (and politician). But my eyebrows rose a bit at the lede to the linked piece: We're importing the equivalent of three Waleses in one generation

Why should that attract my notice? Well, because Wales is already plural in form, like United States. Wales is the modern spelling of wealas, Old English for "foreigners, Celts, Romanized fops." It shares the same Germanic root that shows up in Wallachia and in walnut. The modern spelling of the singular is the same as Evelyn Waugh's surname.

Now, since Wales (like the United States) is also a nation, a singular thing, one generally says, "Wales is," not "Wales are." But still: Waleses? Would one say, United Stateses? Or would one say, "three United States," counting on the context to refer to three nations like the USA, not three of the fifty States in the Union? In any case, Waleses is an obvious way to refer to multiple renditions of the nation of Wales, I suppose. And the fact that English allows one to do this with minimum fuss is one of the glories of the language.

Late thought: I believe I have heard/read the Prince of Wales and his wife referred to as "the Waleses," too. But that didn't rattle my cage in quite the same way. Still, ain't English wonderful?

  • Time Warp

    I’ve been researching old tunes to match the lyrics of “The Wife of Usher’s Well,” an old British ballad about a woman whose three sons who were lost…

  • The Eccentric and the Weirdo

    Many years ago, I read an essay in TIME magazine by Pico Iyer called, “The Eccentric and the Weirdo.” This followed upon some outrage committed by…

  • The diagnosis is the easy part

    A world dominated by China will be an uglier world. To keep China from bullying other nations, the US and our friends and allies need to decide where…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.