Welsh Keywords: Anabledd

From Planet 229

by Steven Thompson

This is the twenty-fifth contribution to our Welsh Keywords series – inspired by Raymond Williams’ Keywords – which offers contemporary perspectives on contested meanings of words in Welsh and how these shifting meanings continue to shape our society.

My research interests as a professional historian have moved towards disability history in recent years. This has largely come about due to my involvement in a collaborative research project that considered disability in the British coal industry from 1780 to the period of nationalisation in 1947. My familiarity with the history of the coal industry was largely the basis for my involvement in the project but my lack of experience in disability studies meant that a full immersion in disability history was essential. The extent to which the meanings of words were important elements in the creation of understandings and representations of disability was immediately obvious and, as a Welsh-speaker, in a team that included colleagues from institutions in England, Scotland and Wales, I was particularly keen to track such meanings and changes in the Welsh language. A crucial question that arises is the extent to which disability was and is understood and represented differently in Welsh.

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