Page last updated at 06:12 GMT, Wednesday, 10 September 2008 07:12 UK

Red letter day for place names?

Three spellings of Penisarwaun on road signs
Penisarwaun in Gwynedd is spelled differently on road signs

Place names in Wales could be changed to ensure they have standard spellings.

The Welsh Language Board (WLB) has been advising local authorities such as Powys and Rhondda Cynon Taf on the correct spellings of place names.

Gwynedd council is considering dozens of recommendations which could see Criccieth becoming Cricieth and Talyllyn changing to Tal-y-llyn.

But the WLB has no legal powers to enforce its advice as local authorities have the final say on place names.

Many of the proposed changes in Gwynedd involve inserting hyphens into place names, such as Penygroes becoming Pen-y-groes.

Other names are more problematic: Penisarwaun near Caernarfon is also spelled Penisarwaen and Penisa'rwaun on road signs.

However, the WLB does not recommend any of these spellings and says in fact it should be something different: Penisa'r-waun.

There are no changes proposed for the vast majority of places as most already comply with the standard spelling suggested by the WLB's name standardisation team.

But in Criccieth, there are mixed feelings about the suggested name change.

It would cause a great deal of unnecessary expense and upset to change something not for the better
Councillor Guto Tomos

Criccieth Golf Club stewardess Sue Pugh said: "I've only lived in Criccieth for 12 years but I feel the way it is spelled is fine.

"All the leaflets that we do would all need changing and it would cost each business a lot of money if the name had to be changed.

"A lot of local people wouldn't like it changed, the older generation who were born and bred here."

Criccieth county councillor Guto Tomos said he would fight to keep the current spelling.

"Traditionally, Criccieth has been spelled with two 'c's and we wish to see that continue.

"It would cause a great deal of unnecessary expense and upset to change something not for the better."

Richard Gloster, managing director of Cadwalader's Ice Cream, which has a cafe in Criccieth, said he was "ambivalent" about changing the name.

"I would prefer to see the money spent on something like nurses and pensions rather than on inconsequential issues like that," he said.

"There are bigger issues than that, which in these difficult times they should be concentrating on."

Road signs that come to the end of their working life will be replaced and the correct spelling will be used
Powys council

Gwynedd council said councillors had decided "to establish a task group" to consider the recommendations.

The WLB said it had already worked with Rhondda Cynon Taf, Carmarthenshire and Powys councils to standardise names, and other local authorities would be following suit.

Powys council has written to its heads of services to ensure that if different versions of a place name exist, a consistent form is adopted.

A council spokesperson said: "One example in Powys is Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain, which has been acknowledged as the correct spelling for the community since around 1600 according to historian and expert Richard Morgan, author of A Study of Montgomeryshire Place-Names.

"The different spellings are attributed to the language used. Llansantffraid is the English spelling of Llansanffraid.

"On our highway signs, where the English and Welsh names for the same location are similar, the Welsh version only will be shown.

"Road signs that come to the end of their working life will be replaced and the correct spelling will be used."

In a statement, the WLB said: "It should be emphasised that the board has no statutory powers in this field and has no legal power to enforce its advice or recommendations.

"Rather, the board aims to work in partnership with the Welsh Assembly Government, the Ordnance Survey, local authorities and others who are interested in the field to advise them on the standard forms."

The WLB said it expected local authorities to change place names on road signs only when old ones were being replaced or new ones erected.


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific