I didn’t find the original piece by Rod Liddle about the renaming of the Second Severn Crossing particularly offensive or insulting – just plain ignorant. And, as he promised that he would in response to the complaints made against him, he repeated his assault on what he sees as the tendency of Welsh words to be vowel-free again this week. But the idea that because English has only 5 vowels, other languages can also only have five vowels is a very anglo-centric view of the issue, showing an ignorance not just of the Welsh language but of the way in which languages can and do vary – and, incidentally, of the English language as well.
Welsh words, given that we have seven vowels available to us, may well look strange to one steeped in the traditional English definition of a vowel, but there is a real problem from his perspective. Whilst I can think of no Welsh words which are actually vowel-free based on the Welsh definition of a vowel, I can think of a huge range of English words which don’t have a vowel to share between them (think: try, fly, myth, hymn, my, flyby…), based on his narrow primary-school definition of a vowel. How on earth does he manage to pronounce them?