Like many Americans whose families have been around for generations I am of mixed national ancestry. But my surname, Floyd, is Welsh. It is the same name as Lloyd, which is a variation of the Welsh word llwyd or clwyd, which means “grey.” The double-L represents “the voiceless alveolar lateral fricative of Welsh,” and was sometimes also represented as fl, yielding the name Floyd. It is not a sound you can make in English. It sounds something like a soft cough or gently clearing your throat.
Did you know that? Now you do, and since we are talking about Wales let me wish you a happy St. David’s Day with one of St. David’s graceful admonitions:
“Be joyful, and keep your faith and your creed. Do the little things that you have seen me do and heard about. I will walk the path that our fathers have trod before us.”
St. David was a sixth century Welsh bishop who became the patron saint of Wales. I have been to the charming cathedral named for him in St. David’s, Pembrokeshire. It was built in a hollow near the sea so the Vikings couldn’t see its spire from their ships.
Tonight I will raise a glass to St. David and that estimable Welshman Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and one of our best contemporary theologians. The Welsh do make a single malt, Penderyn, but since I have none I will be raising Scotch.