A reader asks: Could you please share your feelings on Llanfair.
A Martin Pengelly answers: With pleasure, old sprout. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, to give it its full name, is a place on the island of Anglesey, which is part of Wales, which for immediate purposes only we shall simply say is a constituent part of “Britain”.
With 58 characters (if only 51 letters, most of them consonants, due to things like ‘ch’ counting in the Welsh language as one), it is the longest place name in Europe. I’m not going to try to give the pronunciation phonetically – safe to say that given 76% of the populace of Llanfair speaks Welsh, ask them.
Why the place is often shortened to “Llanfair” should be obvious. If it isn’t, consider the advice of Blackadder:
“Never ask for directions in Wales, Baldrick. You’ll be washing spit out of your hair for a fortnight.”
Advantage (as apportioned due to having had the out-of-body experience that is going into a pub in a Welsh-speaking town while wearing an England Rugby woolly hat and speaking decidedly English-sounding English): Wales, the Welsh and Welsh speakers everywhere.