Census debate 2: Staggering complacency confronts language

Robin Crag Farrar and Toni Schiavone say the language needs a strong economic base and effective community planning

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Hunanfodlon syfrdanol yn wynebu iaith

Mae canlyniadau Cyfrifiad 2011 wedi synnu llawer. Methodd Llywodraeth Cymru â chyrraedd y targed a osodwyd ganddynt i godi nifer y siaradwyr Cymraeg i 25%, gyda’r canran y siaradwyr Cymraeg wedi gostwng o 20.8% i 19%. Mewn gwrthgyferbyniad llwyr, mae nifer y siaradwyr iaith Fasgeg wedi codi o 24% i 32% o’r boblogaeth dros y ddau ddegawd diwethaf. Mae hyn yn fethiant polisi y gellir ond ei gywiro drwy newid radical ac un sy’n rhoi datblygu economaidd cymunedol yn seiliedig ar egwyddorion cynaliadwyedd a chynllunio ieithyddol rhagweithiol mewn perthynas â thai ac addysg yn ganolog i ddatblygiad a gweithrediad strategaethau Llywodraeth Cymru ac awdurdodau lleol a chyrff cyhoeddus eraill.

Dyfodol yr iaith Gymraeg

Yr wythnos hon rydym yn cynnal cyfres o erthyglau myfyrio ar y canlyniadau Cyfrifiad 2011, adroddiad ar yma. Yfory: Cynog Dafis

Fel man cychwyn rhaid i’r llywodraeth gydnabod yr argyfwng. Mae hunan-fodlonrwydd ei hymateb cychwynnol yn syfrdanol. Mae’r camau beiddgar sydd eu hangen i ddiogelu a hyrwyddo’r iaith Gymraeg yn gofyn am gydnabyddiaeth gonest o’r argyfwng sy’n wynebu’r iaith Gymraeg ac yn gofyn am newid meddylfryd wrth gynllunio ar gyfer y dyfodol. Ymateb Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg oedd lansio ein ‘Maniffesto Byw’ ac i gychwyn ar drafodaeth gyhoeddus ar draws Cymru ar yr argymhellion ymarferol ond heriol sydd yn y ddogfen. Rydym yn galw am ymateb ar unwiaith o Lywodraeth Cymru, Awdurdodau Lleol, pleidiau gwleidyddol, Undebau Llafur a nifer o chyrff eraill.

Dros y 500 mlynedd diwethaf diflannodd dros 50 o ieithoedd ar draws y Byd ac, yn ôl y Cenhedloedd Unedig, mae llawer iawn mwy o ieithoedd eraill mewn perygl – gan gynnyws y Gymraeg. Mae’r tystiolaeth o waith ymchil a wnaed i’r achosion am hyn yn pwysleisio’r angen i gynnal sylfaen cymunedol ddaearyddol er mwyn i iaith oroesi a ffynnu fel iaith fyw. Yng Nghymru mae’r sylfaen yma wedi cael ei danseilio’n ddifrifol gan fethiant truenus i ymgorffori effaith datblygiadau ar yr iaith Gymraeg o fewn deddfwriaeth gynllunio. Er y cydnabydiaeth o’r angen yma yng Nghylchlythyr 5/88 a gyhoeddwyd yn 1988 ni fu gweithredu ar yr egwyddor. Cynhaliwyd asesiad o effaith datblygiadau ar yr iaith Gymraeg mewn dim ond 0.03% o geisiadau cynllunio dros y 2 mlynedd diwethaf. Rydym yn dal i aros am gyhoeddiad y Nodyn Cyngor Technegol newydd mewn perthynas â chynllunio a’r iaith Gymraeg, deunaw mis ar ôl i ymgynghoriad Llywodraeth Cymru ddod i ben. A yw’n unrhyw syndod ein bod yn gweld lleihad sylweddol yn y nifer o gymunedau Cymraeg eu hiaith gyda dros 70% o’r boblogaeth yn gallu siarad Cymraeg?

Yn ystod y flwyddyn ddiwethaf mewn ymateb i’r Arolygaeth Gynllunio mae cynghorau ar draws Cymru wedi clustnodi tiroedd ar gyfer datblygu sydd ymhell y tu hwnt i anghenion y gymuned leol. Er enghraifft, yn sgil gwaith ymchwil, a wnaed gan llywodraeth Cymru ac eraill yn Awdurdod Lleol Conwy, gwelwyd mai dim ond 8% o breswylwyr newydd i’r Sir oedd yn medru’r Gymraeg, sef 22% yn llai na’r cyfartaledd o siaradwyr Cymreg yn y Sir. Mae penderfyniad Awdurdod Lleol Dinbych i glustnodi tir ar gyfer datblygiad 8,500 o dai newydd, er gwaethaf gwrthwynebiad cryf cymunedau fel Dinbych, Rhuddlan a Bodelwyddan yn enghraifft o fethiant y gyfundrefn gynllunio yng Nghymru. Yn ein ‘Maniffesto Byw,’ galwn am ddatganoli’r Arolygiaeth Gynllunio i Gymru ac am sefydlu’r egwyddor o ‘Ddatblygu Cynaliadwy’ fel sylfaen i bolisïau tai a chynllunio yng Nghymru.

Yn yr un modd, os yw’r Gymraeg i ffynnu rhaid sicrhau gwaith i bobl a rhaid anelu at gael sylfaen economaidd cadarn tra, ar yr un pryd, hyrwyddo’r defnydd o’r Gymraeg yn y gweithle fel bod siaradwyr Cymraeg yn gweld gwerth economaidd y Gymraeg. Gall Llywodraeth Cymru ac awdurdodau lleol gymryd camau hollol ymarferol i’r perwyl yma trwy ddiogelu swyddi yn y sector gyhoeddus a chynllunio i ddatganoli adrannau gyfan o Gaerdydd. Yn yr un modd, dylai polisi caffaeliad pob corff a ariennir gan y sector gyhoeddus yng Nghymru rhoi blaenoriaeth i gwmnïau o’r ardal leol, nid yn unig er mwyn hyrwddo’r economi leol, ond, am resymau amgylcheddol hefyd. Mae angen hefyd sicrhau bod mwy o gyfleodd ar gael i gwmniau bychain a chanolig eu maint tendro ar gyfer y gwaith yma.

Sefydlwyd 23 o fentrau iaith ar draws Cymru gyda chyfanswm cyllideb o tua £1.5 M. Mae’r corff ‘Cadwch Cymru’n Daclus’ yn derbyn 2.6M, ac roedd cyllideb Cymunedau’n Gyntaf gymaint â £40M. Amrwyiol yw llwyddiant y mentrau, ond yn sicr mae rhai ohonynt wedi cyflawni. Oherwydd pwysigrwydd adfywiad economiadd, mae angen ail-edrych ar gylch gorchwyl y Mentrau yma. Yn ein tyb ni, beth sydd eu hangen yw ‘Mentrau Iaith a Gwaith’ gyda chyfrifoldeb penodol a chyllideb teilwng i hyrwyddo mentergarwch trwy gyfrwng Gymraeg a defnydd o’r Gymraeg yn y gweithle. Er mwyn codi disgwyliadau, cynyddu’r cydweithio a chynyddu effeithiolrwydd awgrymwn goruchwyliaeth gan Gyfarwyddiaeth Genedlaethol.

Un o lwyddiannau mawr yr hanner canrif diwethaf yw twf addysg cyfrwng Cymraeg. Dyma’r prif rheswm pam y bu cynnydd yn y nifer o siaradwyr Cymraeg yn Ne-ddwyrain Cymru. Fodd bynnag, mae’r llwyddiant yma wedi cuddio’r methiant ym maes dysgu Cymraeg fel ail iaith. Ar yr un pryd, mewn nifer o ardaloedd mae cyfran sylweddol o ddisgyblion yn trosgwlddo o gyfrwng Cymraeg iaith gyntaf i Gymraeg ail-iaith ar fynediad i addysg Uwchradd ac mae hyn yn fwy amlwg fyth mewn addysg ôl-16. Rhaid mynd i’r afael â hyn ar fyrder, gan selio dysgu Cymraeg ar greu continwwm iaith yn hytrach na chynnal 2 ffrwd iaith. Bydd hyn yn codi disgwyliadau ac yn newid agwedd at ddysgu Cymraeg. Ni fydd hyn yn bosib dros nos, ond gellir cychwyn trwy ddynodi nifer o ardaleodd ar draws Cymru a chynnig cyllid ychwanegol i’r cymunedau yna. Gellir cyplysu hyn gyda’r awgrym yn ein Maniffesto i dargedu 6-10 o ardaloedd fel ‘Ardaloedd Adfywio a Datblygu’r Gymraeg’ oddifewn i strategaeth economiadd ehangach.

Dyma rhai yn unig o’r argymhellion a ymgorfforir yn ein Maniffesto Byw. Nid yw Cymdeithas yr Iaith yn honni bod hwn yn ddogfen gorffenedig, ond fel man cychwyn rydym yn herio Llywodraeth Cymru i ymateb i’r agymhellion ac i fod yn llawer iawn mwy radical ac arloesol yn ei syniadaeth. Ond ni fyddem yn disgwyl am ymateb cyn weithredu: byddem yn gweithio gyda nifer o Gymunedau ledled Cymru i greu ‘Cynlluniau Cymuned’ yn seiliedig ar yr Economi, Tai a Chynllunio a Iaith tra ar yr un pryd mireino, newid a datblygu ein Maniffesto Byw trwy drafodaeth gyhoeddus ac agored ar hyd ac ar led Cymru. Felly, rydym yn annog cyfraniadau i’n Maniffesto ar Twitter trwy ddefnyddio’r hashnod #maniffestobyw, neu e-bostio post@cymdeithas.org, fel bod modd datblygiadau’r syniadau ymhellach. Heb amheuaeth mae’r frwydr dros y Gymraeg yn mynd i barhau ac yn mynd i ddwyshau – y degawd nesaf yw’r degawd tyngedfennol.

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Staggering complacency confronts language

The 2011 census results have shocked many. The Welsh Government has failed to meet the target it set itself of raising the number of Welsh speakers to over 25 per cent. The percentage of Welsh speakers fell from 20.8 to 19 per cent. In stark contrast, the number of Basque language speakers rose from 24 to 32 per cent of the population over the last two decades. This is a policy failure which can only be rectified through a radical change of course. This should place community based sustainable economic development and pro-active language development planning in relation to housing and education at the heart of Government and local authority policy development and implementation.

Future of the Welsh language

This week we are running a series of articles reflecting on the 2011 census results, reported on here. Tomorrow: Cynog Dafis

The first step is for government to acknowledge the crisis. Welsh Government complacency is quite frankly staggering. The bold action needed to safeguard and promote the Welsh language requires an honest acceptance of the crisis facing the Welsh language and a complete step-change in policy. Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg has responded by launching a ‘Living Manifesto’ and encouraging a public debate right across Wales. We are calling for an immediate response from Government, local authorities, political parties, trades unions and others.

Over the last 500 years, over 50 languages have become extinct, and, according to the United Nations, there are many more languages under threat, including the Welsh language. Evidence from international research has consistently noted the imperative of a geographical community base for a language to survive and thrive as a living language. The community base of the Welsh language has been severely undermined by the abject failure to incorporate impact assessments of developments on the Welsh language within planning legislation. Welsh Office Circular 53/88, issued in 1988, stated that:

“Where the Welsh language is part of the social fabric of the community it is obviously appropriate to take this into consideration when drawing up land use policies expressed in structure and local plans.”

This has been completely ignored by the planning authorities over the last two decades. Only 0.03 per cent of the total number of planning applications over the last two years included a language assessment. In addition, we are still awaiting the publication of the new Technical Advice Note in relation to planning and the Welsh language (TAN 20), 18 months after the Welsh Government consultation came to an end. Is it any wonder that we are witnessing a substantial decrease in the number of Welsh speaking communities with over 70 per cent of the population able to speak Welsh?

Currently, local authorities are forging ahead with their Local Development Plans and allocating land for housing development without regard to the impact of such development on Welsh speaking communities. The decision by Denbighshire council to allocate land for the development of 8,500 new houses despite the strong opposition of communities such as Denbigh, Rhuddlan and Bodelwyddan is in response to the target set by the Planning Inspectorate in England. One of the recommendations in our Living Manifesto is that the Planning Inspectorate be devolved to Wales and that housing and planning policies be founded upon the principle of ‘Sustainable Development.’

At the same time if the Welsh language is to thrive it needs a strong economic base and at the same time we need to promote the use of Welsh in the workplace so that Welsh speakers see the economic value of the language. Welsh Government and local authorities can take immediate and practical steps to that end through protecting employment in the public services and planning to devolve departments from Cardiff. Similarly, procurement by all bodies funded by the public sector should prioritise local businesses, not only in order to support the local economy but also for environmental reasons. There is also a need to enable more small and medium sized businesses to tender for work of this kind.

These are some of the cornerstones of Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s ‘maniffesto byw’ action plan. In addition to these broad policy initiatives, we have identified a range of specific actions which need to be taken and would have an immediate impact. Sustainable development in terms of the Welsh economy and Welsh language communities in particular, requires an investment in local small and medium sized businesses. Procurement needs to be based on the principle of supporting such local businesses.

Twenty-three ‘Mentrau Iaith’ have been established across Wales to promote the use of Welsh in the community  with a total budget of just £1.5 million. Keep Wales Tidy alone receives £2.6 million whilst the Communities Fist programme has a budget of £40 million. The effectiveness of Mentrau Iaith has varied, with some notable achievements. However, there needs to be a step-change and a greater emphasis on the workplace.

Hence our call for the change to ‘Mentrau Iaith a Gwaith,’ language and work initiatives, with substantial funding to promote entrepreneurship and the use of Welsh in the workplace. In order to raise expectations, increase collaboration and effectiveness, their work should be overseen by a National Directorate.

The growth of Welsh medium education over the past half century has been one of the huge success stories and is the reason why there has been an increase in the number of Welsh speakers in south-eastern Wales. However this success has masked the complete failure to turn around the teaching of Welsh as a second language. Indeed, further analysis of the situation in schools shows that a significant proportion of pupils transfer to Welsh second language courses on entry to secondary education, and the lack of continuity is even more dramatic on entry to post-16 education.

The teaching of Welsh as a second language must be completely overhauled and the teaching of second language and first language Welsh should be merged to become one continuum of learning. This will raise expectations and attitudes to the teaching and learning of Welsh. This will not be possible overnight but a first step would be to identify and provide a number of communities across Wales with additional funding to take this forward. This can be linked to one of the other recommendations in our Manifesto, namely to target 6-10 areas as ‘Welsh Language Regeneration and Development Areas’ within a broader economic regeneration strategy.

These are some of the recommendations outlined in our Living Manifesto. As members of Cymdeithas yr Iaith, we do not pretend that we have all the answers. However, as a first step we are challenging Welsh Government to respond to our recommendations and to be far more ambitious and innovative in their thinking. Nonetheless, we do not intend to sit back and await a response. Our intention is to work with a number of Communities in Wales to produce Community Plans based on Economy, Planning and Housing and the Language whilst at the same time engaging in a public debate with the people of Wales to refine, change and develop our Manifesto and to take forward the recommendations. So we are encouraging people to respond to our proposals on Twitter by using the hashtag #maniffestobyw, and by email post@cymdeithas.org. Without a doubt the struggle for the future of the Welsh language will continue and will intensify – the next decade will decide its future.

Toni Schiavone, Cadeirydd Grwp Cymunedau Cynaliadwy, Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg a Robin Crag Farrar, Cadeirydd Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg Robin Crag Farrar is Chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg and Toni Schiavone, Chair, of its Sustainable Communities Group

7 thoughts on “Census debate 2: Staggering complacency confronts language

  1. “Over the last 500 years, over 50 languages have become extinct”
    Other way around, perhaps.

  2. Some of the recommendations here are good… particularly the Welsh language planning in the heartlands angle.

    I really do think the likes of Cymdeithas have stretched public apathy outside of the Welsh speaking heartlands as far as they can without receiving a backlash. Any more demands of ‘Welsh in the workplace’ and ‘Welsh speaking essential’ jobs outside the heartlands when the need for Welsh language services is dropping (as evidenced by the census) is now going to be met with strong opposition… and after all why shouldn’t it be when we now know this is not achieveing anything except division and inequality in the job market.

    The key to saving the language is and always was in the heartlands! Welsh language activists need to be less fixated about moving to/colonising Cardiff and taking up cosy QUANGO jobs if they really care about the language. The moment it stops being a majority community language, it is consigned to the musuem and it is never ever going to be a majority community language in Cardiff!

    The way I see it (and I’m sure many others do to), the census figures have highlighted this as very much a case of ‘Get your own house in order’ in the heartlands before you bother us outside the heartlands with any more commerce strangling Welsh language demands.

  3. Is there such a thing as histrionic overload?

    “Histrionic personality disorder is characterized by a long-standing pattern of attention seeking behavior and extreme emotionality.”

    And so here we go again with Cymdeithas. How many times in my life have I heard the wailing of this crew of self publicists? I can’t even count the number of times that the Welsh language has been declared “Dead by… 1996, 2000,2010…” fill in your own date. The dates come and go much like the deadlines for the Apocalypse. Mostly you can count on some massive piece of dishonesty, some declaration that “Everyone in Wales agrees…” when there is no evidence at all that any but a small minority agree with the hysterical zealotry of Cymdeithas.

    I’m all for support for small businesses wherever they may be in Wales but you ask Non-Welsh owners of small businesses in the Fro Cymraeg whether they think that they get fair consideration for contracts from local councils. Strangely they are under the impression that contracts and grant aid is targeted towards native Welsh speaking businesses. How odd! It seems that this is what Cymdeithas wants more of… racial and linguistic discrimination.

    Unfortunately EU law (and UK law) usually puts a duty on public bodies to choose contractors on the basis of fair tendering. Yes, I know that this is ignored in Ynys Mon and Gwynedd in favour of the preferred “Friends and Family” method of allocating business but do we really have to establish it as an all Wales accepted practice?

    As for TAN 20; was there ever a piece of advice more called upon and less justified than this? Look at this little piece of disinformation above:-

    “Only 0.03 per cent of the total number of planning applications over the last two years included a language assessment”

    I’ve twice applied for planning permission in the last five years… and never provided a Language Impact Assessment. Mind you it’s hard to see how my house extension could have much impact on the Welsh speaking context of the road I live on.

    This is the sort of dishonesty that Cymdeithas dishes out over and over again; of course only 0.03% of planning applications included a language impact assessment… there has to be some indication that there is, firstly, a need to consider the Welsh Language in any area plan. What are the levels of Welsh speaking in the community where the Language should be considered part of the social fabric of that community? We know that in some areas of Wales hardly any of the people who “Speak Welsh” can actually hold a five minute conversation in that language.
    When we consider this then we can see Cymdeithas Yr Iaith for what they are; Nationalists whose aim is an independent, Welsh speaking Wales that excludes and demonises anyone who doesn’t conform to their extreme and limited view of what Wales is and should be.

  4. I’ve read both (Part 1) and (Part2) as a totally Welsh, but anglicised person and for the first time in life am beginning to wonder if eventually ‘freedom under the Law’ will come to an end in this very unhappy part of the UK. It is clear that all ‘single issue’ movements are fanatical in their approach to life, as is their right within the law, however they take very little notice of a) reality, and b) the views of other people who have different prorities. I can well understand that people who grew up in very Welsh-speaking backgrounds would wish that to continue, however the current world is changing very rapidly and it’s difficult to stop the growth of the English language, even in large and pretty prosperous countries, let alone remote areas, which are sufferering from depopulation of young/talented people, but incomers from ‘over the border’. The worrying thing is that Welsh-speaking is a minority activity, however it is seen by many as a great priority by Welsh politicians who are frightened to death of being called ‘anti-Welsh’ by the zealots who see no ‘reason’ what so ever. We in Wales are facing great threats to our economic/social welfare, mainly through globalisation/capital transfers etc which will in time put the whole welfare compact under threat, but what is being done to deal with this matter, i.e nothing. One day a figure will arise from the English speaking majority who will demand that the ‘favoured’ status of the Welsh language come to an end, and that it face reality. This continual drive is upsetting a lot of people as they can see a) waste, b) favours for the chosen few, c) restrictions on private sector businesses, d) cuts in day to day services whilst S4C continues apace, etc. I was recently speaking to a 40 year old friend of my daughter, who has a classical ‘Welsh’ upbringing and queeried why he didn’t return to west Wales, as with his a) education, b) successful legal career he would be a STAR. Why would I wish to return to a BACKWATER at the peak on my career, which takes me world wide and meeting interesting people.

  5. The orientation suggested by comeoffit is surely correct. The priority must be to shore up Y Fro Gymraeg above making language conversions elsewhere.

    Shame on Jon Jones for equating a concern for the language with racial discrimination. It leaves him ill-placed to accuse others of hysterical distortion.

  6. Very helpful analysis in the article and very glad to see that Cymdeithas is putting forward positive proposals about how to strengthen the language. Hope that the Welsh Government will listen!

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