Heledd Fychan says that unless decisive action is taken, the language will die as a community language
As the Census figures released this week have revealed, the number of strongholds where Welsh is spoken as a majority language has fallen. Undoubtedly, this should be extremely worrying for those of us who are concerned about the future of the Welsh language, and give a kick up the backside of those who believe there is no cause for concern to get to grips with the problem before things worsen.
The truth is – unless decisive action is taken, the language will die as a community language. If we want to prevent that from happening, we need to act now to ensure the future of the language as a living and dynamic language.
But, how do we achieve this? Many people have many different ideas, and there are others who believe nothing should be done at all. So who is right, and what should the next steps be? Indeed, should we bother to do anything at all, when there are other important challenges we face as a nation, such as strengthening a weak economy?
These questions need to be answered, and answered thoroughly. And this is why this week Plaid launched a consultation on the future of the Welsh language, which will last a year. We want to tackle the tough questions about the future of the language, and give everyone a chance to have their say – from those who speak the language fluently or are learners to those who are supportive but do not speak it or even those who feel hostile towards the language. Now is the time for us to have an open and honest discussion about it all. After all, the language belongs to everyone in Wales and it is important that everyone contributes to this important debate.
How will the consultation work in practice? The idea is to encourage people to contribute discussion papers on different topics related to the language, which will be published on a dedicated website. People will be able to respond to these papers, either with comments by e-mail or by writing their own papers which will also be published on the website. We will also organize public meetings throughout Wales that will be open for everyone to attend, with translation facilities, in order to discuss certain subjects. Details of the meetings will be available by the end of February. When the year has ended, a task force will be established to review all the comments and ideas received and formulate Paid Cymru’s plan to revive the language, to go before our annual conference in October 2014. If these proposals are accepted, this will be the basis of our language policies if we form a government following the 2016 election.
We also believe that concrete steps can be taken now to strengthen the Welsh language, as outlined in the paper which is published today. The Labour Party must review the current policies that are in place, and examine what works, what does not and make the adjustments as needed. One thing is clear – the way the Welsh language is being taught in schools is not working, and there are too few opportunities to use the language in a normalized, day-to-day manner. There is also too little support for adults who are learning Welsh. There are certain other things that should also be addressed such as reforming public sector procurement by applying Welsh language clauses as social clauses and ensuring that there is specific reference to the Welsh Language in the Sustainable Development Bill. As Leanne Wood says in her introduction to the paper:
“Securing a future for the Welsh language is a core part of our vision for an independent Wales, and we believe that plans to regenerate the Welsh economy can complement a plan to regenerate the Welsh language rather than be at odds with it. Further, we firmly believe that the Welsh language can play an important role in our vision for creating sustainable communities.” This is an important argument for strengthening the Welsh language, and one we must look at it in more detail over the coming months if we want to turn it into a reality.
We want to encourage people to suggest radical ideas and practical solutions as part of the consultation. Do not think that everything has to be able to be implemented within the current system. We want to hear your views, so take the time to think and contribute to the discussion.
I’m lucky. Welsh is my first language. I was brought up in Anglesey where the Welsh language was alive and a natural part of the community. When I was sixteen, we moved to Caernarfon – and there’s no avoiding the Welsh language there! Everything was available in Welsh – dentist, doctor, haircuts, food, drink – everything. In fact, I barely needed to speak English – something that’s true of Caernarfon to this day.
It’s easy for me to be a Welsh speaker, and take for granted the fact that I’m bilingual. But, this isn’t the time to rest on our laurels and hope for the best. The opportunities for people to be bilingual will continue to diminish if we do not take positive action now to ensure the future of the language.
That is why this consultation is truly important. We need to address the concerns and put together a plan that will provide a clear role for the Welsh language a modern and independent Wales. It is said in Welsh – Cenedl heb iaith, cenedl heb galon – A nation without a language, a nation without a heart. We cannot allow Wales to lose a language that is a central part of its very soul and essence.
84 thoughts on “Cenedl heb iaith, cenedl heb galon”
There is something that I’d like to explore about your piece Heledd, not so much its content but its semantics and its assumptions. I’m not trivialising anything that you are saying but I think that the basic premises and the choice of language that you have used needs to be thought about.
“the number of strongholds where Welsh is spoken as a majority language has fallen.”
This is a military metaphore…a small, plucky, garrison holding out against a superior force perhaps….the superior force is “The enemy” and in this context the “enemy” is people who use English as their first, preferred and day to day language. But you are a politician and in this context we always have to think of the “Enemy” as being people who will not vote for you; a politician without a constituency which shares their political standpoint is a non-politician, a powerless politician….an ex-politician.
So when we look at the “Language stongholds” which are all except one (over 70% speaking Welsh) within Gwynedd and Ynys Mon, we should also be aware that we are looking at Plaid strongholds and we should also be aware that a diminution of the Welsh speaking character of those strongholds is the death knell to Plaid local and, ultimately, National politicians.
So, if you will forgive me for pointing out that, when Plaid gazes mistily into the distance and urges us to “Save our Welsh speaking Communities”, there is a little cynical part of me that translates that as “If anymore English come here my career is finished!”.
So, I have to ask how far this phrase “Our Welsh Speaking Communities” is an honest representation of what Wales thinks and, more importantly, how Wales behaves. You say later that:
“After all, the language belongs to everyone in Wales”.
I would like to explore that often repeated, never analysed, statement:- In what sense does Welsh belong to me? It no more belongs to me than the Bentley parked in the drive of a house two doors away from me. I may believe that that car enhances the look of our street but I can’t drive it to work. We know that 81% of people who live in Wales don’t have any Welsh at all and we know that between 10% and 12% of the people of Wales can speak Welsh fluently and about 8% or less consider it to be the language that they habitually use. We know that just 29 parishes have 75% of the people in them who speak Welsh to some degree….all parishes of Gwynedd and Ynys Mon. 49 parishes have 70% of the people who speak Welsh to some degree ….all but one in Gwynedd and Ynys Mon. “157 parishes have equal numbers of people who can and can’t speak Welsh, almost all these parishes are within the four counties of the Fro Cymraeg and almost all these parishes are in counties that return Plaid Cymru politicians to the Senedd or Westminster.
I mention these things for one simple reason….the bedrock of Plaid Cymru’s support is dependent on the unchanging character of the Welsh speaking areas. Simultaneously the only hope that Plaid has of moving forward to a position of government is to ignore the Welsh speaking core of its voters and re-invent itself as a party for non-Welsh speakers, but those non Welsh speakers must, nevertheless, believe that Welsh (the language) is “Living” somewhere and will “Die” without their support.
This of course is the “Big Lie” that Plaid and the many Welsh Language pressure groups seek to sell. There is another way to power in Wales and another way to an independent Wales……and it is heavily dependent on a Welsh speaking agenda in the employment market.
The way forward for Culture and Language Nationalism to bring about an Independent Wales is for more and more influential positions in local and national government to be occupied by Welsh Speakers and for the myth to be widely accepted in Wales that there is a deprived and downtrodden Welsh speaking minority (but not too small a minority) that really needs to have every service in Wales available to Welsh speakers and, therefore, delivered by Welsh speakers.
Let’s just suppose that this state of affairs comes about; what is the end result? Well inward migration, particularly by young working age people, becomes less and less possible whilst outward migration is increasingly from the part of the working age population that is not Welsh fluent. We already see the result of this in the medical profession, the Wales Deanery, in evidence to the Assembly, comments that recruitment of Doctors to Wales is hampered by the perception that Welsh speaking is a requirement. Meri Huws reinforces this in a judgement this month against Betsi-Cadwaladr trust, ostensibly concerning a Welsh speaking clergyman but reinforcing the demand that the hospitals maintain a Welsh speaking requirement for staff recruitment.
In teaching, too, the gates are being closed to the large pool of non-Welsh speakers to our East….whilst more and more pressure and more and more dishonest propaganda is used to increase the number of Welsh Medium schools. Where do the teachers come from for these schools? Overwhelmingly from the Plaid dominated areas and, no matter the quality of those teachers, there is every likelyhood that they will find employment; for every job advertised in a Welsh Medium Primary school there are 11 applicants. For every job advertised in an English Medium Primary school there are 33 applicants. Un reported the level of attainment in Welsh medium Primary and Secondary schools, when compared to similar English medium schools, continues to fall.
So in the long term Wales can build a border which effectively keeps out the English whilst offering secure employment to people in Wales who have the wholey unnecessary qualification of Welsh speaking ability. But what can Plaid do about the English Old Folk???
Admirable sentiments but the fact that it has been launched by Plaid will, I fear, be counter-productive. It has to be an all-party non-political effort.
Is there a more vilified group of pensioners anywhere in the UK than the English people who retire to the Fro Cymraeg? Despite the evidence that falling percentages of Welsh speakers in the FRO is a result of falling birth rate, itself a result of the exodus of young people to the South East of Wales, the Plaid activists continue to point the finger at the hated English pensioner. Have we moved on from the “English Colonists out” propaganda of the Seimonistas?? (Seimon Glyn and Seimon Brooks) Not one jot! So this is the next move of Plaid, assisted by Cymdeithas et al; housing must be reserved for local Welsh speakers…..somehow planning law will be changed to prevent the erosion of the Plaid power base in the Fro……the creation of a “reservation” from which any may leave for employment in the South but only “local Peopel” will be welcomed back. The West becomes ossified with all new employment dependent on Welsh speaking ability.
Is this picture of the future realistic? Well, it’s so close to the present state of affairs that I venture to say that its not too apocalyptic in outlook.
There is one fundamental question that is never asked; what are the employment rights of people who wish to “live their lives through their first language” if that language is English? With no evidence that there is anything but minimal demand for Welsh Language service, and with every indication that the number of people capable of requiring Welsh language services is falling rapidly, why is it considered fair, or even rational, to demand that job applicants speak Welsh?
It is time that Welsh became a “Political Football” again. By refusing to discuss the Language in the Senedd the people of Wales are disenfranchised.
Brilliant contribution Jon Jones and there is nothing I can add to your vision and arguments other than making a small observation of the extent of deceit on the part of Welsh Government when it comes to the Welsh language. Last December I had to use FOI Act to get information on like for like basis in terms of comparative performance of WM v EM education. Eventually the information was released and it’s now on WAG web pages: http://wales.gov.uk/publications/accessinfo/disclogs/dr2012/octdec/addysg1/dled205/;jsessionid=89C1F0A646EB619A333A9E12D5BCE127?lang=en – Contrary to the popular belief created by WAG and Welsh Language Board, WM education is inferior to EM education. The only question that I have for Welsh Education Department is why this kind of information does not form a standard annual disclosure instead forcing people to rely on the FOI to get what they should have been given in the first place and a question for the Welsh Government when people of Wales especially the parents will be given freedom of choice how to educate their children WM or EM!?
One simple fact remains. If you want to live your life in English you can live in England, the United States, Canada (most of), Australia, New Zealand, South Africa,…etc etc. If you want to live in Welsh you have only a few areas of Wales. What in those circumstances is wrong with a majority of the people in those areas trying to preserve their linguistic character? And what is wrong with their having a political party to represent them? If living with Welsh is painful, you have a solution to hand. I recommend Tasmania.
Further evidence, if further evidence is needed, that Plaid is broken – the left hand doesn’t know what the further-left hand is doing!
Where I live Plaid has already decided how it is going to treat the Census results:
It is more of the same ugly discrimination and social engineering – policies which have been driving inward investment and skilled people out of Gwynedd, to my certain knowledge, since 1986.
Of course, Plaid in Gwynedd don’t really ‘do’ consultation on language and that’s doubly true for the English language. Gwynedd Council does not consider it necessary to engage in consultation with parents during school re-organisations on the grounds that they do not even offer a choice, despite years of operating under Welsh Office then Welsh Government guidelines which said they should consult.
They say there is no demand for English-medium education but they have never asked the parents what they want! It should not be the responsibility of parents to consult with the LEA piecemeal – it should be the responsibility of the LEA to consult with the parents in an accurate, unbiased, and verifiable way, and then for the LEA to act upon the results they receive.
Somehow, I don’t think a consultation run by Plaid HQ is going to make a blind bit of difference to the second class citizens of Gwynedd like me…
A bit extreme Tredwyn – The simple solution is parallel lives for those few that find it so abhorrent to use English – It’s about personal choices that Welsh nationalism is not prepared to tolerate and in the process destroying Wales economically and socially.
“We cannot allow Wales to lose a language that is a central part of its soul and essence.”
The word allow is slightly ‘chilling’, as it would encapsulate ANY policy needed to preserve the language, in the eyes of the Welsh language enforcement society. As a very old man who has lived in Wales virtually all his life, and carried out the same through the English language, and has no interest in the Welsh language (still allowed I understand, but for how long?) I believe we are at a crossroads for all Welsh people. The crisis of the Welsh language in the ‘heartlands’, is typical of all aspects of life in all remote areas that do not attract inward investment necessary to retain its best and brightest. Without the movement of retired English people, or even worse English-only speaking Welsh people (to the enforcers) how would even the current market survive and sustain some jobs. In speaking to a clearly well-off Englishman, who supported a well known rugby team, it was clear he had great memories of travelling to south Wales when he followed his team, however his views on the north are virtually unprintable, except to say he had very bad experiences. He thought such attitudes he has met were having a detrimental impact on Wales as a whole, and I agreed with him. In a free market, and liberal society there are forces that cannot be contained, without such coercive legislation necessary to try and reverse certain facts of life. The anglicised areas of south Wales have historically been open to change, and inward migration, and in stark contrast to the ‘heartlands’ which are seen as inward looking, and very reactionary. The problems created by ‘welshification’, is that the 10% have in effect carried out a ‘coup’, with the connivance of a gutless political class who are afraid to be denouced as being ‘anti-Welsh’. The attutudes of the ‘heartlands’ are in centre place, and the drive of the Welsh language fanatics knows no bounds, and with creation of WLB we are at an end game. Let us look ahead to 20 years, and if the Welsh language is in further decline at that stage, (as it will be), what will be response of our political classes? There can on current policies be only one solution, ie. the enforcement of Welsh learning/ speaking on a deeply unhappy populace. Am I too cynical in believing that Welsh nationalism in its totally will accept/require further funding from English taxpayers/workers to fund our current lifestyle, i.e S4C, whilst telling them in no polite language, that they ain’t welcome here.
Jon Jones: Suggesting Plaid Cymru supports the survival of the Welsh language for political gain/to keep currently held seats is one of the craziest suggestions I have heard in a long time. I love my first language and the culture associated with it, and think it’s an important part of the nation’s history and character. My arguments have nothing at all to do with winning elections, but rather, are about ensuring Wales thrives as a bilingual nation, and that both languages are respected. Plaid has led two debates about the language in the Senedd recently, so we’re not shying away from debate. Why not look at our consultation document online: http://www.renew.plaidcymru.org/, and submit your questions, suggestions and comments via the email: [email protected]. We can then consider your evidence as part of our policy development.
A more general point to the language haters – what is so wrong with giving people access to two languages and encouraging people to become multi-lingual in a country where there are two living languages? Why shouldn’t we want to protect something which makes us unique, and enriches the opportunities available? People talk about personal choice, and yet say that Welsh speakers shouldn’t have rights or be in anyway protected. In other words, it would be more convenient if the Welsh language was to disappear. That saddens me greatly. Do you honestly want to see a world exist that only has one language, and one generic culture? If so, why?
I don’t want to see a Wales of us and them – Welsh speakers and non-Welsh speakers. As I said above, we’re a bilingual nation and we should respect both languages and both cultures, as well as all the other languages and cultures of Welsh citizens. Like it or not, the Welsh language has survived thus far and is an important part of Welsh identity and culture. How it evolves is up to the people of Wales. We’re asking people for their views, and if you have something to contribute to the debate, then please get involved via the channels noted above.
Jacques – the issue is less about personal choice than about basic human rights. What is at stake here is the basic right for Welsh-speakers to conduct their day-to-day lives in what, for many, is their native tongue. And yes, to use a military metaphor is entirely appropriate because this is essentially a reaction against linguistic imperialism, which IS a form of militant attack. Jon Jones’ incessantly-spouted ‘facts’ is a fine example of the rhetorical devices used in this form of imperialism.
The idea that spouting facts is a rhetorical device is an interesting one. The correct response would be to counter that with other facts. But aside from ‘facts’ I suggest that there is a need to ‘calm down’, otherwise nothing will be achieved.
Heledd, I don’t doubt your sincerity and committment to your language, but I think it is a grave mistake to make it political in the way that you have. And picking up on what has been said about attitudes I’m afraid to say that unless there is a determined effort by Welsh speakers to be more friendly towards outsiders, then there is little hope of healing the division that currently exists in this country between Welsh speakers and non-Welsh speakers. And by presenting a very long list of areas which need attention, the chances are that none of them, even the ‘sensible’ ones, will be done well because there simply isn’t the money, resources or fluent Welsh speakers to implement them.
I wouldn’t worry about the kind of comments this article has attracted. It’s three people that always express these views, as is their right. Back in the real world, public support for Welsh remains undimished. Although Welsh-medium education isn’t really creating the amount of active Welsh speakers once imagined, its enduring popularity is also worth recognising. Demand is still not being met. But don’t assume that the education system alone can save the language. It’s a good bedrock but to use the language outside of school there needs to be a strong range of cultural opportunities available.
“Language Haters” Heledd? “Welsh Language haters?” And so the mask slips… How many times have I heard people who disagree with the Nationalist vision of a Welsh speaking Wales decribed as “language haters”. Rather I think that those people like myself feel that the Language proponents are over-powerful and utterly mendacious. The idea that I would “Hate” a language is strangely novel, particularly since I, like you was brought up in Ynys Mon and went to Primary and secondary school here and have seen my children through the same Welsh Medium schools that I went to.
Let’s look at this:-
“People talk about personal choice, and yet say that Welsh speakers shouldn’t have rights or be in anyway protected.”
I have never heard a single person say, nor have I ever seen it written, that “Welsh speakers shouldn’t have rights”. So this statement of yours is just another attempt to re-establish your “Victim” status in this discussion. “Welsh people shouldn’t be IN ANYWAY protected.” Really Heledd?? Are there NO legal protections for people who speak Welsh? I would have thought that in fact they were protected in much the same way as any other member of society in Wales but, more so. Aren’t you one of those groups, along with minors and elderly people who have a Commissioner with legal powers to look after your interests as a minority group? And yet, where non-Welsh speakers form a minority of the population, there is no more vociferous group upholding the “Rights” of the majority Welsh speakers than the Culture and language Nationalists.
The much vaunted, much demanded, “right” to Welsh Medium education is respected and enforced by law all over Wales but let one Parent in the Fro Cymraeg humbly suggest that they would like to see their child educated in the language of his home, the “other” legal language in Wales, English, and the bile is spilled in gallons as people like R tredwyn above urges those parents to leave Wales for countries where they have never lived.
This is the country of rights and equalities is it Heledd? This is the Plaid vision of Saunders Lewis, an independent country born out of the compulsory imposition of Welsh, by degrees, on all its population.
“What is so wrong with giving people access to two languages and encouraging people to become multi-lingual…” No problem Heledd, no problem at all with “giving access”. But where in Gwynedd do the authorities give the free access to English Medium Education? And in Ynys Mon, where the majority of children come from English speaking homes, where is the freedom to have English medium education…oh I forgot…if you want English medium education move to England…go back where you came from…
And Multi-lingualism? It’s almost as if it has passed you by that in Wales the children leaving school are the least likely of any children in the UK to have a qualification in a Modern foreign language. Why, Heledd? Because of the National obsession with compulsory Welsh. Not freedom to be bi-lingual in the language of your choice but the compulsion to be bi-lingual in… no let’s not kid ourselves…have a nodding acquainance with, Welsh.
Thank you again for the responses. For all who are making comments, may I remind again – Why not look at our consultation document online: http://www.renew.plaidcymru.org/, and submit your questions, suggestions and comments via the email: [email protected]. We can then consider your evidence as part of our policy development.
I speak Welsh, it was my first language. I speak it to my friends and family here in Cardiff and back home in West Wales. I don’t categorise myself as a ‘Nationalist’. Yes, I was born into a Welsh speaking community. I now live in a multi-lingual community and embrace all who live in it. I just happened to have Welsh as my first language – now I speak three languages. They are forms of communication, why on earth should there be any hostility towards any form of communication? Why am I frowned upon for which language I chose to speak? I suppose I have love in my heart for all backgrounds, races, faiths, sexualities and lanuages. Those who don’t – hate.
The above comments are directed to those in strong opposition of Heledd Fychan’s words, and who have turned her article into yet another excuse to demoralise those who wish to speak a language. I find it very curious why hearing or seeing Welsh offends people so much!! And even more curious is why people want it to be rid of completely. How on earth is Welsh as a language SO threatening??!!!
Heledd – I, for one, won’t be commenting on the Plaid web site as I don’t think it should be regarded as a political issue. Carys – it is not a matter of Welsh offending people though, rather unfortunately, if you read and hear the comments made by non-Welsh speakers the attitudes of Welsh speakers to non-Welsh speakers would sometimes seem to be offensive. As for demoralising you, well no, the intention is to try to make Welsh speakers face reality and to come up with sensible, practical solutions. A scatter-gun approach won’t work.
You have countered targeted questions and facts with broad, romantic sentiment.
Why are the Welsh language lobby so afraid of entering a point by point debate? It seems as though whenever critical analysis is made, the response is cries of “anti-Welsh” … and if they are picked up for that they will default one step further to such broad, tangeant statements as :
“How on earth is Welsh as a language SO threatening?”
Stop changing the argument and counter the points raised! It’s blatantly obvious to me that Jon Jones has the better of you when you all default to emotive irrelevant cries!
Carys – Most people don’t have any objections to Welsh language but most people object to compulsion and above all the educational damage to young children who are forced to learn Welsh against their wishes and wishes of their parents. 40% of kids leaving Welsh primary education are illiterate in English language and have no numeracy and this is a national disaster!
Fair enough if you don’t want to comment Colin, but it would be irresponsible of Plaid not to consult people in developing policy regarding the language, as when we are a party of Government, we’ll need to make decisions regarding the language and have strong policies in place which will have an impact on the language.
Heledd – I feel that by making this a political issue you are creating a situation which is likely to hasten the decline of the language rather than arresting or improving it – the exact opposite of what you aspire to.
Martin Jones wrote: “I wouldn’t worry about the kind of comments this article has attracted. It’s three people that always express these views, as is their right. Back in the real world, public support for Welsh remains undimished.”
Heledd, yours and Plaid’s approach is the right one. Keep at it!
Every Politian in Wales should study Gwynedd and I mean really look closely.
You state: “Securing a future for the Welsh language is a core part of our vision for an independent Wales” – How can we have an independent Wales when the evidence appears to point to the reverse is happening? We rely more than ever on the English tax payers.
Welsh inward investment was once leading most of the UK, NOW BOTTOM. The fear of the Welsh Language is putting inward investment off, especially in Gwynedd. People are afraid to come here with children because we are getting rid of all English medium schools, the last English medium school in Gwynedd we are told is going all Welsh in the near future with the current head master getting nearer to retirement so how can none-Welsh speaking parents help their children with their homework? And that is before they look at the exam stats which now puts the UK near the bottom in the World and Wales is behind the rest of the UK.
In Gwynedd state schools you can only have your child educated through the medium of Welsh until they have turned seven and if your child’s birthday is just after September 1st then they will be going on eight before they will have any English at school. It is left to the parents to teach their children English and if your child is dyslectic then you do have problems because it won’t be picked up until later in Gwynedd. Do you really want the rest of Wales to be like Gwynedd where the brightest children have to leave for a job that will pay more than the minimum wage unless they work for the large public sector beast.
Well you don’t actually have even to leave Wales if you don’t want your children exposed to Welsh. Try Blaenau Gwent or Newport. I just don’t understand why Jon Jones and Mr Protic don’t understand that the Welsh majority in the remaining few areas where Welsh is the community language want to keep it that way. The weakness of Welsh as a community language stems from the very fact that its speaker also understand English. If the English speaking minority is small enough they assimilate by learning Welsh. Once it gets big enough it can dig in an compel the majority to communicate in English. Then the Community language slowly changes. That is why it is not simply a matter of individual choice. Effectively the pleas of Messrs Jones and Protic are for the replacement of Welsh as a community language by English and Mr Protic at least makes few bones about it. Well, tough. If you go to live in France your kids are taught at school in French. If you don’t like it you know what to do. Exactly the same applies and should apply in Gwynedd and the rest of the Bro Gymraeg. That is not extremism; it is realism. Most of us want Welsh to survive; we think that more important than economic considerations while people are not in real want. If you will the ends you must will the means. ~The “I support Welsh but…” school are frauds or fools.
And just to head off the inevitable obfuscation: language protection is not racialism. Anyone is welcome to live in the Fro so long as they accept its linguistic character. The Welsh are not racially distinct from the English, as DNA studies show. Liverpool pensioners are welcome if they accept the responsibility to learn enough Welsh to communicate – just as they would pick up some Spanish if they retired to the Costa del Sol. It’s the arrogance of the people like Mr Protic who think the whole linguistic character of a region should be rearranged for their convenience that is unacceptable.
Come off it, Comeoffit!! I’m stating my own circumstance. My emotive ‘cries’ were actually meant to be read with a sense of humour. And in my own circumstance – I do have a qualification in a ‘foreign’ language. Compulsory bilingualism is hardly the end of the world. Dare I say it – give it a bash maybe!! (again, please have a sense of humour. )
Colin Miles, if we are discussing the best way to support the use of Welsh, with implications for resource allocation, how can we avoid making that ‘a political issue’. How would you like these matters dealt with?
Colin Miles – “I’m afraid to say that unless there is a determined effort by Welsh speakers to be more friendly towards outsiders, then there is little hope of healing the division that currently exists in this country between Welsh speakers and non-Welsh speakers”
You imply all Welsh speakers are unfriendly towards outiders, (and you seem to have defined all non-Welsh speakers as outsiders) and that may be your personal experince. I can’t comment on that, however I can comment on my own experience as a Welsh speaker, being insulted and mocked by adults who don’t speak Welsh (both from Wales and further afield). That’s not to suggest that all non-Welsh speakers are hostile towards Welsh speakers, that would be a generalisation as unjustifiable as that in the above comment.
In any country, or community where a different language is spoken it really pays to respect the cultural traditions of local people. The best way to do this in my experience has been to learn how to communicate with them using their language rather than expecting them to cater to my own.
Indeed in Britain, immigrants are now expected to show not only an ability to speak English, but also appreciate and express an understanding of British culture. Clearly this expectation doesn’t cover Wales, in particular Welsh speaking areas, but it provides all migrants wherever they move to an idea of how best to approach a move to another country.
The intention is to highlight the importance of the migrant’s responsibility to integrate into a society rather than expecting a society to integrate with the migrant.
When one shows no appreciation for, or demonstrates a disrespectful attitude toward the local culture of the area they move to or visit, then it is not surprising if people of the locality return the same sentiments.
Well Tred. In fact it is YOU who are obfuscating. In Ynys Mon, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire the majority of school children have English as a home language. Why would it be reasonable to force those children into Welsh Medium schools in the place where they were born? Is the “Language of the Hearth” only sacred if it is the Welsh Language?
But let’s go a step further; we know now that Welsh Medium schools underperform English Medium schools when like for like are compared. This isn’t to say that some schools don’t perform above the average but the average has been significantly on the side of EM schools for many years now. Worse, because the 2011 and 2012 Key stage 3 results show EM schools outperforming WM schools we can reasonably expect that GCSE results will follow suit for two years and because Key stage 2 results show the same disadvantage in WM schools we know that the same results are at least likely 5 years from now.
We know more of course, we know who fails disproportionately in Welsh Medium schools; it is pupils from English speaking homes. So let’s go one stage further; a proportion of pupils from WM schools will leave and qualify to become Welsh Medium teachers. They will find it easier to secure work than teachers able only to teach in EM schools and they will be the next generation responsible for producing BI-LINGUAL Primary children at Key stage 2. I recently sampled the 2012 crop of Welsh Medium qualified teachers from one Teacher training establishment in the north and one in the south. It was evident that they were well qualified in Welsh; of 72 achieving QTS to teach in Welsh Medium Primary schools 31% had a GCE A level in Welsh first language. 46% of them had an A at GCSE in Welsh first language.
Here’s the problem: only 4% had a GCE A level in English and only 13% had an A at GCSE in English and 46% had scraped in with the minimum acceptable pass…a C in English.
This tells us two things; that Welsh-medium primaries produce pupils who are not adequately taught English and that the situation will continue to spiral until someone actually bites the bullet and admits publicly that the mantra…”Children in Welsh-medium schools do as well as or better in English than children in EM schools”. Is a lie invented by the Welsh Language Board and repeated ever since.
Now I know that in the south many parents are choosing Welsh-medium schools… fine no problem, and if their child doesn’t thrive there’s an English-medium school not far away. What happens in the Fro Tredwyn?? If little Justin doesn’t take to Welsh-medium education his family must move to New Zealand, Australia…..or Newport.
This is a timely article with the various issues and anniversaries related with the language of late: the BBC / S4C arrangement, dispute with Radio Cymru regarding playing royalties, the Cymdeithas anniversary / establishment of Dyfodol etc.
My own background is that of a South-Walian non-native Welsh speaker. I think I fall into the learner category that has been described on this site in other articles – that of someone who would like to see the language survive, but does not put in the spade work to learn it. However, I did complete a term of Mynediad Dwys and loved it – as a native English speaker, it was a terrific experience to get to the point where I was starting to think in Welsh. But it’s not a priority to me now that I live and work away from Wales.
My own views on language preservation vary as much as the language is spoken in Wales. Sometimes I feel the current approach to a bilingual Wales is a necessary one given that certain areas see predominance of Welsh use; other times I find the at times almost blanket use of translation suffocating, and is evidently polarizing opinion.
As Tredwyn says, I don’t think that the language can sit outside the sphere of politics when it is linked to things like resource allocation etc. Regarding any future consultation, it would be good to get as much opinion from outside of Wales, to get some balance to an emotive and polarizing issue. As suggested by the article, the various upheavals the language is undergoing at the moment can encourage debate. I think that discussing and airing matters now will benefit the health of the language in the long term, even though there may be a few uncomfortable truths to be faced up to initially.
Jon, you yourself have produced data to show that the one area where WM education produces results as good as EM, input adjusted, is Gwynedd. And you argued that was probably because Gwynedd is the last place left where Welsh is a majority community language. The sad fact may well be Welsh is doomed as a majority language in other parts of the old Bro and when the damage has been done you will have an unanswerable case for linguistic choice in education. All the more reason to protect the community status of Welsh in the appropriate area. What would little Justin do if his parents moved to France and he didn’t thrive? They wouldn’t have the cheek to insist the French state provide him with an English education.
“What would little Justin do if his parents moved to France and he didn’t thrive? They wouldn’t have the cheek to insist the French state provide him with an English education.” Always a false analogy Tred. as, no doubt, you know. The main driver of language acquisition is “need”. I know that you aren’t going to like me saying this but here goes…….there is nowhere in Wales, and I include Gwynedd, (I work in Caernarfon) where Welsh is actually essential to live from day to day. Welsh Medium education works in Gwynedd because Welsh is the FIRST language of the majority of pupils….how many are more comfortable in English? Well in 2009 and 2010 I asked Gwynedd LEA what percentage of GCSEs were taken through the medium of Welsh:- 56% in 2009, 55% in 2010. The percentage of pupils with Welsh as a home langauge is 58% so, as you can see the figures are about logical. The point is that NONE of the pupils whose home language was English chose to take GCSE in Welsh. This is the problem as I see it; teaching the language in WM schools changes nothing in reality; logical free choice always brings about reversion to first language.
Don’t misunderstand me; I am all for pupils learning through their first language and all for parents having a free choice….but that’s it Tred. CHOICE.
Maybe this is a sign of the turning tide:
This isn’t a discussion paper it’s a totally one-sided maniffesto! As Jon Jones points out the word we are looking for is CHOICE and the word choice appears just once in this Plaid maniffesto in the context of the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol and more choice for Welsh speakers. There is not one word about the choice to live our lives entirely in English – which is precisely what a very substantial proportion of the population in Wales is more than happy to do.
It is perfectly obvious that compulsory Welsh in education and compulsory bilingual communication from the public sector, and any other sector that can be persuaded or intimidated or hi-jacked by statute into doing the same, is the only policy that Plaid has on offer.
The status quo is not acceptable to most people I know who have expressed an opinion – it certainly is not acceptable to me – and the status quo appears to be your stated minimum position. As such the word consultation is null and void and there is absolutely no point in wasting our lives negotiating within a frame of reference such as this. Please stop taking us for fools!
John R Walker – “There is not one word about the choice to live our lives entirely in English”
Can you give an example of how you’ve been unable to live your life entirely in English? (seeing and hearing Welsh doesn’t really count).
I’ve just come back from Spar where there was a big magazine rack full of English magazines and newspapers, the shelves were full of English branded products, the person behind the till didn’t speak Welsh, so I had to speak English.
You can live your life entirely in English, even your child has to learn Welsh, this will impact on their ability to conduct their lives entirely in English as would their learning of French or German.
You support a petition to allow parents of children to opt out of learning Welsh, let’s hope you and the rest of the people who suppport the petition don’t expect much ground to stand on when you complain that your children are unsuitable for positions requiring Welsh speakers.
As an advocate of choice, I assume you support Welsh speakers having a choice to speak Welsh?
Tredwyn – by making it a political issue in the way that Plaid have, they have made it divisive. Whether they mean to or not they are implying that other political parties won’t save the Welsh language. If you really want to save the language it has to be an issue which is above party politics. What Plaid have presented is, as John R Walker has said, simply a party political manifesto and will do nothing whatever to save the language. It is divisive.
Matthew – I didn’t say that all Welsh speakers are unfriendly to non-Welsh speakers and to think that was the implication is rather stretching it. What I was reporting on were the unsolicited comments made by English visitors compared to their experiences in other countries. If you read the comments online elsewhere you get the same reactions. It may be unfair and largely untrue, but the perception of unfriendliness is there and has to be addressed if any progress is to be made.
I watched the ‘Jews in Wales’ last night and was struck by the fact that they have largely left for better opportunities elsewhere. Not a language issue but an economic one and in the end what will decide the fate of the language.
Jon Jones – ‘The main driver of language acquisition is “need”,’
That’s true, but the way in which you define a ‘need’ is subjective. For someone who would rather see a future without the Welsh language, then there may only appear to be a need to campaign against it.
For those of us who would rather see a future for the Welsh language there IS a need to ensure people who want to speak Welsh can speak Welsh if they so choose.
Remember, I only have to write this in English because you can’t speak/read Welsh, you afford me no choice. This is one of the reasons why we see the Welsh language in decline.
Many of the non-Welsh speaking people who moved to places like Ynys Mon maybe 40 or 50 years ago decided that there was simply no ‘need’ for them to learn Welsh. Welsh speakers couldn’t choose to speak anything but English to such people. So it’s no wonder why Welsh language use has declined on Mon in the last 50 years or so.
This issue of ‘need’ will come down to whether or not you wish the Welsh language to continue. It’s quite obvious where you stand on that matter, but as a stated advocate of CHOICE, how does a Welsh speaker choose to speak Welsh to someone who doesn’t speak Welsh?
Furthermore, how does a person who doesn’t speak Welsh choose to apply for a job that requires a Welsh speaker?
Isn’t there a need for Welsh speaking staff in positions where people might want to choose to speak Welsh. Or do these issues of CHOICE and NEED only extend as far as it suits your argument?
This statement of yours is well worth examining Matthew:
“Isn’t there a need for Welsh speaking staff in positions where people might want to choose to speak Welsh. Or do these issues of CHOICE and NEED only extend as far as it suits your argument?”
If only because I might turn it round and ask the same question; why should ANY first language English speaker HAVE to respond to you in Welsh? You have made it quite clear that you write to the IWA in English against your will. I am making it quite clear that I object to my children being forced to learn Welsh merely to serve the whim of you and the other 3%-4% of the population of Wales who want to “Live their lives through Welsh”.
I would also like to question your assumptions about Ynys Mon. Today I notice in the Daily Post that a(yet another) Welsh language pressure group is advocating that ALL councils should run their internal affairs in Welsh only…just as Gwynedd does. They say that Ynys Mon should be the next council to do this. If they had read the Ynys Mon Welsh Language policy they would have noticed that it is already the council’s policy and will become a reality when the remaining 2%-3% non Welsh speakers employed there retire or leave. Then we will have the single largest employer on the island employing only fluent and literate Welsh speakers.
What proportion of the population will require Welsh language service? Well 53% of the adult population speak Welsh. Of that 53%, 78% are fluent in Welsh (WLB) and so we know that the likely uptake of Welsh Language services in Ynys Mon is 41%. I won’t bother to try to work out what the percentage of the population is that doesn’t work in some capacity providing the service that they are simultaneously demanding but perhaps you see how incestuous the demands for Welsh language provision have become; those vociferously demanding that only Welsh speakers should be employed are the very same people who demand that the services are available in Welsh and the same people who actually work in positions that are Welsh essential.
So the reality is, in Wales as a whole as well as in Ynys Mon, that an artificial “Need” based on the preference of a minority is resulting in a very real discrimination in the jobs market. The results are far reaching; outward migration of young people who are not fluent in Welsh (notice “not fluent” not “non-Welsh speakers”) whilst school statistics show that young parents who speak Welsh are far more likely to be employed than those parents who don’t speak Welsh.
Wales has become a very segregated and unequal society as a result of the 1993 Welsh Language act.
Matthew – the reality in modern Wales is that there are few jobs where there are an absolute need to have a Welsh speaker. Indeed, in the modern world I would question whether a language which, so I am constantly told, is mainly an oral and community language, is a suitable means of communication where the written word is so important. And therein lies a major problem with the Welsh language, the difference in word order between the spoken and written word which is something of a barrier to efficient communication. This goes some way towards explaining the differences between the fluent speakers and readers/writers that were highlighted in the Census. And there are many countries in the world where the indigenous language or languages are not enshrined in their constitutions in the way that Welsh has become in Wales. As things stand, it would appear that both educationally and economically the ambitious, probably highly over-ambitious attempt to revive Welsh has had, and is having, a serious effect on these two crucial areas of life in this country. A change of strategy is called for if the language is to be saved, the economy revived and educational standards improved.
Collin – You implied a division between Welsh speakers and non-Welsh speakers in Wales is the fault of Welsh speakers who you portrayed as being unfriendly towards outsiders. If these ‘outsiders’ have nothing to do with non-Welsh speaking Welsh people, how would Welsh speakers being more friendly towards outsiders change anything surrounding the division you state being between Welsh speakers and non-Welsh speakers?
“the perception of unfriendliness is there and has to be addressed if any progress is to be made”
What you seem to be talking about is the idea that speaking Welsh in front of people who don’t speak Welsh is rude, and somehow it’s not rude to tell someone to stop speaking Welsh because you can’t understand what they’re saying. No-one could possibly make such a complaint in any other country, but in Wales it’s ok? We know how Welsh speakers were told to stop speaking Welsh or to leave a shop on the Isle of Wight, but it’s Welsh speakers who are unfriendly to outsiders?
The problem in areas that untill recently used to be predominantly Welsh speaking, is that people are having to move away, while (often non-Welsh speaking people) have been replacing them.
The causes of this are obviously economic, and the effects in turn cause more economic problems with increasing house prices, empty holiday homes, health cost of retirees etc, we all know this. Certain counties of England have been able to take steps to counter these issues, something Wales has failed to do.
The fate of the language does lie with the economy, however people who choose to live in Welsh speaking areas can also choose to be part of the problem or part of the solution. They can decide to integrate with local culture, or they can decide not to integrate with local culture. Does this constitute being unfriendly to outsiders? Cultural integration is something the UK government actively promotes, why can’t Wales, unless we’re expected to integrate into what it deems to be British culture.
“The best examples of immigration have on the whole been small scale with manageable numbers of people, coming from one country, or one ethnic background, and most importantly of all, who have wanted to integrate”. – David Davies MP
However, some of the most prolific commentees on this blog (the Gogwatch ex-pats), are firm in the belief that the language is the problem. Of course, take away the language and these areas will still face the same economic difficulties – just without the Welsh language.
We all bear the responsiblity over the future of the Welsh language, and if ownership of the language is represented metaphorically by an expensive car owned by a neighbour. Then we shouldn’t need to look too far to find out who keeps letting down the tyres and taking a key to the paintwork, even though the same people know that they’re welcome to drive it whenever they like.
I understand why you believe the Welsh langauge shouldn’t be an issue taken up by one party or the other, but if no-one else is doing anything about it, I’d rather somebody do something than nobody do anything. I think it’s worth noting that no UK government representative has expressed any concern for the Welsh language.
To look at it in another way, you could wonder whether other political parties have held back and allowed Plaid to move first on this in order to play their own political game of claiming Plaid is only about the Welsh language. That’s the way other political parties make political use of the language, although Cardiff Labour recently had the sense to pulp 5,000 leaflets before distributing them.
“I would question whether a language which, so I am constantly told, is mainly an oral and community language, is a suitable means of communication where the written word is so important”
If you know how to read and write Welsh you know how to read and write Welsh, like any other language, when people have less opportunity to read and write Welsh, as with any other language, their ability to read and write Welsh suffers.
I wouldn’t personally take a lower percentage of people who can read and write Welsh in relation to those who speak it as anything but an indication that people have less opportunity to read and write it. When you look at the demographic and age range of Welsh speakers, you’ll find a large proportion grew up without being taught how to read and write Welsh. Many of these people will also have largely conducted their lives entirely in English where official documents are concerned.
“there are many countries in the world where the indigenous language or languages are not enshrined in their constitutions in the way that Welsh has become in Wales”
There are many other countries in the world where the indigenous language or languages have dissapeared. Something I personally wouldn’t support happening in Wales, there are other langauges in some countries that have survived, yet they’ve survived under different conditions. When the Welsh language is capable of sustaining itself, there will be no need for measures to support it, but the effects the last 200 years have had on the Welsh language can’t be counteracted in 20 years. I’d support any suggestions on what would improve the chances of the continuation of the Welsh langauge, as would Plaid, but I won’t support any argument geared to weaken its chances.
Jon Jones – your statistical analysis is great, and you’ve clearly spent alot of time compiling your figures, (although it probably would have taken less time & effort to learn Welsh) however what you make of these figures comes down to what you want to achieve.
You present the figures as justification of how you believe non-Welsh speakers are being unfairly treated. Someone else could use the figures as an example of how Welsh language use is still in decline, and they could apply other figures to suggest why that may be.
“why should ANY first language English speaker HAVE to respond to you in Welsh?”
Well if I moved to live in any area of any country where a different language was spoken, I would feel embarassed to demand that my own language was spoken in the place of the language spoken by the local population. Perhaps you wouldn’t feel embarassed to respect local culture, in fact you obviously didn’t/don’t, and you’re clearly quite proud to be a staunchly defiant non-Welsh speaker on Ynys Mon. You may choose to argue that the demographic has changed sufficiently on Ynys Mon, to nullify the Welsh language being a ‘language spoken by the local population’. If you go down that route then I assume you’d be in support of migrants to certain areas of London or Birmingham not excluded from the UK government’s requirements to speak English? After all in such areas of Britain there really is no need for migrants learn how to speak English.
“I am making it quite clear that I object to my children being forced to learn Welsh merely to serve the whim of you and the other 3%-4% of the population of Wales who want to “Live their lives through Welsh”
But you’re not just objecting to your children being forced to learn Welsh are you! You’re objecting to what you deem to be the 3-4% of people in Wales who wish to speak Welsh. You object to the measures that allow what you’ve decided is the 3-4% of Welsh people to speak Welsh in Wales.
There are thousands upon thousands of English only communities across the world, where someone who wants to live entirely in English can live in linguistic bliss. You however, object to the one place in the World where Welsh speakers have a fairly limited ability to live their lives in their own language, on the basis that your child has to learn Welsh in school?
As I stated to John R Walker if “your child has to learn Welsh, this will impact on their ability to conduct their lives entirely in English as would their learning of French or German.”
Why aren’t you objecting to your child learning a modern foreign language? Wouldn’t this impact on your child’s ability to live their lives entirely through English, as anyone who wishes to do so in Wales CAN CHOOSE to do right now?
Of course you might choose to argue that learning French or German is of more value, but if your complaint is that Welsh speakers get all the jobs, then your child’s ability to speak Welsh will be more useful than French or German, after all they already live in Wales, not France or Germany. However you would rather deny your child the opportunity to speak Welsh, and use jobs that require Welsh speakers as a sign of inequality, rather than an example of the value learning Welsh would provide your child.
To be quite honest, all your number-chrunching does is provide us with an example of how dedicated you are. You deserve a golden star for that, but at the end of the day, the number of people who phoned Dwr Cymru/Welsh Water on the Welsh line in 2010 is marvellous, but it doesn’t give as accurate an indication of the number Welsh speakers who want to speak Welsh as you’d like.
Your belief that “Wales has become a very segregated and unequal society as a result of the 1993 Welsh Language act” is indicative of your anti-Welsh language attitude. The fact is, that only in the last two or three maybe five years has the 1993 Welsh language act in Wales really started to allow Welsh speakers with a limited ability to use their language, but this is clearly something you’re unwilling to tolerate.
“those vociferously demanding that only Welsh speakers should be employed are the very same people who demand that the services are available in Welsh and the same people who actually work in positions that are Welsh essential.”
Remember these Welsh speakers can also speak English, so they can deal with non-Welsh speakers, and Welsh speakers. It’s quite simple – non-Welsh speaker = CAN’T deal with non-Welsh + Welsh speakers, Welsh speaker = CAN deal with non-Welsh + Welsh speakers.
At the end of the day, anyone who wants to see a future for the language will agree that Welsh speakers should be able to use their language. I don’t think anyone should be forced to speak Welsh, but I don’t think providing children with the ability to speak Welsh equates to this.
Essentially, learning Welsh will provide children, when they become adults with the ability to make an informed decision of what language they wish to speak. The can choose Welsh or English, and if they gain employment in a position that requires them to speak Welsh, then they’re being forced to speak Welsh in the same way a cleaner is forced to clean. If children are denied the opportunity to learn how to speak Welsh, they will have NO CHOICE but to speak English.
“Can you give an example of how you’ve been unable to live your life entirely in English?”
How long have you got??? I’ll give you a nice easy one…
My Community Council – to which I am forced by Law to contribute under pain of distraint if I refuse – does not produce Minutes in English and, to my knowledge since 1985, never has. Neither do a significant number of other Community Councils in Gwynedd despite the fact that they are supposed to be part of the democratic process.
This is language discrimination, a breach of my democratic rights, and symptomatic of the way things are done in Gwynedd whenever the usual suspects think they can find a legal loop-hole which allows them to subvert the principles of language parity in order to treat non-Welsh speakers as second class citizens.
Sadly, Community Councils seem to be excluded from the Welsh Language Acts so we cannot insist that they do provide Minutes in English. And even if they were included in the Welsh Language Acts the former Welsh Language Board refused point-blank to entertain any complaints about failure to provide language parity for users of the English language.
From this you may be able to deduce that there is a ‘structure’ to the disenfranchisement of non-Welsh speakers in those circumstances where they feel they can get away with it. I doubt if you can even begin to understand just how often they can, and do, get away with it.
The problem, Mathew, lies in the vague definition that you offer of where it is acceptable for a Welsh speaker to demand the right to use the language of his culture. Are you limiting this to where the majority of the population have Welsh as a first language? Not at all, you demand this right anywhere in Wales. So here we have this huge majority of people who don’t speak any Welsh and a small number who have some Welsh language ability faced with the demands of a tiny Welsh first language minority who just want the rest of the regiment to get in step with them.
You also gloss quickly over the artificial nature of Welsh requirement in any job in Wales. Welsh speaking is not an actual necessity anywhere; it is a legal imposition that says that employers can discriminate against non-Welsh speakers in the job market. Originally of course there was a caveat “when reasonable to do so” which has by now been forgotten. So I repeat; the very real hardship which is suffered by someone not getting a job is to be compared with the slight discomfiture of a person who can’t choose one of his two languages.
And let’s not pretend here Mathew, although some people do learn Welsh to a good standard when they don’t have parents who speak the language, most of the fluent Welsh speakers actually come from homes where one or both of the parents spoke Welsh and of course English. Looked at in this way Welsh requirements are a way of maintaining a hereditary position in society. It is still the case that 56% of fluent Welsh speakers in Wales come from just four counties.
Now you float the idea that the young of the Fro Cymraeg are forced to leave for economic reasons. I will float another theory; the young are leaving in higher numbers than ever before because of the drive for a better educated workforce. The aim, as you know is to put 50% of all school leavers through further education; I think that we have reached 36% in Ynys Mon. There is little chance of the young undergraduate being anywhere nearer than Bangor but I would think that those who choose just over the bridge are a minority. It is not an economic imperative that is decimating the Fro Cymraeg it is an educational imperative in the first instance. The choice then is to stay in the university town or return home… so not really “Driven out” as all Nationalists like to put it but just choosing not to return. Do people from elsewhere fill the void? Yes they do, and it’s about time that we showed some gratitude for that.
“My Community Council – to which I am forced by Law to contribute under pain of distraint if I refuse – does not produce Minutes in English and, to my knowledge since 1985, never has.”
“This is language discrimination, a breach of my democratic rights, and symptomatic of the way things are done in Gwynedd”
That’s a hilarious way to claim your ability to conduct your life entirely in English is being compromised. I can very rarely buy a train ticket in Welsh, I’ve never been treated by a doctor, or a dentist in Welsh. I can’t do half the everyday things in Welsh that you can do freely every single day in English, and you claim your ability to conduct your life entirely in English is compromised by your community council producing minutes in Welsh?
There are thousands of communities on this planet that produce minutes in English, if this is such an important aspect of your life, why choose to live in one of the very few places on earth where minutes are produced in Welsh?
I can’t help smiling because it’s just ridiculous.
Mathew – I appreciate your desire and enthusiasm to live your life in Welsh but you are, unfortunately for you, in a minority and a diminishing one at that. If there is to be any hope of halting the decline there has to be more emphasis on quality rather than quantity, especially in education. If there are insufficient fluent Welsh speakers to teach Welsh in schools it is probably better that it not be taught at all rather than taught badly, which too often seems to be the case. When I was in the situation – not in Wales admittedly – where I was looking to move house, education was a crucial factor in deciding where we went. If I were in Wales now, or considering a job move here, I would be looking very closely at the current situation. The question of the Welsh language would undoubtedly be a factor, but not the only one. Standards would be crucial, not only attained standards but how they were viewed by universities and employers. As for companies considering relocating to Wales education and the requirements of the Welsh Language Commissioner will be important factors which have to be taken into consideration. The situation in respect of Public Bodies is also a matter of concern. I know from personal experience that a lot of time, effort, resources and money are spent on translating and producing literature and online information which very few people actually read or use, and those who do could manage equally well in English. These are resources which could be better spent elsewhere on health, education, housing, etc. The world can be a cruel place and if you don’t face up to reality you may end up losing the very thing you trying to save – the Welsh language.
Mathew – let me add a caveat to my comment about the teaching of Welsh. By saying that it should not be taught at all I really meant that it should not be made compulsory.
What a fascinating debate – one of the longest recently!
Jon Jones – there are occassions where the needs/right to choose of an individual should give way to the collective greater good. Perhaps in areas where Welsh is still the majority language having documents available in Welsh only is one example – it is a way of protecting the language from further decline.
Matthew – To my mind, the situation is that we have two languages in Wales, spoken by Welsh people. One of them is English. So it is not a comparable situation to say if a British person went to Spain (for example) they would be obliged to speak Spanish so if they come to Wales they are obliged to speak Welsh. I am very supportive of the language and think it would be a huge pity to lose it but we have to start from where we are.
Colin Miles – “If there is to be any hope of halting the decline there has to be more emphasis on quality rather than quantity, especially in education. If there are insufficient fluent Welsh speakers to teach Welsh in schools it is probably better that it not be taught at all rather than taught badly, which too often seems to be the case.”
That’s definately a point which is certainly worth considering, I know a few people who were taught Welsh badly in school. However, I’m not sure reducing the numbers of children learning Welsh would actually improve teaching standards. A push to improve standards may be the right move, or maybe not? (yet more money for the proliffics to complain about) Perhaps the most constructive thing would be to reduce the numbers of people learning Welsh? It’s an interesting point worthy of discussion, however earlier you spoke of a need to heal “the division that currently exists in this country between Welsh speakers and non-Welsh speakers”. One has to consider how not giving all children the chance to speak Welsh would affect this division you’re concerned about. However, if children are taught to different standards due to insufficient numbers of good Welsh teachers, then they don’t have the same opportunity anyway, but do you increase equality by removing the opportunity entirely, or by improving that opportunity?
“As for companies considering relocating to Wales education and the requirements of the Welsh Language Commissioner will be important factors which have to be taken into consideration.”
See, this argument appears to be worth considering, but Wales has hardly seen much investment in the years without a Welsh language requirements has it? I remember reading comments from someone objecting to a school in Ceredigion being changed from a bilingual school to a Welsh medium school. This person claimed it would hamper inward investment, however in areas like Torfaen, or Merthyr Tudful where there are very few, if any Welsh medium schools, where’s all this inward investment? If the Welsh language hampers investment, what’s stopping investment in areas where no Welsh medium schools, or where no Welsh requirement currently exist? Furthermore, there are plenty of companies that invest in countries or areas where more than one language is used. For example, in Catalonia businesses are required to display all information (e.g. menus, posters) in Catalan under penalty of fines, but this hasn’t driven VW to relocate the 3 factories (of its 4 in Spain) from Catalonia to any other region of Spain. Economic factors are economic factors, and if companies want to invest in Wales, they’ll do so because it’s economically viable. There are far more important issues for a company to take into consideration than any future Welsh language requirements. The cost of any future Welsh language requirements will be insignificant in comparisson to the influence of something like transport links will have.
If you believe money spent providing bilingual documents etc would be better spent elsewhere, then that may well be the case. However, people have been objecting to the funding for Welsh language provision on that basis since day one, so forgive me for my natural inclination to dismiss such a suggestion. Redirecting funding towards initiatives that would help the language from another perspective may well prove to be a more effective way of supporting the language. However, I can’t see how removing bilingual services would do any good for the Welsh language. I do recognise that the Welsh language continued to be used healthily as a community language for a long time when all offical documents were English only by law. So perhaps focusing on other factors would prove to be more successful, if at least to freshen up the tired anti-Welsh language arguments.
This discussion over whether we are doing the best with what we’ve got to ensure the Welsh language continues needs to be had. I don’t feel compelled however to defend my wish (however much of a minority I may represent) to speak Welsh in Wales. I want the Welsh language to continue, I believe there are plenty of people who share this sentiment.
Those who don’t share this sentiment can spend as much time as they like constructing arguments against it, but breaking these arguments won’t change their minds.
The reality is that some people who choose to live in Welsh speaking areas, refuse to integrate, and object to their children learning Welsh when they live in an area where over 50% of the population speak Welsh. On the contrary, the UK government requires migrants show an appreciation for what it deems to be British culture, and to prove an adequate understanding of the English language.
If we’re to face up to reality, and we see the situation of the Welsh language as a slowly sinking ship, measures to allow Welsh speakers to speak Welsh would be akin to bailing out the water, if we’d be better off trying to locate and plug the holes where the water is getting in, then perhaps that should recieve more attention. I’m happy to discuss such matters, but someone who wants to see the ship sink won’t support either initiative will they, they’d rather run around the place trying to convince others to abandon ship.
Jon Jones – “you demand this right anywhere in Wales.”
I do believe people who live in Wales should be able to speak Welsh, but this extends as far as it is practical. You seem to believe all councils in Wales only employ Welsh speakers, and that’s simply NOT the case. If I want to speak Welsh when I phone a certain council, I might find myself waiting 5 minutes, for someone who answers in English to tell me that ‘The’ Welsh speaker is on their break. That’s if you’re lucky.
“You also gloss quickly over the artificial nature of Welsh requirement in any job in Wales. Welsh speaking is not an actual necessity anywhere.”
Again we come back to your default position where the language is concerned, (as well as the statistics you’ve compiled of course).
“the very real hardship which is suffered by someone not getting a job is to be compared with the slight discomfiture of a person who can’t choose one of his two languages.”
Again, if you don’t want the Welsh language to continue, you wouldn’t support people having the opportunity to speak Welsh. We also come to this issue of ‘anywhere in Wales’ too, because people in Gwynedd, perhaps Ceredigion may have difficulties gaining employment if they can’t speak Welsh, but is that true for any other area? Areas that don’t have as many Welsh speaking members of the local population? See if you want me to be reasonable about where I expect to be able to speak Welsh, you’ll need to be realistic about where these people who face this “very real hardship which is suffered by someone not getting a job”.
If you truly believe people can’t get jobs because they can’t speak Welsh, FOI every local council for a breakdown of how many Welsh speakers they employ. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve done this already, but don’t use the figures because they don’t fit your argument. Here’s a few figures for you;
Blaenau Gwent – employ 3,952 people, of those jobs there are – 2 jobs described as Welsh essential (excluding jobs in schools).
Conwy – employ 2,810 people, of those jobs there are – 373 jobs described as Welsh essential (excluding schools).
Merthyr Tudful – employ 2,950 people, of those jobs there are – 0 jobs described as Welsh essential.
Newport – employ 6,191 people (full time), of those jobs there are – 78 jobs described as Welsh essential (these include teachers/staff in schools)
Bridgend – employ 6,826 people, of those jobs there are – 137 jobs described as Welsh essential.
Cardiff – employ 8,013 people, of those jobs there are – 63 jobs described as Welsh essential, and 627 are described as Welsh preferable.
Gwynedd – employ 6,654 people, of those jobs there are – 6,612 jobs described as Welsh essential.
Caerffili – employ 9,655 people, of those jobs there are – 24 jobs described as Welsh essential (excluding teachers/staff in schools).
Wrecsam – employ 6,513 people, of those jobs there are – 13 jobs described as Welsh essential (excluding teachers/staff in schools).
“Welsh requirements are a way of maintaining a hereditary position in society. It is still the case that 56% of fluent Welsh speakers in Wales come from just four counties.”
This kind of comment is just funny, and smacks of desperation. I think it’s time I stepped off this merry-go-round.
Mathew – you are becoming exhausted but hang on in for a while and then go away and think carefully about the best way forward. With regard to Catalonia, the language difference between that and Spanish is tiny compared with the between English and Welsh. Any subject taught badly is a turnoff and compulsion adds to it. As for removing bi-lingual services where they are not required – they would free up resources for other more urgently needed tasks, maybe even translation into languages like Spanish, German and French so that we can provide a better welcome for those visitors. And with web sites potential overseas non-English visitors could be made more aware of what Wales has to offer. It’s an economic argument. With a better economy there is hope for the Welsh language.
Well Mathew, I appreciate a person who goes to the trouble of establishing the facts but you start from a position which you ascribe to me thus:-
“You seem to believe all councils in Wales only employ Welsh speakers.”
You then continue to refute this position, a position that I never took and don’t for one moment believe.
You then suggest that I have the information that disproves this theory (the one that I don’t hold) and that I am hiding it because it is inconvenient.
It is in fact such a ridiculous position to take that it never crossed my mind for a moment. What I was thinking of when I said that people were discriminated against in the jobs market because they didn’t speak Welsh was a presentation by Dr. Dave Sayers. He pointed out that the Welsh Language Board had tacitly admitted that The Welsh Language act and their own advice to employers would result in indirect racial discrimination but that the WLB had considered that this discrimination was implicit in the legislation and therefore defensible.
You will remember the background to the argument was not the present state of affairs but the future direction of the Wales which Cymdeithas Yr Iaith and others want to establish and, of course, we are discoursing on the subject set by Heledd as a representative of the Political Wing of Cymdeithas Yr Iaith Cymraeg. If you like it is Language defenders versus “Welsh Language Haters” as Plaid has termed us.
Now if I had actually raised an FOI with all the 22 Councils of Wales I would have also asked how many positions had been advertised as “Welsh speaking preferred” since this has a deterrent effect on non-Welsh speakers. By the way, that is 9 out of 22 counties that you have mentioned. Since I am a glutton for numbers could I presume to ask you to publish the remainder… however, although I don’t have the information, I do know that the Merthyr Tudful figure must be wrong because of this judgement from Meri Huws:-
It’s clear that the future employment of Welsh speakers is implicit in this. An interesting outcome when the Commissioner can legally insist on the employment of Welsh speakers at the expense of non-Welsh speakers in a county where few have the language.
Now it would be churlish of me to deny you a laugh at my expense Mathew but the idea that Welsh is, for the most part, passed on within the family is not my theory but that of the Welsh Language Board who carried out research some years ago. The percentage of people who learn Welsh when they have neither parent a Welsh speaker is very small while the percentage of people who have fluent Welsh when they have both parents Welsh speakers is very large.
However the phenomenon that I was thinking of was the employment of mainly first language Welsh speakers in the Fro Cymraeg. Where I live, people who come from English speaking backgrounds rarely gain employment in Welsh essential positions simply because, Welsh Medium taught though they may be, they are just not sufficiently competent in the language to function within the Councils…..thus the emploment that is offered by the largest employers has a “Hereditary” dimension.
carol o’byrne – I do accept that, and I realise how my defence of the language in this instance might suggest otherwise (as others have been keen to imply), but I have nothing against speaking English. However, as someone who wants to see the Welsh language to continue being spoken, I recognise the need for Welsh speakers to be able to use the language. Mind you involving myself in these daft discussions is a waste of time, and does very little to help the language in reality.
Colin Miles – Are you serious? You complain about the cost of Welsh translations, and want to replace them with a number of other languages? Jon Jones will have something to say about all the French/Spanish/German speakers taking all the jobs.
I’m not going to dismiss your suggestion, but I can’t really see how redirecting funding from Welsh translations to Spanish/French/German translations would do that much for tourism in Wales. Especially when I believe (and I may be wrong, so please correct me if that’s the case) the majority of people who visit Wales come from other parts of Britain. The amount needed to promote Wales in these countries respectively however, would probably surpass that spent on Welsh translations.
By the way, the similarity of Catalan to Spanish makes no difference, we’re talking about the potential cost of translation etc, which you believe would be sufficient to put off potential investment. My example of VW in Catalonia proves otherwise, regardless of the similarity of the two languages.
Carol:- “Perhaps in areas where Welsh is still the majority language having documents available in Welsh only is one example – it is a way of protecting the language from further decline.” I take it that by “The Greater Good” you equate the majority position with that “Greater Good”.
If that were the case then clearly Welsh speakers could not demand Welsh language services where they are the minority; it would be irrational for, for instance, Meri Huws (see her judgement above) to dictate that Merthyr Council should employ Welsh speakers for the convenience of a very few people who want to “Live their lives through Welsh” in that county.
You may consider that the Greater Good in this case is the survival of the language and its expansion to the position where it is spoken by all the people in Wales. In that case the Greater Good results in the manipulation of a very large number of people at the whim of a very small number of people. In what sense is this a “Greater Good.”?
I will give you an example: My daughter was in a primary school which, unbeknown to me, was part of an experiment the object of which was to persuade children, by various means of coercion and persuasion, to continue in Welsh Medium streams in Secondary school. By means of an FOI I requested the background study upon which this “Wizard Ruse” was based. I received it from the “Welsh in Education Department” of the Welsh Government. It was in Welsh and I requested it in English. The request was refused since they had no legal duty to supply the document in any language other than the original Welsh. The department operated in Welsh and had subcontracted via the WLB who in turn had subcontracted without requesting a bi-lingual document. There was no way out of this. The Information Commissioner wrote to me saying that since the Welsh Government was breaching its Bi-lingual policy the Language Commissioner would look at it. No said Meri Huws, my remit is to look at cases where WELSH documents haven’t been supplied. I have no remit to look at cases where the rights of non-Welsh speakers have been infringed.
So this is the Wales of today, let alone tomorrow. Protection for a pampered minority; contempt for the majority.
Where is the “Greater Good.”?
Mathew – Yes – the majority of people who come to Wales are from other parts of the UK. That is why we need to reach out to other countries. Money currently spent on Welsh translation could be used for other languages which could bring in money to boost the Welsh economy. Simple economics.
Perhaps it is up to the “Welsh Haters” as Plaid has contemptuously called people like myself to concern ourselves about the link between the drive for a bilingual Wales (meaning all Welsh speaking) and the demise of the country.
It is worth considering what the effects of artificial requirements in employment procurement actually might be. Plaid are suggesting that the councils make Welsh the language of internal operation and also suggest that Welsh ability becomes a requirement for those businesses that are subcontracted by Councils (already the case in Gwynedd) and central government.
The problem is a universal one of supply and demand. It is also one of standards; if you take a rare attribute or ability (Welsh Fluency) and link it to any other qualification then the pool of available personnel is dramatically reduced. The chance of getting an applicant to a position who is outstanding in their main function becomes much lower.
As I have said already; for every teaching position in a Welsh Medium primary school there are 11 applicants. For every teaching position in an English Medium primary school there are 33 applicants to choose from.
From the sample that I have taken of students who reached QTS this year to teach in Welsh medium Primary schools we can see that they are very well qualified in Welsh but very poorly qualified in English therefore the future of Welsh Medium primary is a future of falling standards in English. We look forward to a Wales where neither English nor Welsh are well mastered.
If we extend this example and look at the end result of making ability in Welsh a requirement for all government procurement the outlook is bleak; Wales will get the best Welsh speaker available in any position but not the best applicant for the particular work. The chances of Wales building a thriving economy under these circumstances are remote.
The question is; Does the Nationalist party care? I suspect not. You can see from Plaid’s preamble to their discussion document on the Welsh Language that they haven’t strayed very far from Saunders Lewis’s vision of attaining independence by means of the Welsh language. That is, building a clear cultural barrier between Wales and the UK and using the necessity of Welsh speaking to exclude nationals of all other countries…but particularly the English of course.
Can Plaid (and the Labour nationalists like Carwyn and Leighton) achieve this end? Well no they can’t, it is a faulty concept which founders on the logistics of having so small a rump of competent Welsh speakers. But more importantly can Wales be harmed in the attempt of the impossible? Undoubtably yes.
Matthew – just trying to sort out a bit of Welsh translation with a Welsh speaker. Got the response ‘Why has the Welsh language got to be so complicated even to a Welsh speaker?????’ Says it all really.
Jon Jones – I can’t take credit for the council figures published, the information I used wasn’t obtained by myself, but it’s readily available online, however only 18 councils responded.
The following councils, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Camarthenshire, Denbighshire, Torfaen, Ynys Mon, Powys, and Neath Port Talbot – did not provide figures to indicate how many people were employed in jobs where Welsh was essential.
One council I did forget was Monmouth, which employs 3061 – 1 Welsh essential possition, with 36 teaching jobs requiring Welsh.
The responses appear to have been recieved throughout the first half of 2012. Meri Huws may have made a difference, it would be interesting to find out if Merthyr council have improved their figure of 0.
You claim Welsh speaking requirements in Gwynedd are a way of maintaining a hereditary position in society, then you shrug this off to state this statement is supported by Dave Sayers’ lecture.
What I believe Dave Sayers uses to justify his assertion, is the fact that racial minorities in Wales are statistically less likely to possess the ability to speak Welsh than white British people. Therefore they would be less likely to be able to gain employment in positions requiring Welsh speakers. Any sensible assessment of this situation would conclude that Welsh language requirements do not directly constitute racial discrimination. However, you use this as a foundation of your claim that you, a person who chooses to live in a Welsh speaking area are being discriminated against because you choose not to learn Welsh.
The UK government now assesses immigrants on their ability to speak English, some immigrants from some countries might have a better chance of speaking English than someone from another country. Should Dave Sayers be preparing a presentation stating how the UK government’s immigration policy constitutes racial discrimination? Aren’t migrants from Pakistan, or Bangladesh, who are statistically less likely to be able to speak English being put at a dissadvantage, and therefore discriminated against in comparison to migrants from Canada or Australia?
You may wish to state how the issue of ‘need’ would play a part in all this, but as we’ve already established, this ‘need’ for the Welsh language is something you believe to be artificial.
Colin Miles – “Money currently spent on Welsh translation could be used for other languages which could bring in money to boost the Welsh economy.”
Simple economics? Do you know how much advertising campaigns cost? Do you also know that the majority of French people holiday in their own country, how many people in Spain are going to be spending money on holidays in the near future? Ok, Germany, now they’ve got money to spend, but like anyone else on the continent, someone from Germany has the option of driving to anywhere in Europe without the added cost of a ferry, currency exchange, and less consitent weather conditions, and these people are going to come to Wales because we’ve got German translations replacing Welsh?
Drumming up tourism from new markets is a good idea, but one that will require much more investment than the cost of Welsh translations. America is a big market, they like history and castles, and they love celtic stuff, however many of them don’t know Wales exists. Many of them don’t realise it’s any different from England, so how can we stand out? Wouldn’t the Welsh language provide some kind of unique selling point to tourists? Scoltand has Tartan and Whiskey, Ireland has Green things and Guinness, why can’t Wales actually use its language? Why does the language have to be demoted? Why not think creatively, now we’ve got Leicester and somewhere else fighting over Richard the 3rd’s value in tourism terms. We’ve got poetry written in Welsh describing how he died, and who killed him, we also have the resting place of that ‘who’ in Carmarthen. We also have the bed that the particular ‘who’ slept on, which is carved showing the battle of Bosworth. Why not capitalise on the things we’ve got before blindly assuming the Welsh language is going to get in the way?
“Says it all really.”
Really? What does it say exactly?
Mathew – ‘Do you know how much advertising campaigns cost?’ – Yes, but web connections/links are ‘free’ and world-wide. That is the best way of connecting – see the current problems of the Western Mail as discussed on this site.
The Welsh language as a selling point? Perhaps, but how? In its music most certainly but is that enough? It is not really about demoting the language but finding a ‘proper’ place for it.
Hendre – that Welsh is a difficult language even for native-born Welsh speakers. The other comment this particular Welsh speaker made this morning was ‘I’m glad I’m a Welsh speaker and didn’t have to learn the language. There are so many different endings and meanings.’ And another comment from a Welsh class regarding the Eisteddford. ‘Two Welsh speakers admonished by a lady for not speaking correct Welsh.’
Be realistic as to what the language can do. If it is just an oral language then settle for that and make that aspect of it very good.
I confess that I don’t pay much attention to what is said by UK politicians with regard to immigration but I don’t think that there is any law that says anyone coming to the UK must speak English. There again it may have passed me by. I do know that sections of immigrant populations in tightly knit communities do live without English but it may be mainly Asian and middle-Eastern women who have little direct contact with the world at large. Nevertheless, the need to speak English in the UK is a real one whereas the need to speak Welsh in Wales is artificial, a result of the drive to spread Welsh language ability by restricting employment to Welsh speakers. Dave Sayers merely pointed out the unquestionable fact that this results in indirect racial discrimination something that the WLB was aware of and justified in terms of their core objective…increasing the use of Welsh.
What I am saying is that Plaid Cymru is acting as the political wing of Cymdeithas yr Iaith in demanding more discrimination and segregation around the Welsh Language.
Eventually the broad but shallow support for Welsh Language measures will evaporate. What will bring this about? Well, although many Unionists tend to focus on the cost aspect of language measures, the public is relaxed about that. What will happen though, in these austere times, is that non-Welsh speakers will suddenly realise that when it comes to cuts in jobs and services, all things Welsh language will remain unaffected. Once the disquiet sets in the bi-lingual experiment will founder quite rapidly.
“It is not really about demoting the language but finding a ‘proper’ place for it.” As a quaint ‘patois’ which does not inconvenience English incomers too much perhaps?
However the National Botanic Garden, according to its draft Welsh language scheme, seems rather more ambitious:
1.5.3 … the Garden must ensure that it is an integral and respected member of the local community, and recognise its Welsh language and heritage context.
1.5.4 In its future plans the Garden will strive to maintain its position as a centre of excellence for design and for interpreting and respecting Welsh heritage and the Welsh language. It will develop its potential as a venue for the creation and display of all forms of
art and seek to capitalise on its historical, rural, and cultural links, developing a narrative to engage and enthuse.
1.6.1. Celebrate and positively promote our national identity by ensuring that the Welsh language and culture are embedded in the Garden’s ethos, actions, and programmes of events.
Hendre – You say: ‘However the National Botanic Garden, according to its draft Welsh language scheme, seems rather more ambitious:’ Indeed. And they have been striving hard for many years now. Unfortunately the support from Welsh language writers hasn’t been all that could be desired mainly, it has to be said, because there are too few of them and they haven’t enough time to do all the things that need to be done. It would be nice to think that this may change but, as you may gather, I think that unlikely. Hence the call for a more realistic approach.
“Be realistic as to what the language can do. If it is just an oral language then settle for that and make that aspect of it very good.”
That is a very fair and accurate assessment but it doesn’t secure enough of a future for the Welsh language payroll – I think we all know it’s not really about promoting and facitiating the Welsh Language – it’s about promoting and facilitating the Welsh language snouts in the trough! And keeping as many competent non-Welsh speakers out of positions of power and authority as they can using invalid claims that Welsh is ‘essential’ for jobs that can easily be done by English speakers. Having worked in a stressful public sector front-office in Caernarfon without difficulty I’m quite confident I am right about that.
When I talk to Welsh speakers who are not snouts in the trough they are scathing about those who are. It’s quite difficult to find any of these people who will go on record and tell it like it is so we are fortunate to have this comment from the Caernarfon Herald last week telling us exactly what those of us who live and work in and around Gwynedd already know:
Speaking of Peblig Ward in Caernarfon, previously the highest density Welsh speaking Ward in the world, local legend Kenny Khan states quite innocently:
“The difficulty people have here is that they don’t tend to read Welsh – their ability to read in English is considerably better and you’ll notice when they fill in forms or go to the bank that they conduct their business in English.”
Spot on! Obviously Kenny Khan is not on the payroll… This is why the written Welsh FoIA stats I have collected over 5 years from Gwynedd Council show ONLY 20% accessing a simple public administrative function in Welsh.
What this means is that roughly 98% of the Welsh medium documentation produced in Wales on a continuing basis is pure WASTE! But still we have all these snouts in the trough promoting and faciliating a dead duck! Who do these people really represent? Who do they benefit other than themselves and their fellow travellers? Not the Cofis in Peblig Ward that’s for sure! After 40 years of language discrimination and social engineering in Gwynedd this is still the reality!
Ironically, of all the snouts in the trough, non other than Meri Huws started her ‘working’ life as a social worker in Caernarfon and I would suggest there are few better places to learn first hand that written Welsh in the Fro barely happens at all! The intellectual dishonesty, and the manipulation of skewed statistics to justify wasteful and discriminatory public policies, from the Welsh language promotion snouts in the trough is mind-numbingly obvious to anybody who walks round with their eyes and ears open. I don’t know how they sleep at night knowing that they are syphoning off much needed funding from life-and-death front-line services?
And why is the Wales Audit Office not crawling all over this unnecessary waste?
The bi-lingual Wales project is as doomed to failure as the bi-lingual Gwynedd project – if not more so! Anybody still promoting this compulsory bi-lingual agenda clearly hasn’t been paying attention! And/or they don’t care who or what else they damage in the process…
If that is where Plaid and Llafur remain with their language policy then so be it. Clearly there isn’t any point in trying to negotiate with them.
Colin Miles – I don’t know, but the language can only help us stand out, why do you think Llanfairpwllgwyngyll-etc got named as such. It’s still a fairly popular attraction, simply because it’s a stupidly long name that tourists enjoy not being able to say. Why not play up the confusion? Why not brand Wales ‘the only place in the UK where you can get lost’? Maybe challenge tourists to navigate attractions in Welsh? Like some kind of cryptic treasure hunt? It would give the kids something to do in the car? Promote other attractions on the map, people could collect place names, count how many double L’s they find on the way? If they get it right they might get a prize for the kids at their next stop? Maybe people could be given 10% off entry somewhere for being able to pronounce something correctly? Whether these are useful ideas or not, I only spat them out off the top of my head, but they give an idea of how the language can be used, and it’s just a matter of being creative rather than assuming more tourists will come to Wales because they can read a website in German. People only visits websites if they happen to stumble upon them (less likely) or if they are advertised (more likely), but advertising costs money, producing a website in German promoting Wales as a tourist destination simply won’t do anything, it would need a lot more money behind it.
Jon Jones –
“This page describes the English language requirement for non-European migrants who are applying to enter or remain in the UK as the husbands, wives and civil partners of British citizens and people settled here.
Applicants for visas and permission to remain in the UK (known as ‘leave to remain’) must meet this requirement, unless they are exempt (see below). The requirement was introduced on 29 November 2010.”
UK immigration laws ultimately equate to the same level of indirect incidental, and fairly arbitrary racial discrimination. However, statistically there will be far greater ammount of people being racially discriminated against by the implementation of these immigration rules. If this is actually about racial discrimintation, rather than a ‘find whatever we can to argue against the Welsh language’ activity, why not fry the big fish?
The English language requirement has been challenged on human rights grounds.
“The challenge to the rule also claimed the language requirement was unlawful and constituted discrimination on the grounds of race and nationality.”
“Mr Justice Beatson said the new “pre-entry” English language test announced by Home Secretary Theresa May in June 2010 DID NOT interfere with the human rights of three couples who brought the challenge.”
Your claim that “the need to speak Welsh in Wales is artificial” is based solely on your inability or unwillngness to recognise its cultural value. I can’t blame you for that, we often hold opinions on things, often without understanding why. For example, I don’t quite understand why I’m bothering to spend my time destroying your arguments, there’s no financial gain, it’s fairly unneccessary, and you’re only going to find yourself a different string to harp on.
If you’re so confident public support for the language is going to drastically bottom out, I don’t quite understand the ‘need’ for your persistent anti-Welsh language campaign. Why not let time take its course, enjoy life in the comfort of knowing that this prophecy of yours will soon play out, that is if you truly believe your own hype?
Mathew – Top of the head suggestions won’t work and I don’t think you intended them to be taken seriously. But I don’t think you understand the economics of online tourism. It is quite different from the old newspaper/magazine model. In the modern world you have to look out, not in if you are to promote not just the language, but Wales itself. Without a stronger economy there is little hope for the language.
“Unfortunately the support from Welsh language writers hasn’t been all that could be desired mainly, it has to be said, because there are too few of them and they haven’t enough time to do all the things that need to be done.”
Why would the Garden need the support of Welsh language ‘writers’. Surely professional translators would be able to meet its requirements?
Mathew – this is the kind of thing that will help to bring in the tourists, not the language.
Colin Miles – I see no reason why the language couldn’t be used as to provide visiting children with an extra dimension to their time in Wales. That’s not in place of promoting Wales as a tourist destination, however suggesting we don’t cater for the Welsh language within Wales in order to fund promotion elsewhere doesn’t stack up financially, and it doesn’t stack up where promotion of the language is concerned.
“In the modern world you have to look out, not in if you are to promote not just the language, but Wales itself.”
Yes but what exactly are you going to use to promote Wales to make it stand out? How are you going to make American visitors who’ve never heard of Wales, return home telling their friends about Wales if there’s nothing distinctive about it?
When David Cameron was asked on the Letterman’s Late Show he was asked the following
Question: What is the deal on Wales?
David Cameron: ‘It is part of the UK. It is a small country but a very proud people.’
Question: ‘How are the Welsh different from the English?’
David Cameron: ‘Well there are people in Wales who speak a different language, who speak Welsh as their first language but they are very much part of the United Kingdom.’
If the prime minister sees the Welsh language as the best way to explain what makes Wales different from England, then it clearly makes sense to use it to make Wales stand out from the rest of the UK and Europe. It would not make sense to remove what essentially offers itself as a USP that we can use to promote Wales as a brand abroad!
“Without a stronger economy there is little hope for the language.”
Yes, but how would weakening Welsh language provision actually help the language? If we want to attract more people to Wales, the challenge isn’t only to give them a reason to come here, but also to make sure they go home with a sense that they actually visited Wales, rather than a region of England (as an American boarding a ship on BBC’s ‘Wales in a year’ seemed to believe).
Hendre – you wrote ‘Surely professional translators would be able to meet its requirements?’ Unfortunately things are never that simple and resources, manpower, time and money are very scarce, all of which could be better employed in other areas, economically speaking.
“The challenge to the rule also claimed the language requirement was unlawful and constituted discrimination on the grounds of race and nationality.”
I think that I would agree with this challenge to the language rule. The exact same challenge is valid in the case of artificial discrimination against non-Welsh speakers. As for me waging an “anti-Welsh language campaign.” I am waging no such thing, I am however pointing out the serial dishonesty of the political parties and the establishment bodies in Wales and the ultimate damage that a futile pursuit does to Wales. Just to remind you; this dialogue is exactly what Heledd Fychan aimed to promote when she wrote this discussion piece for the IWA. I consider it my civic duty to play a part.
Colin Miles – I’m sure the Welsh Language Commissioner will be interested in those comments when she reviews the Garden’s draft Welsh language scheme.
Hendre – I would be delighted to speak to her.
Mathew – more good news for Wales and potential tourism
Colin Miles – I understand you are a volunteer at the National Botanic Garden but if your comments reflect a wider attitude within the Garden surely that casts doubt on the integrity of the management team who drew up the draft Welsh language scheme quoted above and the integrity of the Director for signing it off?
Hendre – I had nothing whatever to do with drawing up the draft scheme. I am merely a volunteer. As for attitudes, if you have read my comments carefully you will see that I am not against the language. Indeed I practice my Welsh almost every day. What I am calling for is a realistic approach to it and for a concentration of resources in those areas where it best suited and can best be used. Currently resources are spread far too thinly and, in many cases, acheiving the opposite result from what is intended.
Long-time reader, first-time poster. Be gentle, folks! Here goes.
I was delighted to see myself being cited above, by Jon Jones and others. When you’re as obscure as I am, any publicity is good publicity! I think I should probably clarify a couple of things though, in the interests of my academic street-cred if nothing else…
Jon Jones cites me as suggesting that the Welsh Language Board tacitly admitted and defended discrimination based on their advice. Whilst that’s not entirely wide of the mark, it is important to stress that my research was based on quite a narrow and linguistically nerdy analysis of policy texts, not any real-world events.
Mathew later credits me with making an assertion about racial minorities. My contribution is nowhere near as significant! Again, I was doing little more than reading back bits of policy texts, and pointing out the various emphases here and there. No assertions of mine, honest! Such is often the refrain from the ivory tower.
I can’t pass up the opportunity to extend this exciting publicity, so for anyone reading who might like to see more, the research in question is available online: http://swansea.academia.edu/DaveSayers/Talks/.
It’s been presented in different formats, to academic and government audiences, all with the title ‘Ideological Directions in Welsh Language Policy’. (There’s other stuff in there too, which you’re welcome to peruse.) However – and again in the interests of academic kudos – I should point out the Welsh language policy research is *unpublished* as yet, and therefore not to be relied upon for very much. I hope to work it up into a proper academic paper in a peer-reviewed journal in the near-ish future. If I manage that, I hope to write an article for this very website. Watch this space!
“Currently resources are spread far too thinly and, in many cases, acheiving the opposite result from what is intended.”
What does that mean in the context of the National Botanic Garden?
Hendre – it is a nationwide problem as is well-illustrated by the many comments here. Can’t you see that? What, indeed, is your point of view? May I suggest that it might be useful if you could also try to come up with some ideas, or perhaps tell us that everything is ok, or not as the case may be.
Dave Sayers – “Mathew later credits me with making an assertion about racial minorities.’ – Uuum, not quite!
Jon Jones stated that “Welsh requirements are a way of maintaining a hereditary position in society.” and backed this by stating that “What I was thinking of when I said that people were discriminated against in the jobs market because they didn’t speak Welsh was a presentation by Dr. Dave Sayers.”
I replied with – ‘What I believe Dave Sayers uses to justify his assertion, is the fact that racial minorities in Wales are statistically less likely to possess the ability to speak Welsh than white British people.’ – which is essentially a synopsis of what you quoted in your presentation (with ‘discriminate against racial groups’ + ‘this may be justified’ in bold) from page 54 of the document linked below.
I merely cut through all the fluff of what Jon Jones was using to justify his claim that – ‘Welsh requirements are a way of maintaining a hereditary position in society.’
If you don’t want someone using your presentation to justify such statements. Then perhaps you should clarify that this is not what your presentation aims to communicate.
Colin Miles – Yes, thye’re both great examples, but I can’t see how either of these instances do anything to support your argument.
Hendre – The situation at the National Botanic Garden as I understand it is that under the new language legislation, because of the subsidy that they receive they are required to operate bilingually wherever possible, hence the draft language scheme. However laudable that may be the necessity of producing bi-lingual media is a cost – time, money, manpower – which might be used more effectively elsewhere. When, as has been pointed out by others, so few people actually read the Welsh sections of anything this effectively becomes little more than a subsidy of the Welsh language. Neither Kew nor Edinburgh suffer in the same way. Indeed Kew’s website can be accessed in French, Spanish and 3 Asian languages.
Mathew – a stronger economy will allow better support of the Welsh language. One of the ways of doing that is through tourism, especially attracting those from outside Wales, including countries like France and Germany. I can vouch for the fact that the French and German language sections of Visit Wales are having an effect, certainly in terms of web visits. Whether that will ‘translate’ into actual physical visits is another matter, but it is a start.
I have just received a communication from the Welsh blood service – in English. But a footnote at the bottom reads ‘Croesewir gohebiaeth yn Gymraeg hefyd/Correspondence is also welcomed in Welsh’. That is a sensible use of resources.
Below is a 4 month exhibition. A chance for various organisations like Visit Wales to promote the country and get the visitors here. Who knows, it might help Cardiff Airport. If they can’t manage Mandarin, or whatever the dialect is there, then maybe English would help.
‘The Chongqing exhibition – Wales, Land of the Red Dragon’ is part of a relationship between National Museum Wales and the Three Gorges Museum, which was initiated by an agreement signed in 2008.
It follows a Chinese exhibition at National Museum Cardiff in 2011 focused on ancient Dazu rock carvings dating back to the 7th century.
Mr Lewis said: “Only by promoting ourselves abroad can we look for opportunities to grow our economy and academic sector and this visit will build on the relationships already developed with Chongqing and Beijing and reinforce our commitments to these links.”
Read more: Wales Online http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/welsh-politics/welsh-politics-news/2013/02/27/welsh-exhibition-in-chongqing-to-boost-relations-between-wales-and-china-91466-32894953/#ixzz2MDGllj00
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