Teaching Welsh for the sake of our children

John Osmond opens up a debate on the teaching of the language in English-medium schools

In his Presidential address to the National Eisteddfod in Cwm Gwendraeth in 1989 the late Ioan Bowen Rees, wise and patriotic former chief executive of Gwynedd county council, had this to say about the Welsh language:

“We bring up our children to speak Welsh, not for the sake of the language, but for the sake of our children. And not in the main for them to enjoy literature – however unreasonably superb that literature may be, considering we are such a small tribe. To many of us, the Welsh language has become a symbol of things more important than language even, and that may be our salvation. Welsh has come to symbolize neighbourliness, brotherhood and equality. More fundamentally, every minority language symbolizes the right to think in a different way, to express that difference and to be different and free – to use a phrase of Ivan Illich, ‘a domain on which a certain kind of power cannot trespass’.”

These words came back to me when I began reading the report of the group led by Professor Sioned Davies, of Cardiff University One Language for All on the teaching of the Welsh language to the majority of our children in the English-medium schools of Wales. The report was commissioned by Leighton Andrews when he was education Minister back in the summer of 2012, and published in September (available here).

‘The fate of the language’


Tomorrow: Tim Williams argues that teaching through the medium of Welsh in English-medium schools damages education

On Thursday: Rebecca Williams says we cannot leave things as they are with teaching Welsh as a second language



The report’s main recommendation, that Welsh should have the same status as other core subjects like Maths and English, has already proved controversial. The status of the language is such that many critics prefer to remain unanimous, but phrases like “social engineering” and “forcing the language down people’s throats” are inevitably being deployed. We will be publishing a strongly worded critique of the Sioned Davies report by Tim Williams, a former adviser to the Welsh Government, tomorrow.

There is no doubt, however, that teaching Welsh in our English-medium schools is hugely unsatisfactory. Profess Davies says so in her introduction to the report. As she says:

“It is undeniably the eleventh hour for Welsh second language. Although there are many wonderful teachers working in the field, and some individual examples of exemplary teaching, Estyn reports show that the overall standard has fallen annually. In fact, pupil attainment levels are lower than in any other subject. Had this been said of Mathematics, or English, a revolution would undoubtedly have ensued. But low attainment in Welsh second language has been accepted as the norm. If we are serious about developing Welsh speakers, and about seeing the Welsh language thrive, a change of direction is urgently required before it is too late.”

The change of direction required is spelt out in 24 recommendations. But undoubtedly it is the need to make Welsh a core part of the curriculum, that is a required subject, from which all else follows. If that were to happen our English-medium schools would begin to take the Welsh language seriously. As the report concludes:

“The key factor that cannot be overemphasized is the requirement for the subject to receive the same status as the core subjects within schools, have equal status within the national curriculum and the same prominence in performance measures. Once this is achieved, many of the improvements required will either be a necessity or will be a natural progression resulting from the enhanced status.”

We shouldn’t underestimate the challenge that this represents. Many English-medium schools would have to change their ethos. There would have to be concerted efforts around teacher training. There will need to be a grown-up engagement with pupils to discuss the advantages the language can bring. Schools will need to reach out to community organisations like the Urdd and Menter Iaith.  Change cannot happen overnight. All this and more is referred to in the report. For instance it says:

“Evidence received from both parents and pupils in focus groups suggested that the majority considered that the ability to speak Welsh was advantageous both for future employment and in gaining an appreciation of Welsh identity.

‘It opens doors. No door is shut to you if you can speak Welsh’ ‘If you can speak Welsh, there are more job opportunities.’

This reflects the remarkable change in attitudes towards the language that has occurred in English-speaking Wales during the past three decades. It explains, for instance, why the majority of children in our Welsh-medium schools now come from English-speaking homes.  It also argues against the suggestion put forward by Simon Brooks on ClickonWales last week (here) that somehow the Welsh language community would prosper more if it drew up a drawbridge against the realities of the outside world.

Of course, those realities are harsh. But so is the strength of the determination of those who see the value of the language and wish to see it thrive, as Ioan Bowen Rees said, for the sake of our children.

The report talks about a ‘continuum of language skills’, to break down barriers between the various stages in a pupil’s progression. The same I think should be applied to our English-medium schools. They should think of themselves as stepping out on a journey to develop their engagement with the language on a broad front over time. Some will see great changes in just a few years. For others it may take a decade or more. But that’s not the issue. The important thing is the journey, and the first step.

It is also a question of political will. Does our new Education Minister have the vision to grasp the opportunity to give the lead that Professor Davies and her colleagues have called for?  It’s a tough ask and there will be a hundred reasons to say no. But it’s probably the one thing for which Huw Lewis will be remembered.

John Osmond is the editor of Click on Wales.

45 thoughts on “Teaching Welsh for the sake of our children

  1. My grandchildren live in a bilingual country – Belgium. They have English/German+Dutch parents and speak English and German as a matter of course. The eldest, now at ‘big’ school, had one term in a reception class learning Dutch – the language of her area, and this term – at eight years old – started learning French. Mother is fluent in French and German so that helps.
    These children aren’t forced to learn languages: it’s just what they do and need to live fulfilled lives engaging with the many cultures that their upbringing will give them. They are immensely lucky of course because of their situation. and every study shows that children with multiple languages from an early age achieve their potential more quickly than us monoglots.
    The major issue seems to me accepting that Wales is – and should be – a bilingual one. The issue of teaching in schools should be much simpler: from an early age all children should be taught through both languages up to school leaving. They should also have as a major stream – from, say 8 years old – at least one other European language. Other languages should be added at 11. When leaving school young people should have competence in three languages and a good grounding in a fourth – Mandarin seems a good one perhaps.
    Wishful thinking? Not at all. It happens every day in many if not most European schools. It’s what I want for my grandchildren and they’ll get it. Why not all children in Wales, are their parents so limited in their aspirations for them?

  2. Another entire week of welsh language related articles? Isn’t it about time you renamed this IWLA… the Institute of Welsh Language Affairs?

  3. And so the debate goes on and on ……….

    Contrast the happenings (and respective wealth) of Singapore and Malaysia should further guidance be required.

  4. KP – indeed so. Singapore is a bi-lingual country where everybody who matters who is educated there is fluent in English and Mandarin as a result of the proper bi-lingual education that they enjoy. The sooner we have this in Wales and Welsh is taught properly here, the better. It works in Aberteifi-Cardigan and in Crymych and it can work elsewhere.

  5. The sooner the better for who though David? Our kids or you and the welsh language lobby industry and its vested interests? All published performance indicators would certainly not suggest that the welsh education system is flourishing since enforced cymraegification… So tell me, how’s business in the Welsh translation industry of late

  6. Are there enough teachers with the requisite knowledge of Wales to teach all primary school pupils?

  7. The approach to unwanted Welsh content in school needs to be simplified – just say NO!

  8. I look forward to Tim William’s article tomorrow, but disappointingly he (according to his blog) is still an ex member of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (Welsh Language Society) and therefore still very much of the Welsh Language establishment (at ease quoting Saunders Lewis etc. …nodoby here would even know who he was!) albeit gone a bit rogue.

    I would welcome a view on this issue from one of the non Welsh speaking majority. Does IWA think they can find anybody to write an article for friday? or are they all too scared?? I note from his blog that even Tim Williams says he’s been physically attacked for his non-orthodox views – http://timwilliams.regen.net/2013/02/13/welsh-government-needs-more-national-passion/

  9. And yet another feature on the Welsh Language. I do agree with the short comment by belowlandsker! Let’s see some debates on the development of the economy in Wales, and also cleaning up standards in our local government?

    Also, it seems we have the same very small number of people contributing.

    To answer Carol’s very important question it seems to me (I am involved in education) that there is a huge surplus of Welsh teachers. For every primary school job offered in North Wales there can be 40 or more applicants. However, there is a desperate shortage of good secondary teachers in maths and science. This is when teaching is in English, so the situation must be a lot worse in Welsh.

    I don’t have a problem with truly bi-lingual education in primary schools, so long as there is a choice of an English medium school in the near area. However, in Gwynedd all primary schools teach in Welsh 100%. Even when children do prepare a text in English it seems that any English mistakes are not corrected. I was very shocked by the low standard of English shown in the writing of school reports, and also in the English versions of formal presentations made recently by officers of Gwynedd Council. The effect of this is that children entering secondary schools have a very low standard in English and often also in maths. This deficit has to be corrected by the secondary school teachers.

    In my view it is not the role of the education budget to ‘save’ the Welsh language, by forcing children to be educated in Welsh. The role of education is to prepare children to be able to compete in the real world economy, and able to find good, meaningful work. Sadly, many children in Wales fail to find meaningful employment because their standards in English and maths are inadequate.

    Please let us know in your message if you do not want the IWA to contact you in future or related IWA activity. – yes please!

  10. Belowlandsker – I am sorry to see you are resorting to personal attacks. I will not comment further on this. To answer your questions:

    [1] My children are thriving at Ysgol Y Preseli where unlike the monolingual schools in the south of the county, their education is rated as excellent.

    [2] I would not know about Welsh translation. 80% of my business is with corporate and multilateral clients in Europe and Asia, where people are used to doing business with those who regard speaking in more than one language as perfectly reasonable.

  11. Fact is that most people in Wales including the majority monoglot English speakers value the Welsh language and want it to thrive and prosper. It is the conservative reactionaries who cannot accept that the majority of people in Wales want their children to learn Welsh and to re-engage with their heritage and identity. As a monoglot English speaker myself I want all of our young people to be fluent in Welsh and English which is why both languages must have equal status in every aspect of our lives. No fair minded person could possibly oppose the efforts of a people to re-engage with their language and culture unless those minds were clouded by antipathy and bigotry towards those ends.

  12. Peter D Cox is spot on, some people want to limit their childrens horizons by taking Welsh away from them. Such a shame that such parochial attitudes still exist, what really is so wonderful about speaking one language and one language only? I mean really?

  13. The sooner Welsh is mainstreamed and normalised in the education system across the country so that each and every Welsh child is raised to be competently and happily bilingual as a fundamental part of their preparation for life, as is the norm in so many economically vibrant countries, the sooner this debilitating old linguistic ankst will dissipate. Let’s just get on with it.

  14. So annoying that many in Wales see bilingualism in a negative light. It is totally the opposite. We should be encouraging bilingualism for every Welsh child in education, something the Welsh Government has failed to do.

  15. The problem would indeed be teachers. Where are the Welsh language teachers to be found? At present some ‘Welsh’ teachers in English language schools can’t speak the language and stay just one chapter ahead of the kids in the text book. Most Cardiff kids can’t count to ten in Welsh after years of Welsh classes. Everyone on this blog should be able to agree on one thing: if Welsh is to be taught in all Welsh schools, it is better that it is well taught and the kids learn something rather than just wasting the allotted time. Why not try a pilot to settle things empirically instead of via prejudice? Implement the Davies reforms in one area so teacher supply would be adequate. Make it an area where there is a certain amount of Welsh in the community so the kids see some point in it – Carmarthenshire or Ceredigion spring to mind. Run it for five years and take stock. Only if it works roll it out at a rate that matches the supply of Welsh teachers. And the more the country is bi-lingual the less need there would be for translation services so belowlandsker could worry less about the Welsh language ‘industry’.

  16. @David Lloyd Owen

    If a school in England is excellent then nobody claims it is excellent because the children are taught in English, so why must you do that in relation to Welsh. Ysgol y Preseli is just plainly a good school, the fact it is Welsh medium is largely irrelevant…. although the fact that it is in an area where the home language is largely Welsh and you can go into a shop and use Welsh certainly doesnt hurt.

    I dont wish Ysgol y Preseli to be socially engineered to use English… it’s none of my business! so why do you have to mouth off your oppresive opinion in relation to English medium schools. No educational success will come of changing struggling EM schools to WM schools.

    As has been said, What we need is evidence based policy making…. not policy based evidenc making

  17. Belowlandsker

    Again, the abusive language and personal attacks rather than an examination of what has been written.

    I think this behaviour is wholly inappropriate especially when hiding behind a false name.

    Perhaps it is time to have some standards of commonn courtesy on this site so that it does not become a haven for trolls.

  18. I’m sorry David, but if you barge in voicing your un-evidenced opinion on how you think my children should be educated (when I voice no such opinion on yours) then you should expect to be confronted firmly. I think your views are oppresive and I stand by that! There is nothing abusive about that.

  19. Belowlandsker

    Unfortunately, I haver never at any point suggested enforced bi-lingualism. If you would be kind enough to actually read what I write, you will find that I support fair play for the language and respecting bi-lingualism, rather than enforced monolingual education on either side.

    If you believe that fair play and a future for the Welsh language is opressive, then I can only feel compassion for you.

    I can only reiterate that I abhor this conduct, especially when done behind a false name.

  20. belowlandsker

    State education is a social function. Although parents have an input into their children’s education, society has the final word. Individuals can have opinions about policy and seek to influence its development, but society decides the direction in its wider interests including those of the children.

    Quite properly we have an interest in how our children are educated, yours, mine, and those of everyone else, as it will determine the kind of society we and they will live in. In the past you have commented about South Pembrokeshire, and the particular linguistic circumstances which pertain there which should be taken into account in terms of language schooling. No regard was given to the special circumstances which existed in Wales, and you don’t seem to wish that to change. I see something of special pleading on your part in that regard.

    Historically, education has been used, from the mid-nineteenth century, through the National and British Schools, then the state system, to weaken and destroy the Welsh language. It has been remarkably successful at so doing. Linguistic uniformity was the aim, and not just in Wales, although it has been particularly true of Wales. Consequently, and uniquely in Europe, the UK has by far the lowest numbers of people who are bilingual. England is increasingly becoming inward looking as a consequence. That is as bad for society as it is for the economy.

    As a nation, we in Wales are at last waking up to what has been done and what has been happening to our native language. Education is about more than simply preparing young people for the world of work, although that is very important. It is about creating a society relaxed with itself, its past and its future, with less space for bigotry and intolerance. Europe has been the worse for the attacks down the centuries on vulnerable minorities. Welsh speakers have become such a group, as the language has declined. They are a target for those who wish to see the language destroyed, if they were honest enough to admit it.

    Thankfully there is political support in varying degrees right across the political spectrum for steps to be taken in defence of Welsh, and a growing appetite from people who desire that their children be taught the language.

    One way, and probably the quickest and most effective way of ending the anti-Welsh bigotry of a small minority, is for Wales to become a fully bilingual country, where the vast majority of its citizens are fluent in Welsh and English, together with other strategic languages. Other societies manage multi-lingual education superbly. There is no reason that it can’t be achieved in Wales within a generation.

    The education system was effective in undermining Welsh, and it can become the means of restoring the language if society has the will and determination. I hope the education minister takes Professor Davies’ report seriously.

  21. I don’t see comparisons with other countries as useful, mainly because they don’t take into account the strengths of the respective languages. How you measure that is for someone more expert to determine, but a comparison with French and Flemish living happily side-by-side in Belgium takes absolutely no account of the historical events that led to where we are with our two languages in Wales.

    Martin Johnes’ excellent Wales Since 1939 is the only book I’ve read which argues (and strongly evidences) that Welsh went into decline not as a consequence of Victorian education policy, but because of the advent of fast roads into Welsh speaking areas, the popularisation of television, even Elvis Presley and the rock ‘n roll generation, all of which increased the use, influence and strength of the Emglish language. He also asks why it is that some near-total Welsh speaking communities, such as Llanrhaedr ym Mochnant in north Powys, became almost completely Anglicised Post-War with nary a murmur while other battles such as Capel Celyn became central to the modern struggle for the Welsh language (despite its widely-held history being built on not-a-few myths).

    Since reading this book, my own view is that we’ve all been looking in the wrong places for the causes. If that is true, then the answers we have are probably wrong, too.

  22. David Lloyd Owen:

    You said, and I quote:
    ” The sooner we have this in Wales and Welsh is taught properly here, the better ”

    you then went on to gloat about Ysgol y Preseli and compare it to the (EM) schools in the South of the County.

    Your vision of adressing the inability of kids (in English speaking areas) to become fluent in Welsh via Welsh second language by – wait for it- yet more enforced Welsh to me is to me oppresive! Espescially so in areas such as South Pembrokeshire where the language is in no way part of the culture or fabric of life. Just because speaking Welsh is your personal interest and way of life does not make it everyone elses.

    As for your petty diversionary tactics of attacking my chosen name…. Well how about I go by ‘Dai Lloyd Owen’ from now on?! Would that make you happy? I have no proof of who you are and no more reason to believe that is your real name than ‘belowlandsker’ is mine. What gives you the right to demand my real name anyway? Dont you think those of us that question Welsh language policy or funding in general have wisened up a bit to disclosing our identities? For example, Tim Williams (writer of the next article) confirmed that he has been physically attacked (on his blog) for his views. Still, he’s safe now… he’s in Australia!

  23. @Duncan Higgett
    Regarding causes I think there are many, some more instrumental than others.
    Fast roads and Elvis being two causes but would they have had the effect they did if the first Welsh Language Act had been passed in 1867 rather than 1967. Would the residents of mid twentieth century Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant have abandoned the Welsh language if it were valuable skill in all professions n Wales rather than just preaching.

    Regarding answers, increasing the desire of the people of Wales for bilingualism should be high on the language part of the political agenda. I’m not convinced it is as responding to demand which most politicians in Wales might claim can be simply political self interest.

  24. Belowlansker
    I think my real name is my real name.
    I have nothing to hide.
    What do you?

    “The sooner we have this in Wales and Welsh is taught properly here, the better ”
    What is wrong about having Welsh properly taught?
    Ysgol Y Preseli is the only outstanding school in Pems, fact.

    Anyway, I am tired of trying to engage with trolls.

  25. A really good article, far better and positive than the negativite nonsense by Tim Williams.

  26. @David Lloyd Owen

    Just because you don’t like my opinion doesn’t mean you can dismiss me as a troll! To do so speaks volumes of your character and the content of your argument.

    In a similar fashion there are a few on twitter from your side calling Tim Williams a bigot for his article today on clickonwales.org… yet he doesn’t say anything remotely bigoted. It is plainly that the Welsh language lobby don’t like what he has to say that they nastily try to smear his character. This is a tired old tactic that has intimidated many Welsh people into keeping quiet whilst they watch English medium education become marginalised and left to rot.

    However, it would appear the tide is turning David Lloyd Owen…. it would appear people are beginning to speak out. No more Welsh education decisions behind closed doors made solely by those with vested political interests in the promotion of Welsh. Thanks to the likes of Tim Williams, Prof Sioned Davies and co will now be forced to demonstrate the educational (and not just political) basis for suggesting that English speaking children should now be taught through a second language. With any luck the ‘one language for all’ report will be rightly ripped to shreds for it’s bias….and not before time! Perhaps if someone can also be bold enough to tackle the secretive subject of additional LEA funding to WM schools then they may suddenly be enough money knocking around for us English mongrel monoglots in the South of Pembrokeshire to also have an ‘excellent’ school eh David? How wonderfully fair would that be!

  27. Isel-landscer,

    Thank you for inadvertently agreeing with the essence of all my observations.

    Onwards and upwards.

  28. what does that even mean David? Other than showing in black and white that you have no depth to your argument…. only smears for anybody who challenges your view. I suggest you read a post by ‘GIF’ on todays clickonwales article.

  29. @CapM,

    We are where we are. A Welsh language Act was only passed in 1967 and not a century earlier, and weighing up what that could have done for the language has absolutely zero bearing on the issues facing it today. There is no Tardis to take us back and change things, and getting mad at history will not result in more people speaking Welsh.

    You say: “increasing the desire of the people of Wales for bilingualism should be high on the language part of the political agenda”. How do we legislate (or formulate policy) so that people want something more than they presently do?

  30. @Duncan Higgit- what about English immigration and the disintegration of the Bro Gymraeg? Whilst I accept there are a plethora of factors involved and don’t dispute your other points, you cannot ignore the half a million English people here either, they can explain how Wales has fewer Welsh-speaking communities and why overall 19% of Wales said they can speak Welsh despite about 40% of the native population being able to.

  31. @Duncan Higgitt
    I agree we are where we are and where we are is due to a long sequence of ‘events’. If road improvements and rock and roll are identified as the straws (weighty straws admittedly) that broke the camel’s back then they accomplished this because of the weight of the load already being carried.
    I can’t see what I’ve said that would lead you to conclude that I yearn for a Tardis but I realise that it’s an assumption that can easily be made if someone is more used to discussions with wannabe Time Lords.

    Regarding increasing the desire, Establishing and increasing our desire for things we currently do not desire is undertaken daily across the globe by the advertising and marketing industry. Social marketing (which differs from commercial marketing in some very important ways) could be advocated, supported, facilitated, complemented by government. I’m not saying this is a government only matter at all though.

  32. Ben,

    I must confess I’m not particularly comfortable with you using the term ‘native’/’indigenous’ Welsh. It’s all a bit 1930’s to me. Tell me though, what about the half-English in an independent Wales? Will they be allowed to join the Welsh army or will we restrict them to ship building?

    Also, I think it’s interesting, on a blog about Welsh medium education, that you manage to conclude that 600 thousand welsh speakers in a population of 3 million is 19%… yet in a population of 2.5 million (after kicking out the English) it becomes 40%.

  33. belowlandsker- I’m not interested in what makes you comfortable or not to me the English settlers here have destroyed much of Welsh speaking Wales and this is attested by evidence. Who said anything about kicking them out? If they respected the local language fair enough, If they moved to Torfaen I would hardly expect them to but by and large they swarm on Anglesey/Ceredigion/ Gwynedd. Hopefully with the devolution of stamp duty, second homes will be reduced too.

  34. Ben,

    There wouldn’t be half a million English people here were it not for improved transport links. The majority of English that migrated to the Bro did not go there to work. And here’s another interesting point – when there was work in the Valleys, it was the English who were assimilated (I can think of one community council in the Gwent valleys where all the Welsh-speaking Plaid councillors have English names while the English-speaking Labour councillors all have Welsh names). I’ve thought for some time that a better economy will help the language.

    CapM – don’t understand the Time Lord reference but accept the rest of what you’re saying.

  35. @Duncan Higget- this is exactly my point. In Monmouthshire the incomers before a certain point were indeed assimilated and learnt Welsh even when there was no formal, national structure of Welsh L2 acquisition (i.e. Welsh for Adults) therefore why is this not the case today?

  36. Ben,

    I can’t pretend I’ve studied this in detail, but it appears to me that when there was work in South Wales, people were content to migrate and assimilate. However, now that the Bro represents good retirement sense to affluent English (and by that I mean reasonably priced homes in outstanding locations), that same imperative no longer exists. To me, it’s down to the economy, not law making – although I would argue that there should be some knowledge of the Welsh language taught in English schools. Not to GCSE level, but at least an understanding that it is an important, indigenous language spoken by a sizeable number of people within the British Isles.

    That might go some way to prevent it being dismissed out of hand by incomers. Because, at heart, this is an issue of importance. In Wales, the language is part of the bedrock of identity. Many people in England regard it as superfluous, there to be sent up. When we are unprepared to put up with other prejudices, and when much time is devoted in schools teaching other cultural viewpoints, why is this allowed to endure?

  37. Duncan Higgitt said ‘when there was work in South Wales, people were content to migrate and assimilate.’ Indeed, but that was the late 19th and early 20th century when English wasn’t the dominant force it is now. No radio, TV, social media, etc., etc. We are in a very different world now. As for the Welsh language being ‘the bedrock of identity’, that would appear to be contentious and divisive issue and certainly not one to win friends amongst the non-Welsh speaking Welsh.

  38. @Duncan- there are two reasons- a dire lack of knowledge about Welsh in the first place and the other is bilingualism. You don’t think anyone speaks Welsh before you move and when you do move there you csn do everything in English. Stamp duty is being devolved and Gwynedd have already called for 200% increase on second homes. More needs to be done, if they want to come then so be it but do not expect to kill our communities by offering nothing back.

  39. Colin – I made this point earlier. It is difficult to compare bilingual countries like Belgium with Wales because English is the most widely-spoken language in the world. I believe its strength derives not from alleged historical restrictions but more likely from the United States’ position as the world’s dominant power in an age of mass communication.

    Regarding identity, I think us non-Welsh speakers can still regard the language as one of the defining features of this country. And, whether you speak the language or not, you are still far more likely to make use of certain words than someone from the other side of the Bridge. That would mark you out – identify you – as Welsh.

  40. @Duncan Higgit- you need to forget English as an international language- that is no excuse to ignore Welsh where it still dominates as a community language even in 2013. My points above explain why English incomers are able to do this and how they get away with it.

  41. Duncan – I recommend you read David Bellos’s book, ‘Is that a fish in your ear’ where he discusses and partially dismisses the imperial hypothesis. And, to paraphrase him, ‘for every work in Spanish translated into English in the first decade of the 21st century, fifteen were translated from English into Spanish, despite there being almost as many native Spanish speakers as English on the planet today’. And ‘English does not dominate the world in the way that Latin did, because it is massively translated into vernaculars. Translation is the opposite of Empire.’

    Not sure if all this will make sense – sorry. However, regarding Welsh identity, the language may indeed be a defining feature of the country, but not necessarily of the people. The use of a few words and the use of different word orders in English may indeed mark a person out as being Welsh, but that is a totally different thing as being fluent in Welsh. And when the latter are in a tiny minority it isn’t a good idea to define Welshness in terms of being able to speak the language.

  42. @Colin Miles
    The Welsh language can be said to be a defining feature of the Welsh as regarding it there are two types of Welsh person the ones that can speak Welsh and the ones that wish they could speak Welsh.

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