west*wales*news*review

West Wales News Review — analysis with a sustainability slant

Stop Locking Out the Language

by Pat Dodd Racher

Supporters of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, the Welsh Language Society, will not be sitting on the fence on Saturday December 14th – rather they will be symbolically locking themselves outside it, to protest at the way Welsh language rights are ignored.

Living in Welsh is harder every year. Often the language stops at the classroom door. Young Welsh speakers leave to find work in cities elsewhere, and are replaced by incomers speaking English, Polish, Bulgarian and a wide range of other languages.

Last weekend I met a Bulgarian in North Wales, working in a guest house. She spoke Bulgarian, Russian, and English. Was she going to learn Welsh? No, three languages are probably enough, she said, and in any case, nearly everyone coming to the guest house could speak English.

It is true that unless you are going to live in Patagonia, Welsh is of limited daily use outside Wales, but the same applies to Catalan and to Euskara, the language of the Basques, and indeed to all but a handful of global languages. The big issue for Welsh is that it is in competition with a world language, and that fact sometimes obscures the rights of Welsh speakers to use their language at work, at leisure, in hospital, and everywhere else in their daily lives within Wales.

Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s Aberystwyth lock-out will highlight the insufficient use of Welsh in the administrations of local authorities and of the the Welsh Government; the need for language rights to be strengthened; and the vital importance of job creation in Welsh-speaking communities.

The event, at 11am, is outside the Welsh Government Offices in Aberystwyth, off Boulevard St. Brieuc and between the town centre and Parc y Llyn retail park. Speakers include musician Toni Schavione and Mared Ifan, who is president of the Undeb Myfyrwyr Cymraeg Aberystwyth, which represents Welsh-speaking students at Aberystwyth University.

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