25 Reason Why

The Welsh Language is in Crisis

  hgunn.uk


1.     The Welsh Language has always been part of the Welsh national identity and culture. Language is a human construct and however passionately people feel about the future the Welsh language, its future will be dictated by science. Political rhetoric and dogmatism will not save the future of the living Welsh Language.

 

2.     Languages exists like viruses, they need to be actively shared between speakers for them to endure and for new learners to it successfully learn them. Research suggest is takes around 10,000 hours to develop fluency in a new language. The notion that new languages as easy to learn is a myth.

 

3.     Research suggests the tipping point of a new language is 67% speakers (University of Galway). This means that the Welsh language is not a living language is Wales, but this does not mean it is dead either.

 

4.     Dr. Margaret Newcombe, Cardiff School of Welsh, has argued that since the Act of Union in 1636 that the Welsh language in Wales has been limited to social and cultural spheres. However hard it is for Welsh language activists to accept, the Welsh language tends to remain the language of the home in Wales, especially in Welsh speaking heartlands towns like Llanelli, Carmarthenshire.

 

5.     The harsh reality, as the Irish Language Commissioner claimed about the Irish Language, English is a super-virus, there is so much more that can be done with it and people are not going to deny themselves with opportunities that exist throuy using English.  English is a world language and the academic language of the world. 

 

6.   There are no good reasons why anyone should want the Welsh language and the living Welsh language to die, but there is no evidence it can be turned into a majority of language of Wales.  It would take generations to achieve, but there is value in children learning the Welsh language in schools.


7. The Welsh language, as with the Irish language, is divided into a range of distinct dialects, which are essentially related forms of different languages, it possible for Welsh speakers not to understand speakers of another dialect.  This makes the survival of the living Welsh language less probable.

 

8.     The Welsh language is technically is a distributed and scattered language. Languages are living things, they do not remain constant, and this has developed over time.

 

9   There is not a standard Welsh as there is in English (Notional). There are a lot of Welsh speakers speaking slang, an inter-language where English words or derivates used. such as 'drifo' instead of 'gyrru' (To drive). This is arising because of Welsh speakers are not using the Welsh language sufficiently to fluently retain words.


10 There is nothing distinct about the Welsh language, it is simply one of the 6,000 languages in the world. The notion that only Welsh speakers are authorities on the Welsh language just because they speak Welsh and  the future of the language will not conform to what is known about other languages is a myth.


11. There has been constant political demands about what must be done to save the living Welsh language and there has lot of Government support for the Welsh language.  There is no convincing evidence that the demands are valid, they are scientifically backed, and many appear popularist political window dressing. 


12. Most bilingual speakers across the world will use each language that they speak in different contexts, the British Council is claiming that there will be two billion English speakers in the world by 2020 and it is becoming increasing important for people to learn to speak it.  The notion that anyone in modern Wales can live fulfilled educated lives without speaking English is myth.


13. The inherent difficult of resurrecting a minority language is that there are not sufficient speakers for new learners to speak with or to maintain the fluency of their language (Shah). Minority languages are very difficult to resurrect and the dialects makes the situation worse in Wales.


14. There is limited literature in the Welsh language and creating Welsh on road signs and paperwork is not going to change that situation. The notion that the English language internet or the vast libraries of books in the English language can be translated into Welsh is not going to happen.


15. The Welsh language, the 'Hen Iaeth', is a parachocial one, it thrived in the village communities.  The language is not suited to the modern world, it dies in the towns and cities and it is not suited to social mobility in modern Wales.

16.  
Dr. Margaret Newcombe claims that many 
children in Welsh medium schools are speaking English in the school yard and at home. This means that Welsh is not their first, most fluent language, and they will not be developing their Welsh language fluency sufficiently.


17. It has been claimed in Ireland that Irish will become primarily the language of education in ten years time. This means that children will be learning a new language just be to educated through it and there is evidence this trend is happening in Wales.

18. Children who live in English speaking families who chose to learn and be educated through the medium of Welsh will not enjoy the early and continued language support of their parents that Welsh speaking parents will be able to offer their children.  English speaking children will less inclined to develop well rounded Welsh language fluency or to retain Welsh into their adulthood, especially if their families do not speak Welsh. 


19. Alan Cairnes, Welsh minister has claimed that many of the Welsh speaking youth do not view themselves as fluent Welsh speakers.  These young Welsh speakers are the future of the Welsh language.


20. What is indisputable is that the language environment, the social media generation, that native Welsh speaking children are be brought up in is very different to environment that the older generation of Welsh speakers, who are dying, lived throughout. There is no evidence that the living Welsh language can be saved through maintaining the status quo.


21.  A language is a tool that human beings use to communicate with each other to enable them to successfully communicate with each other,  the value of any language is what can be done with it.  This is why literacy provides the greatest access to social mobility.


22.  The ability to develop, use and retain a language relates to how frequently it is used, and unless it is frequently used it can be lost.  Irrespective of how the arguments are applied, there are vast more opportunities to use English in Wales, especially in then more Anglicised areas.


23.  The reality is that the Welsh language cannot survive in its current form, there has been no control or attempt to direct its future.  The Welsh language is a real, as complete language as 'French',  but it cannot be used to the same extent as French and this is the problem. This why many Welsh speakers cannot speak proper Welsh, because they cannot speak it sufficiently to develop and maintain proper Welsh language fluency.


24. The harsh reality is that the blame for the demise of the Welsh language is being placed upon English speakers for not learning it, but the real problem is that Welsh speakers are not choosing to use Welsh sufficiently. Llanelli is a Welsh in the Welsh speaking heartlands, where little Welsh is rarely heard on the streets of the town. It will take years for anyone to learn fluent Welsh in Wales.

25. The real threat to the living Welsh language is the unwillingness to address the real issues that surround its future and there has only been an interest in maintaining the status quo.  The Irish Government had the conviction to create new form of Irish language that allows it to be spoken by newer generations of Irish speakers. This can be the only way forward for the Welsh language.

Plenary

  
There remains a concept that new languages are easy to learnThe notion that simply encouraging more native speaking children and adults to learn the Welsh language will save the living Welsh language is a myth. 

  Many of the arguments that surround the future of the Welsh language are over simplistic. Even if children are compelled to learn through the medium of Welsh does not mean they will chose to use it in the future.

       We are all lazy at heart and creatures of habit, we will use our most fluent language. Time is a factor in learning and retaining skills.  

       The real questions have not been asked let alone answered about the future of the Welsh Language. The language can only be saved if decisive action needs to undertaken to revise the Welsh language and if Welsh speakers must work hard to save the language.  There has been far too much political window dressing and not enough decisive action.