The media’s attacks on the Welsh language are a product of insecurity and intolerance

Picture by: Jon S (CC BY 2.0)

 

Huw Williams

This article was originally tweeted here.

A part of me thinks, why bother – it’s gone. But as it may be just the beginning, it seems worth reiterating some points about the Times editorial.

This was another classic example of historical English-British prejudice and fallacy dressed up in rational liberal discourse.

Telling a people to restrict the teaching of their language is to tell them their culture is inferior, not worthy of the effort.

This is bigotry for which the most adequate word we have is racism. To suggest language reproduction is simply a ‘natural’ process is ignorant.

The alleged naturalness reflects a social Darwinism and Imperialist attitude to language.

According to this view, language death supposedly occurs as the result of the survival of the fittest – not because of actual, historic, barbaric ideologies, and state measures to match.

To suggest that teaching Welsh stands in the way of prioritizing other languages is also misguided: a notional zero-sum game where learning bilingually steals from other subjects.

In fact learning bilingually facilitates learning other languages and opens you up more readily to other worlds & cultures, as you already inhabit two.

It is a state of being where you have an actual choice of which language to use, not just the choice of learning another language later in life.

And it’s worth remembering this sermon on languages comes from an English culture that is so often proudly monoglot – neglecting modern languages in schools, with little understanding of how language creates our worlds, and little desire to know others.

The Times editorial

As recent years have proven this is a culture still in its “long retreat”, lost in this new world.

I feel sorry for them, but others should not bear the brunt of their loss. The insecurity has spawned Brexit, intolerance & rage.

And we can’t be naïve; it is an attack on all of us in Wales regardless of our relationship with the language.

They don’t distinguish, rather they wish to undermine us and put us in our place – scolding the Welsh is one of their last attempts at showing a moral authority they are losing by the day.

This is *their* existential crisis, not ours. We have always recreated ourselves and we can do it again.

As so many have said, we can’t let them lecture us on this, and disrupt our discussion. This is our cause, our culture.


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Huw Jenkins
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Huw Jenkins

In Canada this wouldn’t be an issue. French, is aggressively supported not only in Quebec but across the country in an effort to establish a bilingual population coast to coast. Furthermore First Nation and Inuit languages have support regionally.

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[…] o’r pryderon mwyaf sydd wedi eu mynegi yn yr un cyfnod yma yw dylanwad y cyfryngau torfol “Prydeinig” ar ganfyddiad pobl Cymru a thu hwnt o’r iaith a’i lle o fewn  ein hunaniaeth ddinesig.  I’r […]

Lyn Thomas
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Lyn Thomas

amazing isn’t it, they have no issue with Geography and History being compulsory but only Welsh should be voluntary…… I wonder why?

Rob Mimpriss
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Many thanks — a realistic yet comforting article, and further evidence that nation.cymru has moved to the forefront of Welsh national journalism. Thank you again, and keep up the good work.

Richard Owen
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Richard Owen

Gwych iawn, Huw.

Trailorboy
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Trailorboy

Maybe we should take all of these comments, editorials and negative sentiments as a measure lof our success – we are creating waves. Every success will lead to yet more anger and noise, but that noise may be better than silence?

The BBC is currently blanking out Welsh politicians nationally- no clips of Carwyn in Brussels on the main news, yet plenty of clips of of Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon. Not acknowledge ing we exists is the worst they can do to us and I think the BBC knows that.

Trailorboy
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Trailorboy

i blame my phone forbthe typos

Dafis
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Dafis

I love it when a pompous old rag like the Times starts pontificating about the Welsh and their quaint little language in such a patronising way. The bit that really makes me chuckle, because it shows how ill informed their journalists are, is the reference to “persuading English speaking monoglots to devote their energies to learning Welsh rather than other languages……”. A recent British Council report highlighted the near total absence of interest in learning ANY language among monoglot Anglo Brits especially in Wales. Pupils in schools drift away from learning languages at an early stage and the signs are… Read more »

osgarpenmaen
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osgarpenmaen

I’ve posted this following another article but I think it’s worth posting here. Please bide with me if you’ve seen it before. I have two grandchildren aged 3 and 5 who live in Luxembourg. Luxembourg is a small country of less than 600,000 population. It has 3 official languages, Luxembourgish, French and German. My grandchildren go to the Luxembourgish school in their village. The only language spoken is Luxembourgish. Their parents do not speak Luxembourgish. Their mother speaks Welsh with them; their father speaks English with them, Their grandmother speaks French with them. They have no problem changing from one… Read more »

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[…] This is not least evident in ideological monolingualism of recent attacks on Welsh in the English media, seen for instance in a deeply flawed account of bilingual education in The Guardian or a critique of the Welsh language act in The Times. […]