Thursday, February 12, 2009

I hate Welsh speakers

Translation of an article by the Labour Party's prospective parliamentary candidate for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, Rhys Williams, in the current edition of Barn magazine.

Jonathan Swift said that he hated humanity but loved Tom, Dick and Harry. In my case, I would say that I hate Welsh speakers but love Heledd, Gethin and Glesni.

As one raised in a linguisticly mixed home in the coal mining village of Ynysybwl in south east Wales and who was a teacher in Ceredigion for some years, I have by now little patience for those who in self-pity mourn the decline of the Welsh language in rural Wales.

Over the past three or four years, to my surprise, my personal experiences and subjective impressions have been confirmed by two books – one by a Welsh speaking politician and one about a Welsh speaking politician.
The first is Mab y Pregethwr, Cynog Dafis’ autobiography. Here’s an excerpt from chapter three:
”As I was on the threshold of our O-lLevel exams, it was arranged for me to stay on in Aberaeron until the summer, where I would find accomodation with Jac and Olive Rees…While I was staying with Jac and Olive, their eldest child was being raised as a monoglot English speaker. When I went, the fledgeling free boarder raised bilingually without difficulty by an English speaking mother, to question Jac about this, his reply was that he had no choice as Olive did not speak Welsh, and anyway, the child would pick up Welsh in the street and in school. But it didn’t work out that way.”

And later, when Cynog started work as a teacher in Ysgol Cwm Tawe, we read:
”But the one I liked the most was Glyn Lloyd, a Mathematics graduate…Sheila (his wife) was from Cardiff, and didn’t speak Welsh. Like Jac Rees, Glyn, from the wholly Welsh speaking background of Rhiw-fawr, Cwmllynfell, was raising his two children as monoglot English speakers, but occasionally suffered pangs of conscience about it.”

This is one reader who didn’t share his ‘pangs’ when reading the sad story. The story reflected something that we see all the time among the hypocritical self-pitying Welsh speakers.

The next piece comes from Rhys Evans’ biography of Gwynfor Evans. Unlike the tearful insipid tone of the above excerpts, Rhys Evans’ description of Gwynfor arriving in Aberystwyth in October 1932 to begin his University course is a truly amusing masterpiece:
”He knew…he would have numerous opportunities to perfect his faultering Welsh there. But from the first day, Gwynfor was disappointed by Aberystwyth. There to meet him on the station platform was Gwyn Humphries-Jones, a boy from Bala who had shared accomodation with him for three years. Gwynfor expected the boy would act as a cultural guide for him, but it wasn’t to be. When Gwynfor asked him (in English) if he would be so good as to speak Welsh with him, he refused, saying he hadn’t the patience. Remembering hiis expectations regarding Welsh in his native area, discovering how things really were was a lesson to the freshman from Barry. It was kind landlady of Ceinfan, his lodgings on Trefor Road, not his Welsh speaking fellow-student, who helped him to perfect his Welsh.”

Fair play to the outspoken boy from Bala. He didn’t suffer from any ‘pangs of conscience’.

According to Ecclesiastes, ‘there is nothing new under the sun’. And behold, on New Year’s Eve, 2006, on the Taro 9 programme Keith Davies, Director of the Welsh Baccalaureate, or Bagloriaeth Cymru, related a story about Welsh speaking parents in Cwm Gwendraeth who were, today, speaking English to their children. And last year Caryl Parry Jones raised fundamental questions concerning the language standard of pupils in traditionally Welsh speaking areas. In the wake of the discussion that followed, it became clear that some commentators also doubted the standard of Welsh spoken by some of the language’s emmisaries, namely the teachers, who have left rural Wales in order to culturize the crude small children of the south and the north east.

Nonetheless, what is even worse than this is the way many of our Welsh speaking communities’ small important people, intentionally or not, use the language either to keep others out or to keep them in their place. That place, naturally, is several steps beneath them! Indeed, in many Welsh speaking communities the ethos of the Freemasons is rampant throughout society. In the Macpherson report on the murder of Stephen Lawrence, the London Met were accused of ‘institutional racism’ ie, the racism was so innate and profound that the institution was not even aware of its existence.

These days, after living in west Wales for a quarter of a century more or less, the last thing I’d want to be is a ‘country boy’. That isn’t something that has developed recently. Years ago, I remember my father asking, “Rhys, why are you so nasty when you speak about the country?” I should explain that my mother and father were from a rural background.

Reading Rhys Evans’ and Cynog Dafis’ books and listening to Keith Davies on the telly supplied me with objective proof that there was a basis to the opinion I fostered about rural Wales. Before then I feared I might be mistaken. After all, aren’t rural Welsh speakers a friendly and welcoming folk? That’s exactly how they see themselves. But the ugly truth is that these Welsh people, collectively, use the Welsh language as a weapon – either to close people out or to make them second class citizens.

Ych a fi. With ‘friends’ like these, the Welsh language deserves better.

Source: Casau'r Cymry Cymraeg on Barn 2.0. Crossposted on Welsh Noted, where you can also find Welsh author Dewi Prysor's response to the article. Links to some related posts can also be found here.

32 comments:

Simon Dyda said...

NB: Yes, that is the article's title, as it appears in Barn.

The Penguin said...

I much prefer JBL's, although Mission are OK.

The Penguin

Dave H said...

Last year Rodri Morgan was invited onto the PM program. Eddie Mair asked him questions in English and he answered in Welsh. It was weird, they used an interpreter to translate. At least they didn't have to translate the questions for him.

My feeling at the time was WTF? He can speak English perfectly well and yet chooses, for a national radio program, a language which the vast majority of British people find incomprehensible. I assume it was simply a rude nationalist gesture.

Far from reducing nationalist feelings, giving Wales and Scotland their own legislative assemblies has clearly intensified them, as well as stoking resentment in England.

Well done NuLab for damaging the Union. Is there anything they haven't (mostly unintentionally) fucked up?

Chris said...

I regularly wonder why public money is wasted on supporting television and radio services for several languages (Welsh, the Gaelics, etc.) which have *no utility as current mediums of communication* outside their traditional heartlands.

If bilingual Britons want to keep their traditional culture and languages alive, then they should have the self-respect to do it themselves.

If there's sufficiently pressing reason to speak a language (as there used to be with Latin and French, as there currently is with English) then people *will* learn it of their own free will.

Anonymous said...

Welsh is a symbol of Welsh national identity, and helps build a sense of belonging. There is nothing wrong with excluding non-Welsh people by using the language. A world with local culture and strong communities, where individuals feel valued, is to be preferred to a consumerist, monolingual, monoracial and monocultural world.

RonB said...

Anon 06:13pm

Why?

Anonymous said...

The Welsh will merely mirror the experience in Quebec.

While most of Canada speak English, the Quebecois insisted on speaking French, in fact my husbane was not taught English at all until he decided at the age of 16 if he didn't learn it he was going to be isolated.

And that's exactly what happened. Jobs outside of Quebec province went to English speakers, as did those that included any interaction with the rest of the north american continent. And those that insisted on'cultural purity' were left behind.

Arrogant action by petty minded, self-satisfied and self-righteous welsh nationals is going to isolate you from the rest of the island. You might find that welcoming, but you can't raise the money to run your little self-indulgence without financial input from the largest cash contributors - the English. Getting them off-side might be unfortunate.

It was for many of the French speakers of Canada.

Simon Dyda said...

Arrogant action by petty minded, self-satisfied and self-righteous welsh nationals is going to isolate you from the rest of the island.

And what 'action' would that be, pray tell?

Anonymous said...

This may be of interest: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?gid=52401797734&ref=ts

Anonymous said...

My favourite true story. Firends have moved to Wales - very happy there, no racism etc (in the Vale). One is a fluent Mandarin speaker and gets by in Cantonese and Korean. A job came up to promote investment into Wales from China and surrounding area for Welsh Assembly. She could not apply as could not speak Welsh. So the guy who got it speaks Welsh - and English, but no Asian languages - has to use a translator with him every time he goes to China etc and has to speak English to the translators as they do not understand Welsh. Well few people do outside west Wales. Was this job a serious one or a retirement handshake?

Anonymous said...

This has nothing to do with Wales,
but I tried to send it as an e-mail to dk@devilskitchen.org, but that did not work.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,606693,00.html

Vicola said...

"There is nothing wrong with excluding non-Welsh people by using the language. A world with local culture and strong communities, where individuals feel valued, is to be preferred to a consumerist, monolingual, monoracial and monocultural world."

Well why is that when Asian Muslim communities do exactly that people whine about them 'not integrating' and being 'insular'?

FlipC said...

"Well why is that when Asian Muslim communities do exactly that people whine about them 'not integrating' and being 'insular'?"

Because that's not a case of knowing the language, but using their own; they can't be bothered or don't want to learn the native language. To put it another way a couple I know tried to move to France, didn't speak French and didn't want to learn; they soon came back. Now if they had been surrounded by fellow Brits they'd have been fine until they came to deal outside that community.

The key point for me in the article is "the child would pick up Welsh in the street and in school" I didn't learn English at school if that were the case the majority of children would be mute until the age of 5. School enhanced my vocabulary and grammar. If native Welsh speakers aren't using it with their children that's their own fault.

pond life said...

"Welsh is a symbol of Welsh national identity, and helps build a sense of belonging".....to those who speak it. To the 78% of us who don't it is often a source of irritation, resentment and division as you see smug hick children strutting and clucking 'round the Bay in a bubble of self satisfaction as they get their snouts in the trough of public sector non-jobs. Parasitic fucks feeding off the nipple of the English tax payer whist secretly despising their provider and probably themselves because they realise they have neither the wit or the wherewith all to provide for themselves in the 'wide world'.


"There is nothing wrong with excluding non-Welsh people by using the language".....other than good manners and the fact thatyou also exclude the majority of Welsh people from your cultural utopia.

Deceangeli said...

This article is spot on - I so agree with it.

When I was a child, I grew up mixing with the likes of Cynog Davis and Gwynfor Evans as my dad was a mover in Plaid.

I am no supporter of this Elitism. I am very supportive of Wales as a country, but in its current situation - where the language is used as a stick against the 79% of the population who don't speak it - I don't see any future for it.

I think the best thing that could happen to the Welsh language is that it is killed by an influx of business. This would help remove this grant blanket which keeps the country always looking inward and away from the real world.

However, this won't happen. Ever since the days of Howel Dda in 900, the Welsh have feared outsiders, doing whatever they can to make life as difficult as possible for them.

This does obviously involve slicing off their own noses - which was not as painful as living with the chip they have on their shoulders.

Newmania said...

Missed a trick there DK the Welsh Language is supported by funds from the EU as part of its regionalisation policy.

Look no further

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Disappearing-Britain-Death-Government-Europe/dp/0965781232

Its all in there

wh00ps said...

as an english-speaking english person, i officially have no opinion about the welsh language. i will mourn it's passing though, if it does. it's got a wonderful sound even though i have no idea what it means.

Anonymous said...

Interesting responses here. Note to self: must add to archive. Usual collection of anti-Welsh racism quite common on the web.

Anonymous said...

There is the perception that the Welsh language has been politicised ie. if you speak Welsh then you are Plaid Cymru/Cymdeithas which is obviously not true, but by the same token fuckers like you politicise from the opposite angle.

You need to realise, in Wales people speak Welsh, language is a means of communication everywhere, it so happens that in Wales people communicate in Welsh.

As for those who use the economic argument, (paying for S4C and other media etc.), if you need to put a monetary value on everything then I hope you lose everything in the current economic climate and do us all a favour and top yourself!

Little Black Sambo said...

"It so happens that in Wales people communicate in Welsh" - well, some do but the overwhelming majority - for better or for worse - don't. Isn't that the whole point of the article?

Simon Dyda said...

Isn't that the whole point of the article?

Nope.

Anonymous said...

roll on 2013 when the EU grants to Wales disappear!

The money will be going East leaving Wales with an opportunity to prove how useful spending the last 30 years on forcing the use of Welsh in society has done NOTHING to increase its GDP and economic strength!

No inward investment is going to pay the Welsh tax when its cheaper to go to Poland!

WAG - Waste All Grants!

Simon Dyda said...

forcing the use of Welsh in society

And when was the last time you were 'forced' to speak Welsh, exactly? Do tell. it already promises to be a thoroughly amusing anecdote!

Anonymous said...

Regarding 2013 when grants leave Wales, if you care to look at how the Soviet EU is set to impose itself on this Island, you will realise that England/Scotland/Wales will disappear and become one economic bloc, that is how the Soviet EU and its advocates see our nations as economic units.

For all those who patronise us Welsh I hope you realise that the ultimate aim of the Soviet EU is for us all to speak German, think it ridiculous? just do a bit of research and stop doing their work for them by attacking us, because for every bully there is a bigger and nastier bully waiting, so I hope you get bullied to fuck you cretin!

Dr Grumble said...

Wales is becoming unattractive to doctors. The language may be part of it.

Anonymous said...

I live in snowdonia and i am english.. facts are no welsh here like the english.. we get treated like dirt in the local shops and not speaking welsh makes it harder.. i refuse to speak this gobbledeegook bullshit, i wont allow my children to attend welsh speaking schools and i wont allow them to take any welsh exams..this is catching on at the last the welsh language exam sat at our local secondary only 9 people sat the exam as opposed to the english language exam in which 46 sat.. numbers tell the story.. ban the language in business/education and commerce the language is a laughing stock now and is called Wenglish around here long may the welsh language decline and all the die hard nationalistic fools with it..

Anonymous said...

I've been banned from a certain website for voicing my opinion on how rude and arrogant the Welsh are.
The incident detailed above in this discussion with Rodri Morgan on the radio speaking in Welsh when he is perfectly capable of answering in English just proves my point.
The Welsh think they are some sort of proud and special breed of people, but they are in fact rude and potentially racist toward the English.
Wales has some lovely places to visit, it is just a shame that the Welsh people inhabit them.
What have the Welsh people ever achieved as a nation, I personally struggle to think of anything.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe how arrogant everyone commenting is! There is nothing wrong with speaking the native language. Welsh was here before the english migrated here and will be after they go :)
I do understand that there is a part of welsh that is racist but they usually have a good reason. I am lucky enough to speak both languages, and when I went to uni chose to go to the english speaking halls to meet people from other backgrounds. I was amazed with how naive and arrogant they were towards the welsh language. But after a few discussions they understood what the language means to us, it is not a massive big deal, it is simply the language that we speak to each other. But to have other non speakers telling us that is it silly is crazy! I was educated through welsh and the number of pupils going to my primary school has doubled.

To the comment above I also live in snowdonia and do not have a problem with the english or any other foreigners at all. It is important to respect the native language of any country, and arrogant and petty to tell other nationalities what to do.

I speak welsh to my welsh mates and english to my other mates, and do not have a problem with either.

What I do have a problem is racism on BOTH sides. I feel some welsh people don't interact with english people because of the way they are brought up, but it is the same old story, a few people give the wrong perception to many.

What you should do is try to interact and you will be amazed at the response, shut your doors up and your perception of the welsh will never change.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I live in snowdonia and i am english.. facts are no welsh here like the english.. we get treated like dirt in the local shops and not speaking welsh makes it harder.. i refuse to speak this gobbledeegook bullshit, i wont allow my children to attend welsh speaking schools and i wont allow them to take any welsh exams..this is catching on at the last the welsh language exam sat at our local secondary only 9 people sat the exam as opposed to the english language exam in which 46 sat.. numbers tell the story.. ban the language in business/education and commerce the language is a laughing stock now and is called Wenglish around here long may the welsh language decline and all the die hard nationalistic fools with it.

A pity that they don't burn assholes houses anymore preferable with the occupants in it, if you don't like people speaking welsh then piss off back to England, you fit all the typical stereotypes of the English asshole, ARROGANT PRICK".

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't Welsh people be commentating on this issue, why is there a load of English assholes commentating on something which as nothing to do with them?
The only people being forced to speak a language is the Welsh being forced to speak English, as for the English twat in north Wales I suggest moving back to England and that goes for the other English posters on here as well.
I can see in the not to distant future house burnings and even more serious attacks on English families, you’ll only yourselves to blame for it. When this does occur by the way it's what you get when you try to destroy a culture and a people.

robincross224 said...

just a response to the anonymous guy who compared the welsh situation to that of quebec... actually i wouldn't agree with you completely- quebec has the second strongest economy of all the provinces of canada... they're pretty much self sufficient, and also have the entire francophonie to interact with, where as the welsh are, as you say, in need of the english to keep their country alive.

Stuart said...

Wow, lots of chest thumping on this one.

I'm an alumnus of Ysgol Glan Clwyd, and since 2008 have lived in the village of Llannefydd where the vast majority speak Welsh as a first language. From my own experience, the Welsh snobbery is limited to a small number of fairly affluent Welsh families with delusions of grandeur and a vested interest in local government. They are, as stated already, quite happy to stick their snouts in the trough of grants from Westminster and Brussels via their non-jobs.

The rest of the Welsh speaking polity, on the other hand, have no economic reason to exclude non-Welsh speakers from any industry or social group, and will happily switch between English and Welsh in conversation. Your fluency in Welsh is the least of their concern - you're far more likely to be discriminated against for being gay, but that's another issue altogether.