Monday 14 January 2013
A Question of Identity
Next Saturday, 19 January beginning at 11 o'clock, a rally will be held outside County Hall in Carmarthen to bring together people who care about the future of the Welsh language in Carmarthenshire.
Lots of "celebs" will be there, along with many other people from all walks of life who were shocked by the recent census results. Please come along and show your support even if you feel your Welsh is not brilliant or you are learning the language. You will not be made to sit a mutation test or dragged in front of the microphones.
The ability to speak a language is not black and white. There are people, certainly a small minority in Carmarthenshire, who have no Welsh at all. Not even "diolch". Then there are lots of shades of grey, ranging from people who have a few words; those with a smattering of Welsh; people who don't actively speak Welsh but can understand it; people whose Welsh has become rusty; and then quite a big group who can actually speak and understand the language but who feel, for a variety of reasons, that their Welsh is not "good enough".
We've probably all come across people who say that their Welsh isn't "good enough" or who say they speak "Wenglish", but who can actually carry on a decent conversation with a bit of English thrown in. Last year I got talking to an elderly lady in Tesco's who began by saying,
"Sai'n siarad Cymra'g, achan, ond w i'n gallu swearo yn Gymra'g". [I don't speak Welsh, lad, but I can swear in Welsh].
The good news, then, is that if you scratch the surface, there is a lot more Welsh in Carmarthenshire than the census figures would suggest. The bad news is that there is a decline in the numbers who feel confident in asserting that they can speak Welsh.
There are things that can be done about that, and none of them involves pain. See the bottom of this post for some useful telephone numbers and websites.
Before anyone says, "With the economy the way it is, this is not a priority", consider this. Firstly, speaking Welsh does not damage the economy. Secondly, people have been speaking Welsh or something very much like it in Carmarthenshire and the rest of Wales for the best part of 2,000 years. During that long history, the Welsh have endured plagues, famines, wars, invasions, natural disasters and any number of economic downturns which make what we are experiencing today look like a picnic in the park.
Future generations would curse us if they thought we gave up because of a few years of recession.
There are people, including some of those running our county council, who feel that Welsh is somehow a luxury, and they must share part of the blame for the decline in the numbers speaking Welsh over the last ten years.
Welsh is not a luxury, but part of our identity and our birthright. Come along to County Hall next Saturday and send a loud and clear message that we want to keep it that way.
Useful telephone numbers and contact details
If you already have some Welsh but you do not feel confident in speaking it, or it has become rusty, a good place to start is Menter Iaith. They are a friendly bunch who run various activities for people like you.
Menter Iaith Cwm Gwendraeth 01269 871600
Menter Iaith Gorllewin Sir Gâr 01239 712934
Menter Bro Dinefwr 01558 825336
If you want to learn the language or brush up your Welsh, try one of the following. In Ceredigion there are also weekly conversation groups to give people a chance to chat about all sorts of topics, ranging from cooking, gardening and health to topics in the news, local businesses, history, etc. There are also classes run for parents with children in Welsh-medium schools (Cymraeg i'r Teulu). If there isn't one at your child's school, ask the school head to organise one.
Welsh for Adults/Cymraeg i Oedolion 01792 60 20 70 (Swansea, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire)
Welsh for Adults/Cymraeg i Oedolion 0800 876 6975 (Ceredigion)
A great online way of learning Welsh: Say Something in Welsh
Posted by Cneifiwr at 11:54