JellyBaby's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘welsh

The assembly government has published a proposed new law on the Welsh government.

These new laws would place duties on certain firms to provide services in Welsh. Firms in areas such as gas, electricity and telecoms could face fines if they refuse to provide a Welsh language service.

The measure would also give Welsh official language status.

It’s about time too, I say. Non-Welsh speakers may not realise but a number of Welsh people just aren’t comfortable having to do all their business in English and surely it’s common sense that if you’re in Wales you should be able to do your business in Welsh if you want.

However there have been concerns that the new measures don’t cover the private sector. Shops, for example, won’t be required to provide a Welsh service. The assembly doesn’t have the power. It’s a shame because shops are a major part of our day to day lives and it would be nice to see the Welsh language become more mainstream.

Still, it’s progress and it’s good to see action being taken to ensure that whether you’re more comfortable speaking Welsh or English, at least you’re able to make that choice in more ways.

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If you’re not a Welsh speaker the title of this blog will look like gibberish.

If you are, of have ever attended a Welsh lesson, you’ll have probably heard this sentence. Roughly translated it means “it’s better to speak bad Welsh than good English”, and it’s an often repeated phrase in Welsh classes.

A friend of mine should have repeated this to his Welsh teacher the other day. Despite being a fluent Welsh speaker, he is required to take Welsh lessons as part of his PGCE course and recently had a good moan to us about the fact that his teacher would prefer that three people spoke perfect Welsh, than all the class spoke average Welsh.

This attitude really annoys me. Welsh isn’t an easy language to learn but when someone tries to learn it they should be encouraged not criticised. Most people learning Welsh simply want to be able to use it in day-to-day situations; they don’t need to know every single grammar rule. I’ve been speaking Welsh for about 16 years and even though I have a GCSE in it I still don’t know all my treigladau. That doesn’t matter, though, because I can speak Welsh when I need to and I’m understood. My Welsh is definitely not perfect, but nor is my English and that’s my mother tongue!

By criticising those who can’t speak Welsh perfectly my friend’s teacher is discouraging those who find it hard and I’m sure this happens all over the country. It’s better to have a country where the majority can speak conversational Welsh with a few mistakes, than a country where Welsh speakers decline even more, although those speakers are excellent.

So, if you’re a Welsh speaker getting fed up with some people’s poor grammar, cut them some slack. “Gwell Cymraeg slac…”

Osian Jones, Cymdeithas Yr Iaith’s North Wales officer, will be imprisoned later this month for refusing to pay fines after he was arrested for painting slogans onto shops in Bangor in protest against their refusal to become bilingual.

For those who are not followers of Welsh pressure groups I will explain a little about Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg. They are a group that wants to see equal rights for the Welsh language in Wales. Despite almost a quarter of Welsh people speaking Welsh it is not an official language and Cymdeithas campaign for more rights for those who wish to use Welsh as opposed to English. They use non-violent direct action such as protests to get their message across. For more information click here for an English-language FAQ.

Despite being first-language English I am a fluent Welsh speaker and am sympathetic with the plight of Cymdeithas. Surely it is common sense that first-language Welsh speakers who live in Wales should be able to listen to Welsh radio, watch Welsh TV, and fill in Welsh forms? This is not the case.

Osian’s crime was to paint slogans on high street stores in Bangor as part of a protest against these stores not using Welsh. Anyone who has visited the most Welsh areas of Wales on holiday will know that this is a common practise; English street signs and place names are often covered with graffiti and posters advertising the cymdeithas are everywhere. Osian is the second member of the group to be imprisoned this year and I know of a number of people who have been arrested for the cause.

But while I am sympathetic with the cause I have to wonder if the Cymdeithas are shooting themselves in the foot somewhat by using criminal action to get their point across? Obviously painting slogans on shops is not as bad as using violence, but it is still a crime and I wonder if this would cause the government to pay less attention to them? They are trying to get the government to listen to them and take their case seriously but they are also disrespecting the laws that government have created.

It is also important to think of the ripple effect of crime and the effect this has on the community . A court case and 28 days in prison costs money and with Osian refusing to foot the bill it falls on the taxpayers to pay it instead. We are facing tough economic times and taxpayers money should be spent on hospitals and schools and not on a prison sentence that could have been avoided. Likewise what effect will painting slogans have on shops? If this became a more widespread occurence we would no doubt see rises in prices at some of our favourite shops as they pay the price to clear up their premises.

Cymdeithas need to find new ways to make their point, and think about the effect that some of their action has not only on the community but on their reputation. If their members carry on being imprisoned for the cause perhaps they will end up being seen as mindless criminals, and not as a professional political group. They should reconsider their methods – do they really want to condone vandalism, all in the name of progress?