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AIBU to allow my children to speak my language?

(132 Posts)
tyngedyriaith Tue 10-Jan-17 17:35:06

Have name changed to something fitting for this, I post once in a while grin

Just as a background...

I was brought up speaking Welsh and English at home with my grandparents having absolutely atrocious English and not learning it until their 20s.

I married a boarding school boy with a background very different from my own. He doesn't speak Welsh although clearly the family name has Welsh roots.

In my workplace we speak 100% Welsh and so naturally I still speak that more. I speak both to my children and English when husband is around. We live in an English speaking area although our small village being about 50:50 and so church is bilingual.

The children go to a welsh language school too.


She resents that they speak Welsh and often comes out with comments like "oh only backward, uneducated poor people spoke Welsh when I was a child"
"It really does hold you back" - no it doesnt we have two medics at uni thanks...
Etc... it's not 1940 ffs

She always tries to prove that it's a waste of time, claims they don't speak it outside of school, frowns when she realises they speak it with their welsh speaking friends.

They pay for us all to go on a big family holiday and if they hear us speaking welsh we were once told to speak english when they are around. Ok fair enough if they are part of the conversation etc.
She makes comments when I'm around like " I find it very rude that you speak welsh around us"

BUT !!! Their cousins are bilingual Spanish and speak Spanish with their father (spanish) at the dinner table and she would NEVER dare say anything about that. I just feel like our language isn't viewed as real.

AIBU to tell them to stick up for themselves and be proud of having two first languages?!

God I want to smack that woman out sometimes...... as lovely as she is other times..... angry

TheNaze73 Tue 10-Jan-17 17:36:57

YANBU, she sounds pig ignorant

Wonderflonium Tue 10-Jan-17 17:38:13

You are right to speak to your children in your language and your MIL is wrong to tell you not to.

What do the cousins do when they're speaking Spanish at dinner, do they give a running translation to non-Spanish speakers? If so, get your kids to do that too. If not, then don't worry.

SVJAA Tue 10-Jan-17 17:38:19

Your MIL sounds pretty nasty to me. I think it's lovely that you all speak Welsh and that its something you share with your kids. The comments she made about Welsh speakers are pretty awful and completely unecessary to be honest.

HecateAntaia Tue 10-Jan-17 17:39:01

I'd be pointing that out tbh.
Double standard there mil, given X speaks spanish with his kids.

7SunshineSeven7 Tue 10-Jan-17 17:39:18

If it was me I'd start speaking welsh, laughing and dropping her name loudly when she is around just to wind her up. But I'm not petty or anything ;)

harderandharder2breathe Tue 10-Jan-17 17:46:15


Being bilingual in any language is great for children, and Welsh is far from a dead or poor people's language! It wouldn't be seen as anything but an advantage for a job given the requirement for so many public services to be available in welsh.

I'm English but live in wales, wish I spoke more than a few words but I've never been good at learning languages. I know plenty of people who send their children slightly further afield to go to Welsh medium schools, and fwiw for your mil these kids don't struggle in English speaking activities like brownies either!

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Tue 10-Jan-17 17:46:40

YAnBU. Being bilingual is a real asset. However, excluding people from a conversation because they don't speak the language is rude.

cherrycrumblecustard Tue 10-Jan-17 17:49:15

In all honesty I think speaking a language in front of people who don't speak that language is rude sorry. Not that she is polite herself. But it is poor manners.

AgathaMystery Tue 10-Jan-17 17:50:44

YANBU but... things like at the dinner table it is polite to all speak the common language you share. Not much fun for you at my house if we all sit and talk in our language and you can't join in.

FuzzyOwl Tue 10-Jan-17 17:54:25

YANBU although I agree it is rude to speak in a language other people don't understand when you are with them. Your MIL sounds bitter that she cannot speak Welsh but I would definitely teach my child in your position.

BratFarrarsPony Tue 10-Jan-17 17:55:07

She probably sees the language as being used to exclude. which it is, very often, isnt it? ? For example non Welsh speakers are excluded from the best jobs, in Wales.
If you are all sitting together it would probably be politest to use English, if she doesn't understand Welsh.

Ilovecaindingle Tue 10-Jan-17 17:56:30

Maybe chuntering Welsh obscenities under your breath when she is around will ease your stress.

BratFarrarsPony Tue 10-Jan-17 17:57:34

grin @ 'chuntering Welsh obscenities'

PigletWasPoohsFriend Tue 10-Jan-17 17:58:52

In all honesty I think speaking a language in front of people who don't speak that language is rude sorry. Not that she is polite herself. But it is poor manners.

I agree.

user1480946351 Tue 10-Jan-17 18:00:39

A lot of people do, but its rather self absorbed isn't it? Means you want to hear and know everything, even when its not to you or for you. It's sheer nosiness.

AcrossthePond55 Tue 10-Jan-17 18:01:54

I think raising children to be bi-lingual is wonderful no matter what the language is!

However, I do think it is a bit impolite to converse, even briefly, in another language when someone is there who doesn't speak it, even if they aren't an actual part of the conversation. I think translation should be done as in "MiL, I've just asked XX to go clean his room".

AcrossthePond55 Tue 10-Jan-17 18:03:00

user I think conversing in another language is akin to sitting in a room and whispering to another person. It's just not polite.

BlondeBumshell Tue 10-Jan-17 18:04:03

Interesting to read this. I'm Irish and I remember growing up, people on my road switching in to Irish when my mother walked past.

I also think it's a bit different from you BIL speaking Spanish to his kids at the dinner table. English is not as easy and natural for him (no matter how good it is) as it is for you. Not calling Welsh a fake language but find me a Welsh person under 70 who can't express themselves every bit as well in English. Do you dream in welsh? do you revert to welsh when you're tired or stressed or overwhelmed?

JollyHockeyGit Tue 10-Jan-17 18:04:14

Argh, we have this attitude to Scots too, it really pisses me off. I'm teaching DS Scots as well as English and hope he'll love that part of his culture as much as I do. Tell her to stop shaming her DGC's culture. But I agree with pp, it's only polite to speak the shared language when around others.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Tue 10-Jan-17 18:05:26

For example non Welsh speakers are excluded from the best jobs, in Wales

In the same way that non-english speakers are excluded from the best jobs in England. It is not unreasonable to expect employees to speak the language of the country they are in. This is very different from excluding others in eg a social gathering by speaking a different language.

StarlingMurderation Tue 10-Jan-17 18:05:54

She sounds really rude and ignorant but tbh, I agree that speaking Welsh with your kids in front of her is rude too.

PebbleInTheMoonlight Tue 10-Jan-17 18:07:34

@BratFarrarsPony For example non Welsh speakers are excluded from the best jobs, in Wales

This is complete rubbish! I am a non Welsh speaker, my husband is fluent. My wages are almost double his and I have far better work life balance.

I'm far from being an exception, there are a very small number of 'nice' jobs only available to Welsh speakers. Even the government employs English only speakers.

@tyngedyriaith sadly your MIL attitude is widespread. Because the vast majority of landowners and business owners were English (not getting into that big bag of subjugation on this thread) it was very much seen as a lower class of people were the only ones who spoke Welsh. Add in the Welsh knot and you have a whole society educated to think Welsh is a lesser language and shouldn't be spoken.

However she is being ridiculous. If you are just conversing naturally with your children in Welsh then carry on.

I'd make a point of not starting conversations in Welsh in front of her because it is rude to exclude someone through language (even if your Spanish relatives think it's acceptable) but I certainly wouldn't avoid using such a beautiful language when she's around just in case she hears it.

That's how we get on in our home. My husband speaks with our children in Welsh a lot but if I'm sat at the table with them or in the same room they'll automatically use English to include me.

MoonDuke Tue 10-Jan-17 18:07:43

We talk English in front of French MIL. But I do a running side commentary for her so she doesn't feel left out. Unless it's a short command like 'STOP!' Which she understands grin

I refuse to speak French to my D.C. Unless there are other French DC involved. I do not want them getting my accent!

BratFarrarsPony Tue 10-Jan-17 18:08:10

" find me a Welsh person under 70 who can't express themselves every bit as well in English. "

I have met one or two...
OK one.

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