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TAAT: Proud to be Welsh but most don't seem to want "Welsh" things

126 replies

Wenglishisfab · 02/08/2017 23:02

I've started a new account for this but am a long time MN poster.

And I know I'm going to get flamed.

Reading the Enjoying being Welsh thread (and other things on social media) it strikes me that most people born and bred in Wales are proud to be Welsh. But, and it may be a small minority, most posters seem to feel that Welsh speakers seem to have a monopoly on being Welsh - just because they speak Welsh makes them superior to non Welsh speakers etc.

On the other hand, government plans to introduce Welsh history and culture into non Welsh medium schools, and wanting to increase the numbers of Welsh speakers is seen as forcing Welsh down everyone's throats.

Complaints are made about replacing road signs in Wales with Welsh first. I actually don't see why we need a bilingual Merthyr Tudfil or Caerffili when they are pronounced exactly the same, and there are lots of other place names across South Wales like this. Eventually most people would learn to spell it the original Welsh way.

What's the point of speaking or learning Welsh when everyone can speak English anyway is a sentence seen and heard over and over again from Welsh born and bred people.

So my questions are: why are so many people proud to be Welsh but reject anything and everything to do with Welsh language, culture and history. It's seen as a waste of money, kids could be learning far more important languages such as French or Spanish or Mandarin...

Most people see Plaid Cymru as Nationalists seeking only independence when, from what I can see, they are the only party sticking up for Wales and Welsh people (yes they have their flaws but the party has moved on from the days of being only Welsh speakers).

Most people (in South Wales especially) are pro-royalists and happy to wave the Union Jack when some Royal visits their area.

Is it because of the lack of good Welsh media? Looking at most supermarkets, the main papers around here are the Sun, Mail etc. Even the Western Mail is anti "Cymraeg." There was a story in there during the last couple of years about a Welsh team rugby player becoming a doctor "despite being educated at a Welsh language school" (paraphrase).

I class myself as Welsh and British. British only because the Welsh were the original British, long before England came into being.

That's all a bit garbled sorry, but I genuinely want to know why people are so proud to be Welsh but reject most things that mark us out as not English. If Westminster have their way, the Welsh Assembly will lose more and more powers and we will become EnglandandWales. Is that what people want? Are we happy to become an English county?

OP posts:
SamiZayn · 03/08/2017 03:33

I feel quite strongly about this, and on the face of it I may appear to be one of the people you describe in your post. I am a non Welsh speaker who grew up in one of the Newport Valleys like a pp (I know not the geographically correct term). We learnt Welsh history in school, in particularly the Chartists (very locally relevant) and things like the Rebecca Riots. We also talked about our family history and all that entailed - the world wars, Aberfan, mine related illnesses, pit closures. However, the Welsh language is absolutely not part of my story and it isn't part of my families' story and I get irritated when it's implied that this in any way makes me less 'Welsh',in light of the rich and often painful history of the region.

MaidenMotherCrone · 03/08/2017 06:05

I think where you live makes a huge difference to attitude towards non Welsh speaking Welsh and just because a person doesn't speak Welsh it doesn't mean they don't appreciate/understand/enjoy Welsh history or culture. That is an assumption many Welsh speakers make. A mistake which leads to the 'more Welsh' idea.

I was born and raised by English speaking Welsh parents in a mostly Anglicised area and went to English Medium schools. We still had to learn Welsh though. Although lessons were in English, Welsh played a huge part in every aspect of school life. Almost all the teachers ( at primary & secondary school) were Welsh first language speakers and it was them ( the people meant to encourage and inspire) that turned me away from becoming a Welsh speaker.

They were just so bloody rude. I'm pretty sure many others of a similar background experienced the same. They language was used to exclude and still is.

As an adult I lived in Gwynedd for a time and I was shocked and disgusted at the almost xenophobic attitude shown to non Welsh speaking Welsh ( anywhere east of Bangor doesn't count as Wales apparently) and the racism towards English people.

One comment on the thread in question highlighted the attitude. It referred to ' any Welshman found within the city walls of Chester could be shot in the back with a longbow' as a reason for the anti- English attitude ( this law was passed in 1404 btw), if the poster knew anything of Welsh history they would realise this was part of an English v English feud and used to discourage the Welsh from joining either side. A year later Chester elected a Welsh mayor.

Speaking Welsh does not give you a monopoly on culture and history.

MaidenMotherCrone · 03/08/2017 06:07

That should read ' found within the city walls of Chester after dark'.

TestingTestingWonTooFree · 03/08/2017 06:17

How old are you DollyDora? Pretty basic Welsh has been taught in school for a long time.

mummytime · 03/08/2017 06:27

Okay - I'm not Welsh. But what really really worries me are children who are dyslexic - they often struggle to learn one language, and having to learn two is an added strain. And to be honest not knowing English would isolate them massively within Wales never mind not allowing them to function outside Wales.

Actually the two place names you mentioned are pretty easy (if Sat navs can pronounce them properly). It is far more confusing when a place has names in Welsh and English that look nothing alike. I coped quite well on a fairly short stay in Dublin with reading the Irish names, so don't expect most of Welsh would be much different.

But some people didn't learn Welsh or forgot what they were supposed to have learnt - and are just as Welsh as anyone else.

user1497863568 · 03/08/2017 06:32

I understand OP. I feel a lot of grief in not being able to speak my own language - Irish Gaelic and Scots too (on mum's side). So does the whole family - for a long time they were too afraid to because grandparents etc had stories of it getting beaten out of them at school. Before that (admittedly centuries ago), when the bans were in place, you could be executed for speaking it.

TestingTestingWonTooFree · 03/08/2017 06:33

Sorry DollyDora, thread's moved on. You're younger than me and I was certainly taught some Welsh in primary school.

Growing up I felt some first language Welsh speakers were hostile to learners. They certainly weren't very encouraging even to children. It wasn't my fault I wasn't a fluent speaker (it is now because I'm old enough to do something about it). I did learn it to A level, probably because of a brilliant teacher who had been a learner herself. She'd started as an adult so had had to work at it.

TeaCake5 · 03/08/2017 06:34

I come from north east wales originally and most people have little interest or no need to speak Welsh. Area has always looked more towards Liverpool and Manchester as its big cities and common complaints are that the Welsh assembly only gives a shit about Cardiff and the valleys.

cardibach · 03/08/2017 10:40

Tea I find the issue of 'need' in relation to speaking the language of the country you live in a little odd. As I say, I'm a very poor learner. So clearly i can get by without it. I'm learning because I think it's important for other reasons.
To reassure a PP about her child in Welsh medium education (and this will sound like a not-stealth-boast) my daughter went to a Welsh medium school at 4 with no Welsh at home. By the time she came to the eisteddfod in Y3, she was winning Welsh poetry competitions against first language speakers. At senior school, she was in Welsh medium in KS3 and used switching languages for revision notes as a revision technique - it worked really well. She's just got a degree in English, so it didn't affect that.

sunandmoonshine · 03/08/2017 10:46

I live not too far from Wales (15-20 miles) and visit this beautiful country quite often (bi weekly probably,) and although there is this belief/rumour/myth etc that Welsh people speak English and then switch to Welsh when they realise you are English, I have yet to experience this myself. I have no issue at all with people being Welsh, (or being chuffed that they are!)

Do agree though, with the people from the other thread, that it wouldn't go down well if someone posted a thread stating they were proud to be English.

sunandmoonshine · 03/08/2017 10:47

Oh and I have no problem with Welsh folk speaking Welsh either. Smile

Nibledbyducks · 03/08/2017 10:49

I'm Welsh but raised in England. I really wish I could speak Welsh and had chance to learn in school, I've tried learning bits as an adult but can't seem to get past the basics :( My Aunt lives in South Wales and has done for most of her life though born in England and she's very hostile about Welsh speakers, although she can't really explain why. I wonder if it's as simple as feeling left out?

Wenglishisfab · 03/08/2017 13:03

nibledbyducks maybe feeling left out is what it is.

If I happened to be in a public space (e.g.waiting room) with my family, I wouldn't think about the inclusion of everyone in the room while speaking to my own family. We're Welsh speakers. There's no agenda to cause offence or deliberately exclude others (strangers!) in the conversation. It would be completely alien to me to speak another language to my children just because other people don't understand ours. It's probably the same for the teachers/adults that pp's have mentioned turned them away from the language. Those teachers were Welsh speakers first and used the language most natural to them.

Maybe some people see rudeness and take offence where others would take no notice?

OP posts:
MaidenMotherCrone · 03/08/2017 13:32

Op I disagree strongly about the teachers. I can/could understand what they were saying and it had bugger all to do with feeling comfortable in their first language. They were employed to teach through the medium of English at an English speaking school. They were just rude ( and unprofessional given the content of the conversations).

It was a long time ago but it still goes on.

SD60659 · 03/08/2017 13:57

I'm Welsh (and live in Wales)
I can speak fluent Welsh, but English is my first language.
Welsh is a dying language, whether the Welsh want to accept it or not. Reason(s) being it's an outdated and incomplete language. Some of my friends, who are lovely people, are what you might call Welsh Nationalists, i.e Welsh "as fuck" and incredibly proud of it.

However, if you get two (or more) uber Welsh people together, say in a pub, listen to them having a conversation. You'll notice roughly every 8th word (no I haven't counted but you'll get the point) they say to each other is in English because the words just simply don't exist in Welsh. So they'll either use the English word (while maintaining what utter bastards the English are the whole time) or they'll take the English word and add the letter O, or IO on the end - as if adding IO makes that word Welsh all of a sudden.

The road signs thing is pretty stupid, I don't care if there's a Welsh name on it but I think the English name should be first - it just solves the problem whereas having the Welsh word first causes problems.

I was in my local once, a few years ago now and a frequent (and much despised) local Welsh nutjob was in there ranting about "the fucking English" and explaining to anyone within earshot that "England can go get fucked - I don't want anything from those BASTARDS"

All the while wearing a Lonsdale London hoodie, drinking Carling (Stoke on Trent brewary) when there are local ales on tap, driving a Vauxhall Vectra (where's Vauxhall again?!) and boasting about how much work he has on across the river. Happy to take their money then, but doesn't want anything to do with the English.

Not all Welsh are like that, of course. I'm not. I have some great friends who are English. But of those that are like that, despising England and all it's people - not a single one of them can tell you why.

IamaBluebird · 03/08/2017 14:39

Unless you say cheers drive when you get off the bus you can't be Welsh.

MikeUniformMike · 03/08/2017 15:00

I grew up in Wales in a Welsh community. The language was a big part of the culture. Books, nursery rhymes, tv, hymns, even pop songs were in Welsh. We had English ones too but the Welsh language is a big part of who I am.

I would be just as Welsh if I had never been taught the language, but it would be a different sort of Welsh. It wouldn't be a worse or better sort, just different.

FWIW, I have a friend from abroad who lives here in the UK with her husband, also from her native country. English is their third language. They speak English to their child. Their child is English by birth but of a different origin. Do you think the child has missed out by not learning his parents' mother tongue?

Wenglishisfab · 03/08/2017 15:06

Welsh - an outdated and incomplete language

I can assure you that Welsh has a word for everything, just like English. And just like English it is changing and evolving all the time.

Perhaps it's because we are absolutely swamped by English on TV, newspapers etc. that English words are creeping in and O or Io added to the end to make them more Welsh.

I don't think it's a sign of Welsh dying, more a sign of Welsh moving with the times.

Where do most English words come from I wonder? Hmm

OP posts:
MikeUniformMike · 03/08/2017 15:07

Road signs. If they had been bilingual in the first place they would not have needed replacing. Some place names are easy to identify (e.g. Wrecsam/Wrexham, Y Rhyl, Rhyl) but others have quite different names (e.g. Abertawe/Swansea, Penarlag/Hawarden).

Most words have a Welsh word. If people sound like they're using English words, it might be that the words are very similar. It doesn't mean that there isn't a welsh word for it. Yes, we do have words for things like broadband.

Runny · 03/08/2017 15:07

I'm another Welsh person from North East Wales and can relate to what the earlier poster said about looking more towards Liverpool and Manchester than Cardiff. Cardiff is a great city, but it's a four hour car journey from here.On the other hand I can be in Liverpool in about 40 minutes, (my DB boasts he can do this journey in 30, but that's another thread lol) or Manchester in an hour. I could be Birmingham in about an hour and a half. The Cardiff obsession of the Welsh government pisses everyone off up here, although Ive heard that people in Newport, Swansea and the Valley's get just as irritated about that.

Welsh isn't spoken where I am in everyday conversation at all around here. Yes there are Welsh speaking schools, which are massively over subscribed but these children all come from English speaking homes. There is just no cause to use Welsh around here.

It is Gwynedd that causes all of this trouble IMO. There was a news story recently about one community there who were kicking up hell of a fuss because the local surgery didn't have a Welsh speaking GP. Well quite frankly they are lucky they've got any bloody GPs at all because there is a national shortage of them. Beggars can't choosers, and these people can all speak English, they are just petty awkward buggers.

MikeUniformMike · 03/08/2017 15:17

I can assure you that there are many people who train to be a doctor despite having gone to a Welsh-medium school. I believe they teach subjects like Chemistry and Physics in these schools. They even teach English.

I think there are parts of Wales where people would want a GP who could speak Welsh. For example, a friend of ours had a stroke and was really struggling with his speech and could only cope with his first language. There are parts of Wales where the everyday language is Welsh.

MikeUniformMike · 03/08/2017 15:24

Speaking Welsh does not give you a monopoly on culture. Agreed, but it will certainly help. You will miss out on literature for a start.
We have wonderful poetry and novels and songs. You might know the words but they lose something in translation. Opera singers often learn Italian to understand the libretto.

I haven't read Jane Austen translated into Welsh, or been to watch a Shakespearean play through the medium of Welsh, and do you know what. I wouldn't want to. It would probably lose something.


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OvariesBeforeBrovaries · 03/08/2017 15:27

Agreed, but it will certainly help.


I read a translation of Branwen once. Somewhere in the transition from Welsh to English, it lost something. I love the Mabinogion, and I think to be truly appreciated, it does have to be read in Welsh. Same with Shakespeare; he mastered so many intricacies of the English language that to read it in any other language would lose something vital.

I don't feel that I am a better person for speaking fluent Welsh, but I do know that I have access to more culture and I am grateful for that. I'm also fairly certain that I can pick up languages easier because I was bilingual from the very start of my education, which is another thing I'm grateful for :)

Wenglishisfab · 03/08/2017 15:33

Runny like MikeUniformMike said, some people after illness desperately need Welsh speaking doctors and nurses. Dementia sufferers, although having been bilingual before, may now only have the ability to speak and understand Welsh. Life is bloody hard for these people and their families, and having a Welsh speaker caring for them makes such a difference.

OP posts:
MikeUniformMike · 03/08/2017 15:34

I agree with you Ovaries. For me, the language is a huge part of the being Welsh.

If you were French - born in France to French parents - but not being able to speak the language, would you be less French?

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