I've been thinking a lot about this "Welsh speaker or not" over the last few weeks, And years if the truth be told.
I've come to the conclusion that much of what we think of as "being a Welsh speaker" and the whole learner vs fluent thing is a dangerous distraction.
Even the "crossing the bridge" metaphor, which may have been useful in the past, is now just that - something that was useful in the past.
While I don't think for one minute that we can influence "the establishment" when it comes to this kind of terminology, I would prefer a new set of terms.
Anyone familiar with my posts here and elsewhere may have noticed that I (nearly) always refer to SSiWers as "new speakers", because that's what you are. "Learners" are those timid souls who go to evening classes, learn all of the writing, and never say a word. That's not even an option for SSiWers, so you are never "learners" in that sense.
You may be speakers who are too nervous to speak in public, but if you are able to say the Welsh in the SSiW regulation gaps, then you are speaking Welsh already!
But I understand that you don't feel like a Welsh speaker, and what you feel is what matters.
But it's not just a "learner" thing. I knew from-birth speakers in the Rhymney Valley who claimed that they "didn't really speak Welsh", and ticked the no box on the census. Which then begs the question "What is a Welsh speaker?"
So, I've come up with 4 categories:
Inexperienced Welsh speakers: 2nd language speakers who are able to speak some Welsh, may very well be comfortable in a range of situations, but get out of their depth in other fairly common situations, and so don't feel confident enough to call themselves "fluent". It's a broad category, I know, especially as I know new speakers who are fluent in most common tasks, but still get caught out by their inexperience from time to time. It doesn't make them "not speakers", it just shows that they haven't had the benefit of years an years of speaking Welsh. And the cure is simple and difficult at the same time - get more experience!
Non-habitual Welsh speakers. These are experienced Welsh speakers who don't use their Welsh often. You can tell in after-match interviews on S4C which sports players speak Welsh regularly, and which ones roll their Welsh out for the cameras. The difference between this category and the inexperienced Welsh speakers is in the type of Welsh that trips people up. There are certain "2nd language variations" that 1st language Welsh speakers, even non-habitual ones, generally don't make. On the other hand there are full bodied Welsh sentences and words and phrases that the inexperienced speaker uses with abandon that the non-habitual struggles with. Neither is better than the other - they are just different. And when you as an adult learner get mistaken for a from-birth-but-lapsed speaker, you know you are on the right track!
Habitual Welsh speaker. This is what new speakers call fluent. Habitual Welsh speakers use their Welsh often, tend to use at least some kind of dialect. They tend to sound lovely and natural, and speak far too fast, peppering their Welsh with English words as their speed of delivery means that they just use the first word that comes into their heads, rather than searching for the "correct" one. They very often think that because they use a bit of English in their Welsh (they are bilingual after all) they are "not very good" and "aren't good enough to help a learner". In fact, many of them will tell you that they aren't fluent, and point you to one of the last category:
Cultured-Welsh speaker. By which I mean speakers of cultured Welsh. These are Welsh speakers who know a lot of the "correct" words, and speak absolutely beautiful natural (ie dialect) Welsh. This is more of a subcategory of the habitual speaker, to be honest, and the two groups blend into each other, so it's unfair to single them out.
The more habitual your Welsh gets as a new speaker, the more you will hold this group up as the measure of your "fluency" so that you never actually get there. There is nothing wrong with that as long as you know you're doing it, rather than beating yourself up for never quite "getting there"!
Going from "inexperienced speaker" to "habitual speaker" is just a matter of experience. Learning is only a small part of that experience, and you can gain enough experience in some categories to feel "fluent" and suddenly get knocked back by your inexperience in another situation.
That's the problem with the phrase "crossing the bridge". It suggests that there is some kind of mythical obstacle that once you pass it you are "A Welsh Speaker". This is patently nonsense, but based on a "learn the grammar for 6 years, then try to speak on the street" model, probably made sense at one point.
But you SSiWers are not like that. You can use your Welsh from the off, and just need to gain experience and new variations.
So, could I respectfully ask that all of you that have posted "no" or "not quite" above consider where you are on the continuum, and then learn the important word "di-brofiad" [DEE BROV-yad, O as in yOb] = inexperienced, and when someone asks if you are a Welsh speaker, you can say "Ydw, ond dwi'n ddi-brofiad iawn". (Yes, but I'm very inexperienced).
Because as far as I can tell, you are all pretty much Welsh speakers, just with varying amounts of experience in varying numbers of areas.
Edited to add - sorry, that turned into an essay. I've put another post on the "War and Peace" thread...