SSi Forum

What are the problems? What needs to happen differently?


We need to SHOW people that potential learners are a reality. By showcasing ourselves as actual learners with a commitment to using the living language we can hopefully show people outside Cymru that Welsh is real and alive, show non-speakers inside Cymru that practical acquisition of Welsh is feasible on a sufficiently fast timescale to be really useful and show Welsh speakers, especially in the Fro, that they don’t need to carry on assuming that everyone from “The East” is going to turn the place English.

On that last point, there will, sadly, still be some people who do want to “turn everywhere they go English”. All we can really do is distance ourselves from such attitudes and try to counter with lots of instances of people (us!) who come in with a positive embrace for the living language of Welsh.


In fairness I’ve seen an advert for Welsh For Adults or something similar on ITV. OK, only one but I don’t watch much TV.

Also I saw a massive billboard poster somewhere in Caerphilly (county borough thingy) saying something like “isn’t about time you learned Welsh?” with a website for searching lessons. For some reason the search engine ignored the government schemes and SSiW came up on top. So here I am.


Yesterday I asked my Facebook friends what their opinion of the Welsh language and the movement to revive it was.
I was expecting the usual “it’s a dead language”, “Divisive” etc.

However, the response from mostly British, but also several international friends was nearly all positive and supportive. Now this might be down to my friends being polite but it does feel like there has been a significant shift in opinion over the last 10 years. They may not be interested in learning themselves but as “allies” I think they would like to see Welsh succeed.

And not just Welsh, other British languages like Manx and Cornish are starting to be looked on less as a peculiarity but as something worth saving.


I think it’s intended politeness - I’m been that “unfamiliar person” and had various tactics to get switched back!

split this topic #145

4 posts were split to a new topic: Senedd Committee Report

Senedd Committee Report

I’ve had mostly very supportive comments to advertising SSiW at work. To the point that the team want me to do a training session on the Welsh language and it’s importance.


Another Welsh language ally, Oliver Kamm, in the times: (you have to register to read it and as always, don’t bother reading the comments from readers.)

Oliver often writes about English grammar, but is very much of the view that actual language dictates what grammar is, not the other way around. If people say “less” instead of “fewer” then “less” is correct.


So if I’m reading the forum correctly, this is an older post, but I hope you don’t mind me chiming in.

I’m not in Wales (so outsider perspective), but here are some thoughts.

Welsh isn’t known internationally as a language. People here (Canada) recognize Gaelic more then they recognize Welsh, it seems!. (There is a Gaelic community in Nova Scotia, that’s probably why!) So for anyone outside the UK, unless they have a direct connection to the language or culture, it seems there’s no incentive to learn, or to even consider the language/culture as anything other then a curiosity. :frowning: There’s no thoughts that it might actually be “useful” as a language of business, media, or trade.

People are amused and think it’s cute when I say I’m learning Welsh, until I explain that no, I’m serious, and I intend, in the long run, to translate my work into Welsh (though that day is still far off, haha!) And even more telling, most of the responses are something along the lines of ‘why bother, no one will read it!’ or ‘won’t people just use the English versions?’

I’m also finding that the Welsh cultural influence in North America isn’t talked about or recognized. There was/is actually a good bit of Welsh settlement in Canada, – but no one talks about it! (I can’t find a lot of detailed information on it, but there’s lots of stories of people from Wales coming over at various points!)


That’s a sadly familiar pattern…


I’m registered with, and used to contribute regularly to, a language-learning forum. It has members from all over the world, although mostly Europe and the Americas. All sorts of languages got discussed there, but there was a fair amount of interest in the Celtic languages. There was some interest in Cornish, more in Breton and Manx, but by far and away the most popular was Irish. For some reason, this seems to be seen internationally as the sexy Celtic language. Maybe because of the many Irish Americans, although plenty of Europeans were interested too.

I, of course, tried to get people interested in Welsh, mentioned SSiW (of course), S4C International, and Radio Cymru a lot, and talked about programmes I’d watched or listened to.
Very little interest. One person had tried SSiW and didn’t like it :frowning: (Sorry). Preferred to learn from a book… and actually that seemed to be a hallmark of that forum. You could use audio and video, but unless you were also using a book or books, it wasn’t proper language learning. At least that’s sort of the message I got. Hey ho.


@mikeellwood and @SarahDawn If ever you need to defend the significance of the Welsh language to compatriots or online, you might like to refer them to Wiki on Celtic languages which shows that Welsh is currently by far the most widely spoken Celtic language. (I know that Wikipedia may not be the most reliable or rigorous source but it does give a “ball-park” idea. It is supported by data on UNESCO’s list of vulnerable languages)

I had the pleasure of working at U.Q.T.R. in Trois-Rivières, Quebec in the mid 80s where the most endangered language was certainly English. :laughing:


So they wanted Literary Language and were probably into Chaucerian English. Maybe you should have listed all the Bards from Taliesin via Iolo Morganwg to Osian Rhys Jones? :wink:


Well, I don’t know about that, and what I know about Welsh bards could be written on the back of a postage stamp, but I did think that the fact that you can still go out and have Welsh conversations with real people for whom Welsh is a genuine part of daily life in still fairly extensive parts of Wales should be an attraction over Irish, where I imagine a similar experience is quite hard to achieve. But apparently not. Perhaps the “rarity” value of Irish is part of the attraction, and the fact that it is so endangered. Not that Welsh isn’t also endangered, but it’s still very healthy in parts and has the possibility of regrowth. (Maybe Irish has, as well, and of course, I wish it well).


I agree, but could only presume those so disinterested in Cymraeg must dismiss speech was irrelevant in judging usefulness of a language. I am actually bemused by the decline in sooken Irish. Ireland became independent nearly 100 years ago and the language was taught, I thought, in all schools thereafter. Is our lesson that non-global languages need persecution to survive. If Catalonia gets independence, will Catalan die out? How sad if that is true!


To put that into perspective you must look at the state of the Irish language in the decades leading up to Independence (or at least the Free State). In 1911 there were 554,000 registered Irish speakers of 3,140,000 (18%) and in 1926 there were 544,000 of 2,972,000 (18%). From 1881 the percentage had steadily declined (24% down to 18%).

In Wales in 1911 there were 977,361 Welsh speakers of a population of 2,442,041 (40%).

The damage had long been done to the Irish language. It stopped being a majority language long before Welsh did.

To reassure you about Catalan - it’s not an endangered language. In 2011 73.5% of the population spoke the language and 95% said they understood it.


I think the attraction of the Irish language amongst the diaspora is linked with a romantic image of the Old Country. So the rarity element is definitely key.

My cousins in Ireland live in Galway (where my family have lived for as long as we’re aware). Has one of the largest Gaeltachts. They all learn Irish at school, just as my friends from Dublin do. They don’t use the language outside of the Gaeltacht sadly.


@aran Is this thread and Trello list still open or there’s newer ones about this topic/question?


Still open, technically, but it hasn’t been very busy - it’s on our list as something to revisit when we can put some actual funding into it… :slight_smile:


A bit late to the conversation, but a scenario not too dissimilar to the one shown below put me off learning welsh for a while. Obviously, this was rectified on the discovery of the excellent SSiW :wink:
1 - visited wales, discovered the language, would love to learn that!
2 - googled some resources, learned a bit, not really able to use it in the wild.
3 - ooh, there’s a welsh language TV station, and even better, a learners program on Sunday morning!
4 - tuned in to the learners program, there’s several fully grown adults siting in a circle with some drawings on a whiteboard, reciting a nursery rhyme. No thanks.

As a side note, discovering the incredibly effective method of SSiW has totally changed my perception of learning languages, and progressed my Welsh more than I could have imagined. Kudos to all involved :slight_smile:


I’ve been learning Welsh for 6 months. I had a reasonable understanding prior and have picked it up pretty well and am enjoying thoroughly. I have socialised with three people this week all of whom were welsh medium educated. I could only hold a conversation with one as the other two had ‘forgotten most of it’. I’m not sure what the answer is but it’s the move from to childhood to adulthood and the lack of use which needs addressing.