by Julian Ruck
The Western Mail recently reported (4.10.13) that a group of Welsh educationalists, chaired by one Professor Sioned Davies, have composed a report for the Welsh government recommending that the teaching of Welsh in English medium schools should be extended and made compulsory. Needless to say the Welsh Language Society has now jumped on the extremist bandwagon (BBC News 5.10.13) and declared open warfare on English speakers too – and there’s me saying how moderate they were on this very site a few weeks ago?!
Alinskyite trauma and direct action are apparently to be the name of the game from now on – as if it has ever been otherwise? “Welsh medium education for all and ‘fair’ funding toward the language from the Welsh government” appear to be the straplines of the latest minority push for an RS Thomas Welsh speaking Elysium, where sheep dipping and haystack procreation are the only forces for Welsh economic regeneration. No doubt it will be a year zero calendar for the Welsh too.
More children wearing Harry Potter wizard hats being bunged into corners for not asking for the lavatory in Welsh and other children being placed in a Welsh style Coventry for speaking dastardly English along the corridors of youthful learning during school hours seems to be the name of the game. Nothing new here then.
Consider the following points:
1 Professor Davies as one would expect, is a fully paid up member of the Welsh speaking Crachach, who bluster around the boutique coffee shops of Cardiff Bay searching for anyone under 25 who will listen (so much for objectivity and independence?), and an alumni of the fully taxpayer funded Welsh literati – she has written yet another couple of subsidised translations of the Mabinogion, subtitled “Overkill.”
The Cardiff university chair of Welsh (one would never have guessed), is presently researching a project entitled “Performing from the Pulpit” about “dramatic preaching in 19th and 20th century Wales.” You English readers really must wonder sometimes whether I am making all this up. I am not, I assure you.
One would have to be a devout disciple of X Factor optimism to expect anything less from the de-souling dysentery of intellectual fascism, sly social engineering and minority diktat that the good professor espouses. Naturally, where the Crachach are concerned, the shining beacons of reality are as elusive as the bones of Owen Glendower.
2 The report and rants of the Welsh Language Society are nothing more nor less than acts of manic desperation.
3 Preservation of the language is a noble and worthy cause, no reasonable individual would argue otherwise, however the evidence is irrefutable (see 2011 Census)*. Use of the language is in decline and dying. Even the WLS admits, “That the Welsh language is facing an emergency”. Welsh society is being asked to abandon the democratic principle of English speaking majority mandate in favour of a minority cat o’ nine tailed agenda that seeks to push back history and blast economic progress to smithereens – and as if reasoned dialectical debate hasn’t suffered enough from Welsh language pogroms and extremism.
4 The majority of Welsh internet youth are simply not interested in the language. Fact.
5 ‘Fair funding?’ UK taxpayers have spent billions over the last 30 years on promoting the Welsh language, all to no avail. This is not a Welsh government issue, neither is it an issue exclusive to those who live in Wales. All British taxpayers are paying for Welsh language signs, Welsh language TV and radio stations, all official documentation being bilingual, all public sector bodies adopting Welsh as the first language.
6 The whip of the statute book has achieved nothing, except hostility by the overwhelming majority of English speakers. The WLS and Professor Davies should adopt consensus and persuasion as the way to achieve their aims. Not ‘direct action’. The young, who are the future of the language, will not be coerced and bullied. They will react and if all Welsh schools are forced to go ‘Welsh’, south Walians generally will make the Rebecca Riots look like a genteel tea party.
It’s a new and extremely powerful social media world, get used to it.
7 The Welsh language in education is all very well, but what use is it to those of a more ambitious streak, those who want jobs outside a cosy public sector and those who see a world beyond the Severn bridge? Disadvantage, disadvantage, disadvantage will be the only endgame. As Vincent Kane recently pointed out on the BBC,” By 2030, the smart people will have left Wales”.
8 It is undeniable that a ‘Welsh speaking Wales’ is having a negative impact on inward investment, a diminution of a broad skills base and a recruitment crisis of outside talent eg the Welsh NHS. For young Welsh people, it’s the public sector or nothing and pity help them if they have obtained a degree from a Welsh university, wherein one can enrol on a degree course with two scraped ‘A’ Levels, a wing and a prayer – thus the exodus of Welsh students to English universities.
To conclude, the Welsh language will survive, it has done so for over a thousand years in spite of numerous threats to its existence. Families in Welsh speaking communities will continue to preserve, sing and enjoy the language for many years to come, of this I have no doubt.
But the world has changed, the young have changed. A more realistic and democratically acceptable approach to the language is required.
God knows, how much more do Welsh speakers want?
*The census figures relating to Welsh ‘speakers’ include those who understand Welsh but cannot speak it and also those who can speak it but can neither write nor read it. The figures also include those who speak ‘Wenglish’ – a hybrid mixture of Welsh and English, mainly spoken by those in the South, where most of the population in Wales live.
Pure Welsh speakers who can read and write the language compose 15% of the Welsh population. I repeat, 15% and declining.
Julian Ruck is an author, columnist and Freedom of Information campaigner. He also makes contributions to both Welsh and national broadcasting and media