Рефераты. Survival of the Welsh Language

in the language, he published a great number of Welsh books and magazines,

with particular interest in works for children. In 1898 he founded Urdd y

Delyn, a forerunner of Urdd Gobaith Cymru, the largest youth organization

in Wales and one that still conducts its activities through the medium of


Despite the success of organizations such as Urdd, one problem has remained

for the survival of Welsh ever since the Acts of Union in the middle

1500's. The Welsh language has considered to be a great hindrance to one's

feeling of Britishness. Even before the First World War, when British

soldiers from all parts of the kingdom marched off under the Union Jack to

fight the Boers in South Africa, the feeling took hold that "...side by

side with the honourable contribution which the Welsh could make to the

British Empire, the Welsh language could be considered an irrelevance..."

This idea was implanted even more firmly in the Welsh mind by the intention

of the leaders of the Welsh-speaking community to show that the

peculiarities of Welsh culture were not a threat to the unity and

tranquility of the kingdom of Britain. When ideas of a separate government

for the Welsh people began to take hold in the late 19th century, once

again, the idea of a British national identity found itself overwhelming

the purely local, isolated, and all too often ridiculed, aspirations of

those who wished for a Welsh nationhood.

In mainly English-speaking South Wales in particular, feelings on the

matter were sharply expressed. At a crucial meeting in Newport,

Monmouthshire, in January 1898 it was firmly stated (by Robert Byrd) that

there were thousands of true Liberals who would never submit "to the

domination of Welsh ideas." With few exceptions, this seems to sum up the

attitude of most Welsh politicians of the next one hundred years. There

were too many in Wales whose close ties with English interests made the

idea of home rule repugnant and one to be fought against at all costs.

Welsh-speaking Lloyd George, future Prime Minister, who was howled down at

the meeting, questioned if the mass of the Welsh nation was willing to be

dominated by a coalition of English capitalists who had made their fortunes

in Wales. Yet even his motives were held with suspicion as being entirely

self-serving. And, as a fluent Welsh speaker, he was mistrusted by many in

the audience who looked with suspicion upon those who could speak a

language that they could not.

In 1881, the Aberdare Commission's report showed that provisions for

intermediate and higher education in Wales lagged behind those in the other

parts of Britain; it suggested that there should be two new Welsh

universities, Cardiff and Bangor. It was found, however, that there was a

lack of adequately trained students for these new colleges and thus, in

1899 the Welsh Intermediate Act came into being that gave the new county

councils the power to raise a levy (to be matched by the Government) for

the provision of secondary schools.In 1896 came the Central Welsh Board to

oversee these schools.

The result was that thousands of Welsh children from all levels of society

were able to continue their education at a secondary level. Another result,

however, was the continued decline of the status accorded the Welsh

language, for the new secondary schools were thoroughly English, only very

few even bothering to offer Welsh lessons. An educated class of Welsh

people was thus created that fostered the cultural traditions of their

country in the language of England.

Part VII

In the meantime, in an age where radio and movies began to play important

roles in the regular everyday life of the people of Wales, the language

continued its precipitous decline. North Wales got its news from and

followed the events in Liverpool; South Wales was more tied to happenings

in Bristol or even London. Links between the two areas of Wales were

practically non-existent; roads and rails went West to East, not North to

South, and the flow of ideas and language went in the same directions. Any

sense of a national Welsh identity was disappearing rapidly along with the


In an attempt to stop the rot, a new party came into being in 1925, Plaid

Genedlaethol Cymru (The National Party of Wales) that was fiercely devoted

to purely Welsh causes such as preservation of the language and culture. In

1926, Saunders Lewis took over the presidency, but the party received very

little general support and, in some areas of Wales, was the object of

ridicule. It was to take forty years before Plaid Cymru was taken seriously

and gained its first seat in Parliament. Much had been happening until then

to further erode Welsh as a common language and the idea of the Welsh as a

common, united people worthy of their own government as part of a greater


The views of Henderson and Lewis, as imaginative and forward-looking as

they were, did not appeal to the majority of the Welsh people' at the time,

those who thought the politician and the poet were those of a very small

minority indeed. In the meantime, the process of anglicization continued

unabated; more people living in Wales considered themselves Anglo-Welsh

than Welsh. Much of the blame (or for some,the praise), can be placed on

the educational system that, even before the outset of the Second World War

was geared to producing loyal Britons.

When World War ll finally arrived, there was much more unanimity of support

throughout Britain than there had been for the First World War. And there

was less trauma inflicted upon the people of Wales, for this was a crusade

against Fascism and Nazism and Hitler that almost everyone could subscribe

to. It was also a fight to preserve the Empire. The heavy bombing meant a

large exodus of children from the targeted larger English cities into the

more rural areas. In Wales, thousands of refugees learned Welsh, but in

many areas their English language overwhelmed the local speech.or tipped

the scales against its survival.

To counter the linguistic threat to the Welsh culture at Aberystwyth, a

private Welsh-medium school was established.by Ifan ab Owen Edwards, the

son of the famous educator. Apart from this little school, however, it

wasn't until Llanelli Welsh School began in 1947 that the idea of teaching

children through the medium of Welsh began to take hold in earnest. Other

schools followed, so that by 1970, even Cardiff had its Ysgol Dewi Sant

(St. David's School) one of the largest primary schools in Wales, teaching

through the medium of Welsh. The increase in the Welsh primary schools was

accompanied by a demand for a Welsh secondary education, and the first such

schools opened in Flintshire, Ysgol Gyfun Glan Clwyd and Ysgol Maes Garmon

in areas in which the great majority of the parents were monolingual

English. The success of these schools were followed by Ysgol Rhydfelen in

Glamorganshire in 1962 and by many others by the 1980's.

It may have taken a long while, and for many, it might have been too late,

but the change in the attitude of the Welsh people toward their language

has been dramatic since 1962. Not only that, but great strides have been

made in convincing immigrants to Wales that their children would not suffer

the loss of their English language if they were to be taught through the

medium of Welsh, and that a bilingual education may well be superior to one

that confines them to a single language. Many a non-Welsh speaking parent

is now anxious to point with pride at the achievement of their children in

the Welsh language. It is no longer fashionable in Wales to refer to the

language as "dying," and the activities of the Eisteddfod as "the kicks of

a dying nation," sentiments the author heard at Swansea in 1964. What

caused the sea-change?

One place we can start to look for the answer is the media, especially

public radio. Beginning in 1922, the BBC broadcasts in Wales were eagerly

awaited. Its voice, however, was one that gave prestige and authority to

its views, the voice of a public-school-educated upper-class Englishman. In

addition, the majority of broadcasts led a majority of British people to

believe that a BBC accent was not only desirable, but was the correct one,

and that their own accent, dialect, or in the case of much of Wales, their

language, was inferior. It was Radio Eireann, the voice of the Irish

Republic, that broadcast the only regular Welsh language material,

beginning in 1927.

At time, and for a long period afterward, incredible as it now seems, the

head of the BBC station in Cardiff ignored protests from devotees of the

Welsh language who wished to hear Welsh language programs. There were then

almost one million speakers of Welsh. But aided by such attitudes of those

in authority, a rapid decline was about to begin. This was not inevitable.

Perhaps the language would have even advanced, given sufficient air time in

the late 1920's and early 30's. The problem was that most Welsh listeners

enjoyed their English language programs; it was only the few who realized

that their enjoyment was coming at the expense of their cherished, native



One who did take notice, and one who provided the second place to look for

the answer was Ifan ab Owen Edwards, whose father Owen M. Edwards had

founded Urdd y Delyn in 1898. The son, in his turn, established the most

influential of all youth movements in Wales, Urdd Gobaith Cymru in 1922;

the movement has involved countless thousands of Welsh boys and girls ever

since, conducting their camps, sports activities, singing festivals,

eisteddfodau, etc. all through the medium of Welsh and proving that the

language was not one that should be confined to an older, chapel-going,

puritanical generation. Continued protests against the policies of the BBC,

unable and in most cases unwilling to cater to the new, younger generation

eventually led to the BBC studio at Bangor broadcasting Welsh language

programs. In 1935, and in July of 1937 the Welsh Region of the BBC finally

began to broadcast on a separate wavelength. Radio Cymru, however, had to

wait until 1977.

Another pivotal figure in the fight for survival of the Welsh language, and

one who made good use of the power of the radio broadcast was the poet and

dramatist Saunders Lewis. Like Ifan ab Owen Edwards, Lewis was greatly

concerned that, unless something was done, and done quickly, the Welsh

language as a living entity would disappear before the end of the century.

Lewis, a major Welsh poet and dramatist, generally considered as the

greatest literary figure in the Welsh language of this century, was born in

Cheshire into a Welsh family; he later became a lecturer at the newly

established University College, Swansea. Heavily influenced by events in

Ireland and the struggle for national identity in that country that took

place in the political sphere, he was one of the founders of Plaid Cymru in

1925 at the Pwllheli National Eisteddfod, becoming its president in 1926.

Lewis envisioned a new role for the people of Wales that would transform

their position as a member of the British Empire into one in which they

could see themselves as one of the nations that helped found European

civilization. As he viewed it:

What then is our nationalism?...To fight not for Welsh independence but

for the civilization of Wales. To claim for Wales not independence but

freedom. (Egwyddorion Cenedlaetholdeb, 1926)

Ten years later, with two companions, D.J. Williams and Lewis Valentine,

Lewis deliberately set a fire at Penyberth in the Llyn Peninsular, North

Wales, a site that the military wished to use for construction of a bombing

school. The three then turned themselves in to the authorities and were

duly indicted and summoned to appear in court. The failure of the court to

agree on a verdict at Caernarfon, a town sympathetic to their cause, meant

the removal of their trial to London, where they were each sentenced to

nine months imprisonment. Lewis was dismissed from his teaching post at

Swansea even before the arrival of the guilty verdict at the Old Bailey.

Leading Welsh historians agree that The fire at Penyberth should be

regarded as a cause celebre in the struggle for Welsh identity; it

certainly had its impact on Welsh thinking, an impact that was not wholly

dampened by the onset of Word War ll which again focused the people of

Britain on their shared identity in the face of an enemy that threatened

their survival as a nation. The pacificism of Lewis was an affront to many,

even within Plaid Cymru who saw the need to defeat as overriding any other


Part IX

The improvements in the road system meant that many areas in Wales were

easy to get to. Their beauty and tranquility became an irresistible magnet

to thousands ready to retire from the squalor and overcrowding of the big

industrial cities of northern and middle England. Welsh communities,

especially along the North Wales coast, found themselves inundated with a

flood of newcomers who were either too old to learn the language or

couldn't be bothered. Many of the younger couples had no idea that Wales

had a language of its own, or when they did find out were adamant that

their children be educated through the medium of English. Far more

significant was the fact that it was far too easy to get by perfectly well

in Wales without knowing a word of its language.

The whole north Wales coast, known as "the Welsh Riviera" became first a

weekend playground for, and then an extension of, Merseyside. The mid-Wales

coast, similarly was transformed by a huge influx of people from the

Midlands. LIverpool accents were more common in Llandudno than Welsh;

Birmingham accents common in Borth, or even Aberystwyth. The author vividly

remembers visiting a pub in Bangor where every customer but one could speak

Welsh, but all of whom used English to defer to a monolingual Englishman

(who had been in the area forty years without learning a single word of

Welsh). The same situation was found throughout much of North Wales.

The result of such massive invasions, often by retirees, certainly by those

with little incentive to learn Welsh was drastic. From almost a million

Welsh speakers in 1931, the number fell to just over 500,000 in less than

fifty years.despite the large increase in population. Strongholds of the

language and its attendant culture were crumbling fast, and it seemed that

nothing could be done to stem the tide. In 1957 occurred an event that

exemplified the situation: the Liverpool Corporation got the go-ahead from

Parliament to drown a valley in Meirionydd (Merionethshire) called

Tryweryn, which housed a strong and vibrant Welsh-speaking community. The

removal of the people of Tryweryn to make way for a source of water for an

English city convinced many in Wales that the nation was on its way to

extinction. The survival of the Welsh language seemed irreversibly doomed,

and no-one seemed to care.

Then something happened; someone seemed to care after all. At Pontarddulais

in 1962, at the summer school of Plaid Cymru, a new movement began. Mainly

involving a younger active post-war Welsh generation, many of them college

students, the Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (Welsh Language Society) decided

to take matters in their own hands to try to halt the decline of the

language by forcing the hand of the government. Saviors to many, scoundrels

and troublemakers to others, frustrated members of the Society had been

galvanized into action by a talk given on the BBC by Saunders Lewis in

February, 1962.

In his talk, entitled Tynged yr Iaith (Fate of the language) Lewis asked

his listeners to make it impossible for local or central government

business to be conducted without the use of the Welsh language. This was

the only way, he felt, to ensure its survival. Plaid Cymru could not help,

as it was a political party, so the banner was taken up by Cymdeithas yr

Iaith Gymraeg. At narrow Trefechan Bridge, Aberystwyth in February, 1963,

members of the society sat down in the road and stopped all traffic trying

to get into town over the bridge, or trying to leave town on the same


Undeterred by prison sentences for disturbing the peace and for their

subsequent destruction of government property (mostly road signs), and led

by such activists as Fred Fransis, and folk-singer Dafydd Iwan, the society

began a serious campaign. In the face of much hostility from passivist

locals and prosecution from the authorities, Cymdeithas pressed for the

right to use Welsh on all government documents, from Post Office forms to

television licenses, from driving licenses to tax forms. In particular, the

society engaged in surreptitious night time activities, removing English-

only sign posts and directional instructions from the highways or daubing

them with green paint. All over Wales, in early morning, motorists were

faced with the green paint and daubed slogan that mysteriously had appeared

overnight. It became frustrating and expensive for local authorities and

the Ministry of Transport to keep replacing road signs.

Eventually, in 1963, faced with an ever-growing campaign, increased police

and court costs, destruction of government property, and the vociferous

demands for action by an increasingly angry and frustrated national

movement, the central government decided to establish a committee to look

at the legal status of Welsh. Its report, issued two years later,

recommended that the language be given "equal validity" with English, a

diluted version of which was placed into the Welsh Language Act of 1967.

There came about a new feeling in the land. The young people of Wales were

answering the call of Saunders Lewis; the older generation began to

reconsider their passiveness. Dafydd Iwan and many of his contemporaries

inaugurated a whole new movement in popular Welsh music, translating

English and American pops into Welsh, or writing stirring new lyrics and

music or protest. The popularity of mournful, funereal hymns sung by male

voice choirs found a competitor, the loud, heavy rhythms and rebellious

music of new bands. Groups such as Ar Log and Plethyn rediscovered ancient

Welsh folk music and brought it up to date. The National Eisteddfod entered

into the spirit, each year erecting a Roc Pavilion, where such groups could

attract the younger audiences. Wales began to finally shake off the shrouds

cast by the Methodist Revival of over a century before.

Since the 1960's, in the author's birthplace Flint and in other towns in

Clwyd, attempts to reintroduce the Welsh language in the schools have been

warmly welcomed by many of the townsfolk, and a whole new generation of

children who can speak, read and write Welsh may help ensure the future of

the language (and ultimately, of Plaid Cymru) in such heavily anglicized

areas. Other areas, such as the Cardiff region and the Valleys have already

experienced some growth in the numbers of those able to speak Welsh.

Factors for this increase include the rise of a Welsh bureaucracy; further

expansion of the Welsh-oriented mass media; the continued activities of

Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, with its appeal to the young generation; and

the effects of the Welsh Language Act of 1967. Perhaps most important is

the subtle change in attitude towards the language brought about by the

advantages that can be gained by its speakers in both social and economic

fields. Of crucial importance in winning the hearts and minds of the non-

Welsh speakers who have young children has been Mudiad Ysgolion Meithrin

(the Welsh Nursery School Movement) founded in 1971.

In the anglicized areas of Wales, we may yet again read such sentiments as

that given by Sir Walter Scott, in a letter to his son, dated December,


You hear the Welsh spoken much about you, and if you can pick it up

without interfering with more important labours, it will be worth while

In the late 1990's, as we shall see, one of the more important labors of

many of the Welsh people has been to continue the fight to preserve their

language, and with it, much of the culture upon which it depends. To

preserve this language, the ancient, magnificent tongue of the British

people for so many, many centuries, will be indeed, a labor of love to make

up for so much past pain.

Supplement 1

Welsh Language Guide

The language of Wales, more properly called Cymraeg in preference to Welsh

(A Germanic word denoting "foreigner"), belongs to a branch of Celtic, an

Indo-European language. The Welsh themselves are descendants of the

Galatians, to whom Paul wrote his famous letter. Their language is a

distant cousin to Irish and Scots Gaelic and a close brother to Breton.

Welsh is still used by about half a million people within Wales and

possibly another few hundred thousand in England and other areas overseas.

In most heavily populated areas of Wales, such as the Southeast (containing

the large urban centers of Cardiff, Newport and Swansea), the normal

language of everyday life is English, but there are other areas, notably in

the Western and Northern regions, (Gwynedd and Dyfed particularly) where

the Welsh language remains strong and highly visible. The Welsh word for

their country is Cymru (Kumree), the land of the Comrades; the people are

known as Cymry (Kumree) and the language as Cymraeg (Kumrige). Regional

differences in spoken Welsh do not make speakers in one area unintelligible

to those in another (as is so often claimed), standard Welsh is understood

by Welsh speakers everywhere.

Despite its formidable appearance to the uninitiated, Welsh is a language

whose spelling is entirely regular and phonetic, so that once you know the

rules, you can learn to read it and pronounce it without too much

difficulty. For young children learning to read, Welsh provides far fewer

difficulties than does English, as the latter's many inconsistencies in

spelling are not found in Welsh, in which all letters are pronounced.

THE WELSH ALPHABET: (28 letters)

A, B ,C ,Ch, D, Dd, E, F, Ff, G, Ng, H, I, L

Ll, M, N, O, P, Ph, R, Rh, S, T, Th, U, W, Y

(Note that Welsh does not possess the letters J, K, Q, V, X or Z, though

you will often come across "borrowings" from English, such as John, Jones,

Jam and Jiwbil (Jubilee); Wrexham (Wrecsam); Zw (Zoo).

THE VOWELS: (A, E, I, U, O, W, Y)

A as in man. Welsh words: am, ac Pronounced the same as in English)

E as in bet or echo. Welsh words: gest (guest); enaid (enide)

I as in pin or queen. Welsh words: ni (nee); mi (me); lili (lily); min


U as in pita: Welsh words: ganu (ganee); cu (key); Cymru (Kumree); tu

(tee); un (een)

O as in lot or moe. Welsh words: o'r (0re); don (don); dod (dode); bob


W as in Zoo or bus. Welsh words: cwm (koom), bws (bus); yw (you); galw


Y has two distinct sounds: the final sound in happy or the vowel sound in

myrrh Welsh words: Y (uh); Yr (ur); yn (un); fry (vree); byd (beed)

All the vowels can be lengthened by the addition of a circumflex (д), known

in Welsh as "to bach" (little roof). Welsh words: Tдn (taan), lдn (laan)


Ae, Ai and Au are pronounced as English "eye": ninnau (nineye); mae (my);

henaid (henide); main (mine); craig (crige)

Eu and Ei are pronounced the same way as the English ay in pray. Welsh

words: deisiau (dayshy), or in some dialects (deeshuh); deil (dale or

dile); teulu (taylee or tyelee)

Ew is more difficult to describe. It can be approximated as eh-oo or

perhaps as in the word mount. The nearest English sound is found in English

midland dialect words such as the Birmingham pronunciation of "you" (yew).

Welsh words: mewn (meh-oon or moun); tew (teh-oo)

I'w and Y'w sound almost identical to the English "Ee-you." or "Yew" or

"You": Welsh words: clyw (clee-oo); byw (bee-you or b'you); menyw (menee-

you or menyou)

Oe is similar to the English Oy or Oi. Welsh words: croeso (croyso); troed

(troid); oen (oin)

Ow is pronounced as in the English tow, or low: Welsh word: Rhown (rhone);

rho (hrow)

Wy as in English wi in win or oo-ee: Welsh words: Wy (oo-ee); wyn (win);

mwyn (mooin)

Ywy is pronounced as in English Howie. Welsh words: bywyd (bowid); tywyll


Aw as in the English cow. Welsh words: mawr (mour); prynhawn (prinhown);

lawr (lour)


For the most part b, d, h, l, m, n, p, r, s, and t are pronounced the same

as their English equivalents (h is always pronounced, never silent). Those

that differ are as follows:

C always as in cat; never as in since. Welsh words: canu (Kanee); cwm

(come); cael (kile); and of course, Cymru (Kumree)

Ch as in the Scottish loch or the German ach or noch. The sound is never as

in church, but as in loch or Docherty. Welsh words: edrychwn (edrych oon);

uwch (youch ), chwi (Chee)

Dd is pronounced like the English th in the words seethe or them. Welsh

words: bydd (beethe); sydd (seethe); ddofon (thovon); ffyddlon (futh lon)

Th is like the English th in words such as think, forth, thank. Welsh

words: gwaith (gwithe); byth (beeth)

F as in the English V. Welsh words: afon (avon); fi (vee); fydd (veethe);

hyfryd (huvrid); fawr (vowr), fach (vach)

Ff as in the English f. Welsh words: ffynnon (funon); ffyrdd (furth);

ffaith (fithe)

G always as in English goat, gore. Welsh words: ganu (ganee); ganaf

(ganav); angau (angeye); gem (game)

Ng as in English finger or Long Island. Ng usually occurs with an h

following as a mutation of c. Welsh words Yng Nghaerdydd (in Cardiff:

pronounced ung hire deethe) or Yng Nghymru (in Wales: pronounced ung


Ll is an aspirated L. That means you form your lips and tongue to pronounce

L, but then you blow air gently around the sides of the tongue instead of

saying anything. Got it? The nearest you can get to this sound in English

is to pronounce it as an l with a th in front of it. Welsh words: llan

(thlan); llawr (thlour); llwyd (thlooid)

Rh sounds as if the h come before the r. There is a slight blowing out of

air before the r is pronounces. Welsh words: rhengau (hrengye); rhag

(hrag); rhy (hree)

The most common expressions that Welsh-Americans come across are Cymanfa

Ganu (Kumanva Ganee); Eisteddfod (Aye-steth-vod); and Noson Lawen (Nosson


While preparing the essay the following publications and resources were


Publications by Professor R. Rees Davies, M.A., D.Phil. All Souls College,


1. The Age of Conquest. Wales 1063-1415, Oxford, 1991

2. The Revolt of Owain Glyn Dwr (Oxford, 1995)

3. The Matter of Britain and the Matter of England, Oxford, 1996

Internet resources:

1. www.bbc.co.uk/history

2. www.planet-britain.com

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