Wales has a distinctive culture including its own language, customs, holidays and music. In reality though, Wales is a country with two languages, Welsh and English, with English being the dominant language in most parts of the country.
The presence of English in Wales intensified on the passing of the Laws in Wales Acts of 1535–1542, these statutes effectively promoting the dominance of English in Wales
The decline of Welsh and the ascendancy of English was intensified further during the Industrial Revolution, when many Welsh speakers moved to England to find work and the recently developed mining and smelting industries came to be manned by Anglophones.
As a result, Governmental Departments began preparing documents in Welsh.
Following a campaign of destroying or vandalising unilingual English road signs by members of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (The Welsh Language Society), local councils were allowed to provide many bilingual signs in Wales.
So what of the Welsh language today.The 2011 census shows that there is a decrease in the number of Welsh speakers compared to the 2001 census.
The Welsh Government (Llywodraeth Cymru) published a report stating that the proportion of people able to speak Welsh decreased from 20.8 per cent in 2001 to 19.0 per cent in 2011. Although lower than 2001, the proportion and number of Welsh speakers in 2011 were higher than the equivalent figures for 1991 (18.7 per cent and 508,000 people)
And yet a greeting in Welsh is one of 55 languages included on the Voyager Golden Record chosen to be representative of Earth in NASA’s Voyager program launched in 1977. The greetings are unique to each language, with the Welsh greeting being Iechyd da i chwi yn awr ac yn oesoedd which translates into English as “Good health to you now and forever”.
As to me, I don’t speak Welsh, and it’s unlikely I ever will but thanks to the magic of Google Translate I leave you this message in Welsh – I Hope! (If you speak Welsh please feel free to send me a correction if it’s wrong)
Byw yng Nghymru, byddai’n braf pe bawn i’n gallu siarad Cymraeg ond fy mod yn rhy hir yn y dant yn awr i ddysgu iaith arall.