Croeso i Gymru


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.

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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.

The Welsh Language Act 1967 overturned this ancient law and gave rise to the concept of ‘equal validity’ between the Welsh and English languages.

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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.

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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)

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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”.

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The Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 gave the Welsh language official status in Wales, making it the only language that is de jure official in any part of the United Kingdom.

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.

19 comments

  1. I found this really interesting – thanks for posting. I did of course know that Welsh and English had this sort of history, and like your photos very much. I back-translated your last sentence – agreed! Language learning is for the young – not because we do not try but because our brains have missed out on the opportunity and cant recover it easily.

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  2. Excellent post, had no idea. Love elspethc’s comment and appreciate his translation! I was a language major and scientists have determined that exposure to a second language up until age 4 provides links in the brain that foster ease of learning languages later in life. So all those kids with foreign nannies are a step ahead I suppose!!

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  3. Great idea for the post. I should have thought of it for myself-I’m Irish! But, seeing everything in two languages everyday is so normal that I forget that it might be different to others.

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  4. I remember reading a funny story about Welsh signs. The story went something like this: A sign needed to be translated from English to Welsh and it was sent to an official translator. They got an e-mail back pretty soon, the sign got made and everyone was happy that the was job got done so quickly. Until they found out that the Welsh part said “I’m on holiday. Will be back in couple of weeks”.

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  5. A long time ago, I went to Wales with my now ex-husband, who is a French Canadian linguist. When we checked into the hotel, the person behind the desk asked a few friendly questions and when he found out my husband was a linguist he got him a newspaper in Welsh and started trying to teach him the language.

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  6. Mike. I lean something each time that you post. I especially like the history that you share with your viewers. In your descriptions of Wales and its country side, I have learned that Wales is a remarkable place. I think you made a wise move when you chose to move your family there.

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