by Theo Davies-Lewis
Tuesday, 16
February 2021
Response
11:00

Cymrophobia thrives at the heart of the British establishment

Think Wales would never seek independence? Don't be so sure
by Theo Davies-Lewis
Could independence mean avoiding bigotry toward the Welsh language for once-and-for-all? Credit: Getty

The Welsh have always felt an element of difference from our neighbours and friends. This is largely because of the Welsh language, although it is worth noting that Cymraeg is a modern descendant of a language once spoken across these Isles. It is a beacon of national identity, a vehicle for social cohesion and a beautiful cultural relic of Britain when it deserved to be called Great, now many years ago.

Instead of being championed for its cultural, economic, and social benefits, or indeed being made the official language of Britain, Cymraeg has in recent years become a political football for the British establishment. The latest player to give it a good-old kicking was Max Hastings, arguing in his Bloomberg column that only a tiny minority in Wales speak it daily and “hapless children” are forced to learn “their” language despite its “tortured spellings”.

Hastings is no expert on Wales. In the same piece he incorrectly refers to the nation as a principality that houses an assembly rather than a parliament. He also claims the energised and highly-organised Welsh nationalist movement is a mere reaction to the failure of English Tories.

This is tantamount to xenophobia towards the treasure of Welsh culture. It must always be called out as such, particularly when readers of Bloomberg are not just here in the UK but around the world. What is most striking and concerning is that it is not a one-off.

Hastings’s attack is just the latest from a member of the British establishment on Cymraeg. The Sunday Times has previously run a poll asking readers whether the Welsh language should be taught in schools. The Guardian’s Zoe Williams has deemed my mother tongue pointless. Rod Liddle regularly enjoys attacking it too. Mocking the Welsh is still the last permitted bigotry in British society, after all.

Some will call me a self-pitying and nostalgic Welshman, but in reality the people of Wales — whether they speak Welsh or not — support the language and want increasing provision to ensure it survives and thrives. The Welsh Government’s strategy for one million Welsh speakers by 2050 is one such ambitious method to reverse centuries-old initiatives, such as the 1847 Blue Books, that damaged the language’s standing in education and society.

Hastings’s belittlement and arrogance can be explained by the exceptionalism that still permeates this country’s ruling class. ‘How on earth do those curious Celts think speaking Welsh has any benefits in OUR WORLD?’ I can hear them ask in dining clubs draped with union jacks as their emblem of ‘Britishness’.

As a Welsh speaker, the language certainly makes me take pride in my culture and history, and believe or not, helped me get a degree from Oxford too. I always use it in social situations — in Wales and in London, which has a thriving bilingual Welsh community — and teach it to my English girlfriend, who rejoices at the vibrancy of Welsh descriptions of colours and numbers.

Unsurprisingly, Hastings’s brief reference to Wales in his column concludes with the assertion that the Welsh are not going anywhere as the UK disintegrates, of course. The argument is so well-rehearsed it should be the epitaph for Welsh unionism: Wales is too stupid and too poor to be independent.

Macsen bach, with such flagrant and naked Cymrophobia continuing to be espoused by the British ruling class, I wouldn’t be so sure. And if an independent Wales means we can avoid bigotry toward the Welsh language for once-and-for-all, that will certainly swing my vote.

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Simon Denis
Simon Denis
1 year ago

Not another “phobia”, please. I’m getting phobia-phobic. Casually belittling your opponents with flippant “diagnoses” of this kind is the key to modern intolerance. It also underwrites the repulsive victimhood hierarchy which is corroding general freedom.

Elisabeth Lewis
Elisabeth Lewis
1 year ago

Whilst I applaud your defence of the language, I can’t help feeling very sad that our nine year old grandson is reprimanded by his teachers for speaking English in the playground. For some of his friends home schooling has been a nightmare as their parents only speak English.

p minto
p minto
1 year ago

That’s a disgrace. The Welsh are very sensitive about the time when kids were punished for speaking Welsh. To reverse the treatment is simply revenge. On a 9 year old!

E E
E E
1 year ago

As a teacher I doubt very much any ‘reprimanding’ occurred. Encouragement to speak Welsh is not a reprimand.
As for home schooling, Welsh schools have very good and inclusive online presence, with teachers interacting and helping children and parents daily

Cave Artist
Cave Artist
1 year ago
Reply to  E E

it is when you are 9

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  E E

Surely this depends how it is done and the actual circumstances

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
1 year ago

I’m happy that Welsh culture and language has survived despite the close and ancient embrace with England, but not so happy when its imposition becomes enforced. The last thing we need is yet more artificial division on a smallish and closely integrated island.
The devolution referendum was won with a tiny minority, but seems to have been the thin end of a wedge. I have no doubt that base motives were behind Blair’s devolution policies, and that he didn’t foresee the consequences.

Last edited 1 year ago by Colin Elliott
William Murphy
William Murphy
1 year ago

Amazingly no one has mentioned money yet. The Welsh language TV station gets around £100 million a year subsidy when around 20% of its programs have close to zero viewers. Various costs, such as teaching Welsh in schools, road signs in Welsh and providing civil service correspondence in Welsh, add up to perhaps £2 billion a year. In my social security days, I was in charge of the database of 2,500 standard DHSS letters. I left just before they were all going to be translated into legally accurate Welsh.

Is this expense seriously justified for a slowly dying language?

E E
E E
1 year ago
Reply to  William Murphy

England are getting a pretty cheap deal then when you consider where their water comes from.

As for the cultural expense you mention, I would point you to the plethora of pointless English cultural expenditure that without any doubt bring little benefit. The Royal family being one I would argue, English opera being another. Shall I go on?

Cave Artist
Cave Artist
1 year ago
Reply to  E E

no but I think you will. it IS a national characteristic

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  Cave Artist

You must be Welsh too then.

Kelvin Rees
Kelvin Rees
1 year ago
Reply to  Cave Artist

Oh really !!

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
1 year ago
Reply to  E E

Shall we build a Trump wall around you and let you keep your water or shall we buy it off you? You’d probably find a few more fords and floods around if we did and be throwing it over the wall at us in buckets. Grow up.

Gordon Black
Gordon Black
1 year ago
Reply to  William Murphy

Same profligate nonsense in Scotland funding the even sparser gaelic language. Nothing wrong with conservation projects if they raise the money themselves like the National Trust, but not from our taxes.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Gordon Black

Precisely. Gaelic is the language of losers, and should not be in receipt of public subsidy, under any circumstances.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Gordon Black

Reply “Awaiting for approval” (sic ).
Apparently criticism of Gaelic is prohibited by the new Gestapo.

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

I’ve still got replies awaiting approval and I most definitely have not been offensive – well I don’t think I have!

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
1 year ago
Reply to  William Murphy

I can never see the point of road signs (and government forms) being doubly printed in both English Welsh when every single person in Wales without exception speaks English.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago

Same in Ireland, but at least the road signs are in a pseudo Gaelic script so you can ignore them, which is useful when driving.

Joe Blow
Joe Blow
1 year ago

“Cymrophobia”? What on Earth could cause anyone to be afraid of Wales? Makes absolutely no sense.

E E
E E
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe Blow

No water?

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  E E

Are you referring to Elan Valley Reservoirs?
If so don’t they already belong to Birmingham, the city that financed their construction in the 1890’s?

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

Well good luck in taking them back. Stone by Stone and droplet by droplet. Mind you I daresay they’ll find a way.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago

No need we’ll take Scotland’s first if we ever really need it.

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe Blow

The sheep. They’re savage.

barbara neil
barbara neil
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe Blow

Wait til the movement gains traction, then you’ll see. Yet another opportunistic language-based Nationalism. Money and power, as usual, riding on the backs of MYlanguage / MYculture.

Fennie Strange
Fennie Strange
1 year ago

I lived in Wales for 32 years and saw plenty of ignorance and bigotry towards the Welsh language when visiting in England: “Do people really still speak Welsh? Why can’t they all just speak English?” But I also saw bigotry by the Welsh towards the English.
Teaching RE to Year 9 in a Welsh comp, we rewrote the parable of The Good Samaritan. An England supporter is beaten up after a Six Nations game and left lying in the gutter. A policeman and a First Responder ignore him. OK so far. Then a Wales supporter sees him lying there and goes to his aid. Response from the class? “But Miss, that would never happen!”
Oh dear.

E E
E E
1 year ago
Reply to  Fennie Strange

On visiting London with my son and speaking Welsh at an Oxford street shop, we were asked what language we were using. Replying Welsh, the assistant looked bemused. On explaining further, it became clear he he thought the UK was exclusively England. Pretty ignorant, and no doubt typical of English attitudes.

Btw, The above text is also available in Welsh along with two other languages. Pretty useful stuff languages. The English should give them a try.

Jeff Bartlett
Jeff Bartlett
1 year ago
Reply to  E E

What nationality was the shop assistant?

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Bartlett

Scotch.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  E E

I think you are right. But I don’t think people should be forced to learn a language where there is no TV, books or internet. About 45 years ago when all the valleys in South Wales were effectively cut off from each other, people only spoke Welsh. The advent of multi-TV channels and the internet has forced children to be good at English. All of the Chinese tourists in Paris speak English. Why force Welsh on children just because their parents are trying to make a point?

Last edited 1 year ago by Chris Wheatley
Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

45 years ago the valleys only spoke Welsh. Really? Are you really being serious?

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago

When I came they struggled to speak sentences in English. So yes, I guess you are too young to know. My wife says she didn’t speak English until she was 18 years old.

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

45 years ago? Do you mind me asking which valley? I’m nearly 60 and grew up in one of the South Wales Valleys. The really industrial ones. If your wife was further west then that is possible although very rare. How old are you? I have family in N Wales who are completely bilingual but Welsh is first language. My aunt is 88 and has always been bilingual. It is very rare to find someone who has never been exposed to or spoken English in the South Wales valleys especially. I’m genuinely amazed.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago

I knew Ystradgynlais quite well in the 60’s and although Welsh was spoken it was unusual to hear it. Likewise after the terrible disaster at Aberfan, it was tare to hear Welsh. When remarking about it I was told quite firmly that if I wished to hear Welsh I should go to North Wales. I seem to recall Bethesda was suggested.

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

With all due respect what on earth has the Aberfan disaster to do with the decline of the Welsh language in the South Wales Valleys? But you are correct. Welsh was not widely spoken at that time(or before) in the valleys.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago

My wife had to go on a job interview when she was 18, to Woolworths, and she panicked because the interview was in English. She knew the words because she did English at ‘O’ level but she had never spoken sentences.

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Do you mind me asking how old your wife is and whether or not she is SE valleys or more West?

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

InAberfan, as elsewhere at the time it was unusual to hear

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

Precisely what I’ve been saying.

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I’m beginning to seriously doubt you ever lived in Wales.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago

I live in Wales and have done so for 45 years. I have a business in Wales. My wife is a natural Welsh speaker. My children speak Welsh. I have represented Welsh industry in Assembly meetings. I know these things and, apparently, you are just guessing.

barbara neil
barbara neil
1 year ago
Reply to  E E

How can something that is a barrier to people’s understanding each other be useful? I rather think that this is a – perhaps well-meaning initially – piece of propaganda meant to help us tolerate difference and the fear that is natural when we don’t understand. But the idea doesn’t hold water and is being used by nationalisms to cement division.
I think it’ll be a great day for humanity when we can all communicate and understand each other , not by wasting our brain resources on learning 50 languages but by speaking the same one. And no, nothing will be lost. Culture and LanguageS (not Language) are not the same thing. We will continue to produce culture specific to our sites so long as we enjoy the freedom to do so.

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  Fennie Strange

I think the Welsh have a sense of humour too, although they do on the whole lean to melancholy.

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
1 year ago
Reply to  Fennie Strange

Precisely.

daniel Earley
daniel Earley
1 year ago

Fortunately Max Hastings doesn’t speak for the English or the British. As for me, I’m tired of all the anti-English rhetoric that we get from the Scottish, primarily the SNP and their cultish followers but also from a small section of the Welsh. I married a Welsh girl, spent a lot of time in Wales and I’ve found almost no bigotry towards the language and what I have found has been mostly from other Welsh. I also find that any odd attitude towards it is because it sounds so different to every other language.

Cave Artist
Cave Artist
1 year ago

Welsh was on the way out and has had a British state sponsored revival. However artificial cultural props never last long. Welsh is important and is older than English. It will live or die all by itself. The Tudors were Welsh and the Stuarts, Scots. Now we’ve got the Germans, everyone has their turn. But victim indulgence is for the faeries.

Mark H
Mark H
1 year ago

What is the methodology used in the poll cited by the author? There is no information in the link.
Given the fact that there were 11000 respondents, I’m wondering whether it was a self-selecting online poll.

p minto
p minto
1 year ago

The devolution referendum was won by 0.6% margin on a not very good turnout. All pro independence voters would have walked through fire to vore. The no vote was apathetic. The Assembly has proved to be expensive with no tangible benefit and some big mistakes. There is zero chance of a win for a ful independence vote.

Gerry Fruin
Gerry Fruin
1 year ago

I lived and worked in Wales for many years and in a rural area which very few people spoke the language. I also had contact through sport with the promoters (friends) of the Language. They had the heart and passion to believe that developing Welsh so all could benefit. But when it was suggested (not by me) that it was referred to as a dead language, meaning it could ‘never’ be used outside Wales say for business, finance, sport and so on, they really found the point difficult to argue against. That is as it is.
I doubt many would disagree that the Language must be preserved as should others. But to follow the writers ill informed logic is nonsense. I suspect he is floundering around trying to create ‘an issue’ which the vast majority of Welsh will ignore.

E E
E E
1 year ago
Reply to  Gerry Fruin

Perhaps it was because of your acquaintances you didn’t come across much spoken Welsh. It has to be said that many of the English who live in Wales create exclusively English clubs in order to avoid being reminded they are in Wales.

Gerry Fruin
Gerry Fruin
1 year ago
Reply to  E E

Way off the mark there E E. Certainly in the area we worked that old clique idea was not in evidence. Despite being incomers we were welcomed. I accept that we would have to have been there for several generations to be ‘one of us’ but that’s no bad thing.
We have lived in several countries and despite what some may curl a lip at we never had a problem with anti – English sentiments. I believe it is true that you treat people with respect and good humour and you won’t go far wrong.

Graeme Laws
Graeme Laws
1 year ago

I understand the desire to sustain a language and a culture that go back a long way. I do not like the current politics which seeks to ram that language down everyone’s throat. And I did not require an MoT certificate in Welsh. Who, after all is ‘welsh’? There are a few old families that have been there forever, but there was a huge influx of people from Ireland and all over the UK to dig the coal. To say nothing of the immigrants from elsewhere. Monmouthshire wasn’t in Wales at all until local government reorganisation in 1974. This writer makes airy assumptions about ‘the establishment’ that have no foundation, unless Rod Liddle has finally gone over to the other side. He invents a phobia to feed a sense of victimhood. Like the North East of England, and parts of Scotland, there are parts of Wales that have been hollowed out by the demise of the pits and other heavy industry. The UK government has pushed lots of public sector employment into Wales. Think Centre 1 in Cardiff, or DVLC in Swansea. The Senedd has sunk heaven knows how much taxpayers’ cash into all manner of businesses, many of which have failed. Wales is still, overall, relatively poor. I love the country. I love the people. I wish I knew how to make things better. I don’t, but I’m fairly confident that independence is not the answer.

Michael Whittock
Michael Whittock
1 year ago

Despite what Mr Davies-Lewis and a few others might think there seems little appetite for independence in Wales. But there is enthusiasm for the Welsh language. However living a mile and or so east of Offa’s d**e, and being half Welsh I regret the weaponising of this beautiful language by the Nationalists. It’s a cultural asset not a political weapon.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago

No doubt they will start burning ‘English’ cottages again as they did in the 80’s. Over 250 burnt and not a single successful prosecution!

As ‘we’ used to say at the time, “Come home to a real fire, buy a cottage in Wales”.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

Strangely, I have met one of the guys who was involved in this. I didn’t know it at the time; I was a friend of his brother and we were just introduced and passed on.

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

Well as long as they used Welsh coal.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago

American petrol, leaded off course in those days.

There were also some ‘bombers’ as I recall. There speciality was blowing themselves up! As I recall.

Their leader only died just before this Christmas past.

Bob Pugh
Bob Pugh
1 year ago

I notice the author is “Promoting the language, literature, arts and science of Wales” whilst ensconced in his West London pad. https://www.cymmrodorion.org/theo-davies-lewis/

Caroline Galwey
Caroline Galwey
1 year ago

Hastings seems to have lost his marbles and become a twerp. It seems that the more the bien-pensant English establishment obsesses about the racism and xenophobia of the oiks, the less it notices its own ‘unconscious biases’, like dismissal of Wales and the Welsh. This is odd given that the attack on the original Britons was, if you will, the first manifestation of the English imperialism they all hate!

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago

Too much Grecian three thousand! (Hair dye).

Last edited 1 year ago by George Lake
Jack Walker
Jack Walker
1 year ago

Instead of being championed for its cultural, economic, and social benefits.

Perhaps the author could set out the economic and social benefits.
Having lived in Wales for the best part of 20 years I cannot see them. Conversely, I see many reasons why the Welsh language is a barrier to the economy and wider society. It is divisive and a barrier to investment and education.
By all means keep the language and be proud of it, but teach English as the primary language at schools.
Ref: the Assembly. I recall a referendum on a Welsh Assembly not a parliament and definitely not the renaming to Senedd. This is just another money wasting initiative to make the members of the Assembly feel more superior.

As a Welsh speaker, the language certainly makes me take pride in my culture and history

I’m pleased for you, but that is no reason to ram it down everyone else’s throat.
Bilingual signs, and documents costs business and the taxpayer money that could be better used elsewhere. And I would argue that bilingual road signs are down right dangerous.

Jeff Bartlett
Jeff Bartlett
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack Walker

Very clear and sensible, Jack. Thank you for your calming and reasoned thoughts.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack Walker

Wasn’t this ludicrous Senedd the venue for a recent ‘illegal’ drinking session by some of its erstwhile members?

It should be dissolved forthwith.

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

Why? We all need illegal drinking establishments.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago

Not at the taxpayers expense.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack Walker

As I’ve said before, you can’t make a successful country by speaking a language, however romantic the notion.

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I’m not sure that’s the issue.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago

What else does Plaid Cymru stand for? Go onto their website.

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

OK will do. But I think it’s not the whole issue.

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack Walker

I hope you never choose to drive in a country that has anything other than English language signs. It could be very dangerous.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago

I have lived in Wales for 45 years but most of that time I worked in Swansea and never met one Welsh speaker there. I don’t speak Welsh but my wife does.
Over this time I have seen South Wales get poorer and poorer. Part of this is because we joined the EU and our industry was cut off from the main markets by the 300 mile distance between us and Felixstowe. Also to blame was the UK government concentration on the south-east of England causing the north-south and the east-west divides.
I am passionately for an independent Wales IF, and only if, the Welsh Assembly can focus on high-paid jobs to make us richer. The language is a confusing issue because the political parties are focussing on this thing alone to try to drive independence. I do not want to live in an independent Wales where everybody speaks Welsh and nobody has a job.
There is an added factor in that there is a huge difference between North Wales and South Wales, the former living on English tourism and the latter suffering from de-industrialisation. There is even a very, very big difference between spoken Welsh in the two areas

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Not a massive difference in the language. Some differences. Welsh speakers would not have trouble using or understanding both.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago

My wife has family in LlanfairPG as well as in South Wales so she has learned both. She says that some people in North Wales really struggle when they come south and vice versa. I believe her. Do you have family all over Wales or are you guessing?

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Yes family in North and South. West Wales too and there are variations there too. I’m guessing nothing. Look my husband is Polish and he can understand a lot of Russian Ukrainian. I cannot believe that North Walian speakers cannot understand South or West Walian Welsh. I’m studying the language now and our tutor introduces both versions which are not dissimilar.

Carl Goulding
Carl Goulding
1 year ago

I would hazard a guess that the majority of Bloomberg readers around the world not be able to identify Wales on a map nor have any interest whatsoever in the Welsh language (apart from Patagonians) .So why get all flustered over an article that is not going to make any difference to anything? Mr Lewis should treat it with the contempt he thinks it deserves and just ignore it rather than plead for pity and sympathy.

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  Carl Goulding

Yes but this is what Unherd does. It’s click bait. Sometimes it’s entertaining. More times than not it is deflating. It’s a social experiment. They change the titles of pieces to fit the responses. We’re all playing into it. Guilty as charged.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago

Oh come off it, we are all “confined to barrack”, so how else to entertain oneself. Nobody gets hurt, it’s only banter surely?

Barry Brother
Barry Brother
1 year ago

In the late 1960’s, I went on detachment to RAF Llanbedr with the Vulcans on a dispersal exercise.
The local pub refused to serve anyone of us who did not order in Welsh, and the local population in general were very unhelpful.
Went back there with my family as a civilian for a holiday in a farmhouse – same thing.
if the farmhouse owners wanted our money, they would speak English.
I suffered a mechanical breakdown whilst staying at that farmhouse, and three out of four garages refused to speak English to me.
All of the farm workers spoke Welsh between themselves, and ignored us completely.
Fortunately, I have two aunts from the Swansea / Mumbles area, and the locals there made us welcome in a big, friendly manner.
Add that to the superb welcome I received at RAF St Athens whilst I was stationed there, is it any wonder that I want nothing to do with the North Welsh people?

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Barry Brother

Were those in the happy days when you couldn’t get a drink in Wales on a Sunday?

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
1 year ago

A Welsh man calling the English bigoted. That’s rich.

Christopher Gage
Christopher Gage
1 year ago

Who would be at fault for past, present, and future ills? Without the persecution complex so readily displayed in this column, the independence movement, and those governing Wales, wouldn’t have anything left.

‘Cymrophobia’. Oh, please. Very few outside of Wales know Wales exists. Such insular assumptions. The world is a big place.

elisstaines
elisstaines
1 year ago

This is just such an arrogant comment. ‘Very few outside of Wales knows Wales exist’ is just arrogant and not true. Just complete false and in some what laughable. Looking at facts and figures might be able to help retract that comment. Google most popular countries to visit in the world. The united kingdom sits at number 7. I would argue that majority of those will/should know what the four countries that make up the UK is. The those that don’t are probably on the same scale of arrogance as yourself.

Last edited 1 year ago by elisstaines
Jeff Bartlett
Jeff Bartlett
1 year ago
Reply to  elisstaines

Let those without sin cast the first stone…

E E
E E
1 year ago

What ignorant drivel you speak sir. While Wales is regarded in an affectionate way around the world, For most, The word ‘England’ has only negative connotations.

Last edited 1 year ago by E E
Jeff Bartlett
Jeff Bartlett
1 year ago
Reply to  E E

Your evidence?

E E
E E
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Bartlett

Ask any rugby fan around the world who they support… “Insert country” and whoever’s playing against England.

Cyj Apple
Cyj Apple
1 year ago

I can see how easy it is to be triggered by Max Hastings but the author needs to chill. The support for Welsh has been wonderful and outside Wales if it’s thought of at all it’s probably welcomed. Max Hastings is not England. Mind you I wonder if his girlfriend really is rejoicing at the vibrancy of being taught Welsh!

Last edited 1 year ago by Cyj Apple
Fennie Strange
Fennie Strange
1 year ago

Apparently Welsh was JRR Tolkien’s second-favourite language – after Old Icelandic.

Martin Powell
Martin Powell
1 year ago
Reply to  Fennie Strange

Re ‘Old Icelandic’ – I lived in Iceland for a year and what really surprised and interested me is that current Icelandic is almost identical to the language spoken there 1500 years ago. Apparently some words have slightly changed, but any Icelander can read and clearly understand the ancient sagas and histories – compare that with how modern English has evolved and changed – it would be the equivalent of us picking up Anglo Saxon documents and reading them fluently.

Beautiful country, and lovely people – visit it when you can.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Fennie Strange

Nutter!

Elaine Hunt
Elaine Hunt
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

Who is this nutter.?

Tolkien? He was a distinguished scholar of ancient Northern European languages ( being a very successful and influential novelist was a hobby).

Yes, yes ,I know it is possible to get an A level in English without reading all the way through any play of Shakespeare (and I believe you can get a degree in English from Leicester without opening either Shakespeare or Chaucer) – but Tolkien lived in an era when competence or even, horrically, excellence was expected of an academic.

Kelvin Rees
Kelvin Rees
1 year ago

Well said. I completely agree. Just checked out a few of the responses to your piece; and they prove your point.

Stephen Tye
Stephen Tye
1 year ago

Wales has never been a country. Ever.

E E
E E
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Tye

Your so very wrong sir!

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  E E

When was or is Wales a country?

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Good book on that subject. When was Wales by Gwyn Alf Williams.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago

Yes, but you don’t know do you?

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Well that is the point isn’t it? And neither do you. Read the book. It’s very good.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Tye

I had this conversation about three weeks ago on UnHerd and you can’t win. Technically, Wales has never been a country, as in the area which is now called Wales. Smaller parts of it have been countries, as in had a king, at different times in history. If you say over and over again, like dripping water, that Wales is a country, then it is a country.
Most of the people who argue that Wales is a country are middle-class doctors, dentists, teachers, bank employees. Certainly not the factory people I worked with for 26 years in Swansea.

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I find it hard to believe that people in Swansea didn’t view Wales as a country. Very hard to believe. Certainly not true of the working class valleys.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago

I didn’t say that. I said most. My guess is that you have a secure government job and a secure pension. Tell me, when everybody speaks Welsh and everybody works for the government, where will the money come from?

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Hahaha. More assumptions about me. No. Don’t work for government. My pension is of my own making.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

England off course, where else?

E E
E E
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

What drivel you write on here sir! You clearly know very little about Wales. Contrary to your post(s) those who speak Welsh are at the least bilingual! With many multilingual. It has been thus since the end if the 19th century. Your earlier post stating people in the south Wales valleys spoke only Welsh 45 years ago punctuates your total ignorance.

E E
E E
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Factory workers or would prefer to call them peasants? Your posts certainly have that essence.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Tye

Quite a popular little rhyme around the Anglo -Welsh border, for example in the charming little town of Bishop’s Castle is, “Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief, came into my house and stole a side of beef”.

Old prejudices die hard.

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Tye

Neither has England.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
1 year ago

I always thought the point of the Welsh language was to prevent the English understanding what the Welsh were saying about them. If that’s right why on earth would you want it made the official language of Britain,

elisstaines
elisstaines
1 year ago

This is just a delusional comment. Welsh was spoken and around before the English Language.

Jeff Bartlett
Jeff Bartlett
1 year ago
Reply to  elisstaines

To continue the language metaphor, perhaps the comment was tongue in cheek?

Mike Wylde
Mike Wylde
1 year ago
Reply to  elisstaines

Ok then, to stop the Romans understanding what the Welsh were saying about them.

elisstaines
elisstaines
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Wylde

Just a terrible basis for an argument.

Elaine Hunt
Elaine Hunt
1 year ago
Reply to  elisstaines

Well, a form of Welsh., unless you are claiming proto Brithonic as Welsh, which would assume that that language could be understood and spoken by modern Welsh speakers (improbable). I think that the Germanic language from which Saxon evolved would be contemporary with Brithonic, and of course Latin, the source for the Norman French which is the other main root for modern English was very widely spoken at that time ( and written, the big difference).

William Cameron
William Cameron
1 year ago

naked Cymrophobia ?
Not Cymruphobia ??

Clive Flowers
Clive Flowers
1 year ago

Interesting.

Last edited 1 year ago by Clive Flowers
Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago

It is time the English people stopped talking down to the Welsh.

Oliver McCarthy
Oliver McCarthy
1 year ago

‘[I]t is worth noting that Cymraeg is a modern descendant of a language once spoken across these Isles.’
I’m not saying you’re wrong, but do you have literally any evidence for this?

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago

You need to do your homework. If I have the time I’ll find you the references but genuinely look it up. Gaelic is another branch of the old British language.

Elaine Hunt
Elaine Hunt
1 year ago

It would be hard to find any literal evidence, as none of the pre Roman conquest languages had writing. Celtic or Romano British inscriptions are written using the Latin alphabet

And don’t start in on Runes. They are much later ..

D Ward
D Ward
1 year ago

Oh ffs

chrismerron
chrismerron
1 year ago

Please stop using welas to describe the Cymraeg; you know what it means and perhaps you should use it to describe the Anglo-Saxons. We Anglos are the foreigners, the immigrants, not the Cymraeg, who were here when we invaded in the sixth century, after the Romans left. I learnt Latin at school, so I resent the suggestion that cymraeg is a dead language. Deo gratias, Amen!

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago

A first class return to: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.
and make it snappy!

Malcolm Davies
Malcolm Davies
1 year ago

Yma o Hyd
We are still here !

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
1 year ago

Dw ‘i byw yn Ceredigion. Yn Offnadus, dw ‘i drwg gyda Cymraeg. Serch hynny, dw ‘i gobeithio fod un dydd, bydda ‘i cofio llawer gairau Cymraeg.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
1 year ago

You made that up, didn’t you?

Joe Blow
Joe Blow
1 year ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Certainly seems to be missing a few vowels… 🙂

daniel Earley
daniel Earley
1 year ago

I’ve been to Ceredigion many times, a beautiful place. One of the only welsh words I know is cwtch and that’s because my wife is welsh and she doesn’t speak it either.

Fennie Strange
Fennie Strange
1 year ago

Da iawn i chi a phob lwc gyda’r iaith Cymraeg!

Last edited 1 year ago by Fennie Strange
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
1 year ago
Reply to  Fennie Strange

Diolch!

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Fennie Strange

Pog mo thoin!

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

No thank you.

E E
E E
1 year ago

Good grief! For a site that’s supposed welcome free speach, there are a lot of bigots slamming down on the Welsh!

Jack Walker
Jack Walker
1 year ago
Reply to  E E

Good grief! For a site that’s supposed welcome free speach, there are a lot of bigots slamming down on the Welsh!

Surely a free speech site should welcome all comments, providing they don’t incite violence. By suggesting that those with an alternative view are bigots shows your own bigotry.
BTW speech is spelt with two e’s

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  E E

Oh Wales and Scotland get a hammering on here. Usually in the form of childish and nasty replies. No attempt to see another view point. This is in fact the most herd mentality forum I have come across.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago

Nonsense! It is just light hearted banter, but with a nomen such a Olszanska you may find that difficult to understand ?

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

What’s wrong with my name?

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago

Nothing. Where is it from incidentally?

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

Go on guess it.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago

Tatra Mts?

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

No. Bit off the mark. But as to the origins of my name you could be correct.

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

Some is lighthearted but mostly it is childish and condescending. What does my name have to do with it?

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago

You are far too sensitive. Why? Perhaps you are a “Johnny Foreigner” as we used to say? Or is that too simple an explanation?
It seems impossible to type this in ‘landscape’, which is irritating to say the very least

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

Oh no. I find most of these ‘discussions’ hilarious. You in particular provide endless amusement. But I do feel sorry for those who genuinely try to enter into debate – they’re in for a rude awakening. But please keep your comments coming, it beats Netflix.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

People are sensitive because, like Scotland, they see that they have been dominated by England. This is because of history and because Wales is so poor now.
I am surrounded by Welsh speakers but none of us can understand how speaking Welsh makes us less poor. In fact, the politicians almost only talk about the language because it is easier than solving the real problems. It’s like a cop-out.

Last edited 1 year ago by Chris Wheatley
Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Agree with you on that. Bigger problems in Wales than the language.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago

Caerleon or Kidwelly?

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

Nope

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago

God’s teeth

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago

God’s teeth it is almost impossible to reply, then on two words per line, and then impossible to edit.
What is the Welsh for absolute shit? May I ask?.
UnHerd certainly deserve it! They have damned near wrecked a perfect forum. Idiots ( the Welsh for that to if possible)

I traveled around S Wales in the 60’s on a sort of thematic journey exploring the very impressive Roman and Medieval remains/ monuments, certainly the equal of North Wales, it not superior in some instances. I was just curious if you happened to live in the shadow of one of those great buildings
.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago

I agree. There is no need to insult Wales and Scotland, or the people. But the Welsh Assembly/Senedd is pathetic. They need people who aren’t grey.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

And not Covid breaching drunks either.

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Yes the Senedd is not very inspiring. No oomph whatsoever.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago

I don’t speak Welsh but I live in Carmarthenshire. My wife and children speak Welsh. A personal friend from Ceridigion was the late T. Llew Jones and I had some conversations with him about the Welsh language. He believed that more people in Wales should speak Welsh but only those who wanted to. His books for children were meant to encourage them to learn Welsh.
The point now is that virtually all of the top jobs in Wales require Welsh-speaking, even though a very small minority of people speak Welsh every day. So, whilst not being forced physically to speak Welsh, you can’t get a proper job if you can’t.
We have family in Quebec and they went through the same exercise in 1989, only with French. Effectively, in the end this forced non-French speakers to sell their homes and leave. Not very friendly.

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

It is a tricky issue and a reversal of what happened with English about 100 + years ago. Management or administerial jobs especially in mines and iron works were held by English speakers. Parents were so desperate for their children to get on that they made their children speak English in the house so that they had a better chance of a better job. It’s why the language died out so quickly in South Wales. There is a path through this that requires tolerance on both sides.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago

Your answer is not really true. The real Welsh language moved north with the druids. English people financed all of the industry in South Wales and thousands of migrant workers came in, mainly from Ireland. Close to where I live there is still a whole village of people from Durham. So the language was diluted. It is true that the English tried to suppress it but from about 1890 with the rise of the Chartist movement. The owners saw the Welsh language as subversive.
My wife is from a mining village and she speaks Welsh with about 50% English words. I don’t have a problem with this, of course, but I do have a problem in teaching everybody the full language when they can’t actually use it. How much of the TV, internet and books are available? Apart from a middle-class professional pride, what is the point UNLESS people actually want to speak it? But then they can’t get a job. Hm.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

The Chartists were finished by the 1850’s.

Are you perhaps referring to the Newport Insurrection of 1839, crushed by HM 45th Foot?

Or to the Taff Vale strike of 1912?

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

Not in Wales, they weren’t.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Really? History says otherwise. After the Newport fiasco which saw about 22 dead, the 4 Ringleaders were sentenced to be hanged, drawn, castrated and quartered. In fact they were the last felons ever to receive this sentence in the UK. Sadly, they were reprieved and received an even more terrifying sentence: aTransporta

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Really?
History says otherwise. After the Newport fiasco which saw about 22 dead, the 4 Ringleaders were sentenced to be hanged, drawn, castrated and quartered. In fact they were the last felons ever to receive this sentence in the UK. Sadly, they were reprieved and received an even more terrifying sentence: Transportation nspo

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

As you can see I tried to reply but this system is so dreadful it is impossible.
Landscape only, typing, print without authorisation, then impossible to EDIT!
Vale.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

Sorry, had to look it up. I have a book called. ‘Labour Country’ which is the history of mining in South Wales since 1831. Although the Chartist movement officially stopped in 1860, there were still Chartists living and some of them were active around Cardiff until the 1880s.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

The 1867 Reform Bill lanced the boil.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

How do you EDIT Chris?

I am using a mini I pad & it seems impossible!

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Not sure what I said was untrue. Yes of course the mass immigration diluted the language but the point I was making was how getting a good job in Wales has moved from being able to speak English to now being able to speak Welsh – well civil service(?) or BBC. It’s not really a requirement in private enterprise. But I am correct in parents using English in the house plus there was a perception that bilingualism wasn’t possible. I’m not sure where I stand on mandatory Welsh. I see no problem in bilingual teaching. I don’t see how knowing two languages is a disadvantage. There is no easy answer and whatever solution is proposed there are bound to be dissenters, but personally I think we will be a lot poorer with the death of another British language.

chrismerron
chrismerron
1 year ago

At 76 years of age I find that learning new things keeps the grey matter active ergo i’n dysgu cymraeg.

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
1 year ago

A lot of my responses tonight are still awaiting approval, especially the ones where I am a bit critical of Unherd. This whole site is a con. I have genuinely not been rude or used bad language. Grow up Unherd.