Welsh language

Welsh language
Cymraeg, y Gymraeg
Pronunciation [kəmˈrɑːɨɡ]
Spoken in  Wales
Region Spoken throughout Wales and some nearby parts of England, the Chubut province of Argentina.
Native speakers 780,000  (2004)
Wales: 611,000 [1]
England: 150,000 [2]
Chubut Province, Argentina: 25,000 [3]
United States: 2,500 [4]
Canada: 2,200 [5]
Language family
Writing system Latin alphabet (Welsh variant)
Official status
Official language in  Wales
Regulated by Bwrdd yr Iaith Gymraeg (Welsh Language Board)
Language codes
ISO 639-1 cy
ISO 639-2 wel (B)
cym (T)
ISO 639-3 cym
Linguasphere 50-ABA
Siaradwyr y Gymraeg ym Mhrif Ardaloedd Cymru.png
Percentage of Welsh speakers by principal area

Welsh (Cymraeg or y Gymraeg, pronounced [kəmˈrɑːɨɡ, ə ɡəmˈrɑːɨɡ]) is a member of the Brythonic branch of the Celtic languages spoken natively in Wales, by some along the Welsh border in England, and in Y Wladfa (the Welsh colony in Chubut Province, Argentina).[6] Historically, it has also been known in English as "Cambrian",[7] "Cambric"[8] and "Cymric".[9]

The Welsh Language Board[10] indicated in 2004 that 611,000 people (21.7% of the population of Wales in households or communal establishments) were able to speak Welsh. This figure marks a 0.9 percentage point increase when compared with a figure of 20.8% from the 2001 census, and an increase of approximately 35,000 in absolute numbers within Wales. Welsh is therefore a growing language within Wales.[10] Of those 611,000 Welsh speakers, 57% (315,000) considered themselves fluent, and 78% (477,000) consider themselves fluent or "fair" speakers. 62% of speakers (340,000) claimed to speak the language daily, including 88% of fluent speakers.[10]

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.[11] 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".[12]

The Welsh Language Measure 2011 gives the Welsh language official status in Wales.[13]



Welsh emerged in the 6th century from British, the common ancestor of Welsh, Breton, Cornish, and the extinct language known as Cumbric.

Like most languages, there are identifiable periods within the history of Welsh, although the boundaries between these are often indistinct.

The name Welsh originated as an exonym given to its speakers by the Anglo-Saxons, meaning "foreign speech" (see Walha). The native term for the language is Cymraeg, and Cymru for "Wales."

Distribution of Welsh speakers

Bilingual road markings
near Cardiff Airport, Vale of Glamorgan

Welsh is a living language, used in conversation by hundreds of thousands and spoken throughout Wales. The 2004 Welsh Language Use Survey showed 21.7% of the population of Wales to be Welsh speakers.[10] This is an increase from 20.5% in the 2001 census, and from 18.5% in 1991. The 2001 census also shows that about 25% of Welsh residents were born outside Wales. The number of Welsh speakers in the rest of Britain has not yet been compiled for statistical purposes. In 1993, S4C, the Welsh language television channel, published the results of a survey into the numbers of people who spoke or understood Welsh, which estimated that there were around 133,000 Welsh-speakers living in England, about 50,000 of them in the Greater London area.[14]

Historically, large numbers of Welsh people spoke only Welsh,[15] but monoglot Welsh speakers are now virtually non-existent, except among mother tongue speakers below school age as well as small numbers of elderly people in traditional Welsh speaking regions.[citation needed] Almost without exception, Welsh speakers in Wales also speak English (while in Chubut Province, Argentina, almost all speakers can speak Spanish - see Y Wladfa). However, many first language Welsh speakers are more comfortable expressing themselves in Welsh than in English. A speaker's choice of language can vary according to the subject domain and the social context, even within a single discourse (known in linguistics as code-switching).

Welsh as a first language is largely concentrated in the north and west of Wales, principally Gwynedd, Conwy, Denbighshire (Sir Ddinbych), Anglesey (Ynys Môn), Carmarthenshire (Sir Gâr), north Pembrokeshire (Sir Benfro), Ceredigion, parts of Glamorgan (Morgannwg), and north-west and extreme south-west Powys, although first-language and other fluent speakers can be found throughout Wales.

Official status

Although Welsh is a minority language, support for the language grew during the second half of the 20th century, along with the rise of organisations such as the nationalist political party Plaid Cymru from 1925 and Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (the Welsh Language Society) from 1962.

The Welsh Language Act 1993 and the Government of Wales Act 1998 provide that the Welsh and English languages be treated equally in the public sector, as far as is reasonable and practicable. Public bodies are required to prepare for approval a Welsh Language Scheme, which indicates their commitment to the equality of treatment principle. This is sent out in draft form for public consultation for a three month period, whereupon comments on it may be incorporated into a final version. It requires the final approval of the Welsh Language Board (Bwrdd yr Iaith Gymraeg). Thereafter, the public body is charged with implementing and fulfilling its obligations under the Welsh Language Scheme. The list of other public bodies which have to prepare Schemes could be added to by initially the Secretary of State for Wales, from 1993–1997, by way of Statutory Instrument. Subsequent to the forming of the National Assembly for Wales in 1997, the Government Minister responsible for the Welsh language can and has passed Statutory Instruments naming public bodies who have to prepare Schemes. Neither 1993 Act nor secondary legislation made under it cover the private sector, although some organisations, notably banks and some railway companies, provide some of their literature through the medium of Welsh.[citation needed]

On 7 December 2010, the Welsh Assembly unanimously approved a set of measures to develop the use of the Welsh language within Wales.[16][17] On 9 February 2011, this measure received Royal Approval and was passed, thus making the Welsh language an officially recognised language within Wales.[18] The Measure:

  • confirms the official status of the Welsh language;
  • creates a new system of placing duties on bodies to provide services through the medium of Welsh;
  • creates a Welsh Language Commissioner with strong enforcement powers to protect the rights of Welsh speakers to access services through the medium of Welsh;
  • establishes a Welsh Language Tribunal;
  • gives individuals and bodies the right to appeal decisions made in relation to the provision of services through the medium of Welsh
  • creates a Welsh Language Partnership Council to advise Government on its strategy in relation to the Welsh language;
  • allows for an official investigation by the Welsh Language Commissioner of instances where there is an attempt to interfere with the freedom of Welsh speakers to use the language with one another.[19]

With the passing of this measure, public bodies and some private companies will be required to provide services in it, though it remains to be seen which companies will have to comply. The Minister for Heritage, Alun Ffred Jones, said, "The Welsh language is a source of great pride for the people of Wales, whether they speak it or not, and I am delighted that this Measure has now become law. I am very proud to have steered legislation through the Assembly which confirms the official status of the Welsh language; which creates a strong advocate for Welsh speakers and will improve the quality and quantity of services available through the medium of Welsh. I believe that everyone who wants to access services in the Welsh language should be able to do so, and that is what this government has worked towards. This legislation is an important and historic step forward for the language, its speakers and for the nation."[19] The measure was not welcomed warmly by all supporters; Bethan Williams, chairperson of language campaign group Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, gave a mixed response to the move, saying, "Through this measure we have won official status for the language and that has been warmly welcomed. But there was a core principle missing in the law passed by the Assembly before Christmas. It doesn't give language rights to the people of Wales in every aspect of their lives. Despite that, an amendment to that effect was supported by 18 Assembly Members from three different parties, and that was a significant step forward."[20]

On 5 October 2011, Meri Huws, Chairwoman of Bwrdd yr Iaith Gymraeg was appointed the new Welsh Language Commissioner.[21] In a statement released by her, she said that she was "delighted" to have been appointed to the "hugely important role," adding, "I look forward to working with the Welsh Government and organisations in Wales in developing the new system of standards. I will look to build on the good work that has been done by the Welsh Language Board and others to strengthen the Welsh language and ensure that it continues to thrive." First Minister Carwyn Jones said that Meri will act as a champion for the Welsh language, though some had concerns over her appointment; Plaid Cymru spokeswoman Bethan Jenkins said, "I have concerns about the transition from Meri Huws's role from the Welsh Language Board to the language commissioner, and I will be asking the Welsh government how this will be successfully managed. We must be sure that there is no conflict of interest, and that the Welsh Language Commissioner can demonstrate how she will offer the required fresh approach to this new role."

Local councils and the National Assembly for Wales use Welsh as a quasi-official language, issuing their literature and publicity in Welsh versions (e.g. letters to parents from schools, library information, and council information) and most road signs in Wales are in English and Welsh, including the Welsh placenames. However, some references to destinations in England are still given in English only, even where there are long-established Welsh names (e.g. London: Llundain; The [English] Midlands: Canolbarth Lloegr).

Since 2000, the teaching of Welsh has been compulsory in all schools in Wales up to age 16, and that has had a major effect in stabilising and to some extent reversing the decline in the language. It means, for example, that even the children of non-Welsh-speaking parents from elsewhere in the UK grow up with a knowledge of or complete fluency in the language.[citation needed]

Although most road signs throughout Wales are bilingual, the wording on currency is in English only. The one exception is the legend on Welsh pound coins dated 1985, 1990 and 1995 (which are legal tender in all parts of the UK): Pleidiol wyf i'm gwlad, which means "True am I to my country") and derives from the national anthem of Wales, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau. The new British coinage from 2008 will not bear any Welsh language at all, despite being designed by a resident of North Wales and being minted at the Royal Mint in Llantrisant, South Wales. Although many shops employ bilingual signage, Welsh still rarely appears on product packaging or instructions.[citation needed]

The UK government has ratified the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in respect of Welsh.[22]

Bilingual road sign
near Wrexham Central station in 2009

The language has greatly increased its prominence since the creation of the television channel S4C in November 1982, which until digital switchover in 2010 broadcasted 70% of Channel 4's programming along with a majority of Welsh language shows[23] during peak viewing hours. The all-Welsh-language digital station S4C Digidol is available throughout Europe on satellite and online thoughout the UK. Since the digital switchover was completed in South Wales on 31 March 2010, S4C Digidol became the main broadcasting channel and fully in Welsh. The main evening television news provided by the BBC in Welsh is available for download.[24] There is also a Welsh-language radio station, BBC Radio Cymru, which was launched in 1977.

There is, however, no daily newspaper in Welsh, the only Welsh-language national newspaper Y Cymro ("The Welshman") being published once a week. A daily newspaper called Y Byd ("The World") was scheduled to be launched on 3 March 2008 but has been scrapped,[25] owing to poor sales of subscriptions[citation needed] and the Welsh Government deeming the publication as not meeting the criteria necessary for the kind of public funding it needed to be rescued.[citation needed]

Since December 2001 the British Government has planned to ensure that all immigrants speak English. It remains to be seen if Welsh will be considered a separate case. At present, knowledge of Welsh, English or Scottish Gaelic is sufficient for naturalisation purposes and it is believed that this policy will be continued in any proposed changes to the law.[citation needed]


Welsh vocabulary draws mainly from original Brythonic words (wy "egg", carreg "stone"), with some loans from Latin (ffenestr "window" < Latin fenestra, gwin "wine" < Latin vinum), and English (silff "shelf", giat "gate").


Welsh is written in a version of the Latin alphabet traditionally consisting of 28 letters, of which eight are digraphs treated as single letters for collation:

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

In contrast to English practice, "a", "e", "i", "o", "u", "w" and "y" are all considered vowel letters in Welsh.

The letter "j" is used in many everyday words borrowed from English, like jam, jôc "joke" and garej "garage". The letters "k", "q", "v", "x", and "z" are used in some technical terms, like kilogram, volt, xeroser and zero, but in all cases can be, and often are, replaced by Welsh letters: cilogram, folt, seroser and sero.[26] The letter "k" was in common use until the sixteenth century, but was dropped at the time of the publication of the New Testament in Welsh, as William Salesbury explained: "C for K, because the printers have not so many as the Welsh requireth". This change was not popular at the time.[27]

The most common diacritic is the circumflex, which disambiguates long vowels, most often in the case of homographs, where the vowel is short in one word and long in the other: e.g. man "place" vs mân "fine", "small".



The phonology of Welsh is characterised by a number of sounds that do not occur in English and are typologically rare in European languages, specifically voiceless sonorants such as the voiceless lateral fricative [ɬ], voiceless nasal consonants [m̥], [n̥], and [ŋ̊], and voiceless rhotic [r̥]. Stress usually falls on the penultimate syllable in polysyllabic words, while the word-final unstressed syllable receives a higher pitch than the stressed syllable.


Welsh morphology has much in common with that of the other modern Insular Celtic languages, such as the use of initial consonant mutations, and the use of so-called "conjugated prepositions" (prepositions that fuse with the personal pronouns that are their object). Welsh nouns belong to one of two grammatical genders, masculine and feminine, but are not inflected for case. Welsh has a variety of different endings to indicate the plural, and two endings to indicate the singular of some nouns. In spoken Welsh, verb inflection is indicated primarily by the use of auxiliary verbs, rather than by the inflection of the main verb. In literary Welsh, on the other hand, inflection of the main verb is usual.


The canonical word order in Welsh is verb–subject–object.

Colloquial Welsh inclines very strongly towards the use of auxiliaries with its verbs. The present tense is constructed with bod ("to be") as an auxiliary verb, with the main verb appearing as a verbnoun (loosely equivalent to an infinitive) after the particle yn:

Mae Siân yn mynd i Lanelli
Siân is going to Llanelli.

Here mae is the third-person present form of bod, and mynd is the verb meaning "go". The imperfect is constructed in a similar manner, as are the periphrastic forms of the future and conditional tenses.

In the preterite, future, and conditional tenses, there are inflected forms of all verbs (which are invariably used in the written language). However, it is more common nowadays in speech to use the verbnoun together with the inflected form of gwneud ("to do"), so "I went" can be Mi es i or Mi wnes i fynd. Mi is an example of a preverbal particle; such particles are common in Welsh.

Welsh lacks pronouns for constructing subordinate clauses; instead, preverbal particles and special verb forms are used.

Other features of Welsh grammar

Possessives as direct objects of verbal nouns

The Welsh for "I like Rhodri" is Dw i'n hoffi Rhodri ("I am in liking [of] Rhodri"), where Rhodri is in a possessive relationship to hoffi. With personal pronouns, the possessive form of the personal pronoun is used, as in "I like him" : Dw i'n ei hoffi – literally, "I am in his liking" – "I like you" is Dw i'n dy hoffi ("I am your liking").

Pronoun doubling

In colloquial Welsh, possessive pronouns - whether used to mean "my", "your", etc., or to indicate the direct object of a verbal noun - are commonly reinforced by the use of the corresponding personal pronoun after the noun or verbal noun: ei dŷ e "his house" (literally "his house of him"), Dw i'n dy hoffi di "I like you" ("I am [engaged in the action of] your liking of you"), etc. It should be noted that this "reinforcement" (or, simply, "redoubling") adds no emphasis in the colloquial register. While the possessive pronoun alone may be used (as is especially common in more formal registers, as shown above), it is considered incorrect to use only the personal pronoun; such usage is nevertheless sometimes heard in very colloquial speech, mainly among young speakers: Ble 'dyn ni'n mynd? Tŷ ti neu dŷ fi? ("Where are we going? Your house or my house?").

Counting system

The traditional counting system used by the Welsh language is vigesimal, which is to say it is based on twenties, as in standard French numbers 70 (soixante-dix, literally "sixty-ten") to 99 (quatre-vingt-dix-neuf, literally "four twenties nineteen"). Welsh numbers from 11 to 14 are "x on ten", 16 to 19 are "x on fifteen" (though 18 is deunaw "two nines"); numbers from 21 to 39 are "1–19 on twenty", 40 is "two twenties", 60 is "three twenties", etc. This form continues to be used, especially by older people, and it is obligatory in certain circumstances (such as telling the time).[28]

There is also a decimal counting system, which has become relatively widely used, though less so in giving the time, ages, and dates (it features no ordinal numbers). This system is in especially common use in schools due to its simplicity, and in Patagonian Welsh. Whereas 39 in the vigesimal system would be pedwar ar bymtheg ar hugain ("four on fifteen on twenty"), in the decimal system it would be tri deg naw ("three tens nine").

While there is only one word for "one" (un), it triggers the soft mutation (treiglad meddal) of feminine nouns, other than those beginning with "ll" and "rh". There are separate masculine and feminine forms of the numbers "two" (dau and dwy), "three" (tri and tair) and "four" (pedwar and pedair), which must agree with the grammatical gender of the objects being counted.


Dialectal differences are very pronounced in the spoken and, to a lesser extent, the written language. A convenient, if slightly simplistic, classification is into North Walian and South Walian forms (or Gog and Hwntw based on the word for North, gogledd, and the word Hwynthwy which means 'They Themselves' or 'Them'). The differences between dialects encompass vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar, although particularly in the last regard they are in fact fairly minor.

An example of the difference between North and South Walian usage would be the question "Do you want a cup (of tea)?" In the north this would typically be Dach chi isio panad? while in the south the question Ych chi'n moyn dishgled? would be more likely (though in the South one would not be surprised to hear Ych chi isie paned? among other possibilities). An example of a pronunciation difference between Northern and Southern Welsh is the tendency in southern dialects to palatalise the letter "s", e.g. mis (month), would tend to be pronounced [miːs] in the north, and [miːʃ] in the south. This normally occurs next to a high front vowel like /i/, although exceptions include the pronunciation of sut "how" as [ʃʊd] in the south (compared with northern [sɨt]).

Much more fine-grained classifications exist beyond north and south: the book Cymraeg, Cymrâg, Cymrêg: cyflwyno'r tafodieithoedd,[29] about Welsh dialects was accompanied by a cassette containing recordings of fourteen different speakers demonstrating aspects of different dialects. The book refers to the earlier Linguistic Geography of Wales[30] as describing six different regions which could be identified as having words specific to those regions. An alternative traditional classification was of four dialects - Y Wyndodeg, the language of Gwynedd; Y Bowyseg, the language of Powys; Y Ddyfedeg, the language of Dyfed; and Y Wenhwyseg, the language of Gwent and Morgannwg.[31]

Another dialect is Patagonian Welsh, which has developed since the start of the Welsh settlement in Argentina in 1865; it includes Spanish loanwords and terms for local features, but a survey in the 1970s showed that the language in Patagonia is consistent throughout the lower Chubut valley and in the Andes.


Modern Welsh can be considered to fall broadly into two main styles—Colloquial Welsh (Cymraeg llafar) and Literary Welsh (Cymraeg llenyddol). The grammar described on this page is that of Colloquial Welsh, which is used in most speech and informal writing. Literary Welsh is closer to the form of Welsh standardised by the 1588 translation of the Bible and is found in official documents and other formal registers, including much literature. As a standardised form, literary Welsh shows little if any of the dialectal variation found in colloquial Welsh. Some differences include:

Literary Welsh Colloquial Welsh
Can omit subject pronouns (pro-drop) Subject pronouns rarely omitted
More extensive use of simple verb forms More extensive use of periphrastic verb forms
No distinction between simple present and future
(e.g. af "I go"/"I shall go")
Simple form most often expresses only future
(e.g. af i "I'll go")
Subjunctive verb forms Subjunctive in fixed idioms only
3rd.pl ending and pronoun –nt hwy 3rd.pl ending and pronoun –n nhw

Amongst the characteristics of the literary, as against the spoken, language are a higher dependence on inflected verb forms, different usage of some of the tenses, less frequent use of pronouns (since the information is usually conveyed in the verb/preposition inflections) and a much lesser tendency to substitute English loanwords for native Welsh words. In addition, more archaic pronouns and forms of mutation may be observed in Literary Welsh.

Examples of sentences in literary and colloquial Welsh

English Literary Welsh Colloquial Welsh
I get up early every day. Codaf yn gynnar bob dydd. Dwi'n codi'n gynnar bob dydd. (North)
Rwy'n codi'n gynnar bob dydd. (South)
I'll get up early tomorrow. Codaf yn gynnar yfory. Coda i'n gynnar fory/Na i godi'n gynnar fory
He had not stood there long. Ni safasai yno yn hir.[32] Doedd o ddim wedi sefyll yno'n hir. (North)
(D)odd e ddim wedi sefyll yno'n hir. (South)
They'll sleep only when there's a need. Ni chysgant ond pan fo angen. Fyddan nhw ddim ond yn cysgu pan fydd angen.

In fact, the differences between dialects of modern spoken Welsh pale into insignificance compared to the difference between some forms of the spoken language and the most formal constructions of the literary. The latter is considerably more conservative and is the language used in Welsh translations of the Bible, amongst other things (although the Beibl Cymraeg Newydd – New Welsh Bible – is significantly less formal than the traditional 1588 Bible). Gareth King, author of a popular Welsh grammar, observes that "The difference between these two is much greater than between the virtually identical colloquial and literary forms of English".[33] A grammar of Literary Welsh can be found in A Grammar of Welsh (1980) by Stephen J. Williams, or more completely in Gramadeg y Gymraeg (1998) by Peter Wynn Thomas (no comprehensive grammar of Welsh exists in English).

Most Welsh writing, especially that found on the Internet or in magazines, is closer to colloquial usage, though it is often argued[by whom?] that this preference results in questionable orthographical and grammatical choices. This is also becoming more common in artistic literature, where the parallel with the well-known works of Irvine Welsh or Niall Griffiths may be helpful to understand the effect, and the controversy.

Ultimately, the labels Colloquial and Literary may be no more (or less) than convenient approximations: the spoken (i.e. colloquial) language naturally permits the use of formal as well as informal registers, and written (i.e. literary) conventions are likewise flexible in use of registers.

Welsh in education

Sign promoting the learning of Welsh

The decade around 1840 was a period of great social upheaval in Wales, manifested in the Chartist movement, which culminated in 20,000 people marching on Newport in 1839 resulting in a riot when 20 people were killed by soldiers defending the Westgate Hotel, and the Rebecca Riots when tollbooths on turnpikes were systematically destroyed.

This unrest brought the state of education in Wales to the attention of the English establishment, as social reformers of the time considered education as a means of dealing with social ills. The Times newspaper was prominent among those who considered that the lack of education of the Welsh people was the root cause of most of the problems.

In July 1846, three commissioners, R. R. W. Lingen, Jellynger C. Symons and H. R. Vaughan Johnson, were appointed to inquire into the state of education in Wales; the Commissioners were all Anglicans, and presumed[by whom?] to be unsympathetic to the non-conformist majority in Wales.

The Commissioners presented their report to the Government on 1 July 1847 in three large blue-bound volumes. This report quickly became known as Brad y Llyfrau Gleision (The Treachery of the Blue Books)[34] as, apart from documenting the state of education in Wales, the Commissioners were also free with their comments disparaging the language, non-conformity, and the morals of the Welsh people in general. An immediate effect of the report was for a belief to take root in the minds of ordinary people that the only way for Welsh people to get on in the world was through the medium of English, and an inferiority complex developed about the Welsh language whose effects have not yet been completely eradicated. The historian Professor Kenneth O. Morgan referred to the significance of the report and its consequences as "the Glencoe and the Amritsar of Welsh history".[35]

In the later 19th century virtually all teaching in the schools of Wales was in English, even in areas where the pupils barely understood English. Some schools used the Welsh Not, a piece of wood, often bearing the letters "WN", which was hung around the neck of any pupil caught speaking Welsh. The pupil could pass it on to any schoolmate heard speaking Welsh, with the pupil wearing it at the end of the day being given a beating. Many tried in vain to get rid of this bigotry. One of the most famous Welsh born pioneers of higher education in Wales was Sir Hugh Owen. He made great progress in the cause of education, and more especially the University College of Wales (Aberystwyth), of which he was chief founder. He has been credited[by whom?] for with The Welsh Intermediate Education Act of 1889 after which several new Welsh Schools were built, the first of which was built in 1894 and named Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen.

Towards the beginning of the 20th century this policy slowly began to change, partly owing to the efforts of Owen Morgan Edwards when he became chief inspector of schools for Wales in 1907.

The Aberystwyth Welsh School (Ysgol Gymraeg Aberystwyth) was founded in 1939 by Sir Ifan ap Owen Edwards, the son of O.M. Edwards as the first Welsh Primary School. The headteacher was Norah Isaac. Ysgol Gymraeg is still a very successful school and now there are Welsh language primary schools all over the country. Ysgol Glan Clwyd was established in Rhyl in 1955 as the first Welsh language school to teach to a secondary level.

Welsh is now widely used in education, with 20% of all pupils in Wales being taught at Welsh-medium schools.[36] All Welsh universities teach some courses in Welsh (most notably Bangor University and Aberystwyth University), but are primarily English language. Under the National Curriculum, schoolchildren in Wales must study Welsh up to the age of 16 and many choose to continue with it in their A levels and college years. All Local Education Authorities in Wales have schools providing bilingual or Welsh-medium education.[37] The remainder study Welsh as a second language in English-medium schools. Specialist teachers of Welsh called Athrawon Bro support the teaching of Welsh in the National Curriculum. Welsh is also taught in adult education classes. The Welsh Government has recently set up six centres of excellence in the teaching of Welsh for Adults, with centres in North Wales (learncymraeg.org), Mid Wales, South West, Glamorgan, Gwent and Cardiff. The ability to speak Welsh or to have Welsh as a qualification is essential or desirable for certain career choices in Wales, such as teaching or customer service.[38]

Welsh in information technology

As with many of the world's languages, the Welsh language has seen an increased use and presence on the internet, ranging from formal lists of terminology in a variety of fields[39] to Welsh language interfaces for Microsoft Windows XP, Vista, Microsoft Office, OpenOffice.org, Mozilla Firefox and a variety of Linux distributions, and on-line services to blogs kept in Welsh.[40] A variety of websites are also available in Welsh: the social networking site Facebook has offered a Welsh version since 2009, and Wikipedia since July 2003.[41]

Mobile phone technology

In 2006 the Welsh Language Board launched a free software pack which enabled the use of SMS predictive text in Welsh.[42] At the National Eisteddfod of Wales 2009, a further announcement was made by the Welsh Language Board that the mobile phone company Samsung was to work with the network provider Orange to provide the first mobile phone in the Welsh language,[43] with the interface and the T9 dictionary on the Samsung S5600 available in the Welsh language. The model, available with the Welsh language interface, has been available since 1 September 2009, with plans to introduce it on other networks.[44]

Welsh in warfare

Secure communications are often difficult to achieve in wartime. Cryptography can be used to protect messages, but codes can be broken. Therefore, little-known languages are sometimes encoded, so that even if the code is broken, the message is still in a language few people know. For example, Navajo code talkers were used by the United States military during World War II. Similarly, the Royal Welch Fusiliers, a Welsh regiment serving in Bosnia, used Welsh for emergency communications that needed to be secure.[45]

Use of Welsh at the European Union

In November 2008, the Welsh language was used at a meeting of the European Union's Council of Ministers for the first time. The Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones addressed his audience in Welsh as his words were interpreted into the EU’s 23 official languages. The official use of the language followed years of campaigning. Jones said "In the UK we have one of the world’s major languages, English, as the mother tongue of many. But there is a diversity of languages within our islands. I am proud to be speaking to you in one of the oldest of these, Welsh, the language of Wales." He described the breakthrough as "more than [merely] symbolic" saying "Welsh might be one of the oldest languages to be used in the UK, but it remains one of the most vibrant. Our literature, our arts, our festivals, our great tradition of song all find expression through our language. And this is a powerful demonstration of how our culture, the very essence of who we are, is expressed through language." [46]

See also


  1. ^ "2004 Welsh Language Use Survey: the report - Welsh Language Board". http://www.byig-wlb.org.uk/english/publications/publications/332.doc. Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  2. ^ United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. "Refworld | World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples - United Kingdom : Welsh". UNHCR. http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/topic,463af2212,488f25df2,49749c8cc,0.html. Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  3. ^ "Wales and Argentina". Wales.com website. Welsh Assembly Government. 2008. http://www.wales.com/en/content/cms/english/wales_and_argentina/wales_and_argentina.aspx. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  4. ^ "Table 1. Detailed Languages Spoken at Home and Ability to Speak English for the Population 5 Years and Over for the United States: 2006-2008 Release Date: April, 2010" (xls). United States Census Bureau. 27 April 2010. http://www.census.gov/hhes/socdemo/language/data/other/detailed-lang-tables.xls. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  5. ^ "2006 Census of Canada: Topic based tabulations: Various Languages Spoken (147), Age Groups (17A) and Sex (3) for the Population of Canada, Provinces, Territories, Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations, 2006 Census - 20% Sample Data". Statistics Canada. 7 December 2010. http://www12.statcan.gc.ca:80/census-recensement/2006/dp-pd/tbt/Rp-eng.cfm?A=R&APATH=3&D1=0&D2=0&D3=0&D4=0&D5=0&D6=0&DETAIL=0&DIM=0&FL=A&FREE=0&GC=01&GID=837928&GK=1&GRP=1&LANG=E&O=D&PID=89189&PRID=0&PTYPE=88971%2C97154&S=0&SHOWALL=0&SUB=0&TABID=1&THEME=70&Temporal=2006&VID=0&VNAMEE=&VNAMEF=. Retrieved 3 January 2011. 
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  11. ^ "Greetings to the Universe in 55 Different Languages". NASA. http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/spacecraft/languages/languages.html. Retrieved 2009-05-10. 
  12. ^ "Welsh greetings". NASA. http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/spacecraft/languages/welsh.html. Retrieved 2009-05-10. 
  13. ^ "Welsh Assembly Government". http://wales.gov.uk/newsroom/welshlanguage/2011/110211welshlang/?lang=en. Retrieved 2011-01-13. 
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  18. ^ Proposed Welsh Language (Wales) Measure Accessed: 13 February 2011]
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  20. ^ Royal Assent for official status of Welsh language - Wales News - News - WalesOnline Accessed: 13 February 2011]
  21. ^ BBC News - Language board chief Meri Huws is Welsh commissioner (accessed 5 October 2011)
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  24. ^ BBC website (Real Media).
  25. ^ Daily Welsh newspaper abandoned, BBC News Online, 15 February 2008
  26. ^ Thomas, Peter Wynn (1996) Gramadeg y Gymraeg. Cardiff: University of Wales Press: 757.
  27. ^ English and Welsh, an essay by J. R. R. Tolkien
  28. ^ King, G. Modern Welsh: A Comprehensive Grammar, published by Routledge, ISBN 0-415-09269-8 p. 114
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  30. ^ Thomas, A. R. 1973 Linguistic Geography of Wales
  31. ^ Index to Welsh dialects
  32. ^ Klingebiel, Kathryn. 234 Welsh Verbs: Standard Literary Forms. Belmont, Massachusetts: Ford & Bailie. p. 223. ISBN 0-926689-04-5. 
  33. ^ King, G. Modern Welsh: A Comprehensive Grammar, published by Routledge, ISBN 0-415-09269-8 p3
  34. ^ "'Treacherous' Blue Books online", BBC News Online
  35. ^ John Davies, Hanes Cymru (1993) (also in English translation as A History of Wales, Penguin, 1994, ISBN 0-14-014581-8)
  36. ^ "Local UK languages 'taking off'", BBC News Online
  37. ^ Welsh medium or bilingual provision, Welsh Language Board
  38. ^ More information can be found at Welsh for Adults.org
  39. ^ The Welsh National Database of Standardised Terminology was released in March 2006.
  40. ^ Selections of Welsh-language blogs are listed on the sites Y Rhithfro and Blogiadur.
  41. ^ Welsh Wikipedia on Wikipedia.org
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  43. ^ World's first Welsh language mobile phone launched (publish date: 25 August 2009)
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  • J.W. Aitchison and H. Carter. Language,Economy and Society. The changing fortunes of the Welsh Language in the Twentieth Century. Cardiff. University of Wales Press. 2000.
  • J.W. Aitchison and H. Carter. Spreading the Word. The Welsh Language 2001. Y Lolfa. 2004

External links

Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011

Available in Welsh and English.

Statistical data
Conversational groups

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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