Greggs shop employee ‘compared Welsh to Tourette’s’

Greggs in Lampeter

A Greggs shop has been asked to respond after a customer accused a staff member of comparing the Welsh language to Tourette syndrome.

Sioned Howell, 18, claims that after attempting to place an order in Welsh the staff member responded by saying: “That was Welsh? Sounded more like you had tourettes to me.”

The Greggs shop in Lampeter refused the opportunity to respond to a request for comment by Golwg360, but the shop’s manager said that she would speak to every member of staff about the issue.

Two months earlier, a Welsh-speaking mother, Elin Jones, was told to stop speaking “foreign muck” to her one-year-old daughter in the same town.

Lampeter is in Ceredigion, where 47.35% of the population speak Welsh. 36.5% of the town’s population speak Welsh, and 57.8% in the surrounding area.

Tourette’s is a disorder sometimes characterised by vocal tics, but is often portrayed in popular culture as involuntary swearing.

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  1. “Lampeter is in Ceredigion, where 47.35% of the population speak Welsh.” ——- What!? Llambed is under 50% Welsh speaking? Iesu mawr…no wonder the imperialists are gaining confidence

    • 36.5% in the town itself. – Ifan

      • Dafydd Williams

        Where this 36.5% figure come from? It says 46.9% on Welsh-language Wikipedia.

        • Census figure for the ward in which the town itself sits. I presume the figure on Wikipedia includes the surrounding rural area around Lampeter on Ceredigion’s side of the Teifi river. The town itself has a lower % of Welsh speakers which is in kerping with other univeristy towns, such as Bangor which also has a lower % of Welsh speakers but is surrounded by some of the areas with the highest % of Welsh speakers.

    • Lampeter has close to 1000 students and staff from around the world.

  2. Are we really so insecure about our culture so as to worry about the pathetic comment of a Gregg’s employee?

    • fair point….I was more worried by the percent speaking Welsh in the town….which is pretty remote in West Wales

      • Can both not bother us? Also, yes we are that insecure, partly because we had to fight to have sign posts in Welsh, ffs!
        It’s not a conspiracy if they are actually out to get us!

    • I disagree with that comment entirely. This sort of behaviour needs to be rooted out and labelled as racist, and the best way to do that is to name and shame. The more things like this that are made a fuss of, the more that companies like Greggs will begin to include Welsh language awareness into their training programs, to avoid embarrassment to their company, which will only increase tolerance towards our language. It appears that this is the approach that Greggs are taking.

      We’ve tried the “we’re Welsh, we know how to take a joke” thing for too long now – our post-colonial minds have enabled this. Over the years we haven’t been touchy enough about these things, and I think this fact has contributed largely to the mess our language (and national identity, for that matter) are in now. That’s why the Welsh (and Welsh speakers as a sub-set within that) remain one of the only groups of people that are still unprotected by political correctness.

      These people aren’t just going to suddenly realise that they’re disrespecting us. The only way is if we fight back, and let them know that it’s out of order.

      • I think it’s called the worm has turned. We must speak up when attacked.

      • I am still not entirely sure of the context in which this appalling remark was made. Was it implying that Cymraeg sounds like some one talking who has a neurological phonic ‘tic’ or ‘tics’, i.e. that Cymraeg sounds, to the shop assistant, in some way inappropriate and worthy of comment. Or that the customer’s use of the language sounded in some way inappropriate. It is unlikely that we will ever know the full facts though I did notice that Gregg’s were advertising 2 job vacancies last week.

        Is it appropriate to assume that the shop assistant’s ill considered remarks were a deliberate and insensitive attack on the Welsh and Welsh culture?

  3. Until the Welsh government extends the rights of Welsh speakers to the private sector then these stories will continue.

  4. I used to sometimes go into Y Popty in Lampeter, where I had no problem speaking Welsh with the staff. I haven’t had cause to go to Lampeter for a while, but I noticed recently that Y Popty was closing down, presumably because Greggs arrived. Really sad; locally owned businesses being forced out by chains with no interest in Welsh language or culture.

    If we really care about our language and culture, we should be supporting local businesses wherever possible, and not big chains from outside Wales.

  5. So many immigrants into Wales bring a positivity and embrace our culture and history.Sadly they are a minority, I wonder if with a population 25% born out with our borders the battle if not lost is past a tipping point.

    • Estonia has 1.5m people and 30pc of their population is Russian

      Latvia is 2m people and the Russian minority is closer to 40pc

      Wales has a huge student population and Ceredigion in particular has a very transient population.

      With a border so porous, I think we’re doing pretty well.

      • I have not long returned from Estonia. Estonian is universal. Older people have Russian as a second language, younger people English. The notion of someone being abused in a shop for speaking Estonian is laughable.

    • Lampeter, Aberystwyth and Bangor would be absolutely nothing without the universities.

      • Aber wouldn’t be ‘absolutely’ nothing. But [among other things] it would mean that I wouldn’t have grown up in such a cosmopolitan area, which I thank my lucky stars for!
        Aber owes so much to its University! We love it.

    • Basque country has 28% of people born outside its borders.

  6. Until such times that all retail and businesses are more than just obliged to the spirit of spoken Cymraeg, tenuous at best, but actively pursue plans to respond fully to requests in Welsh, there seems little redress. Other then to shop elsewhere. What is the local Council’s remit and more to the point what legislation should be considered by our Welsh government to ensure such ridicule and flagrant abuse of a national language is at least reportable and preferably penalised. It might be, given the close proximity to the area where the Welsh Not was inflicted on children who spoke Welsh, that those visiting the shop is required to don a similar collar once inside.
    To allow this to be unchallenged is negligent, on the basis of harassment directed on those who speak a national language , but there is comfort in the previous remarks that alleged insults of this manner is more to do with the ignorant than the blessed.

  7. Geoff Horton-Jones

    In Tenby Laugharne bakery closed soon after Greggs opened up in Tudor Square.

  8. Stand your ground.

  9. Utter tripe!! Nation Cymru should be ashamed of themselves for posted unproven accusations! I’m waiting eagerly for their next hard hitting exposé about UFOs or the like. Quality journalism! Hahaha…

  10. The Bellwether

    The main reason I don’t patronise Greggs in Lampeter and elsewhere is the poor unappetising standard of food. Sadly, Y Popty as mentioned above wasn’t that much better if at all as I recall. However the author has given me a further reason not to buy from Greggs. Similarly Peters Pies.

  11. Boycott!
    I am English, but this is disgusting. There is NO excuse for such behaviour.
    I expect they will be sacked and Greggs wash their hands of it.

  12. It might seem like a little thing but these little things add up over time. Comments such as this from staff (presumably some English ignoramus) reflect a wider problem. It doesn’t help that 8% of the population of Ceredigion are Welsh-born but non Welsh-speaking and therefore set a very poor example to incomers from further afield. But surely Welsh speakers in the County are a significant economic constituency and should be looking to wield that economic power in a more systematic way. Businesses that are not supportive of the language in Y Fro should be boycotted and Welsh-speaking traders supported. There should be some kind of “Yellow Pages” of Welsh-language businesses in Ceredigion and elsewhere that Welsh speakers can refer to when they want to shop. We have this wonderful thing called the Internet do we not?

    After all, businesses – whether they are large chains or smaller outlets – set up shop in Cere because they look to make a profit. If Welsh speakers don’t shop there there then profit margins are dented and it becomes in the interests of said businesses to employ staff who can speak the language.

    We need to stop looking at the language on a purely cultural level and start looking at hard-nosed economics….

    • Robert Williams

      Jim, I’m intrigued by this figure of 8% born in Ceredigion but not Welsh-speaking. Can you give us the source, please? I’m pleased if it’s as low as this – casting my eye over, say, Penparcau I’d have estimated quite a bit higher.

  13. Robert Williams

    Angharad is on the button, as usual. Why would any sane person go into Gregg’s in Lampeter, or Aberystwyth?

  14. Capitalist and Welshnash

    Capitalism works if you use it as a weapon. Take money from non-Cymry, but do not give money to non-Cymry. Because money is power. To give someone money is to give them power.

    If Cymry use capitalism as a weapon within Wales, and consider giving money to non-Cymry to be unclean and wicked as the Jews did with other groups for centuries, Cymry will win.

    • How we spend our money is more powerful shaper of society than how we cast a vote every few years. If more people were aware of the power they have in their pockets, and were not obsessed with saving every penny (under the pretext of ‘smart shopping’), our economy would be transformed within months. However, with the majority of us struggling under ever increasing personal debt, saving every penny wins out. The result is an ever tightening grip of big finance and their ugly offspring such as Tesco, Greggs, Secsavers, etc.

  15. Robert Williams

    Angharad, as I remarked yesterday, is absolutely right to emphasise the importance of supporting local enterprises rather than your Greggs, Costa and so on, and Jim & Glasiad are also spot-on in emphasising the potential power of thoughtful consumption. Quite hard, though, to get this message across to the large body of consumers we need to think and act in this way.

  16. Greggs haven’t actually done anything wrong here, have they. Stupid employee has been suspended, very swiftly. Taking trade from locally owned businesses, yes, but that is a different issue. I don’t see a problem here?

  17. Dechrau anffodus i siop newydd. Wrth gwrs dylai’r rheolwyr wedi paratoi’r staff ymlaen llaw sut i ymddwyn yn nhre gyda chyfartaledd uchel o siaradwyr Cymraeg. Yr angen nawr yw iddynt drefnu cyrsiau “Dysgu Cymraeg” i’r staff, a hefyd sesiynau ar ddiwylliant yr ardal.

  18. Muddy Valley

    Was the Gregg’s employee actually commenting on the poor quality of the young lady’s pronunciation of Cymraeg?

    • If that were the case, he would have answered in Cymraeg. Because he would have obviously been a fluent Cymraeg speaker himself.

      • Muddy Valley

        Purely conjecture….. perhaps he/she responded in English having heard her Cymraeg and assumed that this way she would be able to understand his/her inappropriate remark better. Until we actually hear her speak Cymraeg it can only be conjecture! Still very disappointing whichever way one looks at it…. As a dysgwr Cymraeg I do get the occasion looks of disbelief and giggles but also lots of support, never pathetic insults.

      • Let’s spare a thought for people who suffer from a speech impediment like Tourettte syndrome. To make such a comparison is deeply unfortunate and speaks more about the insensitive and offence that can be taken of any individual who makes such a comment. I think it’s deeply abhorrent and cruel to those who sadly may suffer from this condition.

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