‘Part of who we are’: Wales boss Chris Coleman endorses 2050 language plan

Picture by: Steindy (CC BY-SA 3.0)

 

Welsh football manager Chris Coleman has argued that Welsh “is part of who we are” as he attended the launch of the government’s new language strategy.

The Welsh Government published their plan to double the number of Welsh speakers in 30 years today.

Coleman told Golwg 360 that he was keen to show off the language when Wales took part in the Euro football championship last year.

“We had a responsibility to show the world that this is Wales, this is what we are, here’s how passionate we are about our country,” he said.

“That’s why I sing the national anthem. It honors those who fought hard and represent their country.

“That’s what we do in terms of football, and it’s very important that people understand what makes us as Welsh.

“This is our national language. Not everyone can speak it, but it’s part of our culture, and we must remember that.”

Strategy

To reach that target, the Welsh Government estimate that 70% of pupils will need to be fluent in the language by the time they leave school.

Welsh medium education will be increased by a third over the next 14 years, they say.

By 2030, 30% of seven-year-olds will be taught in bilingual schools. The current figure is 22%.

“Reaching a million speakers is a deliberately ambitious target to so that the Welsh language thrives for future generations,” said the First Minister, Carwyn Jones.

“If we are to succeed, we need the whole nation to take ownership of the language.

“Politicians can’t impose that, but politicians can lead. By raising our expectations and adopting an ambitious vision, we have the potential to change the future outlook for the language.”

‘Revolutionary steps’

Speaking before the launch, the Chair of the Welsh language society, Cymdeithas yr Iaith, said that revolutionary steps must be taken in order to achieve a million Welsh speakers.

“It’s almost exactly two years since we published our ‘million’ vision document aimed at the new Government in Wales,” said Heledd Gwyndaf.

“We’re still waiting for the firm action that’s needed in order to turn the tide. But we believe that it’s more than possible to achieve a million Welsh speakers, and to do so before 2050.

“In order to succeed, we need revolutionary steps in a number of fields, for example in planning the workforce, especially the education workforce.

“It means normalizing and expanding Welsh medium education on every level, and doing so on a greater scale and at a faster pace than ever before.

“In addition, we need to normalize the language in every aspect of life, by strengthening language legislation.

“We also need a revolutionary language strategy that will overturn the enormous migration of people outwards from our Welsh-speaking communities.

“Industry and jobs that are native to Wales need the support of the Welsh Government, recognizing the link between work and language. Nothing short of a revolution is needed in order to succeed.”

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17 Comments

  1. This is exactly why I’m learning Welsh. It’s part of who we are and I feel embarrassed that I’m in my 30’s and don’t speak it.

  2. Gordon Murray

    Speaking your own language is very fine and totally laudable but nobody outside of Cymru speaks the language so you’ll be speaking to yourselves. If that’s what makes you happy.
    What is the point of having your own Welsh history culture and identity if you are no more than a Welsh speaking county of England!

    I would have thought running your own country for the benefit of your own people instead of a bunch of Tory billionaires in London would be a much more effective way of seeing your families fed clothed and give your children a positive future to look forward to.

    If Malta, a wee island the size of Anglesey with a population the size of Cardiff, can do it what is stopping Wales?

    500years of letting England do it all for you has yet to work for Wales. Look around and say you couldn’t have done things better for yourselves.

    You think just being able to complain to each other in Welsh is going to give your family jobs and your kids a worthwhile future?

    • I’m not sure if you meant it to come across as such Gordon but your comment is extraordinarily ill informed and regret to say echoes many of the sentiments expressed by anti welsh language bigots down the years. As it happens seeing the number of welsh speakers grow and running our own country are not mutually exclusive – indeed many of us want to achieve both of these things.

    • There’s a lot of ignorance in this comment Gordon – to the point that it turns a comment which is supposed to be an exortation to action into a simple insult. Let me turn your rhetorical question the other way: What’s the point of being anything other than a county of England if we have no history, culture and identity?

      You belittle the use of Welsh as “speaking to ourselves”. Of course we speak to ourselves when we speak in our own languague – just as the Dutch do when they speak in the Netherlands. Should the Dutch abondon their language so that they can take up the far more succesful language of English? Should Portugal scrap their tongue so that they can learn the far more useful language of Spanish? This is what your comment alludes to – it’s the rhetoric of ‘usefulness’, a colonial mentality which aims to do no less than belittle and crush the confidence of the colonised country. We will speak to ourselves, and with the confidence we build we shall then speak with others, as equals. Just as the rest of the world does already.

      I must question why exactly you want us to be independent in the first place. So that we can get one up on the English? That’s not why I want independence. As far as I care, England is a total irrelevance. They mean nothing to me, just as I mean nothing to them. All I desire is to see my own country succeed, on its own merits, through its own confidence and by its own agency. The “Tory billionaires” can do whatever they want.

      You place a high premium on Malta’s size and population, but the reason it’s independent in the first is because it has a culture of its own. A culture personified by its language: derived from an Arabic dialect which developed in Sicily, with substantial amounts of vocabulary from Italian and English interwoven in. In its language its history as a island is preserved: echos of various occupiers, each vying for its strategic port position, each leaving a piece of themselves behind. A unique blend of history, which has produced a unique blend of people. That “wee island” exists not as an accident of geopolitics, and it thrives not thanks to the absence of Conservative and Unionist Party representatives. Malta exists because it knows it should exist – and that’s all there is to it.

      This is what lies behind the culture warfare inside the UK, which you have been taken in by. The Welsh language is not a secret code, a linguage cave in which to sulk at how nasty the Sais are. It is a living tapestry in which our entire way of life has been recorded. Behind each compound word is a logic which makes sense only at the time it was written, each idiom a flash of a generation’s humor, and with time any word’s meaning can slowly twist and distort into new meanings. This is true of all languages – an unconscious influence on how we understand the world around us. It is our past and it’s how we know our present. It’s our future too, for without a past there can be no future – only stagnation.

      Independence and the protection of our culture are not exclusive aims. Rather, it is because we have a distinct culture that the question of whether we ought to be independent or not even makes sense. To sacrifice a defining aspect of what makes us who we are for some asinine trade – in your instance ‘independence’, for another it may be ‘NHS spending’ – serves only to further the suggestion that Wales is nothing more than an English region. By doing so, you are reducing the thing that has kept our spirit alive and visible for centuries to no more than a disposible policy in a zero sum game: noble and sentimental, but ultimately not important enough to value.

    • Gordon , Increasing the number of Welsh speakers does not exclude going after political goals. We want more than being able to feed and clothe our children though ,we want also to keep our souls too.

    • Hit the nail on the head gordon – there’s no better feeling that speaking your own language in your own country. But your statements, is of course, WRONG and a factually incorrect. 300,000 speakers in England, Patagonia, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, NZ, USA – I know this, because I know someone in each of those countries – NEXT.

    • desdelguinardo

      Thanks for the lecture Gordon, but it seems to me that you have a good amount of work to do in Scotland as it is!

  3. To the above comment. . Some of us would totally agree with you. . . Self belief and self determination would make a huge difference to Wales . but keeping to the language, identity issue . .
    . . . MOST countries languages, with a few exceptions (English, Spanish etc) are only spoken in one country . . that’s the ENTIRE point. Even languages with millions of speakers like German are only of use in a handful of countries outside of Germany. . “A Country without a language is a country without a heart”

  4. Sion Jones

    Gordon Murray! What a prat!

  5. Margaret Hall

    Malta is actually an excellent example of a small independent country with its own unique language. Maltese, which is a unique form of Arabic only spoken on Malta, is co-official alongside English. So as the example you chose shows, this is not an either/or choice. Just as Malta is a small independent country with its own language, Wales could be the same. There is no reason we cannot support the Welsh language AND campaign for independence.

  6. From Wikipedia about Malta :- The Eurobarometer states that 100 per cent of the population speak Maltese. Also, 88 per cent of the population speak English, 66 per cent speak Italian, and 17 per cent speak French.[190] This widespread knowledge of second languages makes Malta one of the most multilingual countries in the European Union. A study collecting public opinion on what language was “preferred” discovered that 86 per cent of the population express a preference for Maltese, 12 per cent for English, and 2 per cent for Italian.

  7. Cymraeg yw heniaeth y Cymry
    Welsh is the ancient language of the Welsh
    Only ignorant people can’t see that it must be encouraged and not stifled!

  8. Rhisiart dafys

    You just don’t understand

  9. Pedr Reimwnt Sanclêr ap Ioan

    And anyway Welsh is spoken to some degree or another in several places out in the big wide world, I know I have travelled and I have spoken it ! But lets take Patagonia as an example, imagine your visiting, your bilingual , Welsh / English you meet a Patagonian who has no English,. and you have no Spanish ! Try your Welsh, you just might just find that you can communicate !. In addition, if you actually knew something, anything, about the Welsh language, you would know that it is much influenced by Latin making Welsh a great bridge to learning other languages, if you so wish. However judging by your comments, that would be a No! then.

  10. The typical British Nationalist argument that Welsh people should ‘learn a more useful language’ is completely null and void when one considers that in the world at this present time, there is no more ‘useful’ language (i.e. for business and commerce – to which I presume these people are referring) than English which most/all Welsh people already speak fluently. Including children taught at Welsh medium schools. Next!

    • Thus, learning and speaking Welsh / Cymraeg will help strengthen their Welsh identity and allow them to engage more readily with Welsh history and culture.

  11. As someone with mixed Welsh and English ancestry I support 100%% the use and leaning of Welsh. It is an integral part of the history, heritage and culture of the Welsh. My great grandfather was bilingual and I would love to be. I welcome this new initiative.

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