This is why it’s so hard to talk about the future of Welsh-speaking communities

Aberaeron in Ceredigion. Picture by Heather Smithers (CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

Rhys Llwyd

How best to preserve Welsh-language communities is an issue it seems that politicians from all parties have been unwilling to get to grips with.

This may have changed recently with the concept of ‘Arfor’ as set forth by highly regarded Assembly Member Adam Price.

According to Adam Price’s plan, Arfor would be a single local authority for west Wales, uniting Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Gwynedd, and Môn.

The region would be given significant powers over housing, agriculture, tourism, and language.

But the reaction to Arfor – here on Nation.Cymru and on social media – suggests that little of the heat has gone out of this debate.

Why has the issue of Welsh-speaking communities become so much of a political hot potato for politicians, including those in Plaid Cymru, over the past decades?

Adfer

Part of the answer lies back in the 1970s and an acrimonious falling out between a movement called ‘Adfer’ (Restore) and the Welsh language society – Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg.

In 1972 the philosopher J.R. Jones argued that nationalists needed to turn their backs completely on Britishness and create a ‘new Wales’.

The way to do this according to Emyr Llewelyn was to create a Welsh language society with its own institutions – a kind of nation within a nation – similar in territorial scope to Arfor.

Adfer was set up with an emphasis on creating a territory set aside for the Welsh-speaking Welsh.

Welsh speakers in other parts of the country were encouraged to move there and live their lives in Welsh.

In 1976 Emyr Llewelyn published a book Adfer a’r Fro Gymraeg (Adfer and the Welsh-speaking land), which set out his argument in great detail.

For those of us, like me, who were not alive during this period it’s worth having a look at this book in order to fully appreciate how Adfer’s philosophy managed to alienate so many people!

By doing so, we can understand why so many people today react so passionately when discussing plans to protect Welsh-speaking communities.

Terrifying

The main impression when reading the book is that it is philosophically naive and written in a way that would inevitably put off most readers.

For instance, in one section he attempts to explain that it is easier for the Welshman to become an Englishman than it is for ‘the black man’ because ‘how ever much he scrubs his colour stays with him’!

In another section, he discusses, sincerely enough, the need for a people to claim ownership of their own homeland.

But then he suggests that it was a lack of homeland that made the Jews ‘such a spineless creature that was willing to be led like a sheep to the gas chamber’!

These examples demonstrate why Adfer’s world view was extremely problematic even in the 1970s – and terrifying in the present day.

There are other problems too. In his foreword, Ieuan Wyn discusses Welshness as a ‘spiritual’ force.

‘Adfer’s work,’ he says, ‘is to bring a spiritual vision to Welsh nationalism…’

Emyr Llewelyn calls this cryptic essence that belongs to the Welsh ‘eneidfaeth’ – a kind of spiritual substance – which ‘feeds the souls of men.’

‘I call it a spiritual substance because it comes from men’s spirits – it is yielded from the spirits of those who came before us,’ he says.

Reaction

One of the country’s leading nationalist thinkers, and a prominent theologian, R. Tudur Jones, wrote a scathing review of the book in the Tafod, the Welsh language society’s magazine, in 1977.

The title he chose for his review – Cysgod y Swastika (the shadow of the swastika) – gives us some idea as to its contents.

In the first part of the article, Tudur Jones portrays the ideology of Adfer as if it was a Welsh version of the ideology of Hitler and Nazism.

He notes that the book is full of the philosophy of Comte, Hegel, Fichte, Schelling and Alfred Rosenberg, before noting that this philosophical tradition ‘reached its terrible apex in the tyranny of the Third Reich’.

Tudur Jones’s main criticism was the idea of ‘enedifaeth’. He argued that this idea was key to understanding Adfer because this nebulous concept allowed them to ‘discriminate between the fake Welsh and the real Welsh.’

This is the attitude that has still left its scars on the minds of some Welsh speakers from outside Welsh-speaking communities who were sneered at by Adfer members in the 1970s and the 1980s.

Regret

It can be argued that Adfer and R. Tudur Jones’ explosive response to its ideology made the idea of a ‘Welsh-speaking region’ that should be protected an unattractive one up to the present day.

Even though R. Tudur Jones argued from a philosophical and religious perspective it is likely that his scathing review had a political aim as well. Adfer’s views could have caused the national movement real damage and needed to be stopped.

Plaid Cymru leader Gwynfor Evans wrote to R. Tudur Jones saying that ‘some are reluctant to see a difference of opinion among nationalists’ aired in such a public way. Nevertheless, they had to ‘clear the air’. He hoped that ‘Emyr and the others would be more careful in future’.

But when R. Tudur Jones received a request by Gomer Press in 1981 to translate his review for an education package about Welsh identity, he expressed some regret.

‘I am not sure’, he said, ‘whether I am happy to see this old controversy revived. My two articles all but destroyed Emyr Llewelyn – and it certainly put paid to Adfer.’

He also expressed dismay that his review inhibited some of the more positive work carried out by Adfer that he himself supported.

‘I regret now that I did not make it clearer at the time that many of the practical aims of Adfer were laudable enough and that what I objected to was the attempt to justify its actions by a pernicious philosophy,’ he said.

Scars

To this day the Welsh national movement has failed to really get to grips with the issue of Welsh as a community language.

It could be argued that it was this bitter argument between R. Tudur Jones and the Adfer movement that poisoned the issue.

To this day politicians of every party have avoided getting entangled with a debate about possible means of helping Welsh-speaking communities.

Although we can appreciate R. Tudur Jones’s argument from a theological and philosophical point of view, we can regret that this controversy left scars which has made it difficult to get to grips with this perfectly salient issue up to the present day.

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41 Comments

  1. A dreadful catch-22: We can’t tackle real issues in the present because of mistakes made in the past. But the non-tackling of these issues in the present is likely to cause other problems, more bad feeling and yet more terrible mistakes in the future. So no one does anything and Welsh-speaking communities are weakened, eroded and, finally, disappear. The fact is, Welsh speaking communities are expected to go gently into oblivion just so that no one is “upset” by a respectful yet frank and open discussion or because politicians are too cowardly to tackle the issue. I’d like to add that I feel incredibly strongly that no issues pertaining to Y Gymraeg should be discussed on UK-wide platforms e.g. Newsnight. Representatives should refuse to take part. You will never ‘educate’ your regular British Joe, you will never convince the British establishment of our right to exist and there will never be a pan-UK epiphany where everyone suddenly ‘gets it’. The very essence of who we are is just ratings fodder and we’d send a much clearer message if we refused to participate in their [borderline illegal] game of human-rights roulette.

  2. I think it’s going too far never to appear on UK-wide platforms. You can use them to make our tormentors’ progress more difficult, and that includes skitting at *them*, ridiculing *them*. It’s not at all difficult to do, though it goes against the usual Welsh courtesy. It is consistent with the true (in my opinion) judgement that you’ll never educate the BritNat.

  3. Capitalist and Welshnash

    I think we are being far too polite. We have the right to exist and do not need anyone’s approval for doing whatever is necessary to ensure our future existence.

    if being calling us racists is the worst they can throw at us, that’s actually quite pathetic. Let’s get more organised.

    • For once I agree with you. Quite apart from accusations of ‘racism’ being wide of the mark in any case, (being Welsh is an ethnic indicator, not ‘race’) the accusation is deliberately aimed at stopping all discussion. Even Plaid Cymru, to it’s eternal shame, has disciplined members for having the temerity to raise the issue of the real danger that Y Fro Gymraeg finds itself in.

      It’s a pity that more isn’t generally known about Adfer, I had of course heard about the movement, and had picked up on that it wasn’t regarded in the most positive of lights. There isn’t Indeed, the whole issue of recent Welsh history itself seems to have been self-censored and we don’t get to have a proper debate about the activities of nationalist groups and organisations from the post WW2 period and their significant, (perhaps crucial, but unacknowledged) influence on the nationalist cause in Wales to the present day.

      • Capitalist and Welshnash

        To break that censorship we need to break our own censorship first. Since post WW2, and long before in the Valleys, anything right of centre is seen as the enemy. If we as a nation cannot express any right-wing opinions or views without self-censorship, infighting and accusations of aligning with the ‘evil’ and ‘toxic’ Tories, then we cannot express the right to defend the right of our culture to exist (which is an inherently right-wing and conservative idea).

        • Culture is neither conservative, or inherently right-wing. Culture itself is inherently free of ideology, but is itself a container for ideology. There has never been any kind of prohibition on ‘right-wing’ opinion. Are you equating criticism of right-wing opinion with it’s censorship? If so, then you are perpetuating a lie.

          There may be many forums where right-wing opinion, or comment is suppressed, but this does not equate to censorship. The denial of a platform is not suppression of free speech. No one has to provide anyone else with a platform, and this is particularly the case with the internet. If someone denies you access to their forum, it is trivial to set up one’s own, even if that means sorting out one’s own hosting and domain name.

        • Well one very good reason right wing ideas are seen as the ‘enemy’ in the valleys is because right wing economic policies devastated the said valleys in the 30s and again in the 80s. And a further important reason why aligning with the Tories is problematic for anyone who supports indy for Wales is because the tories exist to defend the union. You cannot support welsh independence and seek to work with the ‘conservative and unionist party’ – the two are completely incompatible.

          And contrary to your assertion you’re perfectly free to ‘express right wing opinions’ – in fact you’ve done little else on this website. Similarly there is nothing to stop folk like yourself from forming a new party of the right in Wales. Indeed if you are so sure there’d be electoral support for such a party i have to ask what are you waiting for? I suspect the reason such a party doesn’t exist beyond the comments section of websites like this is because you and the few who think like you know there’s zero appetite for a neo thatcherite party in Wales.

          PS there is nothing ‘inherently right wing’ about Welsh culture. Indeed in Wales we have a long and proud tradition of opposing racism and fascism – at home and abroad!

      • Capitalist and Welshnash

        We have been socialist and left-wing for so long, that the only way to be radical is to be conservative.

  4. The current system isn’t working, as pointed out many times here already. More houses are being built and the number of Welsh speakers is falling.

    Whilst I detest the views highlighted above (and thank you for drawing them to my attention), we cannot allow ‘PCism’ (that could be a double entendre) to get in the way of mature debate.

    To be clear, wanting an autonomous Bro Cymraeg that decides it’s own policy does not make anyone racist or a Nazi.

  5. My memory fails me, but being reminded of the style and content of Jones’ criticism of Emyr Llew’s ideas suggest that not much has changed when critics wish to convey a negative image. Tarring Adfer and Emyr Llew with the Swastika/neoNazi brush was as much a lazy cheap shot then in the 70’s as it is nowadays when the default comment of every kind of critic seeking an easy denigration of others is to dig up words like “Nazi” “Fascist” “racist” surround them with more “blah blah blah” and pass it off as an indepth analysis. It just doesn’t work but suffices to keep couch potatoes, fed on a diet of conflict via movie and sports channels, in touch with the illusions of current affairs. As for realities it does nothing.

    This nation needs an in depth Adfywiad. Some of Adfer’s ideas would add value to a modernised strategy. I am personally unsure of creating a “reservation out West” as it implies that we are ready to ditch the rest, but such a territory could be used to foster recovery of language, culture and economy primarily through the medium of Cymraeg as the language still has some strength within those counties. Further East the Adfywiad would require more time, more resources in supporting and enthusing the acquisition and use of language skills while the parallel economic recovery and redirection would be just as vital as we cannot, must not, trust any global corporation or international financial institution to stay put in any shape or form. The recent behaviours of TATA at Port Talbot is symptomatic of this dysfunctional relationship, and there’s plenty more where that came from. A far more robust economy will be needed with far greater native participation in ownership to underpin any kind of sustained Adfywiad.

    Sadly none of this seems to be high on any political party’s agenda.

  6. Even if you don’t agree with Tudur Jones’s analysis, it was a very thorough and in-depth philosophical and theological treatment of which it was impossible to do justice with in this short article.

  7. An excellent article – difyr iawn, Rhys. I think that R Tudur Jones is unfairly maligned, at times, for Cysgod y Swastika. As Rhys points out here, his critique was not aimed at the concept of Y Fro Gymraeg, per se, but rather at the philosophical underpinnings of Emyr Llew’s work. It has been some time (15 years?) since I read both of the works discussed here, but Dr Tudur’s work is as far as you can get from a “lazy cheap shot”. It was a sober, detailed, extremely well-argued and utterly necessary response to an ill-judged polemic. It is a crying shame that discussions of Y Fro Gymraeg were tainted by this particular episode – but the blame for this lies with Adfer, and not with Dr Tudur.

    • Tudur Jones’ work may well have been detailed and extremely well argued but he did it no justice at all by using highly emotive and unnecessary references to Nazism. Good work does not need to be so embellished and that is what makes it a cheap shot, as though he lacked sufficient confidence in the validity of the core of his work and had to “ice the cake”.

      We see this sort of nonsense regularly today. People just can’t resist lobbing references to Nazism around in the most inappropriate way – evidence of an inability to articulate a good thesis without adding the default historical bogeyman for effect. We have enough evidence of real supremacist and prejudiced behaviours in a modern context without going back 75 years for our reference points.

      • But the whole point of his “detailed and extremely well argued” review was to show that the book shared a philosophical foundation with fascism – something the author himself was, perhaps, unaware of. So given the benefit of doubt the book was naive more than dangerous. I think Tudur Jones aim was a stark warning that the Welsh nationalist movement should guard itself from the philosophical influence some in Adfer were under. But he might have used used stronger language that what was really needed to make his point.

      • Unfortunately we are somewhat stuck with the need to constantly reference to nazism as much of what is being dealt with is neo-nazism, which sees itself as directly descendent of the original nazism of Hitler. Sure, the accusation is overused at times, for example, UKIP isn’t a nazi organisation, but is often regarded as such, and is anyway, a different issue. Organisations such as National Action and other far-right groups certainly see themselves as politically and philosophically related to the nazism of the 1930s and 1940.

        Most of us dearly wish that the nazism of 75 years ago could be consigned to the dustbin of history, but we know that neo-nazis, the direct descendents, are alive and in need of a kicking in our present day world.

        It might be an old reference point, but it’s still sadly relevant.

  8. I don’t understand how changing the makeup of local government in the West is supposed to help. Gwynedd, as it exists, has a higher proportion of Welsh speakers than the proposed “Arfor” would. How would a larger area with proportionately fewer Welsh speakers be more likely to protect Cymraeg?

  9. Yr Eisteddfod – yr unig fro Gymraeg – “Welsh speakers in other parts of the country were encouraged to move there and live their lives in Welsh.” if only for the week. The existance of a 3D welsh Wales for 9 days is a fantastic experience, somewhat wearing in the choices available – feast after famine. And all this for 150,000 visitors. So would Arfor replicated this? Imagine a land of 300,000 welsh speakers, where all shop workers can speak “tipyn bach” and don’t get shirty if welshed at. Where every conversation starts in Welsh first. On the current trends even Gwynedd will be minority welsh speaking in 40 years time.

    We need Arfor as the core. Numbers of Welsh speakers increased every census in Victorian times but continuously decreased as a percentage. Those families of 6 or 8 children ensured this growth and the excess population flooded out to the great cities of England. The 20th century however saw the full state anglicisation from the cradle to the grave, reduced birth rates and the continuation of mass population movements both in and out of Wales.

    Soon Cardiff will be the largest Welsh speaking community “Welsh speakers in other parts of the country were encouraged to move there and live their lives in Welsh.” One day perhaps even a majority. For the Czech nation the period when Prague became a majority Czech speaking city was a watershed.

    Yes to Arfor, gorau po gyntaf. But don’t forget we need Cardiff, Swansea, Merthyr and Wrexham to be the Welsh homeland too. Or is that a football thing?

  10. I posted something earlier but pleased that it disappeared because this is something i have never heard about any of this and very interesting.

    I wouldn’t imagine many people these days would be able to relate to the people or the philosophies mentioned and can’t see how it influences views very much, but happy to be educated otherwise.

  11. Tame Frontiersman

    A thoughtful piece and my comments here are not intended to be a criticism of it

    Emyr Llew and JR Jones were men of their time. In today’s Western mail (Wm2) there’s a sympathetic piece about the Welsh language. Prof Diarmait Mac Giolla Chríost of Cardiff University is reported as saying “Government is hugely important….community based and voluntary action has a critical role to play…..statutory education does not produce competent speakers of Welsh to the extent it should”. It seems that after decades of philosophising about the “language problem”, there is still an absence of effective action plans to turn aspirations and good will and passion for the language into positive outcomes. The creation of “Arfor” is not an answer itself. The question is what would or could be done differently there or in Wales generally, because at the moment either the resources devoted to the language are insufficient or those resources (the Western Mail estimates £150,000,000 p.a.) are not being spent well.

    I have great respect for Mr Price and would not wish to dismiss his ideas about “Arfor”. Had Wales voted against devolution in 1997 it is quite possible that what are now called the Swansea and Cardiff City Regions would have joined together with Bristol into a Severnside Metropolitan Region with a directly elected mayor –“A Western Powerhouse”. A successful argument might then have been made for a Rural Region called Arfor with a directly elected mayor with wide powers and direct funding from Westminster. Devolution to Arfor with the current devolution settlement –devolution within devolution, worries me. Many people argue that the current funding formula for Wales as a whole does not meet Wales’ needs. I fear that Arfor would be underfunded. Arfor would be the looser in politically motivated arguments about funding between a Plaid Cymru dominated regional authority and a Labour Government in Cardiff Bay.

  12. There’s no question that immigration into what remains of the Fro Gymraeg must be curbed, that should be a given. Fundamental to achieving this is building up an economy that is far less reliant on tourism, the engine of so much of the immigration.

    That said, I have grave reservations about Arfor. For a start, there are too many Welsh-speaking communities excluded, and too many English-speaking communities included in a crude grouping of local government areas.

    Beyond that, I oppose any internal division of Wales with the potential to divide us along language lines. The problem of English colonisation affects south Pembrokeshire and the Vale of Clwyd as well as Abersoch and Aberteifi. These and other areas which are still Welsh in sentiment act as a ‘buffer’ between the Fro and England. By focusing solely on the Fro we could end up with a strip of land in which the language is protected bordered by areas that to all intents and purposes are an extension of England. And that would make Arfor unsustainable in the longer term.

    With devolution, and the power to make laws for Wales, we should be aiming for national legislation to keep the character of ALL our rural areas, and the whole country. Do that and the Fro will of course be protected. But treating the Fro separately is both divisive and potentially damaging for wider political aspirations.

    I can’t help but wonder whose interests are being served with the suggestion of Arfor. Is it really about the language, or is it a way of protecting Plaid Cymru’s dwindling base in the Fro?

  13. An interesting article. I’m old enough to remember the impassioned discussions between members of Adfer and Cymdeithas yr Iaith about the idea of a heartland for the Welsh language.

    The author is right to flag up some of the unpleasant fall-out people amongst individuals about this issue, and how the sensitivities of Welsh speakers living in the more anglicized areas were not given due consideration in the discussion, and often disregarded completely.

    However, it must be pointed out that much of this agonized debate was conducted amongst university students in Bangor and Aberystwyth, and the effects on people in Wales, and Welsh politics in general were pretty negligible.

    Although I accept the author’s premise that this has cast its shadow over nationalist thinking in general up to this day, i don’t think it is a credible argument to say that THIS is the reason that we can’t really have a reasoned discussion about migration into Welsh-speaking areas.

    There are two main reasons why this has been the case.

    1. The cowardice of our elected politicians in Wales over many years to properly address the issue. I would include politicians of all Welsh parties here.

    How these politicians can have spent the last two generations ignoring how that huge lake of Welsh speakers(75%+) from Ynys Mon down to Llanelli can have dissipated so alarmingly since 1950 to today’s shallow pools of such communities throughout the west , will surely be a cause for anger and disbelief amongst Welsh people in the future. These politicians of course will be well beyond this popular ire by the time it surfaces. This feeble show of appeasement in the face of such deadly colonisation will also surely be the subject of many pHd dissertations for years to come.

    2. The desire within significant elements of the nationalist movement( Plaid Cymru + Cymdeithas yr Iaith) to befriend the “progressive left” agenda on an UK level. In order to parade their progressive and socialist credentials, and to show that the struggle in Wales could be placed on an equal footing with other like-minded elements in the UK: there had to be a conscious rowing back on anything that could be construed as “racist” by the afore-mentioned comrades. Such as pointing out that too many English migrants were destroying and are still destroying our Welsh speaking communities. When, or when will we learn that we can expect nothing from the Progressive UK left on this essential issue of cultural preservation: they are just incapable of understanding let alone acknowledging the Welsh national interest and the rights of Welsh people to exist as a nation.

    I can’t help thinking that the decline in our faith tradition has been a big element in the above. If we had politicians steeped in the Christian faith as used to be the case in years gone by, surely some of them would have put TRUTH above cowardice and political correctness. Such politicians would surely have pointed to the truth whatever the cost to their career or their standing amongst their peers.

    I believe that the only way Wales can survive as a nation is a fresh outbreak of the spirit which can transform the minds of the people here. Not revival so much as renewal, and a new desire to seek the truth- whatever the cost.

    “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free”

    That verse from the Gospel of John is so, so applicable to the situation of Wales today.

  14. Adfer was poisonous and reactionary and it died, diolch i Dduw. But migration into communities is still a problem: the difficulty is, some people see it as an either/or. You resent immigration or you want Welsh people to stay in the Fro Gymraeg and not move to Cardiff, etc. You can do both. Fight English immigration (and call it that) and not mind young people moving to the capital – the jobs are there, it’s buzzing, why not? And actually, Englishmigration into Cardiff and Newport, etc, is a problem. Anyone addressing that? No, thought not.

  15. dw i ddim yn gweld sut mae codi crachen cas a checrus fel hyn o’r gorffennol yn mynd i’n helpu i symud ymlaen. Ni’n son am y 70au ac mae pethau wedi newid llawer o fewn ein cymdeithas ers hyn

    • Wnes i baratoi y darn mewn ymateb i’r ffaith fod pobl ar y cyfryngau cymdeithasol wedi bod yn trafod Adfer mewn ymateb i sylwadau Adam Price ac roedd lot o’r sylwadau yn cael eu gwneud gan bobl oedd yn amlwg heb ddarllen y llyfr dan sylw na’r adolygiad felly fel fod y trafodaethau yn “informed” wnes i baratoi y geiriau yma. Wnes i ddim mynd ati ‘out of the blue’ ys dywed y Said i baratoi hwn. Ond dwi’n cytuno, roedd y cyfan yn gas a checrus a difyr yw fod Tudur Jones, yn y diwedd, yn edifar sgwennu yn y cywair y gwnaeth e.

      • The difficulty for most of us is actually being able to get our hands on these documents to read and make out own minds up. I don’t doubt that Adfer had a pretty negative reputation, as it’s not a movement that has been talked about much, as if it has to a large extent been whitewashed from recent Welsh history.

        Indeed, it’s not as if recent Welsh history has been given anything like adequate coverage, even when considering it in the context of a generally inadequate approach to the teaching of Welsh history in Welsh schools and it’s presentation in popular programming on TV. There are those who blame the English, the Westminster government, but that does leave us with big questions about what we ourselves are doing, or accepting when it comes to us presenting our own history, or demanding that our history be covered by the media services that broadcast to us.

        Of course the Westminster controlled authorities are not going to be best pleased if there is a sudden surge in the presentation of recent Welsh history that includes the ‘awkward’ political bits; that includes the Welsh Labour Party and sadly Plaid Cymru also. Plaid is quite likely petrified that more of us should stumble to the realisation that Plaid has grown as a result of the activities of the more militant and sometimes objectionable, as Plaid has always represented the respectable, constitutional face of the Welsh national movement, but has never been able to acknowledge this.

        Second hand copies of Adfer a’r Fro Gymraeg are available online, but priced from £20 upwards, and R. Tudur Jones’ articles on Adfer seem to be pretty much impossible to find online. Without access to the originals we are left reliant on the interpretation of others, like the author of this article, and while I believe the author is sincere, I am unable to genuinely make my mind up one way or the other.

        I’m very much in favour of us having easy access to our own history, and interpretations of it, but I do worry that there is far too much emphasis on the pretty much irrelevant but safe medieval period, and not enough on the far more pertinent post World War Two period which is. perhaps paradoxically, even less accessible than the older stuff.

  16. The issue of young people moving to towns/cities “to look for work” is, in my experience, overstated. That’s not to say it’s not true at all, but for me and my friends and the young people I speak to it is more the overwhelming sense of adventure that is responsible. I think this happens in most countries. When you’re 18 and full of mischief, you tend to think it best to be far from home! Young people, full of dreams, ambition, adventure and yearning to taste ‘what’s out there’ will leave even if there’s work for them at home. Of course, even those that might be open to returning to their ‘bro’ later on often find that work, children etc. would mean it is an enormous upheaval. So I think the focus should be on the incomers and how to create an environment where integrating and learning Y Gymraeg is seen as/felt to be ‘the right thing to do’. How do we create a sense that it is ‘expected’. One way of (possibly) doing this (which would avoid alienating those living outside Y Fro) would be to have a huge, nation-wide network of adult learning classes. I’m not talking about a 12-person capacity class in every town, but multiple classes in every town, city and large village. They will, of course, have to be run on evenings and weekends so as to make them as accessible as possible. Ideally there should also be childminding facilities in as many as possible. Granted, the cost would be enormous. But the current system of giving a few grand to Canolfanau Cymraeg and Mentrau Iaith dotted around the country is tokenism, pisho dryw yn y mor, clearly lacking in scale/ambition.

  17. Communist & WelshNash

    Interesting that a picture of Aberaeron was chosen to accompany the article. Even in the 1930s ‘Aberayron’ was a mostly English speaking town surrounded by a rural Welsh speaking countryside. Cysgod y Swastika was hovering over Aberaeron from 1939-1945 when a military camp was set up on the cliffs above the town. Evacuees came from Liverpool and most learnt Welsh. Welsh speakers fought alongside English Speakers to defeat the Swastika in the shape of Hitler but now English Speaking Culture threatens the culture it fought alongside.
    When does a Welsh Speaking Community stop becoming one, when the numbers fall below 50%? We have seen in the comments section of Nation.Cymru articles how ready people are to get nasty and personal with their fellow ‘Cymry’ if their observations do not fall within the strict metres of their world view. The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again and hoping for a different result. So how do we achieve a million Welsh Speakers by 2050 without doing something differently? There does not appear to be a lot of goodwill towards the Welsh Language or is that towards Welsh Speakers. A language and its culture requires goodwill from outside forces for it to survive and thrive I would argue. I would also argue that now is the time to revive Emyr Llew’s spiritual vision because it has not really been tried before. R.Tudur Jones was rather harsh on himself in thinking that his writings could ‘all but destroy’ a man who was incarcerated for his commitment to the cause of Welsh language communities.
    This talk of new parties and movements is impractical because nothing will capture the imagination as it did in the years previously. We are too fractured and fractious for that.

    • I think the reason Tudur Jones felt remorse for the tone of his review (if not the substance) was the fact that Emyr Llywelyn at the time was a school teacher and accusing a school teacher of holding facist ideology was a serious accusation with implications. Perhaps Tudur Jones didn’t realise that from the desk of his study.

  18. There is only one way of reviving the language, and it comes down to this, the only way to change the demographic in Y Fro Gymraeg is for Welsh speakers to have more children – outrageous statement but fact. Education is not going to save Welsh – our education system is rubbish at teaching languages as it is Welsh history and culture.
    See Northern Ireland , we all know which way the scales are tipping there don’t we? Immigrants have more kids than British people, see last lot of stats re increase in UK birthrate, maybe we should welcome immigrants from anywhere apart from England, on the condition that they learn the language.
    See Italy. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/01/a-third-of-italys-villages-at-risk-of-depopulation-and-abandonme/ Its a rural/global problem. The population of the Fro is ancient. After all foreigners are far more lingusitcally dextrious than our English friends and even our own anti-Welsh lang people and it would bring a bit of colour! Be great to have a few more Lebanese restaurants in west Wales

  19. Mrs. Tom Lew, Blaenau Ffestiniog.

    Doedd ADFER a Ieuan Wyn byth yn hiliol….Gwladgarwyr, Diwylliantgarwyr a’r Iaith Gymraeg-garwyr ydyn ni.

  20. sorry, this failed to load after Nia’s comment for technical reasons

    Indeed Nia the world has moved on, or has it? “Civilised” debate amongst the intellectual elite and the media certainly has been transformed. During the BREXIT debate some voices and opinions were heard that shocked the elites. The question is do we suppress such opinions?

    One year ago, 52% of English voters and almost as many Welsh voted to stop or reduce immigration (Brexiteers will say it was about other issues but I feel that’s a smokescreen). In areas like Lincolnshire and East Anglia as many as 70% voted to leave although the non-English native speaking population was a mere 5 %. If those poor rural areas had seen the levels of incomers that Ceredigion has (>40% in some communities) , how many would have voted to stop and even repatriate any immigrant? I think there might even be blood on the streets in addition to the daily abuse that many non-English now receive verbally, physically and behind their back even though the dominance of English as a language of power and education is unassailable…..

    The TV series of the seventies seem unpalateable today to some (Love thy Neighbour, Till Death us do Part and Rigsby) yet they addressed racial prejudice and contained much satire of the racist superiority of the middle Englander. Emyr Llewelyn’s comment about the blackman unable to scrub himself white shocks some but is a crude expression of what many non-whites feel. No matter how they speak or are educated, their skin colour defines them even today for a substantial proportion of the population. In any case his comments on the black man would have raised few eyebrows in the 70’s when I believe well over 80% of people thought homosexuality was wrong for example. Emyr Llew was using contemporary language to make a point

    Wales in contrast seems to be a fountain of tolerance and enlightenment but then why does Wales, uniquely in the world, have to have a progressive, enlightened population that embraces multiculturalism and diversity and riven by internal strife as its cultural singularity is consigned to oblivion. That was probably behind Emyr Llew’s comment about the Jews as distasteful as we might find it now. He was infuriated by the passivity, subservience and meekness of the population facing cultural assimilation

    The main reaction in Wales to “colonisation” was the burning of around 200 Tai Haf not mentioned by anyone above and poorly elucidated even today. Was that inspired by Adfer? Foreseen by R. Tudur Jones? How many even read Emyr Llew’s book? The burning of second homes makes a squabble between an academic and a schoolteacher look like a chapel whist drive.

    Emyr Llew’s aim was I think to shake the inhabitants in the Bro Gymraeg out of their apathy. His vision of direct local action was heeded by some and while the census figures seem to show a major decline in the west since the 1950’s the picture is more complex and there is evidence in Gwynedd and Môn that the % of Welsh speaking children has been relatively stable since the 70’s. If Welsh speaking parents had given up as in the case of other lesser used languages and dialects in Europe (Breton, Alsatian etc) immigration levels of 40% plus would have led to the complete collapse of the language in one generation.

    Something GALVANISED the local population despite (or maybe because of) Thatcher rolling back the state. Housing organisations, new businesses were in part inspired by an Adfer-like focus on local action rather than Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s emphasis on status.

    For the record the 2 were symbiotic for me and I can’t understand why there has to be one way

    I’ve read Emyr Llew’s book. can anyone send me the text of Cysgod y Swastika?

    I googled Cysgod y Swastika and see that there was a heated debate around this Llywelyn-Jones argument in 2009. Simon Brooks criticised R. Tudur Jones for an overreaction and Vaughan Roderick recalled a sense of being rejected as a suburban Welshman. Maybe Vaughan wasn’t the audience. For the record, Wales needs any type of Welsh speaker. In adversity, choice is a luxury for any minority movement. In addition, the fact that many suburban Welsh move to the Bro Gymraeg and can speak Welsh is to be welcomed. Before Welsh schools in Anglicised areas, a child could move 5 miles from Betws yn Rhos to Colwyn Bay and be lost to the language

    Adfer may also have overemphasised immigration. Even after the second world war Welsh was being abandoned by the native population in the major towns of the west: Bangor, Holyhead, Aber, Cardigan etc and that can’t be just blamed on incomers. Equally, the largest collapse in transmission of Welsh took place in an area relatively unaffected by immigration: the anthracite coalfield. Interestingly most parents in places like Cardigan and Llangennech have embraced Welsh after many years of decline in passing on the language. These parents seem to be responding to the enhanced status of Welsh so maybe CyI were right after all…

    Arfor seems a reworking of Adfer. Moving on from the Adfer-CyI-PC spat the question is will it be effective? It’s not easy to defend a language in a reservation as some people would define the Gaeltacht. But the Gaeltacht’s poverty and fragmentation was far worse than that of the Bro Gymraeg. The Welsh for all of Wales approach has been inspired by normalisation in the Basque Country and Catalonia. But if you look at usage, the communities and families that speak Basque, Catalan or Spanish remain relatively static. In any case a Wales where all speak Welsh as a second language is unsustainable. There has to be a core

    I’m cautiously optimistic if Arfor can survive the investment and spending cuts when BREXIT really starts to bite. As ever the government should be the enabler rather than the saviour. It’s not just a matter of moving some state bodies to Arfor although that would be a start. As Margaret Mead out it “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”

    After some robust debate we could maybe start with what we agree on and then move forward as Nia suggests

  21. Well. what a non-article. I’ve never heard of Adfer and don’t see why that would make it hard to talk about Welsh speaking communities. The problem facing our communities is an existential crisis and needs to be addressed as such. We need Cymraeg moved to the centre of our public and private life and we need to do it strategically to create a critical mass that ensures that there are Welsh speaking communities. Some of that will be addressed by the 2050 project but not all of it. It may mean we have to point out some uncomfortable truths to our recently acquired neighbours and it may be we need a “Gaeltacht” with specific powers to advantage siarad Cymraeg dros siarad Saesneg. It will mean making decisions and it will mean spending money.

    One thing it wont mean is worrying about some racist bell-end who is presumably dead and whose ideas have no traction.

    • Communist & WelshNash

      Who are you calling a racist bell-end butt? I think that last comment just shows that everyone should have a clear avatar on here that can be traced back to see whether they are a humanoid. Too many nasty pasties by ere now look you indeed to goodness innit!

      • “For instance, in one section he attempts to explain that it is easier for the Welshman to become an Englishman than it is for ‘the black man’ because ‘how ever much he scrubs his colour stays with him’!

        In another section, he discusses, sincerely enough, the need for a people to claim ownership of their own homeland.

        But then he suggests that it was a lack of homeland that made the Jews ‘such a spineless creature that was willing to be led like a sheep to the gas chamber’!” racist bell-end? No?

        • I don’t think that pointing out that it is easier for a Welsh person to become English that a black person is racist at all, merely reflects a truth, however unpleasant. Certainly that was a perceived truth at the time it was written. At the time, it was certain that a black person would be accepted as British, but not as English, a perception that is different for many in Wales, who see both terms as a conflation wheras in England they are perceived quite differently. At least that was my experience as a young person living in south east London in the early 70s who attended a school that was ethnically very mixed, and where casual racism was often a topic of discussion in the class as and when it arose. I doubt that such casual racism would be challenged, (and thoroughly ridiculed) nowadays, as notions of political correctness would tend to close down such debates.

          I’m cautiously very much in favour of political correctness, but I do see that too often it is used to close down uncomfortable debates, such as this. I strongly suspect that many black people would welcome a return to a situation where such casual racism could be discussed openly and thoroughly debunked and those expressing such sentiments made to look somewhat ridiculed.

          The second comment is far more worrying, in that it could be seen as somehow justifying what happened to so many Jews. And of course, that kind of sentiment is so easily flipped and turned against minorities to deny their humanity. Perhaps, we Welsh could be seen as somehow spineless and deserving of cultural genocide?

          I don’t know whether there was racist intent behind either of those utterances, but I suspect that was not the case, but, even allowing for differences in how language is perceived, that last suggestion remains particularly clumsy and ambiguous, but the first show how obsessed with political correctness we have become. The only people who could possibly be offended by that explanation would be, I would suggest, is a white person suffering from post-imperial guilt.

        • Communist & WelshNash

          Racist bell-end? NO

          If you had been talking about some bloke in a pub in Bassaleg or Brymbo both UKIP territory then I would have left your epithet unchallenged. The reason I jumped out of my chair was that you had not heard of Adfer and described a man who went to prison for his commitment to the Welsh Language and Welsh Language Communities in such 2017 terms.

          I cannot and will not defend the words that you have quoted but as the defenders of those who ‘blacked up’ at the Aberaeron Carnival would say ‘Context is Everything’.

          He was writing out of a sense of desperation and alienation in the 1960’s and 1970’s but he was an activist. He was not an academic theologian like R.Tudur Jones who as Rhys Llwyd, the author of the ‘non-article’ that you describe pointed out, was either writing behind a desk or preaching theory from a pulpit.

          Like the commentators (myself included) on Nation.Cymru articles he was pontificating rather than taking action.

          Seeing that we have all got down and dirty talking about the future of Welsh Speaking Communities, let this be the ‘Catharsis’ that we have all needed and let us proceed with ‘no holds barred’.

          On a more positive note you will be pleased to learn that he is very much alive so you have not spoken ill of the dead as you originally thought.

  22. ylwch ylwch, Sibrydion Mawr. Closing down a debate just lets it fester. The recent positive article on Welsh in the Western Mail had no comments (when I looked). Normally any article about Welsh positive or negative elicits a tirade of abuse. But I for one prefer to see it to see what some people think and how much hatred, alienation and inferiority complex there is to be overcome.
    CAN SOMEONE PASTE A LINK TO CYSGOD Y SWASTIKA. LOTS OF DEBATE BUT WHO’S READ IT? I HAVEN’T BECAUSE I DON’T HAVE A COPY

    • Yes, I saw that article on WoL, but there were no comments as WoL hadn’t enabled comments on that piece, possibly because it would most certainly have attracted all the anti-Welsh nutters like moths to a candle. But like you, I much prefer to see what detractors are saying, and also having some idea about what we are up against. Fortunately most of those commenting on WoL articles about the Welsh language seem to be semi-literate in English, and often appear to be none too bright, and would only have any credibility amongst the very few others who are of a similar mindset.

    • I’ll scan in a copy for you. what’s your email?

  23. nothing like Welsh for learning English properly LOL

  24. Dyma ddolen i ddarllen Cysgod y Swastica (sydd mewn dau ran) yn ogystal a’r ymateb yn y Tafod (rhwng dau ran yr adolygiad): https://www.dropbox.com/s/r7uagyz6c1x7wxt/Cysgod%20y%20Swastica.pdf?dl=0

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