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Matthew Rhys: ‘People would say speaking Welsh wasn’t cool when I was growing up’

24 Dec 2021 3 minute read
Matthew Rhys on Sgwrs Dan y Lloer. S4C

Matthew Rhys has said that the Welsh language was not seen as “cool” when he was “growing up”.

The Welsh actor, who has starred in Hollywood films alongside the likes of Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, has spoken about how attitudes towards the Welsh language have changed.

He said things were different growing up before the advent of the Welsh cultural movement Cool Cymru, which gained momentum in the late 1990s, and that he would be given a “hard time” for speaking the Welsh language.

Rhys also said that there is a “duty” on people like him, who have the “opportunity” to promote the Welsh language from a prominent platform, to do so.

During an episode of the S4C programme, Sgwrs Dan y Lloer (Chat Under the Moon), he was asked by presenter, Elin Fflur, what motivities him to keep a strong “connection” with Wales and advocate for the Welsh language while living in New York.

Elin Fflur said: “I’ve always felt, like a lot of other people in Wales, that you’re a great ambassador for Wales because you do live very far away from us by now, but you do things like supporting the Urdd. You’re there with your Urdd hat. You’re there sending messages.

“We see you often on programmes like Heno. You work with Ffilm Cymru festivals like Pics and Iris and so on. Things that in reality you don’t have to do any of these things Matthew because you’re an incredibly busy person and you’re raising a family here.

“What drives that in you then? Is it something to do with keeping that connection? Is that strong in you? Or is it just that your feet are on the ground?”

‘Connection with Wales’

Matthew Rhys replied: “Well, you know, I get something out of it because it’s as you say. I keep that connection with Wales in a way. I certainly believe that there’s a duty on us who have that opportunity to encourage and nurture the next generations.

“I remember when I was growing up, before we spoke about that time that was Cool Cymru, I would have a hard time every now and again where people would say Wales or speaking Welsh wasn’t cool. And I’m not saying I’m cool at all right.

“But if there’s something that I can do to help, especially with the Welsh language. I liked seeing those people who went ‘yeah speak Welsh’, the people that I admired or the actors that I admired (advocating speaking Welsh). So I feel there’s a kind of duty on me.

“And as you say. I’m selfish, I get something out of it because I feel like I’m keeping my roots, I keep a foot in the old country.


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Grayham Jones
11 months ago

Welsh is the first language in wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

e james
e james
11 months ago
Reply to  Grayham Jones

The Celts arrived about 850 – 1000 BC, the original inhabitants post ice age are apparently predominantly from the Basque regions of Europe whereby the English language evolved. Celts hardly made a dent in our DNA. Hence Welsh was not the first language on these lands,

Penderyn
Penderyn
11 months ago
Reply to  e james

English did not evolve in the Basque country. Stop telling lies. Very strange direction English imperialism is taking

Stephen Vaughan
Stephen Vaughan
11 months ago
Reply to  e james

A terrible untruth, the Celtic people inhabited these islands more than 1000 years before the Anglo Saxon incursions. Welsh is the ancestor of the Brythonic language which in various dialects was spoken throughout Britain.
The Welsh are the true Britons, English is a colonialy imposed language.
Keep reading the Beano!

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
11 months ago

The disgusting prejudice Cymraeg has had to endure over the centuries was & is inhuman.

No nation or its people deserved this British State sponsored campaign of hatred towards Britain’s native tongue as the Welsh faced.

Matthew Rhys said speaking Welsh when young was deemed uncool, but this was likely a byproduct of the Westminster ‘Welsh-Not’ campaign that ridiculed speakers , and that dehumanising episode still echoed when he was in school, and even today racism & prejudice towards our language is rife still in society, although it’s on a far stronger footing now, and may it continue.

#CariadCymraeg ❤️🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
11 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Cymru am byth 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

e james
e james
11 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

What evidence do you have that this uncool perception is some by-product of Westminster. Welsh has been taught in schools for decades.

Malcolm rj
Malcolm rj
11 months ago

English did the same thing to every country that they have had control over it’s a miracle that the Welsh people still have the language of our ancestors after the English tried everything they could to wipeout our language

e james
e james
11 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm rj

The blue books ie welsh not were in Anglican schools only. Shame the sob story continues.

Penderyn
Penderyn
11 months ago

I have never based whether I speak a language or not on whether it is cool

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