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Remembering 2017: Top 10 most common anti-Welsh arguments and why they’re stupid

29 May 2023 6 minute read
Picture by National Assembly (CC BY 2.0)

As Nation.Cymru continues to celebrate its birthday, we have been looking back at some of the big hitters of each of the last six years – starting with this one from 2017

Don’t like the Welsh language? Are the phrases ‘someone just mashed a keyboard’ or ‘it’s just alphabet soup’ marching with ill-judged confidence in the direction of your social media posts?

Stop! Before you make a fool of yourself, read this. We don’t blame you for your ignorance, but we ask that you at least try to educate yourself.

Here are the top 10 most common anti-Welsh arguments and why they’re stupid:

  1. The Welsh language doesn’t make sense

That’s because you don’t speak it. No language makes sense to people who can’t speak it. It’s remarkable that this needs pointing out.

  1. The Welsh language is dead

Translation: you wish it were dead. People have been claiming the Welsh language was dead since the mid-19th century. It must be a vampire language, what with 600,000 people speaking it fluently!

Let’s face it, you and me, we’ll both be dead long before the Welsh language is. It’s not going anywhere, so just learn to live with it.

  1. Everyone can speak English anyway

And everyone in Wales could speak Welsh anyway before English arrived. But you know what, speaking more than one language is *drumroll* a good thing:

  • It has cognitive benefits – a bilingual brain is a better brain, with better memory, a better attention span, an increased ability to multitask, and enhanced executive function
  • There are health benefits: it can delay the onset of Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and lead to faster recovery from a stroke
  • It gives you a different way of seeing the world and a deeper understanding of your own and other cultures
  • It makes it easier to learn other languages
  • It’s an added skill that can give you an edge in the job market
  • People who speak Welsh like speaking it. Which is enough reason it itself for them to continue doing so

Did you know 56% of the world is bilingual? So we’re not the odd ones out, here.

  1. Children in Welsh language education don’t learn English

This completely contradicts the ‘everyone who can speak Welsh can speak English anyway’ argument, but hey ho.

It’s nonsense though – Welsh language education is a bilingual education, so the kids end up completely fluent in both.

They get all the education children in English schools get, and the Welsh language. Buy one get one free, with no drawbacks.

  1. The Welsh language is insular

So, speaking one language makes you a citizen of the world, and speaking two makes you insular? What a ridiculous argument.

A Welsh speaker has access to everything an English speaker does, and everything in Welsh too – books, films, games, you name it. What exactly is he missing out on?

And as already mentioned, being bilingual makes it easier to learn a third language, broadening your horizons yet further.

Let’s face it, if you’re an English-only speaker and are frothing at the mouth because there’s another living language within 100 miles, maybe *you’re* the insular one?

  1. They should learn a useful language instead

In Wales, Welsh is a useful language. Sure, it would be great if the kids learned Spanish and Chinese too, but opportunities to use them in Wales are, y’know, rather slim.

Whereas you can live your life in the Welsh language in Wales and use it at home, in the street, and in your job.

And let’s face it, it’s not like schoolyards in England are awash with the sound of Mandarin, is it? The vast majority of kids in English-only education can speak English and bugger all else.

  1. Welsh is a made-up language

No, it isn’t. It’s descended from the British language that was spoken by the population of what we now call Wales, England and the lowlands of Scotland since the Bronze Age.

A proud Brit, are you? Then how about taking some pride in our own home-grown language?

  1. The Welsh language costs too much money

Welsh language speakers have jobs too, you know, and pay income tax on them. A lot of which goes on things that we don’t benefit from, but hey, that’s what taxation is about.

The Welsh Government only spends £14m of their £15 billion yearly budget on Welsh language, which is quite easily covered by the taxes of the 600,000 Welsh speakers alone.

The Royal Family costs three times as much. For a woman in a hat waving,

  1. The bilingual signs are confusing

Again, bilingual signs are the norm around the world, and if you can’t get your head around them then you’re a bit of a ninny, I’m sorry to say. There’s nothing the Welsh language can do to cure your condition.

By the way, most road signs in Wales are bilingual because a pointless English translation has been added – ‘Merthyr Tudful/Merthyr Tydfil’, ‘Wrecsam/Wrexham’, ‘Caerffili/Caerphilly’.

It wasn’t us that insisted on this utter pointlessness, but a strange insistence on ‘anglicising’ all names by changing one or two letters for no good reason.

  1. Welsh speakers are rude

No, you are. Try going to Italy and France and telling them they’re rude to speak their own language within ear-shot of you.

If we’re speaking Welsh, and you don’t, we weren’t talking to you in the first place.

And don’t give us that ‘I walked into a bar and everyone started speaking Welsh’ crap. They were speaking Welsh before you arrived and will continue to do so long after you’ve left.

If the sound of Welsh really is too much for you, I suggest you take your fragile sense of identity to a safe space where it won’t be challenged.

***

So in summary, if you think you have a genius anti-Welsh language argument, you don’t. We’ve heard it all before.

And, anyway, you don’t get to tell us what language to speak anyway, so there’s that too.


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Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
9 months ago

Nice one! I had forgotten all about it, but it is still as valid now as it was then, though perhaps a little less necessary? Am I being optimisitic that those sorts of silly arguments are less likely to be heard these days?

Dai Rob
Dai Rob
9 months ago

A classic!!!

Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
9 months ago

Despite a desperate wish to become proficient, I have now abandoned my attempts to learn Cymraeg. I can’t make my brain accept the letters of the alphabet making different sounds than they do in English. Until written Cymraeg becomes easier to understand (“Ll” makes no sense to an autistic brain that was taught “l” sounds like “luh” and “el”. It makes neither of the sounds the two people from Gogledd Cymru claim it does ….which is another point, I have had two people who are qualified to teach me Cymraeg in Gogledd Cymru and each have said that “Ll” makes… Read more »

Paul
Paul
9 months ago
Reply to  Cathy Jones

Some good points – and I totally get why strengthening the language is important- perhaps crucial to greater independence from Westminster However, I am also concerned how other things like the country’s health care, child poverty, spiralling energy costs are not getting addressed in a meaningful way that would benefit all of us who call Wales our home, regardless of what language one speaks.

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
9 months ago
Reply to  Paul

I live in London where the NHS and other public services are under the same pressures and have as many problems as they do in Wales, having just one language, English isn’t a solution

CapM
CapM
9 months ago
Reply to  Cathy Jones

‘ (“Ll” makes no sense to an autistic brain that was taught “l” sounds like “luh” and “el”…..)’ If your autism causes you difficulty in learning a second language then you have my sympathy. That is to do with the condition though and nothing to do with Cymraeg. Presumably a Russian speaker with a similar condition and learning Estonian would experience similar difficulties. But would that person then go on to rationalise that Estonians would be better off just speaking Russian even if those Estonians wanted their country to remain independent. Maybe that hypothetical Russian would but we’d have to question… Read more »

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
9 months ago
Reply to  Cathy Jones

What a sad rant full of so much rubbish and prejudice

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
9 months ago

Erthygl ardderchog

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