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American group launches campaign to have ‘Welsh’ slur removed from dictionary

14 Feb 2023 3 minute read
The definition of Welsh in a dictionary often relates to ‘welshing on a payment’ meaning to cheat or forego payment.

Bonnie Roque

Is it okay to offend the Welsh? That question is the core idea being confronted by Red Dragon America, a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting Welsh culture and heritage in the United States.

RDA has recently launched a petition calling for a reevaluation of the definition of ‘Welsh’ in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary.

Look up ‘Welsh’ in this and other major dictionaries and you will first see a definition relating to ‘welshing on a payment'(to cheat or forego payment). This definition comes in prominence before the appropriate meaning of ‘Welsh’ as in relating to the country or people of Wales and is rooted in racist attitudes of the 19th century towards the Welsh people.

RDA’s petition is calling for this offensive definition to not only be evaluated, but removed entirely.

According to RDA, the definition reinforces harmful stereotypes of the Welsh as cheaters, swindlers and non-payers.

The organization believes that the prominence of this definition above the more proper meaning continues to marginalize Welsh culture and is detrimental to RDA’s mission of educating others about an already oft-forgotten community. Their petition takes a bold, new stand to promote a more positive and accurate representation of the Welsh people.

Talin Hansen, President of RDA, has described the numerous inquiries that the organization has received, from people Welsh and Non-Welsh, asking if the stereotype is true. In an earlier statement, Hansen has said, “Most people in the United States aren’t even aware that Wales is a country, so our attempts to promote education about the Welsh is hindered even further by the fact that this definition is what comes up first when people look up ‘welsh.'”

Dignity

He has called on prominent members of the Trans-Atlantic Welsh Community to support the petition and to help restore a sense of dignity to the Welsh people.

RDA first approached the issue by sending several inquiries to Merriam-Websters regarding the petition, but these were ignored. Given the fact that other similarly offensive terms regarding other ethnic groups were removed, RDA members were surprised that Merriam-Websters was unresponsive to their repeated queries.

After reaching out to them through social media, RDA launched its formal petition, with the intent of gathering signatures to help show Merriam-Websters the united voice of the Welsh Community.

To bring wider attention to the issue, RDA has issued statements to members of the Congressional Friends of Wales Caucus asking for their support. Red Dragon America sees this as crucial, considering the indifference shown to the issue so far and concurrent with insensitivity shown to Welsh culture throughout history.

As a historically marginalized community whose language has fought an uphill battle to survive, they call for action now to help bring equity to the Welsh people in English language dictionaries.

To find out more about Red Dragon America you can contact them at [email protected]


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Riki
Riki
7 months ago

Like most things, the irony being it originated in England at a horse race where one Englishman refused to pay an owed debt to another. Yet itโ€™s gone down as an insult to an entire country. Its a bit like how Dutch courage is used to describe someone that needs to be Brave in a dangerous situation. Implying the Dutch are Cowards.

Richard 1
Richard 1
7 months ago
Reply to  Riki

No; “dutch courage” refers to the effects of drinking gin. Google “jenever” for the (wobbly) logic.

Riki
Riki
7 months ago
Reply to  Richard 1

Is that right? I was always lead to believe what I had posted. Well, you learn something new everyday.

Richard 1
Richard 1
7 months ago

The word “welsh” derives from an anglo-saxon term meaning “foreigner” so the concept of welshing on a debt is consistent with that. After hundreds of years of petty imperialism the discriminatory aspect is baked in. The best thing for Cymru and its identity might be to drop “welsh” altogether in favour of “cymraeg”.

Riki
Riki
7 months ago
Reply to  Richard 1

Indeed, or better yet. Reclaim Britishness from the converts who gerrymandered their way to using it on the world stage.

Richard
Richard
7 months ago

Was watching Law and Order TV program ( note USA ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ spelling ) and Detective Green an African American New York cop ๐Ÿ‘ฎโ€โ™€๏ธ so pc ( no pun ) on the ethnic mix of the city – tells his partner โ€ฆ.that the suspect had โ€œ Welshed on the deal โ€œ ๐Ÿ˜จโ€ฆ..however latte another cop ( of Ukraine ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฆ background in real life calls for the โ€œ paddy waggon โ€œ opps โ€ฆ.

Gwilym P
Gwilym P
7 months ago
Reply to  Richard

It occurred in an episode of Cheers as well. Carla says someone Welshed on a deal. I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard it

Geoffrey ap.
Geoffrey ap.
7 months ago

It was explained to me that it was considered a matter of honour that an English man would stand by a deal with another English man. However, when dealing with a Welshman it was acceptable to cheat on the deal, it was referred to as ” a Welsh deal” our history is full of English who cheated on us, from Cilmeri onwards.

Jonathan Edwards
7 months ago
Reply to  Geoffrey ap.

Please don’t cast us as victims, it just makes our situation worse. As a conquered nation (and cliquish) the slippery attitude is common and we all know the one about Welsh lobsters is true. If we did what Jordan Peterson recommends and stand up straight and look the other guy in the eye we’d get Indy, simple. But this is too rare in Wales so we don’t.

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
7 months ago

When this campaign started several years ago, it was reported on ‘Newsnight’ by Jeremy Paxman. The smirk on his face throughout his reported was clear evidence of his contempt for the campaign.
As for the USA, if it wants to go down the political correctness route, it should at least be consistent. Webster’s attitude surprises me because in general Americans (or rather those who have actually heard of Wales) seem well-disposed towards the nation.

SAdams
SAdams
6 months ago
Reply to  Wrexhamian

Do you happen to remember who had originally started that campaign or where it could be located? I would love to read more about the Jeremy Paxman report you mentioned or find any other groups who have campaigned for this. Thank you.

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