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BBC Radio 4’s Today airs Welsh language vowel jibe

15 Jan 2021 2 minute read
Radio broadcasting desk

BBC Radio 4’s Today has aired a Welsh language vowel jibe during an item on Scrabble.

The news and current affairs programme has been sharing suggestions from listeners for “moments of light” during the lockdown, one of which included combining the word game with a spreadsheet and Zoom to create what has been dubbed Scramble.

John Rowlinson, along with his wife Sue, have been using the video communications app to play the game with their friend Fred, because they can’t meet up in person due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Sue said she would “have to play in Welsh again” if she got “all consonants”.

The joke is a common trope that is based on the incorrect assumption that the Welsh language does not have vowels.

Fred said: “I hope you’re going to get a pleasant set of vowels and consonants.”

Sue said: “Well that’ll make a change won’t it.”

Fred said: “I know how you get het up if you’ve got all consonants.”

Sue said: “I’ll have to play in Welsh again if I get all consonants.”



After hearing the jibe, one listener sent a message to the show that said: “Next time someone makes a tired old bigoted joke about the Welsh language—as happened on this morning’s programme—how about you don’t air it? We’re fed up of hearing it.”

Today later tweeted an audio clip of the exchange, but cut out the trope about the Welsh language.

The tweet said: “John shares his Moment of Light as he sets up ‘Scramble,’ the cross between Scrabble and Zoom during lockdown.”

John said: “Fortunately we’re just coming to grips with Zoom. Now I like spreadsheets. So, putting them together, we got Scramble. Scrabble on Zoom.

“The mechanics of the spreadsheet needn’t bother us here, and there are many apps for remotely playing this game for anyone interested.

“However, I like the challenge of a spreadsheet, so to get us going quickly, I set one up to generate random selections of tiles, which could be displayed on a tablet and revealed over Zoom at the touch of a button to Fred at the other end.

“Looking back, over the 30 or so lockdown games, we all feel it’s been a success, with Fred and Sue generally the winners.”

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