BBC’s Jeremy Bowen claims ‘determination to spread’ Welsh language ‘risks devaluing’ his ‘identity’
Veteran journalist Jeremy Bowen has claimed that the “determination to spread” the Welsh language “risks devaluing” his identity.
The Cardiff-born BBC Middle East Editor, whose grandfather spoke the language, made the suggestion on the BBC Radio 4 programme This Union: Being Welsh.
In the three-part series, Bowen, who lives in the district of Camberwell, in London “returns home to Wales in search of what it means to be Welsh.”
He said: “A Welsh Government survey says now 70% in Wales can’t speak Welsh. About 20% of the population speak it regularly.
“Welsh Government’s determination to spread the language risks devaluing the identities of Welsh people like me”.
Professor of Human Geography, Rhys Jones said: “If you’re meeting somebody in Wales you will make judgements very often as to where you fit as an individual into some kind of imagined packing order of Welshness.
“People imagine certain places in Wales to be inherently more Welsh than others. Looking at places like North East Wales, the perception there that they don’t fit in with any kind of dominant imagination of the location of Welshness because they’re outside of the Welsh speaking heartlands, so they don’t get to belong there.”
He added: “They don’t either fit in with the dominant idea of a Welsh Wales because that’s linked to the south Wales post-industrial areas.
“That there’s a sense in which they then are almost doubly marginalised, even the term describing these areas as British Wales, it starts off from a position that these aren’t quite as Welsh as other parts of Wales.
“It is also to do with people obviously, and what they do, and in that respect I guess maybe we are back to this idea of speaking Welsh, and that is almost something wherever you live, it bumps you up the list.
“I’m being facetious in the way I’m describing this obviously, but it bumps you up the list in terms of having that sense of then alright if you speak Welsh, particularly if you speak Welsh fluently, then to most people you’re incontrovertibly Welsh.”
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