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BBC’s Jeremy Bowen insists he’s ‘not against’ the Welsh language following backlash

06 Feb 2022 2 minute read
Jeremy Bowen at a meeting with Jon Snow organised by the Olive Tree Programme at City University. Author, Nick from Bristol (CC 2.0)

Veteran Journalist Jeremy Bowen has insisted that he’s not “against” the Welsh language.

The Cardiff-born BBC Middle East Editor had come in for fierce criticism for claiming that the “determination” of the Welsh Government “to spread” the Welsh language “risks devaluing” his identity.

In response to the controversy about the comments on the BBC Radio 4 programme This Union: Being Welsh, Welsh speaking BBC journalist Gwyn Loader invited Bowen to watch Cardiff City with him in order to “witness the thriving bilingualism in his home city today”.

Jeremy Bowen replied: “Yes living bilingualism is great but also hoping for a pie & a City triumph. All I’d say to members of the ‘backlash’ is that I hope your views are based on listening to the series. Not on others’ tweets. Some I know didn’t listen before they tweeted. Listen, then decide.”

“If you listen to the programmes and still think I’m against the Welsh language (which I am not) tell me exactly what you don’t like and I will answer and explain my thinking.”

“What it means to be 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”.

In response to the remarks, BBC colleague Huw Edwards said he does “like and respect” Bowen, but added that his “take is 1970s Cardiff”.

He also asked whether people should “stop speaking Welsh to make him feel better” and that he “thought criticising government policy was against” the BBC’s “rules”.

The Welsh Government’s Minister for Education and the Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles has pushed back against the remarks, stating that “Cymraeg belongs to us all” and that this is the case “whether we can speak a lot, or not”.

Plaid Cymru MS Delyth Jewell said the journalist’s “attitude reflects a divisive past” and that “modern Wales is a confident, bilingual nation”.


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Ed Jones
Ed Jones
7 months ago

Too late Jeremy, we see you…

Gareth Wyn Jones
Gareth Wyn Jones
7 months ago

It has really upset me, I know exactly what he meant

Andrew
Andrew
7 months ago

Backpedalling is the refuge of people like this, who inflict the damage first, knowing that those who have listened will not change their view’s on the language. Then they ,’ clarify’, their stance later, after the damage has been done.

Richard
Richard
7 months ago

Welsh was a significant everyday spoken language in the days of our grandparents and great grandparents across most areas of Wales & west Shropshire plus pockets of Merseyside as his bilingual grandfather would have known.?

This effort by the Senedd are purely trying and I hope succeeding in trying to return that opportunity and choice

. Nothing more and nothing less

Ddraig du
Ddraig du
7 months ago
Reply to  Richard

Richard welsh language was significant until ww2 when all the welsh teachers went to war and was replaced by teachers from England who did not have to go to war. And had no respect for our language I remember my grandmother telling me that she and her siblings would have to where a wooden cross so the English teacher would know who was a welshman and who was a plastic welshman. 🤔 didn’t the natzis do the same to the Jews at that time with the star of David on there chest just before they went to the camps we… Read more »

Malcolmrj
Malcolmrj
7 months ago

Stay up in England we don’t whant traitors like you

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
7 months ago

Typical rubbish produced by the BBC to have a light weight journalist like Jeremy Bowen commenting on the Welsh language. What does he know about the subject anyway? I had enough of those background ideas in the 1970s that I don’t need to hear them again in 2022

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
7 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Owen

Tragedy, then Farce.

Drain du
Drain du
7 months ago

Could be worse he could be a south wales rygbu club fool who thinks rygbu has more to play in welsh culture than the language itself and wales wasnt even a country until we started playing rygbu (Ian Jones aka yanto) yanto is the wlesh word for John not Ian fool

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
7 months ago
Reply to  Drain du

Yes you have a point although it’s not fair to tar all South Walians with the same brush.Of course the people who you are referring to only want to be Welsh on 6 Nations match days.Cymru is for life not 80 minutes.

Ddraig du
Ddraig du
7 months ago
Reply to  Johnny Gamble

I know jonny it’s not fair but iv put up with horrible people bullies from the past present and future thay only understand a slap welsh rygbu club culture is a new form of fascist isometric rule,and your on board or not and the weak will always jump on. Supposed to be ddraig du but the predicted txt dose get the better of me i need to type slower. Do not mean to disrespect rygbu culture but they truly don’t help thereself’s you play rygbu for some loser club put your hate around couse mental health to people and expect… Read more »

Ddraig du
Ddraig du
7 months ago

At least he’s not a south wales rugby fool who thinks rugby has more to play i our rich culture than the Welsh language dose. You would be surprised at that high % of fools in South wales that have that foolish notion.Plus 1/4 learn our language 1/6 actually remember how to speak it after they were taught because the none welsh speakers put hate towards it. FACT do not worry about what the non speaking bullies say. s**g the language off and in the same breath say I wish I could speak welsh. Learn it then your all so… Read more »

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
7 months ago
Reply to  Ddraig du

South + North = Cymru!

Roger Mansel
Roger Mansel
7 months ago

As a child it was English only in our house (my mother was English). Sign up, like I did in my early seventies to learn the language of my father. Take the leap Jeremy. Rid yourself of your guilt and excuses.Learn to speak Welsh. I’m in my seventies and started last year. Never too late.
RM

Llyn
Llyn
7 months ago

Jeremy Bowen is a fantastic journalist and I did listen to This Union: Being Welsh, which I found to a disappointing vehicle for rather antiquated views about the Welsh language, frankly summoned up by Jeremy’s response to the criticism – “living bilingualism is great but also hoping for a pie & a City triumph”. Apologise if I’m misconstrueing his comments but perhaps unlike in the 70s Jeremy might be interested to know that there are now many many bilingual City fans.

Argol Fawr!
Argol Fawr!
7 months ago

“Bowen, who lives in the district of Camberwell, in London returns home to Wales in search of what it means to be Welsh.” Really! Having left my home village 50 years ago, returning to preach about how “Llanarbenig” I was, would be an insult to those who had really lived there .

For a veteran journalist as he is to now suggest his views have been misunderstood has to be complete Bo&^llks

Last edited 7 months ago by Argol Fawr!
Richard Alun Gerrard
Richard Alun Gerrard
7 months ago

The destruction of our village based schools will effect the Welsh language and the community plus it will increase pollution as the children will be transported in and out of a central location. Plaid Cymru and other elements in the Senedd support this action as a matter of policy.

Ddraig du
Ddraig du
7 months ago

Going off the subject but we and a supposedly a welsh/bi lingual speaking nation we need to stop making welsh words up.
For example popedi ping microwave wtf. The actual word for microwave that I was taught in school was meicrodon
Micro =meicro Don = wave
Don would be Ton but the treiglad llais or meddal comes into play T turns to a D
Tonau =waves
Whomever came up with popedi ping there is a bullet with your name on it fool 🤣

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