Belfast-based academic compared Welsh language movement to Nazis
A Belfast-based academic has compared the Welsh language movement to Nazis.
Dr James Dingley, a sociologist who has researched nationalism at Queen’s University Belfast, accused the movement that campaigns for the rights of Welsh speakers of fostering a “sectarian divide”.
He also claimed that “only the cultural purist” in Wales “is considered legitimate and has rights”.
He made the claims in the Ulster unionist leaning newspaper The News Letter, in which he said the “Nazis not only had a racial policy but a language policy to go with it”, adding that language “revivals” lead “down very dangerous paths”.
He also said that ex-service men like his father had defeated “Hitler and his cultural purity” during the Second World War.
Dingley, who has lived in Northern Ireland for 40 years, accused the Welsh language movement of being “anti-English”, and claimed it had “managed to mystify a near dead language into a gravy train under the guise of culture”.
He also suggested that Welsh is a language that “no one else really needs or wants”.
The article was written amid a bitter row in Northern Ireland around a discussion for legislating for an Irish Language Act.
Simon Hoare, the Chair of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, recently said that he would vote for an Irish Language Act as a Welsh Language Act had not done any harm to Wales.
It would give the Irish language equal status to English in the region.
But DUP Westminster Chief Whip Sammy Wilson MP responded Hoare in the House of Commons to criticise him for sounding like a “colonial ruler” or a “viceroy”.
In a column for The News Letter, Dingley wrote: “I recall my parents discussing their post-war days in Wales, in particular attending meetings to discuss the establishment of the International Eisteddfod at Llangollen.
“Here, because, eisteddfod are usually conducted in Welsh, the question arose of what languages, especially German, should be permissible at an ‘international’ one.
“At which point the Welsh Language crew proclaimed very loudly that only English was the enemy!
“This was to a meeting full of ex-servicemen (like my father) who had just spent six years defeating Hitler and his cultural purity.
“The Nazis not only had a racial policy but a language policy to go with it which went so far as to try and revive the old Gothic script, which even most Germans couldn’t follow.
“Language revivals and cultural purism take one down very dangerous paths.
“A very Welsh-Welsh aunt, a fluent Welsh speaker, later began dropping Welsh as a protest against the Welsh language movement which had politicised the language, become very divisive within Wales and increasingly anti-English (whose taxes were subsidising the language).
“Thus a cultural sectarian divide is fostered, an ‘us and them’, that is not inclusive but exclusive, whereby only the cultural purist is considered legitimate and has rights.
“This in turn drives out all the genuinely creative talent, leaving behind a mediocrity who have a monopoly because they alone can master a language no one else really needs or wants.
“It is driven by people who have nothing else to offer but have managed to mystify a near dead language into a gravy train under the guise of culture.”
Dingley is chair of the Francis Hutcheson Institute, an organisation which is dedicated to the preservation and advancement of the memory of the philosopher Francis Hutcheson.
It promotes what it calls The Francis Hutcheson Principles, one of which is “tolerance”.