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Concern that Welsh speakers are prevented from speaking the language

23 Oct 2023 3 minute read
A Welsh speaker in an office.

The Welsh Language Commissioner has raised concerns that Welsh speakers are being prevented from speaking the language in workplaces.

In her first assurance report since taking up the position Efa Gruffudd Jones is encouraging organisations across Wales, not only to provide Welsh language services, but to promote them.

The report, entitled Raising the Bar is an opportunity to reflect on the way organisations consider the language when formulating policies and when planning and delivering services in the Welsh language.

Whilst acknowledging that levels of compliance have generally improved, particularly by organisations that have been subject to the Welsh Language Standards for some time, the report notes that it is necessary to tackle the challenge of creating an environment where it is possible to use Welsh naturally every day.

This means working to improve the services that are offered to people verbally, whether over the phone or face to face.

According to Ms Jones, the workplace is crucial to the language: “Growth in Welsh education is essential but it is also necessary to ensure that there are opportunities for our young people to use the Welsh language in the world of work.

“It is heartening to see that Welsh written services are widely available but there is little progress in the spoken services that are available, even though it is the service that people say they want more than anything.

“I recognise that it can be challenging to recruit those with Welsh language skills in order to offer these services but we need to place more importance on the Welsh language and I encourage organisations to create bilingual workforce planning strategies.”

The Commissioners report found that 95% of people receive a greeting in Welsh when making a telephone call to a public organisation.

90% of public organisations’ Twitter and Facebook messages are available in Welsh and the language is treated less favourably than English in 33% of the website pages inspected over the year

Negativity

72% agree that the Welsh language services of public institutions are improving and almost 75% of Welsh speakers see that there is an opportunity for them to use the Welsh language in their everyday lives.

The report also found that a significant percentage of Welsh speakers had experienced someone else preventing them from speaking the language in their everyday lives.

18% indicated that they had experienced this over the past 12 months but that increased to 29% of those questioned between the ages of 16 and 34.

Ms Jones said: “This type of negativity towards the Welsh language undoubtedly affects the confidence of Welsh speakers and is bound to have an impact on the levels of use of the Welsh language.

“Since taking up this position at the beginning of the year I have had the opportunity to meet and chat with many of our stakeholders and there is a generally positive attitude towards the Welsh language.

“I would like to see all organiations take responsibility for ensuring that the principles of the Welsh Language Measure are deeply rooted within their organisations and that they also set guidelines that welcome the use of the Welsh language.

“I will continue to monitor and intervene where necessary while at the same time offering support and guidance to ensure that the Welsh language is central to our public services.”


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Frank
Frank
7 months ago

Dim ond yma yng Nghymru gall unrhyw beth fel hyn ddigwydd!! I have said this before but can you imagine this happening in Germany, France, Spain etc. but here in Wales it must be accepted because our neighbours have seriously injured our native language to the extend that even Welsh people are of the same mind as them? It is absolutely outrageous that their influence has such an effect on our people.

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
7 months ago
Reply to  Frank

In fairness I think Catalans have to put up with the same nonsense

Richard Thomas
Richard Thomas
6 months ago
Reply to  Sarah Good

Yes there is a bit of ignorance here. If it’s not ignorance it mystifies as to why people on here hold up countries like that have such appalling records of oppressing native languages. France spent decades actively oppressing Breton and Spain did the same to Basque and other languages. The idea that the British government and the Welsh language are some sort of uniquely bad example of oppression just simply isn’t true, they’re not even the worst example. I recently had a lovely trip to the Basque country and I’m pleased to say their culture and language are still strong… Read more »

Dafydd
Dafydd
6 months ago
Reply to  Frank

Mae’n digwydd yna hefyd. We are not alone. We have it better then many but still not good enough. Frank, you mention France, Germany, Spain. These countries are all nation states, the same as UK. This wouldn’t happen in their state of course. But it wouldn’t happen in this state either, where English is the language of the state.

Our position is like the other stateless nations in those states such as the Bretons, Basques, Galiceans, Catalans, Sorbians etc

Alun Gerrard
Alun Gerrard
7 months ago

As a child I had to learn English as the 11 plus exam was English only in 1966. The street signs painting also helped the Welsh as we got Welsh street signs. However this bilingual approach is fading…as an example see how many English or Welsh signs …that is a bilingual sign you can spot in your town or village.

Richard Thomas
Richard Thomas
6 months ago
Reply to  Alun Gerrard

There’s definitely more bilingual signs in Blaenau Gwent than there used to be.

hdavies15
hdavies15
7 months ago

Recently engaged with HSBC on their dedicated Welsh telephone help line. 3 times within 2 days I was diverted to an offshore site. The operator there wasn’t even aware of the Welsh language. Absolutely hopeless. Are any of the other banks any better ? We are heading towards a cashless society given the way small businesses are being pushed to use contactless card systems despite the on-costs. Yet the language is being ignored increasingly by these big banks and institutions.

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
6 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Ditto power and communications companies, where, if anything things have gone backwards. This is especially galling as a court case established that the privatised power and communications industries had obligations under the 1993 Welsh Language Act as if they were in the public sector. And for a while I did receive at least my electricity bill in Cymraeg, but that stopped some years ago when the company decided it could get away with it as the then Welsh Language Board was a) pretty useless and b) the 1993 Act is pretty deficient, something I don’t think was anything like adequately… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Padi Phillips
Peter
Peter
6 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Banks above all do everything taking cost effectiveness into account. It obviously is not cost effective.

Last edited 6 months ago by Peter
Riki
Riki
7 months ago

It’s because it’s all lip service from government and other professional areas of everyday life, And that eventually filters down to the general population. The fact that 99% of our media is Anglo centric doesn’t help either. No area In professional life Is used to inspire the youth of Wales at all. Let’s also remember, a people are easier to take over if they don’t feel an attachment to the native culture in which they a part of.

Maglocunos
Maglocunos
6 months ago

Mae angen dybryd i ddod a mwy o Gymraeg i mewn i fyd manwerthu ac i’r archfarchnadoedd mawr, yn enwedig, Morrisons, M&S ac yn y blaen.

Mae camu i mewn i’r rhain fel camu i mewn i for o seisnigrwydd.

Ydydn nhw ddim yn gwybod fod y Gymraeg yn gwerthu??

.

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
6 months ago
Reply to  Maglocunos

Ac nid jyst mater o arwyddion dwyieithog dros yr eils chwaith, mae angen bod labeli’r cynhyrchion fod yn ddwyiethog hefyd.

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
6 months ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

Ac hefyd iddyn nhw ddechrau gwerthu mwy o gynnyrch o Gymru. Mae Morrisons ym Mangor newydd ddechrau gwerthu llefrith o Gymru ar ôl blynyddoedd o lythyru a phwyso.

William
William
6 months ago

As someone who was working nights for Tesco express, we were shunted for speaking Welsh.

Chris
Chris
6 months ago

I am proud to be a Welshman. The issue I have is having Welsh, a dead language, being forced down my throat.
In these days of the climate and cost of living crisis having every bit of paperwork doubled up so it’s in 2 languages means extra cost and extra environmental impact.
We are a British country so why not speak English.

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