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Fall in number of Welsh speakers in Carmarthenshire ‘alarming’ says council

07 Dec 2022 3 minute read
Carmarthenshire County Hall. Photo by Reading Tom is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The fall in the number of Welsh speakers in Carmarthenshire is “alarming” according to the council member in charge of the language.

Carmarthenshire was the county with the highest number of Welsh speakers in Wales but has now lost that crown to Gwynedd in the wake of the 2021 Census results published yesterday.

The county which has been run by Plaid Cymru since 2015 was also the only one to see a significant fall among 16-64-year-old Welsh speakers.

For Carmarthenshire, the data for 2021 indicates that the county is home to 72,838 Welsh speakers or 39.9% of the total population (aged 3+).

This figure has decreased by 5,210 or 4.0% since the last Census in 2011 – the largest percentage point decrease of all local authorities in Wales.

Cllr. Glynog Davies, Cabinet Member for Education and Welsh Language said they would be urgently looking into the factors behind the decline.

“There is no getting away from the fact that the decline in the number of Welsh speakers in Carmarthenshire is alarming and a cause of great concern,” he said.

“There are many factors that could explain this decline. We will work with the Welsh Government and partners through the County’s Welsh Language Strategic Forum to analyse these latest census results to ensure that we fully understand the contributing factors and respond to these disappointing findings.”


The latest Census data for 2021 indicates that an estimated 538,300 people (aged 3+) in Wales are able to speak Welsh, this translates to 17.8% of the population. This is a decrease of approximately 23,700 people or 1.2 percentage points3 since the 2011 Census.

All local authorities in Wales saw a decrease in the percentage of children, aged 3 to 15, reported as being able to speak Welsh between 2011 and 2021. At a national level, it is thought that the decrease in both the number and percentage of people, aged three years or older, able to speak Welsh is mainly driven by a fall among children and young people who reported as being able to speak Welsh.

In Carmarthenshire, the number of those aged 3-15 and able to speak Welsh has decreased by 510 people or 2.6%. Decreases have also been visible within the 16-64 and 65+ age categories, although at more significant levels than the younger age group. To expand, the decline in those aged over 65 and able to speak Welsh translates to a decrease of 8.7%.

74,355 people living in Carmarthenshire reported that they have no skills in Welsh during the 2011 Census. This level has increased over the last ten years to 85,287, or 4.8%.

The number of people able to speak, read and write Welsh in the county has decreased by 1.9% or 1,828 people. This is a considerably lower decrease than the figures for those only able to speak Welsh.

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1 year ago

Look at the secondary schools and there is your answer – Sir Gar has 2 Welsh medium secondary schools. 2! You can go to a Welsh stream at many other schools, but the proficiency in language and retention on leaving these schools needs to be scrutinised. From personal observance, it is dire. Ammanford, Llandeilo, Whitland and Newcastle Emlyn – all areas where Welsh has historically been the primary language of the community – are seeing their “Welsh speaking” school leavers barely able to speak Welsh at all. At least 3 new/separate Welsh-lang schools, further Welsh learning provision for families coming… Read more »

Argol fawr!
Argol fawr!
1 year ago

Unsurprising for a number of reasons. One being the disgraceful splattering of english within the Welsh spoken on S4C since they moved down that way. Before long they’ll be changing the channel logo to SfourC.

1 year ago

Seeing the census details about Carmarthenshire made me think about my little patch. There are 10 houses around me and in 2011 there were 10 school and university age kids with all of them speaking Welsh. Of those only two still live in the county, five others still live in Wales and four of them now live in Cardiff where they went to university. Of the other three they now live in England where two of them went to university. Although this is a very small group the movement to Cardiff for education and and then the youngsters staying in… Read more »

1 year ago
Reply to  Geraint

It also partly explains why the number of Welsh speakers has increased in Cardiff. We should also note that, for the same reason, the number of Welsh speakers in England will now have increased.

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