Man told off for using Welsh on self-service Tesco checkout

A man was told not to use a self-service checkout in Welsh in Cardiff because “everyone” in the city “speaks English”.

Nic James was using the self-service checkout at the Tesco in Clifton Street in Adamsdown when he was confronted by a customer.

It became a row after Nic James refused to back down, saying “This is Cardiff, the capital of Wales – where else are we supposed to use Welsh?” he said.

A security guard intervened in the row and later apologised to Nic James.

Nic James, who lives in Rhyl, said: “I’ve seen a lot more anti-Welsh comments online, but this is the first time I’ve experienced it myself and in person.

“I’m not a fluent Welsh speaker, either. I’m a learner, and just taking any opportunities I can to use the Welsh language.”

The incident comes after a woman who was speaking Welsh with her child in Lampeter was told to stop speaking “foreign muck” by a customer.

Elin Jones, who lives in Lampeter, was speaking to daughter Elena while out shopping on Saturday, 9 September.

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Gareth
Guest
Gareth

Pretty sure Nic lives in Cardiff, around the corner from that store.

Glad to see a staff member intervened in what was estentally a row between two customers. (With Nic being right)

I don’t speak much Welsh – but I’m all for others doing it. But this site, which I had high hopes for when it launched, is rapidly becoming a lower grade version of MailOnline or worse WalesOnline where one tweet generates a story.

How long before a list of 20 insults to the Welsh language?

Cariad77 (@Cariad77)
Guest

Utterly disgusting – why do people think they have a right to intervene in how someone else is going about their daily business – unless it is a physical threat to them ? In Lampeter, I had someone shout at me for speaking Welsh – in Kent, I’ve had people have a go at me on the bus because I was speaking in Swedish on the phone. If I’m having a conversation, I’m speaking for the other person’s benefit, not the benefit of everyone else around me, unless I specifically address them. It embarrasses me to see such ignorance of… Read more »

Robert Williams
Guest
Robert Williams

Two points: 1. The recounting of nasty little anti-Welsh incidents like this, or the recent one in Lampeter, can get a bit tiresome and whingey-sounding, but I think this reporting is necessary to remind us of attitudes found in contemporary Wales, and, to be honest, to stoke a bit of fire in our bellies! 2. Your point that the site is voluntary, and depends on contributions from its users is an important one; however, I may be a bit twp, but I’m not clear how to submit an article – apart from replying like this to other people’s contributions. Could… Read more »

sibrydionmawr
Guest

Tiresome and whingey, yes, but as you suggest, it’s essential that we follow these issues up. I live in Cardiff, and have done so for more than 30 years, and whilst there are now far more Welsh speakers here than when I first moved here, and accessing some services through Welsh is easier, it’s still an unnecessary struggle times. A lot of it is simple indifference, as I haven’t personally come across very much actual hostility, but I have struggled for well over quarter of a century trying to get the housing association I rent my home from to respect… Read more »

kim erswell
Guest
kim erswell

Actually heard an old Englishman tearing into a group of Welsh learners in, Castell Newydd Emlyn, shouting that they should be speaking english. I stood open mouthed as the the leader of the group a native Welsh speaking woman looked visibly shocked. After the man stormed off I approached her and asked were such verbal attacks common. Sadly, she informed me it had happened to her previously. I’ve come to learn over the years this kind of bigotry still as much currency towards, siaradwyr Gymraeg. I went around the town to berate the man but was unable to find him… Read more »

Bele
Guest
Bele

Is this really news though? Anti-Welsh sentiment isn’t a recent phenomenon and crying about it won’t help. YesCymru and the like are trying to link this wave of Cymrophobia to Brexit but in reality it’s been going on for centuries.

You’ll notice that English people don’t make these comments in Scotland or Ireland because they fear the natives. The English only respect people who stand up for themselves. If you project weakness you will be bullied, that’s just the way it is.

Phyllis Khanna
Guest
Phyllis Khanna

We do get Scots who are prejudiced against the Gaelic Language though!
Complaining about signs being in Gaelic as well as English!

Dafis
Guest
Dafis

Bullet in the head should cure his bigotry ! or maybe not as it seems there’s no brain in there !

sibrydionmawr
Guest

I was going to say, watch out for ricochets!

mpmansell
Guest
mpmansell

I don’t think it would be inappropriate to report these incidents as hate crimes.

twrchtrwyth
Guest
twrchtrwyth

I think you are absolutely correct.

sibrydionmawr
Guest

They may not be hate grimes, but they are nonetheless the kinds of unacceptable casual oppressions that we shouldn’t have to be facing. It also leaves the problem as to how do we deal with them?

mpmansell
Guest
mpmansell

If you aggressively did the same to someone speaking Hindi, etc, I think you might find people considering that to be a hate crime. After all, how else would you refer to ‘casual’ oppression ?

sibrydionmawr
Guest

I wrote ‘may not be hate crimes’ not necessarily that they weren’t.

Pen-Cloch
Guest
Pen-Cloch

I don’t think there was any mention of the verbal assailant being English! There is anti-Welsh Language sentiment amongst ‘working class’ Cardiff residents as I have experienced it myself. I have tried to put myself in their shoes and think about why they feel this way. Resentment is rife across the UK and all you need is the wrong guy saying the wrong thing in the wrong place at the wrong time and you have Brexit Bingo. For this to happen in a shop with 7yb-11yp outside is ironic! Smile next time when you hear a council vehicle’s automated alarm… Read more »

Ae
Guest
Ae

Weĺl mpmansell You have a point because if it were perhaps Arabic was being spoken and a person reacted this way I am pretty sure the incident would be taken seriously by authorities.

Simon
Guest
Simon

Please do not tar all English with the same brush!
We are not all that bigoted.

sibrydionmawr
Guest

Hi Simon. I know that it can sometimes seem that we do tar all English people with the same brush, but most of us do make distinctions. The fact is that whilst the number of English people who are actively nasty is relatively small, there is a large number who are indifferent/passively supportive of such nasty attitudes. There are also a great number who have lived here for many years and not only have not learned to speak Welsh, but still, wilfully in some cases. mispronounce Welsh places names, sometimes even the house where they live, if they haven’t already… Read more »

Enid Mair Davies
Guest
Enid Mair Davies

Good for you Nic James. Da iawn a phob lwc yn dysgu Cymraeg.

sibrydionmawr
Guest

I don’t know what it is about Adamsdown and Clifton Street in particular that seems to have an issue with the Welsh language. Some 20 or so years ago the manager of the Spar store on Clifton Street was forced to make a public apology after having refused to accept a cheque written in Welsh.

Paul Harding
Guest
Paul Harding

Wow two incidences on one busy street two years apart :-/

I think it’s more of an unfortunate coincidence rather than something about the street!

You’ll also be pleased to learn that there is no Spar shop on Clifton Street – so it clearly was bad for his/her business.

Paul Harding
Guest
Paul Harding

Apologies, my comment should have said 20 years apart not two.

James Dowden
Guest

Now try getting anyone to accept a cheque at all, regardless of what language it’s written in…

Wyn Jones
Guest
Wyn Jones

I was in the hardware store opposite Tesco on Clifton St. The Asian shop keeper asked if my partner and I were speaking Welsh. When we confirmed this he took great pride in telling us that his daughter was fluent Welsh speaking. It’s not all bad in Clifton St and Adamstown

Robert Williams
Guest
Robert Williams

Diolch yn fawr, Sibrydionmawr am eich cyfranniadau sylweddol a deallus – a phob lwc yn eich brwydr hir a’ch cymdeithas dai.

Edeyrn
Guest
Edeyrn

Many born and bred WELSH people harbour some less than nice views on the Welsh language…..this article isnt having a go at random ppl from England.

In Aberystwyth, I witnessed anti-Welshness from two people from Caerdydd…..one arguing with the bank staff in NatWest to take down the Welsh signs….and one who argued against Penglais school staff to remove bilingualism from the newsletter

Trailorrboy
Guest
Trailorrboy

the problem within. It’s now in the psyche of many and how has that happened ?

Some places are more prone to developing these feelings than others – I sense it most in certain parts of Cardiff like Penarth, parts of Swansea, like Sketty and parts of Merthyr, where the mister monies live to be honest – not a dig at those places which i love, but they do seem to give us some pretty determined pockets of nasty pasties.

DAIBOY
Guest
DAIBOY

To any casual readers of this site, this article sounds a bit pathetic and laughable. Hope there are not too many articles like this in future!!

Gary Trew
Guest

Unfortunately, I feel this is nothing new. I am a 5th generation (mostly) Welsh American. A daughter is married to a British citizen and lives in the “Land of My Fathers”. My wife and I first visited in 2006, and while stopping for gas (petrol) and a Coke in Llanberis, I heard a woman at the check-out complaining about the bi-lingual road signs. She felt that English should be first and Welsh second, and “didn’t they (the Welsh) know that Wales was part of England”? Frankly this angered me a bit. I spoke out, and informed her that, even as… Read more »

Kathryn Packwood
Guest
Kathryn Packwood

I’ve heard from a Welsh speaker what Edeyrn says. Wonder why this is.

Chris
Guest
Chris

Why does everyone run to the papers… No mention of the Welsh speakers confronting the accused, and pointing out that they were the foreigners… Cymru am byth. But education is needed. Can you tell the difference between a pole a slavic and a Czech? When they speak their language?

Jo
Guest
Jo

What I don’t understand about this report is why write the headline as if it was Tesco’s fault – it happened in a Tesco store but had nothing to do with the company as far as I understand the article. Someone mentioned that the English don’t complain/write articles when they are insulted for using their own language in Scotland or Ireland, English is my first language and I am a fluent Welsh speaker, if I am doing something where I want to understand fully what’s going on then I will speak in English, the number of people who then carry… Read more »

Paul Harding
Guest
Paul Harding

Quite right.

sibrydionmawr
Guest

If you are indeed a fluent Welsh speaker, why do you feel the need to change to English? Surely you have a sufficient grasp of the language to be able to ask for clarification when the register goes up a level or two, just as anyone would in any other language, including their first. I don’t know exactly where you live, and I don’t doubt that there are a very few people with the kind of attitudes you describe towards English people, but I doubt that there are as many as you suggest. You seem to be saying that there… Read more »

Jo
Guest
Jo

Wow – in three paragraphs you’ve managed to make me out to be thick, a liar and told me basically to ‘go back where I came from’! I am not ‘aggrieved to Welsh speakers’ and speak Welsh to colleagues and customers alike on a daily basis, have brought my son up to be bilingual and had a bilingual marriage ceremony. In my experience, and at the risk of being called a white settler (really?) liar, first language Welsh speakers aren’t always tolerant towards Welsh language learners – also learners are often not taught the spoken language of the area they… Read more »

JD
Guest
JD

I’ll file this one under ‘things that probably didn’t happen.’

I use the Welsh option all of the time and have had lovely reactions from people:

“Ah fair play mate, I wish I could speak Welsh.”
“Os gwelwch yn dda is about all I can say.”

The face of a Welsh learner working behind the counter at my local Coop lit up when he heard me and I now make an effort to speak Welsh to him whenever I’m in there.

sibrydionmawr
Guest

Anyone who is, or has been serious about learning any language will know the value of real life situations where the language being learned can be used. Role play is fine, as are conversation groups in local social settings, but these are no substitute for being able to use that language in an everyday situation. It’s a pity that more people don’t wear badges that indicate that they are Welsh speaking, or learning Welsh, as I’d certainly be more than happy to speak Welsh to those staff.

John Howley
Guest

I find it difficult to believe stuff like this.

Royston Jones
Guest

What worries me in all these recent reports of people being abused for speaking Welsh is the reaction of the Welsh speaker, basically, standing there shocked and humiliated. Victory for the aggressor.

sibrydionmawr
Guest

I’ll have to start shopping at Tesco on Clifton Street again – I live close by, and maybe I’ll be challenged for using the Welsh option on the robot till. I certainly won’t stand on the spot shocked and humiliated. If I’m feeling really brave, I might even insist on being attended to by a Welsh speaking member of staff – that should be interesting!

Tame Frontiersman
Guest
Tame Frontiersman

Groundhog Day, unfortunately. Tesco should be congratulated for installing bilingual automated checkouts. Attacks on staff and altercations between customers are on the rise in shops. Businesses are rightly concerned about the safety of their staff and customers. A danger of this sort of incident is that it may discourage polices to promote the use of Welsh. Why is it that orange badges or similar indications that staff speaks Welsh not seen as often as might be expected? Is it a consequence of business owners’ or public service organisations’ fears that this might make their staff targets for abuse? I’m sure… Read more »

sibrydionmawr
Guest

I agree with many of the points you make, but I don’t see why Tesco should be congratulated for installing bilingual automated checkouts, as I consider that the least they could do. It’d be tantamount to congratulating them for installing English automated checkouts in England! The argument that people wearing a badge indicating they are a Welsh speaker/learner might attract abuse is a little feeble I think. Whilst it’s certainly possible for that to happen, it says more about the general environment that is passively supportive of the abusers. I’m sure it was once the case that black or Asian… Read more »

Cariad77 (@Cariad77)
Guest

Any support for the Welsh languages should be encourages, but there shouldn’t be complacency about the situation. I knew a few people who wore badges that indicate they speak Welsh and it seemed to attract less attention from the morons if they have badges that show both a Welsh and an English flag for each language. Creating awareness amongst staff and also in general will go farther than anything else as laws can change and protect the language, but if attitudes aren’t changed – the bad feeling, abuse and resistance will persist. I’ve had several negative incidents happen when speaking… Read more »

Reverend Howl (@ReverendHowl)
Guest

If I was assured bilingual check-out-robs are paid twice as much as the monoglots, I would still stick to the human option.
Diolch Tesco am y tiliau dwy-ieithiol.
The only time I’ve put stuff through one it was operated by my mate from Llundain. She used the option Cymraeg.
Does neb yn casau yr iaith Gymraeg yn fwy na’r (rhai o’r) Gymru ddi-Gymraeg.

Cariad77 (@Cariad77)
Guest

I Had the same problem in Lampeter where I got shouted at by a woman for speaking Welsh in Sainsbury’s. What business is it of someone else’s what I’m doing (unless of course it’s physically threatening to that person)? I also got shouted at on a bus near Canterbury when I was speaking Swedish on the phone to a friend – the culprit said “we speak English in this country” – to which I asked her if she ever goes on holiday abroad. She said she did – and I proceeded to asked her if she speaks French to her… Read more »