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New survey asks how Welsh is being used in north west Wales

19 Feb 2024 3 minute read
Welsh flag. By Welsh Government

Researchers are looking at attitudes towards the Welsh language and how its use can be further promoted in north west Wales to ensure its survival – and they need your help if you live there.

The project is led by Thora Tenbrink, Professor of Linguistics and Dean of Research at Bangor University’s College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and Hannah Eccles-Westbury, Bangor University PhD student, with support from Dr Lowri Hughes, Canolfan Bedwyr and from Cyngor Gwynedd.

Survey

People who currently live in Gwynedd, Conwy and Ynys Môn are being asked to complete a brief survey to help with the research – no matter whether they speak Welsh or not, and no matter how long they’ve lived here.

It is not a secret that Welsh is an endangered language.

Despite population increases from 2.6 million to 3.1 million, numbers of speakers have roughly halved in this time, falling to their lowest in 1981.

Efforts to preserve and revitalise the language have had varying levels of success – there are an additional ~250,000 speakers now compared to the 1981 census, and yet the overall population percentage of speakers has been on a steady downward trend.

“Precarious future”

Hannah Eccles-Westbury said, “This means that despite overall positive cultural and linguistic attitudes within Wales, the language may be facing a precarious future.

“While efforts so far have slowed its decline, they have not been wholly successful in their aims – more is needed, and we need to better understand what role the language plays for people in reality.

“For some people, Welsh may be restricted to certain domains – perhaps family and friends, perhaps education. For others, Welsh is a central part of their identity and closely related to heritage and place attachment. Yet for others, a bilingual culture might be felt as a challenge.”

Importance

Gwynedd Council hopes the project will help them and others to promote and encourage more people to use Welsh every day in Gwynedd, especially when using Council services including face to face contact, telephone calls and online services.

Llywela Owain, Gwynedd Council’s Language and Scrutiny Unit, said: “This survey is an important one as it is going to give us data about language use in various contexts including the public services Gwynedd Council provides.

“It will also hopefully give us an idea of what kind of interventions we as a Council need to consider making in the future in order to see more of our residents using Welsh when using our services.”

Thora Tenbrink added: “Our survey will examine not only the status of the language and peoples’ attitudes in general, but more specifically the role of Welsh in different contexts, and what strategies people feel would help them.

“Participants who live in Anglesey, Gwynedd and Conwy (whether permanently or temporarily), and from all language backgrounds (including non-Welsh speakers) are encouraged to fill it in.”

You can participate by visiting https://bit.ly/LanguageS


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Peter louis
Peter louis
1 month ago

Should ask how much Welsh is being used in North East Wales, after living here for the past eight years, less that 15%.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
1 month ago

I have filled out the survey. A very interesting survey. I wish the creators all the best with their research.

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