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Petition calling for Wales to only be referred to as Cymru receives surge in support

05 Jan 2024 4 minute read
Wales from NASA International Space Station. Image: NASA

Stephen Price

A petition calling to ‘abolish’ the name Wales in favour of its Welsh name, Cymru, has received a surge in support, with over 2,000 new signatures recorded in the last day alone.

However, Andrew RT Davies Leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Senedd has criticised the campaign, saying that he would prefer petitions highlighting the Welsh Government’s ‘failures’ instead.

The official Senedd petition, created by Arfon Jones says: “Wales is a name imposed on Cymru and is essentially not a Welsh word at all. The world knows about Wales because of its English connection since 1282.

“Hardly anyone has heard of Cymru or realises that we have our own unique language and culture which is totally different from the other countries within the United Kingdom.”

Senedd debate

With over 7,000 signatures at the time of writing, the petition will almost certainly reach its target of 10,000 by 13 June 2024.

If 10,000 signatures are received, “it will be considered for a debate in the Senedd”.

The petition comes hot on the heels of decisions to only use one name, Bannau Brycheiniog, in place of Brecon Beacons National Park in 2023, which itself followed Snowdonia National Park Authority’s vote to use Yr Wyddfa and Eryri rather than Snowdon and Snowdonia in November 2022.

Efforts are also underway in Wales to preserve important place names such as lakes which are being lost or sidelined in favour of newer English names.

Using only Cymru for Wales would not be a new thing on the world stage either. Notably, Türkiye officially dropped its former title, Turkey, at the United Nations in 2022, after it agreed to a formal request from Ankara.

Several international bodies have been asked to make the name change as part of a rebranding campaign launched by the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan who in December 2022 said, much in line with the backers of the Welsh petition: “Türkiye is the best representation and expression of the Turkish people’s culture, civilization, and values.”

‘Confident’

From Mumbai to Kyiv, people across the world are choosing to drop place names imposed upon them, and with the name Wales meaning ‘foreigners’, unlike the Welsh word, ‘Cymru’ which means ‘fellow countrymen’ – it’s a clear case of a name given to Wales vs a name chosen by Wales itself.

Former PCC and supporter of the petition, Arfon Jones (not to be mistaken with the petition’s creator who shares the same name) has said: “I think this is an excellent petition and should be supported. By using Cymru we are following Türkiye and Republika Hrvatska in promoting their original name.

“I hope Senedd Cymru support this petition and it’s been good to see a debate developing on this subject. To use Cymru is a natural development in our maturity as a nation.”

Andrew R T Davies, AM for South Wales Central, said on X: “I’d prefer to see petitions highlighting where Welsh Labour Government are failing on education, failing on the economy and failing on the Health Service.

“We’ve only recently just seen that massive petition that came to the Welsh Parliament that identified people’s frustration over the blanket 20mph across the whole of Wales where nearly half a million people signed that petition.

“Let’s not try and put both languages against each other, let’s celebrate both languages and celebrate the bilingualism of Wales.”

Welsh independence campaigner Gwern Gwynfil said: “There is nothing unusual about nations deciding on their own official names. Türkiey and Czechia are recent examples of this. In no way does this force others to change the names they use but it is a clear and confident expression of identity in a modern international context.

“More broadly it reflects a wider pride and recognition of authentic cultural values, from Uluru to Bannau Brycheiniog, this is also a global phenomenon.

“This is a normal thing for nations to do. Perhaps the more relevant issue here is why are some people so viscerally against the idea? What are they afraid of?”

The petition calling to ‘abolish the name ‘Wales’ and make ‘Cymru’ the only name for our country’ can be found here.


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David Williams
David Williams
4 months ago

Who created the petition? Arfon Jones or Arfon Davies? Think there’s an error in your report

Cwm Rhondda
Cwm Rhondda
4 months ago

This could make a huge difference to how we perceive ourselves. The reasons why we are amongst the poorest in Western Europe are many and various. Some the factors contributing to our comparative poor economic performance are linked to our collective lack of self-efficacy. It is time we actively threw off the shackles of our colonial past, stop letting it define us and let Cymru become what it has the potential to be!

Steffan ap Huw
Steffan ap Huw
4 months ago
Reply to  Cwm Rhondda

I’d argue speaking Welsh would make an infinitely bigger difference.

Stevie
Stevie
4 months ago
Reply to  Steffan ap Huw

Speaking Welsh would make us economically much better off?

CapM
CapM
4 months ago
Reply to  Stevie

Like other small countries with their own language such as Nordic ones, and mid size ones like the Netherlands a genuinely bilingual Cymru would be able to use English or Cymraeg as it suits us.

English to access the advantages of globalisation and a minor language (in this case Cymraeg) to ameliorate against the negatives of globalisation.

Giving us an economic advantage that our nearest neighbours in particular couldn’t hope to match.

Bethan
Bethan
4 months ago
Reply to  Cwm Rhondda

My goodness that was motivational. Count me in.

Malcolm Jones
Malcolm Jones
4 months ago

Why should I be called a foreigner in my own country??

Brian
Brian
4 months ago

The Tory buffoon doesn’t realise that this isn’t about the Welsh Language it is about the derivative of Welsh meaning foreigner and Cymru meaning ‘fellow countryman’. Cymru is NOT the Welsh Language version of Wales. If you stopped 100 people tomorrow in you local shop or supermarket I guarantee the majority will think that Cymru is the Welsh Language translation of Wales – we don’t even know our own history FFS.

Hogyn y Gogledd
Hogyn y Gogledd
4 months ago

“people’s frustration over the blanket 20mph”

F***ing idiot. There isn’t one and never was one.

A bit like an intelligent Welsh tory.

Steve kay
Steve kay
4 months ago

And this is just the comment I expect from an ignorant self centered pillock.

Gareth
Gareth
4 months ago

An opportunity to talk our country down, and guess who dives in head first, yes, its old A R T ” blanket ” Davies , who only wants petitions on his perceived ” failures” of our Gov, while making sure never, never to mention the 13 years of ” austerity ” meaning cash cuts to funding, his party has imposed not only on our Gov, but all 4 govs in the UK, causing such ” failures”. Hypocrit. Starve us of funding, then blame us for the outcome.

Nobby Tart
Nobby Tart
4 months ago
Reply to  Gareth

If RT wants petitions, why doesn’t he simply start them, or get his work experience students who run his Twitter/X account to raise them?

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
4 months ago

To those not knowledgeable of the meaning of Welsh/Welch. Yes, some might have no knowledge due to lack of education, others might not even care, but those who do want to end this 1,400 year racial slur given to us by the invading German tribes Saxons, Angles, Jutes & Friesians who later became the English in 970AD. The term Welsh was given to the native Britons i.e us the Cymry and means either romanised foreigner, stranger, .or later slave. Saxon monk Bede referred to us as slaves in his writings, as did other Saxon/English scribes. A law was even passed… Read more »

Rhddwen y Sais
Rhddwen y Sais
4 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Totally agree it irks me when I go to an airport when countries are not named in their native language. All countries deserve this courtesy, the same applies to place names. Always use the original names it would be so much easier for all concerned.

Rhddwen y Sais
Rhddwen y Sais
4 months ago
Reply to  Rhddwen y Sais

That was not a serious comment it was a frivolous p**s take

Che Guevara's Fist
Che Guevara's Fist
4 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Da iawn! Absolutely agree with all of that 👍

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
4 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Da iawn. Next we should reclaim the word British from the cultural appropriating imposters who stole the name to justify their colonization. Roedd y llenorion a’r beirdd canoloesol yn iawn – cenedlaetholdeb iddyn nhw oedd nid Cymru rydd ond dychwelyd yr ynys gyfan i reolaeth y Brytaniaid.

Steffan ap Huw
Steffan ap Huw
4 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

The name Cymru originated from the fact that there were other peoples around who were not like us, i.e. the English (note, distinguished by language and culture). Before that, it would have made no sense. And anyone who does know our history knows that our sense of brotherhood didn’t run very deep.

Besides, the English are, genetically speaking, still our brethren, for the most part.

Last edited 4 months ago by Steffan ap Huw
J. W. Soares Jones
4 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Wales is Cymru, Cymru is Wales. I, as a North American try to spread the wonderful story of Cymru by asking travelers if they have ever been to Cymru. Almost none save people from Britain express familiarity with Cymru. Many from Britain get a happier tone in their voice when talking about Cymru, and many have a personal connection. My personal Cymric fire was sparked by hearing an inspiring song with a mysterious title, sung in an unintelligible language, by an author and lead singer with a strange name, on the Internet. The hair on the back of my neck… Read more »

Che Guevara's Fist
Che Guevara's Fist
4 months ago

If people keep on using the slur ‘Welsh’ to refer to us, regardless if it’s intentionally to insult or not (and you know it will) then simply respond with Saeson to refer to them regardless whether they are or not.

Steffan ap Huw
Steffan ap Huw
4 months ago

Not sure about this one. Wales is the term for our country in English, and Cymru its name in Welsh. Do we refer to Sweden as Sverige, Finland as Suomi, France as La France, or Germany as Deutchland, etc.? Of course not.

When speaking a language, use the names given in that language. If you want to use Cymru, speak Welsh (siaradwch Cymraeg)!

Last edited 4 months ago by Steffan ap Huw
Friar Bevan
Friar Bevan
4 months ago
Reply to  Steffan ap Huw

Perfect answer

Bethan
Bethan
4 months ago
Reply to  Friar Bevan

It’s not a perfect answer at all. How many people in this country have a problem with the French calling it Pays de Galles? Very few if any I would wager. It’s a patronising answer. You think the people of ‘Wales’ (for not much longer) can’t wrap our heads around rhe idea that other countries have different words for the same places? ‘Welsh’ is an English slur to describe the people of this country. With the added insult and (somewhat ironically) *gaul* of native islanders being called foreigners by the foreigners. Why on Earth should we be happy to go… Read more »

Steffan ap Huw
Steffan ap Huw
4 months ago
Reply to  Bethan

As has been said elsewhere, the term ‘Wales’ derives from the old English term for a Romanised (Latin-speaking) person, and more particularly for the Britons. It thereafter became a pejorative term, as persons not speaking English were considered lesser or barbaric (and perhaps you know the origin of that word!). However, it might be argued that the term Wales and Welsh has lost its pejorative connotation, and simply refers to someone on this side of Offa’s dyke. As it’s an English term, it’s not to be wondered at that it has survived into the modern day. In the same vein,… Read more »

Bethan
Bethan
4 months ago
Reply to  Steffan ap Huw

Oh , I apologise to any English people who take offense. It was not my intent to generalise about the philospohical makeup of the English individual. Rather the systemic Anglo-superacy that is promoted by your establishment, is well documented in your country that starts at the earliest education level. If you have managed to swim against the current and develop an impartial sense of overall equality then that is indeed commendable. However, that is no thanks to your history curriculum or the overtones of your media and national officials.

Steffan ap Huw
Steffan ap Huw
4 months ago
Reply to  Bethan

For the record, Cymro ydw i.

Gareth
Gareth
4 months ago
Reply to  Steffan ap Huw

I think you are missing the point. We are not asking or telling people of other countries to use our name for our country, we want to be officially known as Cymru, and refer to ourselves as Cymru, if other nations want to use Wales it is up to them, afterall Germans use Deutchland, and Finns Suomi, on sporting shirts while playing in tournaments, why not us, there is no cost or reason why not. Oh and since Russia invaded Ukraine the name of the capital Kiev has been pronounced differently on all UK news channels, just out of respect.

Steffan ap Huw
Steffan ap Huw
4 months ago
Reply to  Gareth

I understand the nuance, but when speaking English, Finns will use Finland, Germans Germany, and so forth. My point still stands.

But I agree it would be preferable for Cymru to be our official name.

Last edited 4 months ago by Steffan ap Huw
CapM
CapM
4 months ago
Reply to  Steffan ap Huw

It’s more like a standing partial point.
Other countries, other peoples, other standing partial points.

eg The people of Thailand refer to themselves as being Thai and would not be impressed if an English speaker called them Siamese. Even if at one time the term “Siamese” was an acceptable term for an English speaker to use.

CapM
CapM
4 months ago
Reply to  Steffan ap Huw

We refer to Zimbabwe; Sri Lanka; Zambia; Ukraine.
There are other examples of the type.
The first three previously had names given by imperial powers and Russia and it’s puppet states still I think refer to “the Ukraine” in order to deny Ukraine it’s statehood..

If we want our country to be known as “Cymru” throughout the world then nationalist-imperialist demagogue led states aside I think it’s achievable and wouldn’t cause any problems.

Rhddwen y Sais
Rhddwen y Sais
4 months ago
Reply to  CapM

Is Y Wladfa a name given by an Imperial power or is that OK?

CapM
CapM
4 months ago
Reply to  Rhddwen y Sais

I don’t think there is any definition of “imperial power” that could be applied to Welsh settlement in Patagonia..

“Y Wladfa” denotes the Welsh settlements and not the land which they are located in which is Chubut province, from an indigenous language.

“Y Wladfa” is a unofficial name similar to Cubans calling part of Miami “Little Havana” or “Chinatown” being used for areas in many major cities.

Rhddwen y Sais
Rhddwen y Sais
4 months ago
Reply to  CapM

Does Y Wladfa mean the colony?

Last edited 4 months ago by Rhddwen y Sais
CapM
CapM
4 months ago
Reply to  Rhddwen y Sais

Colony or settlement of which Y Wladfa is specific and I think the only example of its type).

But not the type of colony you implied was set up by an Imperial power, namely Cymru.

Do you think that those “Chinatowns” across the world as colonies that have been set up by an “Imperial power” ,China?

Rhddwen y Sais
Rhddwen y Sais
4 months ago
Reply to  CapM

Just named a colony but not rally a colony.

CapM
CapM
4 months ago
Reply to  Rhddwen y Sais

Not sure what that means.
But to clarify Y Wladfa is a colony but not one established by an “imperial power” which was what you originally implied.

Iago Traferth
Iago Traferth
4 months ago
Reply to  CapM

Contrary to what you state asking a question makes no implication. I am just left to wonder how a country can have a settlement named “The Colony” in a language foreign to the native inhabitants but said colony is not really a colony.

CapM
CapM
4 months ago
Reply to  Iago Traferth

Perhaps you didn’t read my comment that you’ve replied to which said – “But to clarify Y Wladfa is a colony…”

Of course a question can imply.
You could interpret the original question as having implied two things.
That Cymru was an imperial power and that as Y Wladfa was a colony of an imperial Cymru I’d exempt it from my distain of nationalist-imperialism.

Chris
Chris
4 months ago

Our country is already called Cwmru when speaking Welsh. I cannot see how you can even try to force the English speaking people of this world, including the 75% of Welsh people who don’t speak Welsh that they should now change what they call the country we love and know as Wales? You are in effect redefining the English language. Consider the following In English…. I am Welsh I was born in Wales My parents were Welsh I live in Wales My native language is English Like the majority of Welsh people, I don’t speak Welsh Yn Saesneg…. (in Welsh)… Read more »

CapM
CapM
4 months ago
Reply to  Chris

Rather In English it would most likely be- I am Cymric I was born in Cymru My parents were Cymric I live in Cymru My first language is English Like the majority of the Cymric people, I don’t speak Cymraeg Yet. It does work. I think you don’t give due credit to the versatility and adaptability of the English language and its ability to absorb and normalise new words into its lexicon. Even when those words are derived from a “foreign” language. For an example of this happening with a country. I am Sri Lankan I was born in Sri… Read more »

Chris
Chris
4 months ago
Reply to  CapM

Out of politeness and respect, and for clarity, if I am speaking to an English speaking person I would still use the terms Welsh and Wales.

When speaking Welsh would you be willing to use the terms “England” instead of “Lloegr” and “English” instead of “Saesneg”?

CapM
CapM
4 months ago
Reply to  Chris

“Out of politeness and respect, and for clarity, if I am speaking to an English speaking person I would still use the terms Welsh and Wales.” What issue or attitude do you imagine an English speaking person would have in order to think that you using the terms Cymric or Cymru was being impolite or disrespecting them? ! Do those English speakers also get upset when they now hear the word Kyiv instead of Kiev? ! “When speaking Welsh would you be willing to use the terms “England” instead of “Lloegr” and “English” instead of “Saesneg”?” “Lloegr” and “Saesneg” are… Read more »

Chris
Chris
4 months ago
Reply to  CapM

You say “I’m sure that some of those peoples would prefer it if the names they use were adopted by us. If it’s a matter of politeness and respect then yes I’d make the effort.”

So when you are speaking Welsh you will refer to The English as English, and England as England, as a matter of politeness and respect?

CapM
CapM
4 months ago
Reply to  Chris

I’ve already addressed this question.

Are you aware of any English people who think they are being disrespected by the use of “Lloegr” or “Saesneg” by people when they’re speaking Welsh?

If so perhaps you could invite them to comment here and say why they feel that way.

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