Professor who slated Welsh language no longer working with Wrexham University
Wrexham University have confirmed they are no longer working with a visiting professor who was condemned over slurs about the Welsh language and bilingual road signs.
A row broke out when Professor Nigel Hunt was widely criticised for describing bilingual road signs in Wales as ‘unintelligble’ and ‘potentially dangerous’, leading to the university issuing an apology for his comments, while also launching an investigation.
Now Wrexham University have confirmed that Professor Hunt has been removed from his role.
In a short statement a spokesperson said: “We have ended our visiting arrangements with Professor Hunt, and he no longer has a relationship with the university.”
After posting the inflammatory comments on Facebook, Dr Hunt was lambasted for his views, with many reacting to his words saying they had submitted official complaints to Wrexham University and how they could scarcely believe a professor at a Welsh University could hold these views.
The furore stemmed from Professor Hunt’s post in a Facebook group called Department of Petty Rage.
There he posted a picture of a bilingual road sign and wrote: “Signs like this. They are confusing as they contain irrelevant and – to most people – unintelligible information. Road signs in two languages are potentially dangerous as it takes longer to determine the message. As most people even in Wales do not understand these signs (the Welsh language is declining despite the attempts to popularise it) then please just use English.”
Once his post was published he was quickly picked up on his views across social media during the last 24-48 hours.
One poster wrote: How would you cope in a country without a translation?
He replied: ‘Much better. Most languages are intelligible and have a point.’
The row led to Wrexham University quickly issuing an apology after being inundated with complaints.
A spokesperson for Wrexham University said: “First and foremost, we would like to apologise for the offence caused by these remarks – and are in the process of investigating this matter internally. We are keen to stress that these comments absolutely do not reflect the views or values of our university or its staff.
“We are proud to be a Welsh institution and are proud of our Welsh history and heritage.
“We are also committed to promoting and celebrating the Welsh language, and are proud to say that more students than ever before have opportunities to study bilingually across a range of our courses at Prifysgol Wrecsam/Wrexham
University, thanks to the implementation of our Welsh Language Academic Strategy and Action Plan in November 2022.
“As an institution, we are also committed to the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 and as part of the legislation – the Welsh language has equal status with English and must not be treated less favourably.”
We would like to apologise for the offence caused by recent remarks – and are in the process of investigating this matter internally. We are keen to stress that these comments absolutely do not reflect the views or values of our university or its staff. pic.twitter.com/bML2LVipfr
— Wrexham University (@WrexhamUni) October 10, 2023
However, since the furore, it appears Professor Hunt has doubled down on his comments.
In a statement to Sky News, he said he would not apologise for his comments “which reflect [his] beliefs”, but he did apologise for “the way in which these comments emerged”. He called Welsh and other Celtic languages “moribund languages” which are “unlikely to survive” if left alone.
He added: “While I accept that the University of Wrexham has a position on the Welsh language, it is critical that members of that university are free to express opinions that go against that position.
“This is academic freedom, and more fundamentally, free speech.
“We should not be restricting freedom of speech, the right to have opinions that differ from other people.”
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