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Senior councillor says pride in the language is key to boosting the number of Welsh speakers

22 May 2023 3 minute read
Carmarthenshire County Hall viewed from across the River Towy. Photo Rhyshuw1, licensed under GNU Free Documentation License.

Richard Youle, local democracy reporter

People need to regain pride in the Welsh language to boost its use in Carmarthenshire, a senior councillor said.

Cllr Glynog Davies said more than 90% of people in his home town of Brynaman and the surrounding area spoke Welsh in 1971, compared to just under 60% in 2021.

“It (Welsh) was the language of the street, the language of the chapel, the pub, the school yard, the rugby field,” said the cabinet member for education and Welsh language.

“I have seen the change taking place – gradually, first of all – now it’s rapidly taking place.”

Cllr Davies, speaking at a cabinet meeting, said the decline was disappointing. According to the 2021 census, the percentage of Welsh speakers in Carmarthenshire was 39.9%, down from 43.9% a decade previously. It was the largest percentage drop of any local authority in the country.

Cabinet members have now approved a new five-year Welsh language strategy. Its four main aims are to increase the number of Welsh speakers, engender pride, use and confidence in the language among residents, make Welsh the norm in the workplace, and promote thriving Welsh-speaking communities.

Cllr Davies said: “We must get pride back into the language, creating communities which will once again be proud to say the Welsh language is the language of the majority.”

Influx

The new strategy said Carmarthenshire had experienced an influx of older people from outside Wales and that housing affordability was an issue for young people in the county – both factors affecting the use of Welsh and both outside the council’s control.

The strategy will develop a set of actions and a way of measuring their impact. The report before cabinet contained an analysis of measures introduced under the council’s previous five-year strategy, with good progress in some areas and a lack of progress in others.

Council leader Darren Price said the partnership of a Welsh language forum was central to the new strategy. “The clear message from us as a cabinet is that we are very keen to work with anybody who wants to see the language flourish in the county,” he said.

Cabinet also approved a policy which will require organisations applying for grant funding to consider the impact that awarding a grant would have on residents’ use of Welsh, with a particular onus on applications by large organisations. Advice and support will be offered.

The Welsh Government wants the number of Welsh speakers to rise to one million by 2050.

Not all surveys paint of picture of declining Welsh in Carmarthenshire though. The cabinet report said an annual population survey by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated that the percentage of Welsh speakers had actually risen in Carmarthenshire between 2011 and 2021 from 47.2% to 52.5%.


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Riki
Riki
9 months ago

Yes! But how do you build such pride when everything they consume is in English! We see this in many other countries such as South Korea. They have an obsession with everything Anglo. Obviously this is for different reasons… The Koreans are Pro Anglo because of the turbulent history with China and Japan and are never taught they did the same thing to the people of Wales, Ireland and Scotland. The reason why the people of Wales turn their back on the country and culture is because they are made to believe that the English have genuinely improved Wales. This… Read more »

Rheinallt morgan
Rheinallt morgan
9 months ago
Reply to  Riki

My father in law was a proud Welsh speaking man and yet he never lived in Wales. I still have the wallet presented to his father by his local chapel Eglwys Davids Street fel arwydd o werthfawrogiad o’ch gwasanaeth yn ystod y Rhyfel 1914 1919. There were 100 Welsh chapels where he lived full of proud Welsh speaking people. I think there were more Welsh speakers where he lived than all the cities of Wales combined. Lerpwl prif ddinas Cymru was what people said. Their schools like Tiber Street were conducted in English but their pupils were proud Welsh speakers.

Iago Prydderch
Iago Prydderch
9 months ago

The only way to save the language is to have only Welsh medium, or at least bilingual, schools. We need to accept this reality. Anything else is just a fantasy.

Jon_S
Jon_S
9 months ago
Reply to  Iago Prydderch

Education has many needs to serve beyond saving a minority language. Make the language more attractive, though, promote it, and the demand for Welsh language education will increase organically. The rise in Welsh language provision in parts of South East Wales is encouraging on this front, but without the language being spoken widely (or at all, tbh) in the community I’m not sure it is winning the wider battle.

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
9 months ago

The answer is in the article. Stop colonisation!!

Twrch ap Trwydd
9 months ago
Reply to  Rhufawn Jones

Rhufawn Jones. Do you know Jones is the second most populous surname in England is Jones. Are these people English/Welsh whatever. What about people who live in Wales but have English surnames. Are they Welsh or English. If they speak Welsh and vote Plaid but have English surnames are they Welsh or colonists. We live in a cosmopolitan world not a 16th century parish that whips outsiders.

Riki
Riki
9 months ago

Fair points, however, you Miss the main point. Colonisation isn’t just about the settlement of foreign people. It’s the policies they bring with them. Which turn out to be disastrous for the nation in which they settle in. The colonisation of Wales in reality occurred under the Victorian kings and Queens of England. And their policies have left a stain on Wales that we still feel today. I get what you say about surnames as I myself have an English surname, however. My Heart belongs completely to this country. Actions speak louder than words at the end of the day… Read more »

Last edited 9 months ago by Riki
Twrch ap Trwydd
9 months ago
Reply to  Riki

Victorian Kings. Ho Ho Ho.

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
9 months ago

Also most privately owned businesses automatically put signs etc in English only, it doesn’t cross most people’s minds to use Welsh

Last edited 9 months ago by Stephen Owen
Meurig Erw
Meurig Erw
9 months ago

I surprised the figure is so high. Carmarthenshire is well on its way to becoming as Anglicised as Pembrokeshire. I remember being shocked when I first visited Carmarthen town in 2002 and didn’t hear a single Welsh accent. I thought it was a ‘cadarnle’ of the old tongue. Then I went to the National Botanic Gardens last year and didn’t meet a single Welsh person, all the staff and visitors were from elsewhere.

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