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Sunday Times columnist criticised for joking that the Welsh language causes Covid-19 to spread quicker

20 Jul 2020 2 minute read
The Sunday Times. Picture by Howard Lake (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A Sunday Times columnist has been criticised after joking that the Welsh language would cause coronavirus to spread quicker.

Rod Liddle said that the language was “full of aspirates” and that “one verse of Sosban Fach you could wipe out half of Pontypool”.

He was reacting to news that choirs were being discouraged from meeting to sing together in Wales after evidence that vocalising helped spread Covid-19.

“Singing exacerbates the spread of the virus, apparently,” he said.

“Luckily eating seaweed and burning down people’s homes are OK, I think,” he said. “Welsh is, I suppose, a very expressive language, full of aspirates.

“One verse of Sosban Fach and you could wipe out half of Pontypool.

“Luckily, eating seaweed and burning down English people’s homes are still OK, I think.”



Reacting to the article on social media, Edward Greening said the Times “continues its assault on Cymru, with the same old tired tedious tropes.”

“Wow. Some of the most tired clichés and overtly xenophobic pieces I have seen recently,” Ian Gardiner said.

“No research,” Alun Wylde pointed out. “Why would anyone in Pontypool be singing Sospan Fach!”

Rod Liddle has frequently attacked the Welsh language, as in 2018 when he suggested that the Second Severn Crossing be called “something indecipherable with no vowels, such as Ysgythysgymlngwchfwch Bryggy” (a name that includes eight Welsh vowels).

The bridge, he said, linked “their rain-sodden valleys with the First World”.

At the time, Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville-Roberts said his comments “mocks poverty in Wales” and “belittles the Welsh language”.

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