The media’s attacks on the Welsh language are a product of insecurity and intolerance

Picture by: Jon S (CC BY 2.0)

 

Huw Williams

This article was originally tweeted here.

A part of me thinks, why bother – it’s gone. But as it may be just the beginning, it seems worth reiterating some points about the Times editorial.

This was another classic example of historical English-British prejudice and fallacy dressed up in rational liberal discourse.

Telling a people to restrict the teaching of their language is to tell them their culture is inferior, not worthy of the effort.

This is bigotry for which the most adequate word we have is racism. To suggest language reproduction is simply a ‘natural’ process is ignorant.

The alleged naturalness reflects a social Darwinism and Imperialist attitude to language.

According to this view, language death supposedly occurs as the result of the survival of the fittest – not because of actual, historic, barbaric ideologies, and state measures to match.

To suggest that teaching Welsh stands in the way of prioritizing other languages is also misguided: a notional zero-sum game where learning bilingually steals from other subjects.

In fact learning bilingually facilitates learning other languages and opens you up more readily to other worlds & cultures, as you already inhabit two.

It is a state of being where you have an actual choice of which language to use, not just the choice of learning another language later in life.

And it’s worth remembering this sermon on languages comes from an English culture that is so often proudly monoglot – neglecting modern languages in schools, with little understanding of how language creates our worlds, and little desire to know others.

The Times editorial

As recent years have proven this is a culture still in its “long retreat”, lost in this new world.

I feel sorry for them, but others should not bear the brunt of their loss. The insecurity has spawned Brexit, intolerance & rage.

And we can’t be naïve; it is an attack on all of us in Wales regardless of our relationship with the language.

They don’t distinguish, rather they wish to undermine us and put us in our place – scolding the Welsh is one of their last attempts at showing a moral authority they are losing by the day.

This is *their* existential crisis, not ours. We have always recreated ourselves and we can do it again.

As so many have said, we can’t let them lecture us on this, and disrupt our discussion. This is our cause, our culture.

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