End of the world

Following disappointment that Harold Camping’s predications did not come true (so I am going to have do to all this marking and mow the lawn after all…) came further disappointment with the announcement that the Y Byd project has finally been brought to an end. It is easy to suggest that it was a lack of political will or the economic down-turn that is responsible, but I do wonder if it reflects something wider and more concerning – are Welsh-speakers maybe becoming complacent about the language? It is perhaps easy to think that all is well with the language – the census suggests it is on the up, Welsh-medium education is in great demand, and so on – all that campaigning has paid off, the language is saved and now we can relax?

Set this against the falling density of speakers in many areas, concerns around competence and confidence particularly in writing Welsh, the uncertain state of S4C and the failure of Y Byd.

The continuing survival of the language depends critically on the continued vigilance and active engagement of speakers (and non-speakers) in ensuring that survival. UNESCO classify the Welsh language as “vulnerable” – it is hard to imagine a time when this will not be the case (in a positive sense at least!). Perhaps we need a new Saunders Lewis and a new Tynged yr Iaith to issue the call to action.

Hmmm… all too gloomy, so let’s end on a positive note – new Welsh language newspaper launched, Clecs Camwy from Menter Patagonia… makes you think…

This entry was posted in Newspapers, Patagonia, Welsh, Y Byd. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to End of the world

  1. The end of the world is far from nigh.

    Measures of language health are slippery things, and I suspect that these things come in cycles. I agree with you that being ‘given’ such institutions as S4C, Radio Cymru, devolution has brought about a kind of complacency about language.

    Some have already said that the battle for the language is won. From this maturity one would expect there to be some kind of relaxation, after all, English speakers tend to be quite relaxed about their language…if not totally unaware to the point of not really caring that there are other languages spoken in the world.

    But that, of course, is lazy nonsense, and anybody that has seen the population movements in Wales and their effect on the decline of Welsh as a community language as well as the numbers of children that continue to speak Welsh after leaving school will see that there are grave dangers to the health of Welsh as a living language.

    Y Byd, for me however, was ultimately a positive endeavour. Although Dyddiol didn’t manage to bring it into existence, and we are culturally and intellectually poorer for that, it forced the government to create a fund for a Welsh language online press. Golwg360 is here, and constantly improving. I hear the reader numbers are pretty decent too. Hooray to that.

    The effort to gather private funding for Y Byd also showed me that there is a will there amongst Welsh speakers to find ways of funding and supporting ventures that don’t rely entirely upon subsidy. Economies of scale dictate that minority language ventures will struggle to survive in the open market. I was struck by Ned’s thoughts in the Mercator workshop the other day, that the problem with online ventures is that there is not much of a loop in terms of circulating money around Welsh ventures. I think that may come with a maturing of online media however.

    Longer response than I intended to write! Sorry!

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