Easy .cym easy .go?

As reported by the BBC the .cym domain has come into being. Unfortunately for those people interested in establishing a Welsh linguistic and cultural space on the internet, the Cayman Islands have got there first (do they really need two?).

While this is not a total disaster, it is certainly a bit of a blow. The two questions which spring to my mind are – how did this happen and what will they call it now.

I wonder to what extent the slowness of the ICANN processes has played a part here, or whether they favour straightforward national claims? I also wonder if stronger (or just different) support from the WAG might have made any difference?

Still, in a spilt milk frame of mind, what could the domain be instead of .cym (assuming we can’t buy .cym back?). Well .cwl is quite cute and funny; .cyw might appeal to a younger Welsh internet user; how about .bro or .cwm? Hmm… none of these really strikes me as being as good as .cym. However, maybe the use of a domain name that appears to have a less direct connection to the language might actually be a benefit in terms of attracting registrants. I guess only time will tell, maybe we will have a better idea after the dotCYM AGM this weekend.

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Wales Blog Awards

The Wales Blog Awards have released their long list of nominated blogs, including categories for Best Sports Blog, Best Political Blog, Best Welsh Language Blog, Best Community Blog, Best Lifestyle Blog, Best Writing on a Blog and Best Technology Blog.

As far as I can tell, there are no Welsh language blogs in any category aside from Best Welsh Language Blog (no I haven’t checked them all, so yes, I could be wrong). As far as I can tell, nominators were free to choose whatever category they wanted to compete in.

I’m not sure what (if anything) this tells us about Welsh language blogging, did Welsh language bloggers only chose to compete in the Welsh language category, were the English language blogs just judged to be better than the Welsh language blogs, were Welsh language blogs not considered in non Welsh language categories?

Does anyone have any insight on these matters? Is Welsh language blogging in a malaise, is blogging just old hat and are all the cwl cats are now tweeting?

Anyway – nice to see some of the best of Welsh language blogging celebrated – congratulations to all those who were nominated – I’m looking forward to the results on the 14th October!

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Video on the language measure

The WAG has uploaded a short video about the Proposed Welsh Language Measure onto their YouTube channel.

It is interesting to see how web2.0 is gradually becoming an accepted part of the media world – press release, check! – Tweet, check! – YouTube, check!

Two things in particular about the content struck me – firstly the strong mention of mobile phones (1:20) – and secondly the extent to which the cattle auction rooms (2:56) resemble the Assembly debating chamber (don’t get me wrong, I love the building, was just struck by the resemblance!).

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Peth Bychan

Iawn te – mae hi’n ddiwrnod Pethau Bychain ac mae’n rhaid i mi wneud rhywbeth i ddathlu. Dyma ni!

Yn ddiweddar, ro’n i’n edrych ar yr iaith Gymraeg ar YouTube. Dw’i wedi edrych ar tua 2,000 o fideos – roedd hi’n amser eithaf flinderus a dweud y gwir! Ond roedd ychydig o dlysau a dyma fy hoff fideos cerddoriath:

Clinigol & Marged Parry – Hufen Ia

A rhywbeth retro

Injaroc – Ffwnc Yw’r Pwnc

Mwynhewch!

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Pethau Bychain

Pethau Bychain have designated this Friday (3rd September) as a day to celebrate the use of Welsh online. It’s inviting people to make a pledge to create something in Welsh online, from blog posts to videos to websites.

This is an interesting approach to stimulating bottom-up content creation as well as generating a buzz and hopefully some publicity.

I don’t know if they have plans to make it an annual event? It would be interesting to try to get schools involved in this, maybe with a bit of sponsorship for some prizes… or I am getting too far away from the original spirit?

Of course this raises the issue of what I will be doing… hmmm…

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Lack of census

It has been reported by the BBC that the 2011 census may be the last census of its type and that other sources of data, such as that available from the Post Office, local government and credit checking agencies will be used instead.

I wonder how many credit checking agencies record Welsh speaking ability in their records?

It seems to me that the end of the census would result in the loss of one of the most important sources of data about the Welsh language and the detailed analysis that can be done of the data, e.g. Aitchison, J. & Carter, H. “Spreading the Word: The Welsh Language 2001”. The census data informs much of the language planning activity in Wales and elsewhere in the UK. I wonder what alternative plans there are to gather this data and how this will be paid for.

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A less bilingual Welsh Assembly

I see from a story on the BBC that English language speeches in the Welsh Assembly will no longer be translated into Welsh in the official record of proceedings. While this has raised eyebrows/objections/hackles in various quarters for a variety of different reasons, it is interesting that part of the argument in favour of this refers to “…proposals to make the records of our debates and proceedings more user-friendly by imaginative use of modern technology.” Given the importance of parallel bilingual texts for technology such as Google Translate, I can’t help wondering whether this will in fact inhibit the use (imaginative or otherwise) of Welsh in future modern technology and whether the strategic goal to “increase participation in the democratic process here in Wales”, will ultimately result in cementing English as the language of Welsh politics.

While this may be an easy way to save £250,000 in austere times, we should perhaps be mindful of unintended consequences, both directly for the language and indirectly in terms of the erosion of the Assembly’s claim to be “an exemplar organisation in its delivery of bilingual services.” Exemplar organisations are needed to develop and demonstrate innovative, effective, affordable, responsive bilingual organisational practices – if the Welsh Assembly can’t fulfil this role, who else will?

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BookCrossing and Your Language Depend on YOU!

“BookCrossing and Your Language Depend on YOU!

Launch of the new BookCrossing 2.0 website approaches. It promises many new and exciting features, but perhaps the most eagerly anticipated change will be the ability to view BookCrossing in languages other than English. Call it localization, internationalization or even I18n, it all comes down to you being able to read www.bookcrossing.com in your language of choice. To make this happen, we need your help. Some professional translators will be used, but it often takes a member of the community to understand BookCrossing jargon and how the site operates. That’s where you come in.

If you love BookCrossing, have some time to translate English text into your language, and want to help get wording and meaning just right, please consider lending your language skills to the site. Email laura@bookcrossing.com with the following:

o Name
o Screen name
o Primary Language
o Credentials
o Time Commitment
o Willingness to work with deadlines (quick turnaround time within 4-5 days of assignment)

Language-based teams of up to 3 people will be formed before the end of March, so send in your volunteer information as soon as possible! Please believe that this is a very worthy project. Once it’s completed, you’ll take well-deserved pride in having been part of its creation, and the international membership will be indebted to all of you. So please sign up — BookCrossing and your language need you!”

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Is having a language enough?

The particular comments (around 20:43) were: ”…the success is that people have two languages, whether they choose to use both of them in equal measure is not [interrupted by interviewer]” and ”…and that is the important point; that it [the Welsh language] is there for them to use…”

Does this suggest that the WAG would consider a Wales in which everyone could speak Welsh, but no-one actually does, to be a truly bilingual country? I’d like to think not. But is does raise the critical issue of how we move from speakers who are bilingual (in the sense of being able to use both Welsh and English) to a bilingual society where both languages have vibrant communities of users. Without users, individual competence and confidence diminishes, opportunities for use diminish and the production of new, quality materials in Welsh also diminishes. This distinction between speakers and users is an important one, and whilst producing speakers might be relatively easy, it is not clear how government policy can create users.

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BBC Strategic Review

On the negative side the Review talks of spending 25% less on the BBC‘s website by 2013, and closing “lower performing” sites (lower performing in what sense?).

On a positive note, the Review confirms the BBC‘s commitment to “services that both reflect parts of the UK to the whole and serve specific areas with content that meets their needs and interests” and the long term strategy to achieve this includes “Continued support for the UK’s indigenous minority languages including through a renewed strategic partnership with S4C, and through Ulster Scots provision and BBC Alba.”

I imagine that leaving a clear space for commercial providers of local services has less relevance to Welsh language services than other local services, and if they had been planning to axe either of both of the online services I mentioned that the Review would have mentioned this. However, perhaps irrationally, I just can’t shake a slight sense of unease.

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