Каталог :: Иностранные языки

Реферат: Wales: Struggle for independence

Survival of the Welsh Language: Part I
It is the eighth wonder of Wales that is the most wondrous of them all, the
survival of the Welsh language in the face of almost impossible odds.
Sometime in the seventh century, a Welsh Bishop heard an Englishman's voice
on the bank of the River Severn and was filled with foreboding at the sound..
He recorded his unsettling experience thus: "For the kinsman of yonder
strange-tongued man whose voice I heard across the river. . . will obtain
possession of this place, and it will be theirs, and they will hold it in
The bishop was wrong. More than twelve centuries have passed since the
strange tongue of the Saxon was heard on the borders of Wales, centuries
during which the ancient tongue of the Bishop and his fellow Britons had
every opportunity to become extinct and yet which has stubbornly refused to
die. The survival of the native language is truly one of the great wonders of
Wales, to be appreciated and marvelled at far more than any physical feature
or man-made object, and far more than the so-called seven wonders of Wales.
It is a something of a shock when visitors travel from England west into
Wales, for, almost without warning, he may find himself in areas where not
only the dialects become incomprehensible, but where even the language itself
has changed. The roadside signs "Croeso i Gymru" (accompanied by the red
dragon, the ancient badge of Wales) let it be known that one is now entering
a new territory, inhabited by a different people, for the translation is
"Welcome to Wales" written in one of the oldest surviving vernaculars in
Europe. For amusement with the language, after getting used to names such as
Pontcysyllte, Pen y Mynydd , or Glynceiriog, one can take a little detour off
the main route through Anglesey to Ireland and visit the village with its
much-photographed sign announcing the now-closed railway station:
To account for the abrupt linguistic change from English into Welsh, one must
journey far, far back into history.
It was about 1000 BC that the Celtic languages arrived in Britain, probably
introduced by small groups of migrants who became culturally dominant in
their new homelands, and whose culture formed part of a great unified Celtic
"empire" encompassing many different peoples all over Northern Europe. The
Greeks called these people, with their organized culture and developed social
structure Keltoi, the Romans called them Celtai.
In spite of the fact that they were perhaps the most powerful people in much
of Europe in 300 BC, with lands stretching from Anatolia in the East to
Ireland in the West, the Celts were unable to prevent inter tribal warfare;
their total lack of political unity, despite their fierceness in battle,
ultimately led to their defeat and subjugation by the much-better disciplined
armies of Rome. The Celtic languages on Continental Europe eventually gave
way to those stemming from Latin.
The Celts had been in Britain a long time before the first Roman invasion of
the British Isles under Julius Caesar in 55 BC which did not lead to any
significant occupation. The Roman commander, and later Emperor, had some
interesting, if biased comments concerning the native inhabitants. "All the
Britons," he wrote,"paint themselves with woad, which gives their skin a
bluish color and makes them look very dreadful in battle" (De Bello Gallico).
It was not until a hundred years later, following an expedition ordered by
the Emperor Claudius, that a permanent Roman settlement of the grain-rich
eastern territories of Britain begun in earnest.
From their bases in what is now Kent, the Roman armies began a long, arduous
and perilous series of battles with the native Celtic tribes, first
victorious, next vanquished, but as on the Continent, superior military
discipline and leadership, along with a carefully organized system of forts
connected by straight roads, led to the triumph of Roman arms. In the western
peninsular, in what is now Wales, the Romans were awestruck by their first
sight of the druids (the religious leaders and teachers of the British). The
historian Tacitus described them as being "ranged in order, with their hands
uplifted, invoking the gods and pouring forth horrible imprecations"
The terror was only short-lived; Roman arms easily defeated the native
tribesmen, and it was not long before a great number of large, prosperous
villas were established all over Britain, but especially in the Southeast and
Southwest. Despite defeats in pitched battles, the people of mountainous
Wales and Scotland were not as easily settled; their scattered settlements
remained "the frontier" -- lands where military garrisons were strategically
placed to guard the Northern and Western extremities of the Empire. The
fierce resistance of the tribes in Cambria meant that two out of the three
Roman legions in Britain were stationed on the Welsh borders. Two impressive
Roman fortifications remain to be seen in Wales: Isca Silurium (Caerleon)
with its fine ampitheatre, in Monmouthshire; and Segontium, (Caernarfon), in
In Britain, at least for a few hundred years after the Roman victories on
mainland Europe, the Celts held on to much of their customs and especially to
their distinctive language which has miraculously survived until today as
Welsh. The language of most of Britain was derived from a branch of Celtic
known as Brythonic: it later gave rise to Welsh, Cornish and Breton (these
differ from the Celtic languages derived from Goidelic; namely, Irish, Scots,
and Manx Gaelic). Accompanying these languages were the Celtic religions,
particularly that of the Druids, the guardians of traditions and learning.
Though the Celtic tongue survived as the medium of everyday speech, Latin
being used mainly administrative purposes, many loan words entered the native
vocabulary, and these are still found in modern-day Welsh, though many of
these have entered at various times since the end of the Roman occupation.
Today's visitors to Wales who know some Latin are surprised to find hundreds
of place names containing Pont (bridge), while ffenest (window), pysgod
(fish), milltir (mile), melys (sweet or honey) cyllell (knife), ceffyl
(horse), perygl (danger), eglwys (church), pared (wall or partition), tarw
(bull) and many others attest to Roman or Latin influence. (The word Cerbyd,
recently coined by the Ministry of Transport for automobile for use on the
new motorways, was used by Welsh poet Henry Vaughan in the late 17th century
as a term for chariot).
In 440 AD an anonymous writer penned the following:
Britain, abandoned by the Romans, passed into the power of the Saxons
(Chronica Gallica )
When the city of Rome fell to the invading Goths under Alaric, Roman Britain,
which had experienced hundreds of years of comparative peace and prosperity,
was left to its own defences under its local Romano-British leaders, one of
whom may have been a tribal chieftain named Arthur. It quickly crumbled under
the onslaught of Germanic tribes (usually collectively referred to as Anglo-
Saxons) themselves under attack from tribes to the east and wishing to settle
in the sparsely populated, but agriculturally rich lands across the narrow
channel that separated them.
More than two hundred years of fighting between the native Celts, as brave as
ever but comparatively disorganized, and the ever-increasing numbers of
Germanic tribesmen eventually resulted in Britain sorting itself out into
three distinct areas: the Britonic West, the Teutonic East, and the Gaelic
North. It was these areas that later came to be identified as Wales, England,
and Scotland, all with their very separate cultural and linguistic
characteristics (Ireland, of course, remained Gaelic: many of its peoples
migrated to Scotland, taking their language with them to replace the native
From the momentous year 616, the date of their defeat at the hands of the
Saxons in the Battle of Chester, the Welsh people in Wales were on their own.
Separated from their fellow Celts in Cornwall and Cumbria, those who lived in
the western peninsular gradually began to think of themselves as a distinct
nation in spite of the many different rival kingdoms that developed within
their borders such as Morgannwg, Powys, Brycheinion, Dyfed and Gwynedd. It is
also from this period that we can speak of the Welsh language, as distinct
from the older Brythonic.
In a poem dated 633, the word Cymry appears, referring to the country; and it
was not too long before the Britons came to be known as the Cymry, by which
term they are known today. At this point, we should point out that the word
Welsh (from Wealas) is a later word used by the Saxon invaders of the British
Isles perhaps to denote people they considered "foreign" or at least to
denote people who had been Romanized. It originally had signified a Germanic
neighbor, but eventually came to be used for those people who spoke a
different language.
The Welsh people themselves still prefer to call themselves Cymry, their
country Cymru, and their language Cymraeg. It is also from this time that the
Celtic word Llan appears, signifying a church settlement and usually followed
by the name of a saint, as in Llandewi (St. David) or Llangurig (St. Curig),
but sometimes by the name of a disciple of Christ, such as Llanbedr (St.
Peter) or even a holy personage such as Llanfair (St. Mary).
It is in Wales, perhaps, that today's cultural separation of the British
Isles remains strongest, certainly linguistically, and for that, we must look
to the mid 8th Century, when a long ditch was constructed, flanking a high
earthen rampart that divided the Celts of the West from the Saxons to the
East and which, even today, marks the boundary between those who consider
themselves Welsh from those who consider themselves English. The boundary,
known as "Offa's Dyke," in memory of its builder Offa, the king of Mercia
(the middle kingdom) runs from the northeast of Wales to the southeast coast,
a distance of 149 miles.
English-speaking peoples began to cross Offa's Dyke in substantial numbers
when settlements were created by Edward 1st in his ambition to unite the
whole of the island of Britain under his kingship. After a period of military
conquest, the English king forced Welsh prince Llywelyn ap Gruffudd to give
up most of his lands, keeping only Gwynedd west of the River Conwy.
Edward then followed up his successes by building English strongholds around
the perimeter of what remained of Llewelyn's possessions, and strong, easily
defended castles were erected at Flint, Rhuddlan, Aberystwyth, and Builth.,
garrisoned by large detachments of English immigrants and soldiers. Some of
these towns have remained stubbornly English ever since. Urban settlement, in
any case, was entirely foreign to the Celtic way of life.
In 1294, the Statute of Rhuddlan confirmed Edward's plans regarding the
governing of Wales. The statute created the counties of Anglesey, Caernarfon,
and Merioneth, to be governed by the Justice of North Wales; Flint, to be
placed under the Justice of Chester; and the counties of Carmarthen and
Cardigan were left under the Justice of South Wales. Of the Statute, an
anonymous scribe wrote, in 1284:
The Divine Providence...has now. . .wholly and entirely transferred the land
of Wales with its inhabitants...and has annexed and united the same into the
Crown...as a member of the said body
In the year 1300, the situation seemed permanently established, when "King
Edward of England made Lord Edward his son [born at Caernarfon Castle],
Prince of Wales and Count of Chester," and ever since that date these titles
have been automatically conferred upon the first-born son of the English
monarch. The Welsh people were not consulted in the matter, although an
obviously biased entry in Historia Anglicana for the year 1300 reads:
In this year King Edward of England made Lord Edward, his son and heir,
Prince of Wales and Count of Chester. When the Welsh heard this, they were
overjoyed, thinking him their lawful master, for he was born in their lands.
Following his successes in Wales, signified by the Statute of Rhuddlan,
sometimes referred to as The Statute of Wales, Edward embarked on yet another
massive castle-building program, creating such world-heritage sites of today
as Caernarfon, Conwy, Harlech, and Beaumaris in addition to the earlier not
so-well known (or well-visited) structures at Flint and Rhuddlan. Below their
huge, forbidding castle walls, additional English boroughs were created, and
English traders were invited to settle, often to the exclusion of the native
Welsh, who must have looked on in awe and despair from their lonely hills at
the site of so much building activity. Their ancestors must have felt the
same sense of dismay as they watched the Roman invaders build their heavily
defended forts in strategic points on their lands.
The Welsh were forbidden to inhabit such "boroughs" or to carry arms within
their boundaries (even today, there are laws remaining on the statute books
of Chester, a border town, that proscribe the activities of the Welsh within
the city walls). With the help of the architect Master James of St. George,
and with what must have seemed like limitless resources in manpower and
materials, Edward showed his determination to place a stranglehold on the
Welsh. Occasional rebellions were easily crushed; it was not until the death
of Edward III and the arrival of Owain Glyndwr (Shakespeare's Owen
Glendower), that the people of Wales felt confident enough to challenge their
English overlords. One scribe expressed the situation this way:
The Welsh habit of revolt against the English is a long-standing madness . .
. and this is the reason. The Welsh, formerly called the Britons, were once
noble, crowned with the whole realm of England; but they were expelled by the
Saxons and lost both name and a kingdom . . . But from the sayings of the
prophet Merlin they still hope to recover England. Hence it is they
frequently rebel. (Vita Edward Secundi I c. 1330)
Owain Glyndwr was Lord of Glyndyfrdwy (the Valley of the Dee). He seized his
opportunity in 1400 after being crowned Prince of Wales by a small group of
supporters and defying Henry IV's many attempts to dislodge him. The ancient
words of Geraldus Cambrensis could have served to inspire his followers:
The English fight for power; the Welsh for liberty; the one to procure gain,
the other to avoid loss. The English hirelings for money; the Welsh patriots
for their country
The comet that appeared in 1402 was seen by the Welsh as a sign of their
forthcoming deliverance from bondage as well as one that proclaimed the
appearance of Owain. His magnetic personality electrified and galvanized the
people of Wales, strengthening their armies and inspiring their confidence.
Even the weather was favorable. An entry in Annales Henrici Quarti of 1402
reads as follows:
[Glyndwr] almost destroyed the King and his armies, by magic as it was
thought, for from the time they entered Wales to the time they left, never
did a gentle air breathe on them, but throughout whole days and nights, rain
mixed with snow and hail afflicted them with cold beyond endurance
The Welsh leader's early successes released the long-suppressed feelings of
thousands of Welshmen who eagerly flocked to his support from all parts of
England and the Continent. Before long, it seemed as if the long-awaited
dream of independence was fast becoming a reality: three royal expeditions
against Glyndwr failed: he held Harlech and Aberystwyth, had extended his
influence as far as Glamorgan and Gwent, was receiving support from Ireland
and Scotland; and had formed an alliance with France. Following his
recognition by the leading Welsh bishops, he summoned a parliament at
Machynlleth, in mid-Wales, where he was crowned as Prince of Wales.
It didn't seem too ambitious for Owain to believe that with suitable allies,
he could help bring about the dethronement of the English king; thus he
entered into a tripartite alliance with the Earl of Northumberland and Henry
Mortimer (who married Owain's daughter Caitrin) to divide up England and
Wales between them. After all, Henry IV's crown was seen by many Englishmen
as having been falsely obtained, and they welcomed armed rebellion against
their ruler. Hoping that The Welsh Church be made completely independent from
Canterbury, and that appointments to benefices in Wales be given only to
those who could speak Welsh, Glyndwr was ready to implement his wish to set
up two universities in Wales to train native civil servants and clergymen.
Then the dream died.
Owain's parliament was the very last to meet on Welsh soil; the last occasion
that the Welsh people had the power of acting independently of English rule.
From such a promising beginning to a national revolt came a disappointing
conclusion, even more upsetting because of the speed at which Welsh hopes
crumbled with the failure of the Tripartite Indenture. Henry Percy (Hotspur)
was killed at the Battle of Shrewsbury, and the increasing boldness and
military skills of Henry's son, the English prince of Wales and later Henry
V, began to turn the tide against Glyndwr. Like so many of his predecessors,
Glyndwr was betrayed at home. It is not too comforting for Welsh people of
today to read that one of the staunchest allies of the English king and enemy
of Glyndwr was a man of Brecon, Dafydd Gam (later killed at Agincourt,
fighting for the English).
A sixth expedition into Wales undertaken by Prince Henry retook much of the
land captured by Owain, including many strategic castles. The boroughs with
their large populations of "settlers," had remained thoroughly English in any
case, and by the end of 1409, the Welsh rebellion had dwindled down to a
series of guerilla raids led by the mysterious figure of Owain, whose wife
and two daughters had been captured at Harlech and taken to London as
prisoners. Owain himself went into the mountains, becoming an outlaw. He may
have suffered an early death. for nothing is known of him either by the Welsh
or the English. He simply vanished from sight. According to an anonymous
writer in 1415," Very many say that he [Owain Glyndwr] died; the seers say
that he did not" (Annals of Owain Glyndwr). There has been much speculation
as to his fate and much guessing as to where he ended his final days and was
laid to rest.
There is an expression coined in the nineteenth century that describes a
Welshman who pretends to have forgotten his Welsh or who affects the loss of
his national identity in order to succeed in English society or who wishes to
be thought well of among his friends. Such a man is known as Dic Sion Dafydd,
(a term used in a satirical 19th century poem). The term was unknown In
fifteenth century Wales, but, owing to the harsh penal legislation imposed
upon them, following the abortive rebellion, it became necessary for many
Welshmmen to petition Parliament to be "made English" so that they could
enjoy privileges restricted to Englishmen. These included the right to buy
and hold land according to English law.
Such petitions may have been distasteful to the patriotic Welsh, but for the
ambitious and socially mobile gentry rapidly emerging in Wales and on the
Marches, they were a necessary step for any chance of advancement.In the
military. At the same time, Welsh mercenaries, no longer fighting under
Glyndwr for an independent Wales, were highly sought after by the new king
Henry V for his campaigns in France. The skills of the Welsh archers in such
battles as Crecy and Agincourt is legendary.
Such examples of allegiance to their commander, the English sovereign, went a
long way in dispelling any latent thoughts of independence and helped paved
the way for the overwhelming Welsh allegiance to the Tudors (themselves of
Welsh descent) and to general acquiescence to the Acts of Union. The year
1536 produced no great trauma for the Welsh; all the ingredients for its
acceptance had been put in place long before.
The so-called Act of Union of that year, and its corrected version of 1543
seemed inevitable. More than one historian has pointed out that union with
England had really been achieved by the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284. It was
welcomed by many in Wales and why not? Didn't it state that "Persons born or
to be born in the said Principality . . . of Wales shall have and enjoy and
inherit all and singular Freedoms, Liberties, Rights, Privileges and Laws . .
. as other the King's subjects have, enjoy or inherit?"
Those historians who praise the Acts state that the Welsh people had now
achieved full equality before the law with their English counterparts. It
opened opportunities for individual advancement in all walks of life, and
Welshmen flocked to London to take full advantage of their chances. Yet, one
of the most important in the whole history of Wales, the document was passed
without consultation with the Welsh people.
The full title is An Act for Laws and Justices to be ministered in Wales in
like form as it is in this realm.Its preamble states: "His Highness. . . of
the singular love and favour that he bears towards his subjects of this said
dominion of Wales, and intending to reduce them to the perfect order, notice
and knowledge of the laws of this his Realm, and utterly to extirpate all and
singular the sinister usages and customs differing from the same . . . hath .
. . ordained, enacted and established that his said country or dominion of
Wales shall stand and continue for ever from henceforth incorporated, united
and annexed to and with his Realm of England."
Thus the real purpose was to incorporate, finally and for all time, the
principality of Wales into the kingdom of England. A major part of this
decision was to abolish any legal distinction between the people on either
side of the new border. From henceforth, English law would be the only law
recognized by the courts of Wales. In addition, for the placing of the
administration of Wales in the hands of the Welsh gentry, it was necessary to
create a Welsh ruling class not only fluent in English, but who would use it
in all legal and civil matters.
Thus inevitably, the Welsh ruling class would be divorced from the language
of their country; as pointed out earlier, their eyes were focused on what
London or other large cities of England had to offer, not upon what remained
as crumbs to be scavenged in Wales itself, without a government of its own,
without a capital city, and without even a town large enough to attract an
opportunistic urban middle class, and saddled with a language described by
Parliament as "nothing like nor consonant to the natural mother tongue used
within this realm."
From 1536 on, English was to be the only language of the courts of Wales, and
those using the Welsh language were not to receive public office in the
territories of the king:
No person or persons that use the Welsh speech or language shall have or
enjoy any manor, office or fees within the realm of England, Wales or other
of the king's dominions upon pain of forfeiting the . same offices or fees
unless he or they use and exercise the speech and language of English
It was the arrival of the Welsh Bible, however, that brought the language
back to a respected position. In 1547, Welsh scholar, William Salesbury,
alarmed at what he considered the baseness of the Welsh tongue,wrote: "And
take this advice from me; unless you save and correct and perfect the
language before the extinction of the present generation, it will be too late
afterwards." (Oll Synnwyr Pen Kembero Ygyd). Salesbury collaborated with
Richard Davies, Bishop of St. David's on a Welsh version of The Book of
Common Prayer and The New Testament, both of which were published in 1567.
The scholar John Penry of Breconshire had implored the Queen and her
Parliament that the Welsh people should be taught the scriptures (and the
Prayer Book) in their own language. He was helped by the fact that Elizabeth
and her courtiers were appalled at the slow progress of the Welsh in learning
the English language (and, more important, their slow progress in adopting
Protestantism). Penry's suggestions were welcomed by Parliament; by having
Welsh translations placed next to the English texts in church, it was
believed the congregations could learn English! The reverse happened, of
course, and the Welsh language was given status and a place of honor by being
used as a medium for the holy scriptures. Why bother with English, when there
was now a perfectly acceptable Welsh in which to worship God?
In 1588, the translation of the whole Bible itself, the climax of the whole
movement, made Welsh the language of public worship and thus much more than a
generally despised peasant tongue. Perhaps it is to this that much of the
present-day strength of the Welsh language is owed, compared to Irish (which
did not get its own Bible until 1690) and Scots Gaelic (which had to wait
until 1801).
The Welsh Bible, a magnificent achievement, was completed after eight years
by William Morgan and a group of fellow scholars. In 1620 Dr John Davies of
Mallwyd and Richard Parry, Bishop of St. Asaph, produced a revision of
William Morgan's Bible. Most of the nearly one thousand copies of.the earlier
book had been lost or worn out, and this revised and corrected edition is the
version that countless generations of Welsh people have been thoroughly
immersed ever since, it has been as much a part of their lives as the
Authorized Version has been to the English-speaking peoples or Luther's Bible
to the Germans.
In 1630, the Welsh Bible, in a smaller version (Y Beibl Bach), was introduced
into homes in Wales and as the only book affordable to many families, became
the one book from which the majority of the people could learn to read and
write. Other, poorer families, unable to afford the Bible, were able to share
its contents in meetings held at the homes of neighbors or in their churches
or chapels. Later on, countless generations of children were taught its
contents in Sunday School. It is in this way, therefore, that we can say the
Welsh Bible "saved" the language from possible extinction.
It has been touch and go all the way since, however, with determined efforts
coming from both sides of Offa's Dyke to stamp out the language for ever. Yet
every time the funeral bells have tolled, the language has miraculously
revived itself. As early as the 12th century, Giraldus Cambrensis gave us the
famous Welsh folk tale of the declaration of the old man of Pencader to Henry
This nation, O King, may now, as in former times, be harassed, and in a great
measure weakened and destroyed by your and other powers, and it will also
prevail by its laudable exertions, but it can never be totally subdued
through the wrath of man, unless the wrath of God shall concur. Nor do I
think that any other nation than this of Wales, nor any other language,
whatever may hereafter come to pass, shall on the day of severe examination
before the Supreme Judge, answer for this corner of the earth. (John of
Salisbury: recorded in Descriptio Kambriae (1193) by Giraldus Cambrensis)
In 1753 Thomas Richards in his Thesaurus wrote:
Yet our name hath not been quite blotted out from under Heaven. We hitherto
not only enjoy the true name of our Ancestors but have preserved entire and
uncorrupted . . that primitive language, spoken as well by the ancient Gauls
and Britons some thousands of years ago
For the continued survival of the language, however, there had to be a
groundwork laid in the field of general education among the masses. There
were still too many people in Wales who could not read or write. As so often
in Welsh history, help came from outside the country itself.
In 1674, a charitable organization, the Welsh Trust, was set up in London by
Thomas Gouge to establish English schools in Wales and to publish books "in
Welsh." Over 500 books were printed in 1718 and 1721 at Trefhedyn and
Carmarthen respectively. Many of these were translations of popular English
works, Protestant tracts that encouraged private worship and prayers, but
along with the six major editions of the Bible that appeared during the same
period, they had the unpredicted effect of ensuring the survival of the
language in an age where many scholars were predicting its rapid demise. Of
equal importance were the cheap catechisms and prayer books.highly prized by
rural families who read them (along with the Beibl Cymraegd) in family groups
during the long, dark winter nights
So successful were educators, benefactors and itinerant teachers that perhaps
as many as one third or more of the population of Wales could read their
scriptures by the time of Griffith Jones' death in 1761. Jones had realized
that preaching alone was insufficient to ensure his people's salvation: they
needed to read the scriptures for themselves. Though not intended by such as
Jones (the rector of Llanddowror and therefore not a Nonconformist minister),
his writings created a substantial Welsh reading public primed and ready to
receive the appeal of the ever-growing Methodists, whose ability in such
preachers as Hywel Harris was matched by their eloquence in the pulpit, and
who obviously filled a great need among the masses.
One influential convert was Thomas Charles who joined in 1784, and who set up
the successful Sunday School movement in North Wales that had such a profound
and lasting influence on the language and culture of that region. Another
preacher of great influence was Daniel Rowland, who had converted in 1737
after hearing a sermon by Griffith Jones. With Hywel Harris, he assumed the
leadership of the Methodist Revival. Rowland's enthusiasm along with that of
his colleagues, attracted thousands of converts, and though their initial
intention was to work within the framework of the established church,
opposition from their Bishops, all of whom had little real interest in Wales
and knew nothing of its language and culture, led finally to the schism of
1811 when an independent union was founded.
This was the Calvinistic Methodist Church (today known as the Presbyterian
Church of Wales). Providing the excitement and fervor that the established
church had been lacking for so long, it did much to pave the way for the
rapid growth of the other non-conformist sects such as the Baptists and
Independents. The movement also was responsible for producing two names that
are outstanding in the cultural history of Wales: William Williams and Ann
Griffiths (dealt with at length in my History of Wales).
In 1841, William Jones, in The Character of the Welsh as a Nation in the
Present Age, praised the perseverance of his people in the face of almost
impossible odds:
To exist after so many and preserving attempts at their extinction, and to
retain the vernacular use of their primitive, nervous, and enchanting
language, after so many revolutions in their civil and religious
circumstances, are facts in which they will ever glory; and no good reason
appears why our English neighbours should deny us the consolation of these
facts, or laugh at us, with so much sarcastic malevolence, when the matter is
discussed in their society
Jones could not have foreseen the result of the coming of heavy industry to
south Wales in the 19th century, especially its twofold effect on the
language and social life of the area. First, with so many Welsh speakers
moving into the area in search of jobs, bringing their language (and their
chapels) with them, a Welsh culture survived in many fields of valley
Many historians have realized that without this immigration, Wales may have
suffered a fate similar to that of Ireland where the lack of the raw
materials for industry and the heavy reliance upon a single food crop (not to
mention the benign neglect of the English Parliament) led to famine and
massive emigration. Also unlike the Irish language (and to some extent
Breton) the language of scattered, rural communities, Welsh thrived as the
medium of everyday communication in large industrial communities (such as
Merthyr). One writer in 1804, commenting on the fact that Merthyr Tydfil was
now the largest town in Wales, marvelled that :
The workers of all descriptions at these immense works {Cyfarthfa, Merthyr
Tydfil} are Welsh men. Their language is entirely Welsh. The number of
English among them is very inconsiderable. (The Scenery, Antiquities, and
Biography of South Wales
But change was inevitable. At the same time, another culture developed that
owed just as much to its non-Welsh immigrants as it did to those who retained
the language and culture of the Welsh-speaking areas from which they moved.
In 1847 one writer had described the Rhondda Valley thus:
The people of this solitudinous and happy valley are a pastoral race, almost
wholly dependent on their flocks and herds for support ...The air is aromatic
with wild flowers and mountain plants, a sabbath stillness reigns
Only three years later, the celebrated English author Thomas Carlyle
described the same scene in a letter to his wife:
Ah me! 'Tis like a vision of Hell, and will never leave me, that of these
poor creatures broiling or in sweat and dirt, amid their furnaces, pits, and
rolling mills . . The Town [Merthyr] might be, and will be, one of the
prettiest places in the world. It is one of the sootiest, aqualidest and
ugliest; all cinders and dust mounds and soot. . .Nobody thinks of gardening
in such a locality--all devoted to metallic gambling
Such a heavy toll came to so many areas of the southern valleys. In the
counties of Glamorgan and Monmouth, the long, verdant valleys quickly filled
up with factories, mills, coal mines, iron smelting works (and later, steel
works), roads, railways, canals, and above all, people. Houses began to
spread along the narrow hillsides, filling every available space upon which a
house could be set, small houses, crammed together in row after row, street
after street, town after town all strung together on the valley floor. Houses
separated only spasmodically by the grocery store, the somber, grey chapel,
or the public house. Above them all loomed the blackened hillsides and the
slag heaps of waste coal or industrial refuse. And all this brought about by
the discovery of coal.
In the southern valleys, an Anglo-Welsh character came into being; one that
came to dominate the political, social and literary life of Wales, and it was
here also that a new and particular kind of Welshness was forged, symbolized
by the cloth-capped, heavy drinking, strike-prone, English-speaking, rugby
fanatic of the Valleys..To such a character, and to a certain extent, to the
majority of the three large urban areas of Cardiff, Swansea and Newport, the
people of the West and North, the Bible-toting, chapel-going, teetotal,
parsimonious, and above all Welsh-speaking were totally alien beings who
might have come from another planet. The repercussions are felt strongly
today as only one in five of the inhabitants of Wales use Welsh as a language
of everyday affairs.
In other areas, the Welsh language had been in decline for over 100 years. In
Flintshire, so near to the large urban areas of Merseyside and Cheshire there
had long been deliberate attempts to stamp out the Welsh language: a
traveller to the area as early as 1799 described the situation:
If therefore, in the colloquial intercourse of the scholars, one of them be
detected in speaking a Welsh word, he is immediately degraded with the 'Welsh
lump,' a large piece of lead fastened to a string, and suspended round the
neck of the offender. The mark of ignominy has had the desired effect: all
the children of Flintshire speak English very well
Such drastic measures had their desired effect. By 1804 John Evans wrote that
"North Wales is becoming English." In the same year, Benjamin Heath Malkin
wrote :
The language of Radnorshire is almost universally English. In learning to
converse with their Saxon neighbours, they have forgotten the use of their
vernacular tongue
Other areas did not suffer the loss of the language. Lord Tennyson, who in a
letter to a friend in 1839 thought "it [is] remarkable how fluently little
boys and girls can speak Welsh." Tennyson's romantic views of the Welsh
language, however, were not shared by the Government in London, nor by
everyone in Wales. In a letter to The Cambrian in September 1840, one writer
blamed the Welsh language for the country's moral turpitude:
I cherish the hope that I may yet see the day when Wales, no longer the seat
of barbarity and heathenism, will herself take a fit position (from which she
has so long been excluded) in moral literature and science. It may be asked
how was Wales set aside from that past, which is the glory and pride of every
other nation? The answer is simple -- she is bound with fetters as yet
indissoluble which she seems to hug with increasing tenacity -- namely her
language --The Welshman is a fool, his language is his folly -- he prefers
others to enjoy his goods, he prefers he prefers being laughed at as a puppet
in Druidic processions and Bardic Eisteddfodau
The writer wished to see the disappearance of Welsh, "without which act, we
can never hope to be recognized otherwise than as simple, good-natured,
honest barbarians."
The letter, astonishingly enough, was written just at the time that Lady
Charlotte Guest was making known to the world some of the glories of Welsh
literature through her translations of the medieval tales known as the
Mabinogion.. Mrs. Guest (Lady Llanover), advised the mothers of Wales,". .
.speak Welsh to your children . . .it is from you, and not from their
fathers, that they will learn to love God in their own language." Others were
not so sympathetic.
Some of the letters published in The Cambrian in the mid 19th Century show an
attitude of many Englishmen towards the Welsh language that has persisted
until today. In one of them, the writer was amused by the proposal to have
the infant Prince of Wales (eldest son of Queen Victoria), instructed in the
Welsh language. He wrote that the prince, by trying to pronounce the Welsh
"ll" or "ch" would be perceived as having spasmodic affections of the
bronchial tubes "that would lead to quinsy or some terrible disease of the
lungs and jugulum and would alarm everyone."
The writer, no doubt fully amused at his own cleverness, and obviously
completely oblivious to the beauties of the Welsh language and the glories of
its culture, goes on to ask his readers to consider the roars of laughter in
the House of Commons when the budget of the day includes the following items:
"Three thousand pounds per annum for teaching His Royal Highness Welsh,
making leek broth, and the national mode of eating it." The idea, he
continued. was revolting, "like trying to cram a calf with logic: nature
forbids it."
The same kind of fatuous, condescending arguments, of course, appeared in the
newspapers of Wales some one hundred and twenty years later when Charles, as
the so-called Prince of Wales, was being taught Welsh at Aberystwyth
University. The newspapers of the 1990's too, often contain similar letters
and articles that discuss the merits of continuing the Welsh language in the
schools, of teaching it to newcomers, and of its relevance in the modern
world. All despite the fact that, in the earlier period, even Queen Victoria
herself, that staunch symbol of Empire, advocated the teaching of Welsh in
the schools of the principality.
By the middle of the 19th century, Victoria's views notwithstanding, the tide
was running heavily against Welsh. In 1842, a Royal Commission, looking into
the state of education in Wales, noted that some Welsh boys employed at mines
in Breconshire were learning to read English at Sunday School, but that they
could speak only Welsh. This was intolerable to the commissioners.
It was demanded in Parliament that an inquiry be conducted into the means
afforded to the laboring classes of Wales to acquire a knowledge of the
English tongue. The report of the Commissioners of Inquiry for South Wales in
1844 lamented the fact that "The people's ignorance of the English language
practically prevents the working of the laws and institutions and impedes the
administration of justice." It didn't seem to occur to the commissioners that
it was their own ignorance of the language that was obstructing justice!
The report led to another Royal Commission, conducted in 1847, which was to
have a lasting effect on the cultural and political life of Wales. The
report, in three volumes bound in blue covers, has become known as Brad y
Llyfrau Gleision (The Treachery of the Blue Books, for the three young and
inexperienced lawyers who conducted the report had no understanding of the
Welsh language, nor, it seems, did they understand non-conformity in
religious matters.
Bright, intelligent and well-read Welsh-speaking children were unable to
understand the questions put to them in English, and the surveyors pig-
headedly assumed that this was due to their ignorance. Their report lamented
what they considered to be the sad state of education in Wales, the too-few
schools, their deplorable condition, the unqualified teachers, the lack of
supplies and suitable English texts, and the irregular attendance of the
children. All these were attributed, along with dirtiness, laziness,
ignorance, superstition, promiscuity and immorality: to Nonconformity, but in
particular to the Welsh language. As the report stated:
The Welsh language is a vast drawback to Wales and a manifold barrier to the
moral progress and commercial prosperity of the people. It is not easy to
over-estimate its evil effects.
One result, of course, of the publication of such "facts" led to so many of
its speakers being made to feel ashamed and embarrassed. The effects of the
controversy thus stirred up has lasted up until today; it certainly did much
ot bolster the position of those who agreed with much of the report and who
saw the language as the biggest drawback to the people of Wales. One drastic
remedy, the imposition of English-only Board Schools did much to further has
ten the decline of Welsh over a great part of the country. In these schools,
as in Flintshire a half century earlier, the "Welsh Not" rule was imposed
with severe penalties for speaking Welsh, including the wearing of a wooden
board, the old "Welsh lump" around one's neck.
ТерминСписокопределенийАдресаЦитатыГотовыйIn Chambers' Edinburgh Journal
(vol 2, 1849), there is an entry that shows the prevalence of attitudes towards
"native languages" in other parts of Britain as well as Wales:
That until the middle of the nineteenth century the Celtic tongue in its
varieties of Gaelic, Welsh, Irish and Manx, should be employed as a
vernacular, is a matter not less of surprise than of national discredit . . .
No thought appears to have been bestowed on the fact that large masses of the
population were isolated from general progress on account of their inability
to speak English
The great Welsh industrialist David Davies of Llandinam expressed similar
concerns. In a speech at the National Eisteddfod, Aberystwyth, in 1865 (long
before the all-Welsh rule was established), he said:
I am a great admirer of the Welsh language, and I have no sympathy with those
who revile it. Still, I have seen enough of the world to know that the best
medium to make money is by the English language. I want to advise everyone of
my countrymen to master it perfectly; if you are content with brown bread,
you can of course, remain where you are. If you wish to enjoy the luxuries of
life, with white bread to boot, the only way to do so is by learning English
well. I know what it is to eat both
In the same year, in a speech to the Congregational Union, Welshman Griffith
Richards stated:
It would be an enormous advantage to the Welsh and to the English if the
Welsh language became extinct before tomorrow morning and the Welsh became
absorbed into the English nation
The situation was not universally applauded; there were those such as Thomas
Price, speaking before the Congregational Union in the same year, who
deplored what he saw happening to the language and to his people:
Englishmen, English capital and enterprise, English customs, and unhappily
English vices, are rushing in upon us like mighty irresistible torrents
carrying away before them our ancient language, social habits, and even our
religious customs and influence over the masses
H.L. Spring also commented wistfully on the situation:
Had the mineral wealth of the principality been discovered by the natives,
and could it have been properly put to use before they were subdued to
English rule, they might have preserved their language and have been the
foremost amongst British subjects in wealth, manufactures and arts; but as
the English have, through Providence means of opening out her resources, it
is plain that the English element must universally prevail. (H.L. Spring,
Lady Cambria 1867)
In Caernarfon, Gwynedd, an area still predominantly Welsh-speaking in the
1990's, there is a high school named after Sir Hugh Owen, a pioneer in
education in Wales. Owen's untiring efforts to secure a university for Wales
led to a commission to promote the idea in 1854, the university itself to be
established through voluntary contributions. Owen's pleas to the government
for financial help were unheeded, and it was public subscription that brought
to fruition the old dream of Owain Glyndwr. In 1872 Aberystwyth University
opened its doors to twenty-six students in a very impressive building on the
seafront designed as a hotel, but which was fortunately vacant at the time.
For the first few years of its existence, the college depended greatly on
voluntary contributions from the nonconformist chapels, but it attracted many
who would come to have profound influence on the culture of their nation. In
so many areas it provided the foundations that led to the national revival of
Wales in the late 1890's.
The work of Owen M. Edwards, in a period of language decline, was crucial in
this renaissance. A native of Llanuwchllyn on the shores of Llyn Tegid (Bala
Lake), Oxford University lecturer and later Chief inspector of Schools of the
newly-created Welsh Board of Education, Edwards did much to popularize the
use of Welsh as an everyday language. Alarmed by the decline in the language,
he published a great number of Welsh books and magazines, with particular
interest in works for children. In 1898 he founded Urdd y Delyn, a forerunner
of Urdd Gobaith Cymru, the largest youth organization in Wales and one that
still conducts its activities through the medium of Welsh.
Despite the success of organizations such as Urdd, one problem has remained
for the survival of Welsh ever since the Acts of Union in the middle 1500's.
The Welsh language has considered to be a great hindrance to one's feeling of
Britishness. Even before the First World War, when British soldiers from all
parts of the kingdom marched off under the Union Jack to fight the Boers in
South Africa, the feeling took hold that "...side by side with the honourable
contribution which the Welsh could make to the British Empire, the Welsh
language could be considered an irrelevance..."
This idea was implanted even more firmly in the Welsh mind by the intention
of the leaders of the Welsh-speaking community to show that the peculiarities
of Welsh culture were not a threat to the unity and tranquility of the
kingdom of Britain. When ideas of a separate government for the Welsh people
began to take hold in the late 19th century, once again, the idea of a
British national identity found itself overwhelming the purely local,
isolated, and all too often ridiculed, aspirations of those who wished for a
Welsh nationhood.
In mainly English-speaking South Wales in particular, feelings on the matter
were sharply expressed. At a crucial meeting in Newport, Monmouthshire, in
January 1898 it was firmly stated (by Robert Byrd) that there were thousands
of true Liberals who would never submit "to the domination of Welsh ideas."
With few exceptions, this seems to sum up the attitude of most Welsh
politicians of the next one hundred years. There were too many in Wales whose
close ties with English interests made the idea of home rule repugnant and
one to be fought against at all costs.
Welsh-speaking Lloyd George, future Prime Minister, who was howled down at
the meeting, questioned if the mass of the Welsh nation was willing to be
dominated by a coalition of English capitalists who had made their fortunes
in Wales. Yet even his motives were held with suspicion as being entirely
self-serving. And, as a fluent Welsh speaker, he was mistrusted by many in
the audience who looked with suspicion upon those who could speak a language
that they could not.
In 1881, the Aberdare Commission's report showed that provisions for
intermediate and higher education in Wales lagged behind those in the other
parts of Britain; it suggested that there should be two new Welsh
universities, Cardiff and Bangor. It was found, however, that there was a
lack of adequately trained students for these new colleges and thus, in 1899
the Welsh Intermediate Act came into being that gave the new county councils
the power to raise a levy (to be matched by the Government) for the provision
of secondary schools.In 1896 came the Central Welsh Board to oversee these
The result was that thousands of Welsh children from all levels of society
were able to continue their education at a secondary level. Another result,
however, was the continued decline of the status accorded the Welsh language,
for the new secondary schools were thoroughly English, only very few even
bothering to offer Welsh lessons. An educated class of Welsh people was thus
created that fostered the cultural traditions of their country in the
language of England.
ТерминСписокопределенийАдресаЦитатыГотовыйIn the meantime, in an age
where radio and movies began to play important roles in the regular everyday
life of the people of Wales, the language continued its precipitous decline.
North Wales got its news from and followed the events in Liverpool; South Wales
was more tied to happenings in Bristol or even London. Links between the two
areas of Wales were practically non-existent; roads and rails went West to
East, not North to South, and the flow of ideas and language went in the same
directions. Any sense of a national Welsh identity was disappearing rapidly
along with the language.
In an attempt to stop the rot, a new party came into being in 1925, Plaid
Genedlaethol Cymru (The National Party of Wales) that was fiercely devoted to
purely Welsh causes such as preservation of the language and culture. In
1926, Saunders Lewis took over the presidency, but the party received very
little general support and, in some areas of Wales, was the object of
ridicule. It was to take forty years before Plaid Cymru was taken seriously
and gained its first seat in Parliament. Much had been happening until then
to further erode Welsh as a common language and the idea of the Welsh as a
common, united people worthy of their own government as part of a greater
In 1918, politician Arthur Henderson, (leader of the Labour Party), issued
the following statement:
Given self-government, Wales might establish itself as a modern Utopia and
develop its own institutions, its own culture, its own ideal of democracy in
politics, industry and social life, as an example and an inspiration to the
rest of the world
Henderson's views were not endorsed by the majority of members of his party.
Eleven years later, in Welsh Outlook, Saunders Lewis, at the time a non-
politician, echoed the sentiment:
Give [Wales] self-government and you will give her a capital city where her
writers will con- gregate and meet artists and form a society. Give her a
government and a capital and she will in time gather an urban class which
will be the basis of a new aristocracy
The views of Henderson and Lewis, as imaginative and forward-looking as they
were, did not appeal to the majority of the Welsh people' at the time, those
who thought the politician and the poet were those of a very small minority
indeed. In the meantime, the process of anglicization continued unabated;
more people living in Wales considered themselves Anglo-Welsh than Welsh.
Much of the blame (or for some,the praise), can be placed on the educational
system that, even before the outset of the Second World War was geared to
producing loyal Britons.
When World War ll finally arrived, there was much more unanimity of support
throughout Britain than there had been for the First World War. And there was
less trauma inflicted upon the people of Wales, for this was a crusade
against Fascism and Nazism and Hitler that almost everyone could subscribe
to. It was also a fight to preserve the Empire. The heavy bombing meant a
large exodus of children from the targeted larger English cities into the
more rural areas. In Wales, thousands of refugees learned Welsh, but in many
areas their English language overwhelmed the local speech.or tipped the
scales against its survival.
To counter the linguistic threat to the Welsh culture at Aberystwyth, a
private Welsh-medium school was established.by Ifan ab Owen Edwards, the son
of the famous educator. Apart from this little school, however, it wasn't
until Llanelli Welsh School began in 1947 that the idea of teaching children
through the medium of Welsh began to take hold in earnest. Other schools
followed, so that by 1970, even Cardiff had its Ysgol Dewi Sant (St. David's
School) one of the largest primary schools in Wales, teaching through the
medium of Welsh.
The increase in the Welsh primary schools was accompanied by a demand for a
Welsh secondary education, and the first such schools opened in Flintshire,
Ysgol Gyfun Glan Clwyd and Ysgol Maes Garmon in areas in which the great
majority of the parents were monolingual English. The success of these
schools were followed by Ysgol Rhydfelen in Glamorganshire in 1962 and by
many others by the 1980's.
It may have taken a long while, and for many, it might have been too late,
but the change in the attitude of the Welsh people toward their language has
been dramatic since 1962. Not only that, but great strides have been made in
convincing immigrants to Wales that their children would not suffer the loss
of their English language if they were to be taught through the medium of
Welsh, and that a bilingual education may well be superior to one that
confines them to a single language. Many a non-Welsh speaking parent is now
anxious to point with pride at the achievement of their children in the Welsh
language. It is no longer fashionable in Wales to refer to the language as
"dying," and the activities of the Eisteddfod as "the kicks of a dying
nation," sentiments the author heard at Swansea in 1964. What caused the sea-
One place we can start to look for the answer is the media, especially public
radio. Beginning in 1922, the BBC broadcasts in Wales were eagerly awaited.
its voice, however, was one that gave prestige and authority to its views,
the voice of a public-school-educated upper-class Englishman. In addition,
the majority of broadcasts led a majority of British people to believe that a
BBC accent was not only desirable, but was the correct one, and that their
own accent, dialect, or in the case of much of Wales, their language, was
inferior. It was Radio Eireann, the voice of the Irish Republic, that
broadcast the only regular Welsh language material, beginning in 1927.
At time, and for a long period afterward, incredible as it now seems, the
head of the BBC station in Cardiff ignored protests from devotees of the
Welsh language who wished to hear Welsh language programs. There were then
almost one million speakers of Welsh. But aided by such attitudes of those in
authority, a rapid decline was about to begin. This was not inevitable.
Perhaps the language would have even advanced, given sufficient air time in
the late 1920's and early 30's. The problem was that most Welsh listeners
enjoyed their English language programs; it was only the few who realized
that their enjoyment was coming at the expense of their cherished, native
     Survival of the Welsh Language: Part IX
One who did take notice, and one who provided the second place to look for the
answer was Ifan ab Owen Edwards, whose father Owen M. Edwards had founded Urdd
y Delyn in 1898. The son, in his turn, established the most influential of all
youth movements in Wales, Urdd Gobaith Cymru in 1922; the movement has involved
countless thousands of Welsh boys and girls ever since, conducting their camps,
sports activities, singing festivals, eisteddfodau, etc. all through the medium
of Welsh and proving that the language was not one that should be confined to
an older, chapel-going, puritanical generation. Continued protests against the
policies of the BBC, unable and in most cases unwilling to cater to the new,
younger generation eventually led to the BBC studio at Bangor broadcasting
Welsh language programs. In 1935, and in July of 1937 the Welsh Region of the
BBC finally began to broadcast on a separate wavelength. Radio Cymru, however,
had to wait until 1977. 
     Another pivotal figure in the fight for survival of the Welsh language, and
one who made good use of the power of the radio broadcast was the poet and
dramatist Saunders Lewis. Like Ifan ab Owen Edwards, Lewis was greatly
concerned that, unless something was done, and done quickly, the Welsh language
as a living entity would disappear before the end of the century. Lewis, a
major Welsh poet and dramatist, generally considered as the greatest literary
figure in the Welsh language of this century, was born in Cheshire into a Welsh
family; he later became a lecturer at the newly established University College,
Swansea. Heavily influenced by events in Ireland and the struggle for national
identity in that country that took place in the political sphere, he was one of
the founders of Plaid Cymru in 1925 at the Pwllheli National Eisteddfod,
becoming its president in 1926. 
     Lewis envisioned a new role for the people of Wales that would transform
their position as a member of the British Empire into one in which they could
see themselves as one of the nations that helped found European civilization.
As he viewed it: 
     What then is our nationalism?...To fight not for Welsh independence but for
the civilization of Wales. To claim for Wales not independence but freedom.
(Egwyddorion Cenedlaetholdeb, 1926) 
     Ten years later, with two companions, D.J. Williams and Lewis Valentine,
Lewis deliberately set a fire at Penyberth in the Llyn Peninsular, North Wales,
a site that the military wished to use for construction of a bombing school.
The three then turned themselves in to the authorities and were duly indicted
and summoned to appear in court. The failure of the court to agree on a verdict
at Caernarfon, a town sympathetic to their cause, meant the removal of their
trial to London, where they were each sentenced to nine months imprisonment.
Lewis was dismissed from his teaching post at Swansea even before the arrival
of the guilty verdict at the Old Bailey. 
     Leading Welsh historians agree that The fire at Penyberth should be regarded
as a cause celebre in the struggle for Welsh identity; it certainly had its
impact on Welsh thinking, an impact that was not wholly dampened by the onset
of Word War ll which again focused the people of Britain on their shared
identity in the face of an enemy that threatened their survival as a nation.
The pacificism of Lewis was an affront to many, even within Plaid Cymru who saw
the need to defeat as overriding any other concern. HIs staunch support of
Wales, and his willingness to suffer in her cause, however, was significant in
events some years after the war. 
     With the arrival of peace, the great increase in the number of people owing
automobiles and the improvements in the road system meant that many areas in
Wales were easy to get to. Their beauty and tranquility became an irresistible
magnet to thousands ready to retire from the squalor and overcrowding of the
big industrial cities of northern and middle England. Welsh communities,
especially along the North Wales coast, found themselves inundated with a flood
of newcomers who were either too old to learn the language or couldn't be
bothered. Many of the younger couples had no idea that Wales had a language of
its own, or when they did find out were adamant that their children be educated
through the medium of English. Far more significant was the fact that it was
far too easy to get by perfectly well in Wales without knowing a word of its
     The whole north Wales coast, known as "the Welsh Riviera" became first a
weekend playground for, and then an extension of, Merseyside. The mid-Wales
coast, similarly was transformed by a huge influx of people from the Midlands.
LIverpool accents were more common in Llandudno than Welsh; Birmingham accents
common in Borth, or even Aberystwyth. The author vividly remembers visiting a
pub in Bangor where every customer but one could speak Welsh, but all of whom
used English to defer to a monolingual Englishman (who had been in the area
forty years without learning a single word of Welsh). The same situation was
found throughout much of North Wales. 
     The result of such massive invasions, often by retirees, certainly by those
with little incentive to learn Welsh was drastic. From almost a million Welsh
speakers in 1931, the number fell to just over 500,000 in less than fifty
years.despite the large increase in population. Strongholds of the language and
its attendant culture were crumbling fast, and it seemed that nothing could be
done to stem the tide. In 1957 occurred an event that exemplified the
situation: the Liverpool Corporation got the go-ahead from Parliament to drown
a valley in Meirionydd (Merionethshire) called Tryweryn, which housed a strong
and vibrant Welsh-speaking community. The removal of the people of Tryweryn to
make way for a source of water for an English city convinced many in Wales that
the nation was on its way to extinction. The survival of the Welsh language
seemed irreversibly doomed, and no-one seemed to care. 
     Then something happened; someone seemed to care after all. At Pontarddulais
in 1962, at the summer school of Plaid Cymru, a new movement began. Mainly
involving a younger active post-war Welsh generation, many of them college
students, the Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (Welsh Language Society) decided to
take matters in their own hands to try to halt the decline of the language by
forcing the hand of the government. Saviors to many, scoundrels and
troublemakers to others, frustrated members of the Society had been galvanized
into action by a talk given on the BBC by Saunders Lewis in February, 1962. 
     In his talk, entitled Tynged yr Iaith (Fate of the language) Lewis asked his
listeners to make it impossible for local or central government business to be
conducted without the use of the Welsh language. This was the only way, he
felt, to ensure its survival. Plaid Cymru could not help, as it was a political
party, so the banner was taken up by Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg. At narrow
Trefechan Bridge, Aberystwyth in February, 1963, members of the society sat
down in the road and stopped all traffic trying to get into town over the
bridge, or trying to leave town on the same route. 
ТерминСписокопределенийАдресаЦитатыГотовыйUndeterred by prison sentences
for disturbing the peace and for their subsequent destruction of government
property (mostly road signs), and led by such activists as Fred Fransis, and
folk-singer Dafydd Iwan, the society began a serious campaign. In the face of
much hostility from passivist locals and prosecution from the authorities,
Cymdeithas pressed for the right to use Welsh on all government documents, from
Post Office forms to television licenses, from driving licenses to tax forms.
In particular, the society engaged in surreptitious night time activities,
removing English-only sign posts and directional instructions from the highways
or daubing them with green paint. All over Wales, in early morning, motorists
were faced with the green paint and daubed slogan that mysteriously had
appeared overnight. It became frustrating and expensive for local authorities
and the Ministry of Transport to keep replacing road signs.
Eventually, in 1963, faced with an ever-growing campaign, increased police
and court costs, destruction of government property, and the vociferous
demands for action by an increasingly angry and frustrated national movement,
the central government decided to establish a committee to look at the legal
status of Welsh. Its report, issued two years later, recommended that the
language be given "equal validity" with English, a diluted version of which
was placed into the Welsh Language Act of 1967.
There came about a new feeling in the land. The young people of Wales were
answering the call of Saunders Lewis; the older generation began to
reconsider their passiveness. Dafydd Iwan and many of his contemporaries
inaugurated a whole new movement in popular Welsh music, translating English
and American pops into Welsh, or writing stirring new lyrics and music or
protest. The popularity of mournful, funereal hymns sung by male voice choirs
found a competitor, the loud, heavy rhythms and rebellious music of new
bands. Groups such as Ar Log and Plethyn rediscovered ancient Welsh folk
music and brought it up to date. The National Eisteddfod entered into the
spirit, each year erecting a Roc Pavilion, where such groups could attract
the younger audiences. Wales began to finally shake off the shrouds cast by
the Methodist Revival of over a century before.
Since the 1960's, in the author's birthplace Flint and in other towns in
Clwyd, attempts to reintroduce the Welsh language in the schools have been
warmly welcomed by many of the townsfolk, and a whole new generation of
children who can speak, read and write Welsh may help ensure the future of
the language (and ultimately, of Plaid Cymru) in such heavily anglicized
areas. Other areas, such as the Cardiff region and the Valleys have already
experienced some growth in the numbers of those able to speak Welsh.
Factors for this increase include the rise of a Welsh bureaucracy; further
expansion of the Welsh-oriented mass media; the continued activities of
Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, with its appeal to the young generation; and the
effects of the Welsh Language Act of 1967. Perhaps most important is the
subtle change in attitude towards the language brought about by the
advantages that can be gained by its speakers in both social and economic
fields. Of crucial importance in winning the hearts and minds of the non-
Welsh speakers who have young children has been Mudiad Ysgolion Meithrin (the
Welsh Nursery School Movement) founded in 1971.
In the anglicized areas of Wales, we may yet again read such sentiments as
that given by Sir Walter Scott, in a letter to his son, dated December, 1820:
You hear the Welsh spoken much about you, and if you can pick it up without
interfering with more important labours, it will be worth while
In the late 1990's, as we shall see, one of the more important labors of many
of the Welsh people has been to continue the fight to preserve their
language, and with it, much of the culture upon which it depends. To preserve
this language, the ancient, magnificent tongue of the British people for so
many, many centuries, will be indeed, a labor of love to make up for so much
past pain.
     Welsh Language Guide
The language of Wales, more properly called Cymraeg in preference to Welsh (A
Germanic word denoting "foreigner"), belongs to a branch of Celtic, an Indo-
European language. The Welsh themselves are descendants of the Galatians, to
whom Paul wrote his famous letter. Their language is a distant cousin to
Irish and Scots Gaelic and a close brother to Breton. Welsh is still used by
about half a million people within Wales and possibly another few hundred
thousand in England and other areas overseas.
In most heavily populated areas of Wales, such as the Southeast (containing
the large urban centers of Cardiff, Newport and Swansea), the normal language
of everyday life is English, but there are other areas, notably in the
Western and Northern regions, (Gwynedd and Dyfed particularly) where the
Welsh language remains strong and highly visible. The Welsh word for their
country is Cymru (Kumree), the land of the Comrades; the people are known as
Cymry (Kumree) and the language as Cymraeg (Kumrige). Regional differences in
spoken Welsh do not make speakers in one area unintelligible to those in
another (as is so often claimed), standard Welsh is understood by Welsh
speakers everywhere.
Despite its formidable appearance to the uninitiated, Welsh is a language
whose spelling is entirely regular and phonetic, so that once you know the
rules, you can learn to read it and pronounce it without too much difficulty.
For young children learning to read, Welsh provides far fewer difficulties
than does English, as the latter's many inconsistencies in spelling are not
found in Welsh, in which all letters are pronounced.
THE WELSH ALPHABET: (28 letters) 
     A, B ,C ,Ch, D, Dd, E, F, Ff, G, Ng, H, I, L
Ll, M, N, O, P, Ph, R, Rh, S, T, Th, U, W, Y 
     (Note that Welsh does not possess the letters J, K, Q, V, X or Z, though you
will often come across "borrowings" from English, such as John, Jones, Jam and
Jiwbil (Jubilee); Wrexham (Wrecsam); Zw (Zoo).
THE VOWELS: (A, E, I, U, O, W, Y) 
     A as in man. Welsh words: am, ac Pronounced the same as in English)
E as in bet or echo. Welsh words: gest (guest); enaid (enide)
I as in pin or queen. Welsh words: ni (nee); mi (me); lili (lily); min (meen)
U as in pita: Welsh words: ganu (ganee); cu (key); Cymru (Kumree); tu (tee);
un (een)
O as in lot or moe. Welsh words: o'r (0re); don (don); dod (dode); bob (bobe)
W as in Zoo or bus. Welsh words: cwm (koom), bws (bus); yw (you); galw (galoo)
Y has two distinct sounds: the final sound in happy or the vowel sound in
myrrh Welsh words: Y (uh); Yr (ur); yn (un); fry (vree); byd (beed)
All the vowels can be lengthened by the addition of a circumflex (ä), known
in Welsh as "to bach" (little roof). Welsh words: Tän (taan), län
     Ae, Ai and Au are pronounced as English "eye": ninnau (nineye); mae (my);
henaid (henide); main (mine); craig (crige)
Eu and Ei are pronounced the same way as the English ay in pray. Welsh words:
deisiau (dayshy), or in some dialects (deeshuh); deil (dale or dile); teulu
(taylee or tyelee)
Ew is more difficult to describe. It can be approximated as eh-oo or perhaps
as in the word mount. The nearest English sound is found in English midland
dialect words such as the Birmingham pronunciation of "you" (yew). Welsh
words: mewn (meh-oon or moun); tew (teh-oo)
I'w and Y'w sound almost identical to the English "Ee-you." or "Yew" or
"You": Welsh words: clyw (clee-oo); byw (bee-you or b'you); menyw (menee-you
or menyou)
Oe is similar to the English Oy or Oi. Welsh words: croeso (croyso); troed
(troid); oen (oin)
Ow is pronounced as in the English tow, or low: Welsh word: Rhown (rhone);
rho (hrow)
Wy as in English wi in win or oo-ee: Welsh words: Wy (oo-ee); wyn (win); mwyn
Ywy is pronounced as in English Howie. Welsh words: bywyd (bowid); tywyll
Aw as in the English cow. Welsh words: mawr (mour); prynhawn (prinhown); lawr
For the most part b, d, h, l, m, n, p, r, s, and t are pronounced the same as
their English equivalents (h is always pronounced, never silent). Those that
differ are as follows:
C always as in cat; never as in since. Welsh words: canu (Kanee); cwm (come);
cael (kile); and of course, Cymru (Kumree)
Ch as in the Scottish loch or the German ach or noch. The sound is never as
in church, but as in loch or Docherty. Welsh words: edrychwn (edrych oon);
uwch (youch ), chwi (Chee)
Dd is pronounced like the English th in the words seethe or them. Welsh
words: bydd (beethe); sydd (seethe); ddofon (thovon); ffyddlon (futh lon)
Th is like the English th in words such as think, forth, thank. Welsh words:
gwaith (gwithe); byth (beeth)
F as in the English V. Welsh words: afon (avon); fi (vee); fydd (veethe);
hyfryd (huvrid); fawr (vowr), fach (vach)
Ff as in the English f. Welsh words: ffynnon (funon); ffyrdd (furth); ffaith
G always as in English goat, gore. Welsh words: ganu (ganee); ganaf (ganav);
angau (angeye); gem (game)
Ng as in English finger or Long Island. Ng usually occurs with an h following
as a mutation of c. Welsh words Yng Nghaerdydd (in Cardiff: pronounced ung
hire deethe) or Yng Nghymru (in Wales: pronounced ung Humree)
Ll is an aspirated L. That means you form your lips and tongue to pronounce
L, but then you blow air gently around the sides of the tongue instead of
saying anything. Got it? The nearest you can get to this sound in English is
to pronounce it as an l with a th in front of it. Welsh words: llan (thlan);
llawr (thlour); llwyd (thlooid)
Rh sounds as if the h come before the r. There is a slight blowing out of air
before the r is pronounces. Welsh words: rhengau (hrengye); rhag (hrag); rhy
     The most common expressions that Welsh-Americans come across are Cymanfa Ganu
(Kumanva Ganee); Eisteddfod (Aye-steth-vod); and Noson Lawen (Nosson Lowen)
Read the following, written using the Welsh alphabet:
Gwd lwc. Ai hop ddat yw can ryd ddys and ddat yt meiks sens tw yw. Iff yw can
ryd ddys, dden yw ar dwing ffaen and wil haf no problems at ol yn lyrnyng awr
ffaen Welsh alffabet.
Good luck: I hope that you can read this, and that it makes sense to you. If you
can read this, then you are doing fine and will have no problems at all in
learning our fine Welsh alphabet.