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What do the Maori and Welsh languages have in common?

Intrigued by the possibility of some hitherto unknown Polynesian/Celtic linguistic cross-fertilisation, I clicked on this YouTube video clip.

Watching it saddened me. Intrepid sailors though they were, the ancestors of the Maori people never made it to Wales. The Welsh did reach New Zealand, but in steamships rather than coracles. Bidding farewell to a pair of outré alt-hist scenarios was not the reason for my sadness, however. What depressed me about this video was that, like almost every other discussion of preserving minority languages that I have ever seen, it was fixated on compulsion.

According to the video, an excerpt from a New Zealand TV programme, what Maori and Welsh have in common is that they are only kept going by forcing people to speak them and ain’t that wonderful. One minute into the clip, the commentary says,

“Four New Zealand teachers on a British Council “Linking Minds” scholarship were given a chance to see how compulsion is helping to save the Welsh language, Cymraeg, from extinction.”

Just after that one of the teachers, Nichola McCall, says to camera,

“The Welsh people have used law to support the use of the language, used it to build its status, used it to change public opinion. I think the law has really encouraged or helped education to do what it’s doing with the language, to help with its revival, to help bring it equal status with the English language here.”

Later on Ann Keane, Chief Inspector of Education and Training in Wales says at 3:24,

“If you live in Wales then you are entitled to learn something about its culture, its history and to learn something of its language.”

Who could object to that? I could, because she is using the word “entitled” in an Orwellian sense that I first noticed being used among educational opinion-formers when I was a teacher a quarter of a century ago. In Educratese “you are entitled to do this” means “you are not entitled not to do this”. Ms Keane continues:

“The time was right in Wales to bring Welsh in as a compulsory, as a mandatory, part of the National Curriculum in 1990.”

Emphasis added. The use of locutions such as “the time was right” or “the situation demanded” to describe how a law came to be passed is another trick of speech I have long hated. It makes it sound as if, rather than one more-powerful bunch of humans forcing another less-powerful bunch to do their bidding, it all happened by the irresistible pressure of some force of nature.

Just to reinforce that “entitled” is being used in this particular and deceptive sense, the commentator purrs approvingly:

“Ann believes all peoples living in Wales and New Zealand are entitled as citizens to learn the language of the land”.

This is immediately followed at 3:59 by Professor Mac Giolla Chriost of Cardiff University, who says that he thinks:

“the arguments for compulsion are much more powerful and convincing than the arguments against compulsion.”

We never get to learn what the arguments against compulsion are, so this claim is difficult to judge. The professor continues:

“There are very good arguments for making sure that all young people in New Zealand are allowed access to Maori as a part of their national identity . . . the only way of doing that, then, is compulsion.”

“Allowed access to Maori,” is another variant of “entitled to learn Maori” or “have the right to learn Maori”. As used here all of them actually mean “will be forced to learn Maori”. It just sounds prettier if a pose is maintained that someone – probably an Englishman in imperialist headgear – is trying to stop eager pupils from learning Maori or Welsh, and the “right” or “entitlement” or “demand for access” is being asserted against such oppression. I do not know about New Zealand but that picture of Anglophone oppression was certainly true of Wales at one time, although most accounts of cruel practices such as the Welsh Not skirt around the fact that its use was supported by Welsh-speaking parents who saw English as the route to prosperity for their children. My late mother-in-law, for whom Welsh was the much-loved “language of the hearth”, confirmed to me that it was common in her childhood for Welsh-speaking parents to discourage the Welsh speech of their children. Few would have wished to punish Welsh in the home by means of the hairbrush or the belt, but plenty were happy to have the teacher do it in school, where they did not have to see their child cry. No doubt many African parents nowadays make the same calculation.

But the era of Welsh-speaking or Maori-speaking pupils being forced to learn English is long gone. These days, the boot is on the other foot. Returning to the video clip, it would be wrong to imply that the four young Maori-speaking teachers featured in this programme, their hosts in Wales, or the general tone of the video, are in any way unusual. So pervasive is the assumption that force is necessary and justified to ensure the survival of lesser-used languages that most people can scarcely conceive that a person might genuinely want minority languages to flourish without also wanting people to be forced to learn them. A supporter of the Welsh language is, for most people, someone who wants more hours of compulsory Welsh for every schoolchild in Wales, more laws compelling street signs and official forms to be bilingual, and more public sector jobs for which Welsh is a requirement – even in areas, including Cardiff and Swansea, in which the first language of the people is overwhelmingly English and literally no one only speaks Welsh.

That same assumption feeds through, it seems to me, to many libertarian-inclined people whose principled opposition to the use of force in matters of language sometimes illogically extends to a certain hostility to the state-protected languages themselves.

Here is where I stand. To use force is wrong. If the only way to stop Welsh dying out is to use force, let it die. This would be a great grief to many people, including me, but the use of force on any human being should be a greater one.

But is that assumption that state action is the only way to keep Welsh (or any other minority language) alive really true?

Before I discuss that, let me observe that all the words in the Senedd have not been enough to stop the slow decline of Welsh. In the 2011 Census 19% of the population of Wales were put down as able to speak Welsh (exact degree of fluency unspecified), a slight decrease compared to 2001. For a few decades before that the language had been slowly growing, after a low point early in the twentieth century. My guess is that government help (whatever its morality) had reached the limit of what it could do against the worldwide momentum of English. The recent history of Maori seems gloomily similar. The 2006 New Zealand Census said that 23.7% of Maoris could hold an everyday conversation in the language of their ancestors. Brute force can kill a language, or raise it to dominance, but wishy-washy apologetic use of force such as practised by modern liberal democratic governments doesn’t seem very good at preserving one.

Is that it, then? Is Welsh finally to be driven from its last mountain strongholds by the Saxon tongue, perhaps with and perhaps without its existence being artificially prolonged by ever more intrusive but ultimately futile government measures? Are we to watch all languages other than General American English and Modern Standard Mandarin die one by one?

Not necessarily.

It is said that in the last days of the USSR, a Soviet official visiting Britain asked to meet the person in charge of the supply of bread to London, because he could see that whoever it was was doing a great job. This official had broadly accepted that the command economy was a failure compared to whatever the capitalists did, but he could not yet grasp that the shops could be filled with bread without any command being uttered. Not just one sort of bread either; every preference catered for. If one were concerned about the continuing availability of a particular type of bread – Jamaican bammy, say, or Russian black bread – which system, government fiat or laissez faire free for all, would be the better bet?

The language = bread analogy isn’t perfect. So grab another one: recorded music, religion, porn. In almost any field it’s amazing how much more attentively minority tastes are served by the free market (including the free cooperation of people not motivated by money) than by government use of force.

85 comments to What do the Maori and Welsh languages have in common?

  • Mastiff

    Languages take a lot of effort to learn. That effort will only be expended if there is utility in that language.

    Short of religious or social benefits in a minority language, it is likely to die. E.g. Yiddish is now spoken mostly by people who seek to build social barriers to the outside world. The broad Jewish population generally does not speak or care about Yiddish any more. Hebrew, with its religious and social significance, is another matter

  • Alex

    Something to encourage you: SaySomethingInWelsh, a private voluntary organization, has done far more to successfully teach the language than all the government-funded programmes. So much so that they have now expanded to other languages. Laws mandating the use of Welsh have been relatively unsuccessful with humorous examples of road signs printed with out-of-office replies, etc.

  • Such people are a convincing argument against state education entirely.

  • woodsy42

    “Yiddish is now spoken mostly by people who seek to build social barriers to the outside world”

    I always thought that was exactly why people in Wales spoke welsh.

  • Nicholas (Natural Genius) Gray

    With English becoming the World language, or the lingua franca, as us humourists like to say, then some cultures might want to keep their local lingoes, as well as English. I think that Australia could benefit if we had a second language based on Aboriginal languages, a blended language. Aboriginal tongues are a lot like Latin in having special endings, so the different thought-patterns would be good for young minds to work with.

  • Bod

    @Nick Gray
    Sure. As long as we can leave out the ‘compliance will be enforced by state coercion’ component.

    Learning a new language is hard with a boot on your face and a state appartchik’s hand in your pocket.

  • John Galt III

    I live in Montana. Just south of me is the Flathead Indian Reservation composed of (3) different tribes: Salish, Kootenai and Pend O’reille. There are less than a half dozen who still know the language and it has been picked as one of the top 5 most difficult languages to learn. Local, stat and the Federal government are spending millions to convert street signs etc. Basically you can say in the language: Moon is up, Sun is up, nice fish, buffalo tastes good and so forth. The vocabulary is pathetic. It is an insane exercise.

    Housing is poor and they have to clean up houses so the locals can live in them. 60% are full of meth and so have to cleaned at great expense.

    It is a boondoggle as the reservation system perpetuates ignorance, poverty and shitty behavior.

  • Tedd

    And yet latin and greek have not been compulsory in public education, at least where I live, for at least two generations. At least you can make a pedagogical case for making them part of an English curriculum. You can make no such case for Welsh or Maori.

  • RAB

    Welsh person here. My Grandfather was a Welsh speaker, born in Hermon at the foot of the Preseli mountains in Pembrokeshire. I was born in Caerphilly, the gateway to the South Wales Valley’s. Welsh is used as a day to day language only in the West and North rural areas.Only 19% of the Welsh population can speak it with any fluency, but as the oldest written European language after the demise of the Roman Empire and Latin, it is well worth preserving, as it is very beautiful and expressive.

    It is also bloody difficult to learn unless imbibed from your mother’s knee. There are mutations that make no sense at all (at least six of them) Cymru becomes Gumru depending on the position in a sentence etc

    So, in the context of this post, I was forced to learn Welsh to the age of 15. I also took A level History, one of the 4 questions answered when doing the Welsh Board exams had to be on a Welsh subject. All due to bureaucratic diktat. I did not appreciate this at all.

    Subsequently I have learnt much about, and greatly appreciate, the history and culture of my native land, but I did it for myself, rather than having it rammed down my throat by my teachers.

  • Phil B

    I’m an ex-pat Brit now living in NZ and have worked with Maori people a reasonable amount of the time I have been here. Since the vast majority of the Maori are barely literate and can’t do basic arithmetic, then spending the time and effort to teach them a dying language is a bit counterproductive, methinks …

  • Roue le Jour

    There’s a lot to be said for learning another language so that you can’t be overheard. If we all spoke Latin, do example, we could say what we liked without being chided by collectivists for hate speech.

  • Chip

    Many socio-political forces today are about the return to tribal identity. Tribes are isolated from the Other and easily coerced through emotional appeals to identity rather than universal logic.

    This has picked up methinks because information and people are increasingly ignoring the borders and authority defined by the state. So the thugs among us look to draw new boundaries based on race, gender, language etc.

    The new tribes destined to wage continuous and pointless war.

  • J.Jones

    Very insightful piece. Alongside compulsion here in Wales is widespread deception and propagandising. For 30 years we had “The Welsh Language board” given £13 million per year to advance the speaking of Welsh. They were also responsible for all research into the Welsh language. The result was predictable; no research ever showed a disadvantage to Welsh medium schooling.
    In fact WM schooling was heralded as providing higher levels of academic achievement. Taken at face value this statement was true but no educationalist would really compare schools with very different levels of challenge and funding…..In Wales we do in order to make WM schools look good. WM schools are mostly in areas of Wales with low deprivation levels or, in the Anglicised areas of Wales, they are populated by the children of Welsh speakers (often teachers themselves) and the educated English speaking middle classes. WM schools have no immigrant pupils, no traveller children, fewer SEN pupils and, in secondary schools a gender imbalance that results in more girls than boys on school rolls.

    In spite of all this, if groups of WM schools within narrow bands, based around similar free school meals eligibility, are compared, then WM schools under perform English medium schools. Why? looking more closely, it’s the pupils whose home language is English who are performing badly in WM schools. Who would be surprised that a pupil who studies maths through his second language does less well than a pupil who studies through his first language? In Wales we are not allowed to say a word in criticism of a school system that is sick.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    John Galt III writes, “Basically you can say in the language: Moon is up, Sun is up, nice fish, buffalo tastes good and so forth. The vocabulary is pathetic. It is an insane exercise.”

    I agree that putting money into changing street signs is insane if less than half a dozen still know this language. But if the vocabulary is pathetic that is almost certainly a consequence of the fact that the only remaining speakers are a very few elderly people who have mostly forgotten the much richer language of their youth through lack of people to speak it to and a dearth of situations in which to speak it. It is a well-observed fact that as languages die the vocabulary shrinks as rarer words and more complex usages of grammar are forgotten. What those old people speak now is probably more like a pidgin between their original language and an uneducated person’s English.

    It is not political correctness that leads me to suppose that indigenous American languages were as complex as any in their day. If you have a Kindle I recommend downloading Edward Sapir’s 1921 classic book “Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech”. (It’s currently free on amazon.co.uk; I don’t know if the same is true on amazon.com ) Although I gather that modern linguistics has overturned some and modified many of his conclusions, it is very interesting to read his description, written long before modern identity politics, of the complexity of native American languages, which fascinated him. He was able to talk to many more fluent native speakers than his modern counterparts can.

    Incidentally, in those days, academic works were written in an English that a lay person could read with pleasure.

  • Ian Bennett

    How things change: the Welsh Not. (Except for state compulsion, of course.)

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Several people have mentioned the prevalence of drug addiction, alcoholism, welfarism and other social pathologies among Native Americans on reservations and in Maori neighbourhoods. Similar patterns can be seen worldwide. I see the fate of the people and the fate of their original languages as having much in common. If I may quote myself from an earlier post:

    . . . I really don’t think it is the gypsies themselves who have changed so much. What has changed in the last few years is that they have become a state-protected group. God help them. State protection is better than state persecution as cancer is better than a knife in the ribs.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    J. Jones,

    Much of what you say agrees exactly with what I heard from my Welsh relatives. However my understanding is that many of the majority Welsh-speaking areas really are hard-hit by the general depression in agricultural incomes and there is much poverty amid the beautiful scenery. So the type of Welsh-medium school that is likely to have most of its pupils being taught in their first language is an exception to your observation, correct for Welsh-medium schools in English-speaking areas, that WM education is frequently a nifty way for middle class parents who would be embarrassed to openly send their child to a selective school to get the same effect by stealth.

    I stress that I have absolutely no objection in principle to Welsh-medium schools, or academically selective schools, or socially selective schools. I’d love to see all sorts of school coexisting and competing in Wales and everywhere else.

    There does seem to be some evidence that bilingualism is good for the brain, and bilingual education can work as well or better than monolingual when done well. Talk to any Dutch software engineer (I assure you, you won’t need Dutch to do this) to see what I mean. Either they are a race of superbeings or it is possible to reach very high levels of competence in scientific and technical subjects via the medium of a foreign language.

    Unfortunately these days almost everything about Welsh-medium education and the Welsh language generally is passed through the distorting prism of the state. As a result, as you say, it is all so soaked in propaganda and lies that the liars themselves don’t know what is true anymore. Brian Micklethwait of this parish calls the process “educational sovietisation”.

  • But compulsion works! “Rydw i’n hoffi coffi”. See! I remembered something.

  • Barry Sheridan

    Interesting. What I get out of this debate is further confirmation of the fact that the State in its modern form is extending its grip on power by increasing efforts to divide the populations over which its presides. In this way we have experienced policies that have sought to divide man from woman, young from old and so on. The undermining of the nuclear family and institutional advantaging of women over men are of course well entrenched success stories. While the language thing is peripheral it does fit in with this trend. Not that those behind these ideas will ever totally succeed, it is enough to distract and keep people off balance.

  • J.Jones

    There is a mythology about the impoverished rural West of Wales as well. You can look at the school deprivation figures on “My local school.” What you find is that the county with the most Welsh speakers and WM schools, Gwynedd, has an average free school meals entitlement at secondary level of 12% and has been between 11% and 12% for many years. Ceredigion has an average entitlement of 11.5% and Anglesey has a FSM entitlement of 16.5%. This is against an all Wales average of 17.4%. Ceredigion and Gwynedd are always amongst the 4 least deprived counties in Wales. In places with higher than average deprivation…..take Cardiff (Average FSM% 20.1%) the Welsh medium schools stand out:- Ysgol Glantaf 7.7% FSMs, Plasmawr 5.8% Bro Edern 12.4% FSMs. In addition each school receives a “Welsh Medium supplement” equivalent to the salary of two teacher full time.

    Research on bilingualism in Wales has been done recently by Prof Cathercole (I think that’s her name) she found no bilingual advantage amongst Welsh children. Research on Dementia amongst Bilingual Welsh speakers also 2014 in Bangor found no bilingual advantage. Research in the Basque region comparing monolingual and bilingual Basque pupils found no bilingual advantage.

    Where a bilingual advantage has been found the studies have sometimes been flawed but otherwise the advantage is amongst first generation immigrants… a “Super healthy” pool.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Barry Sheridan writes,

    “The undermining of the nuclear family and institutional advantaging of women over men are of course well entrenched success stories.”

    That prompts me to amend something I said something to my earlier reply to J. Jones. I said that the agricultural Welsh-speaking heartlands are actually rather poor, inferring from that that pupils from these areas were likely to have quite a few social problems. True-ish, but while the Gogs are poor they haven’t yet had their families completely undermined by welfare. People in need might even still turn first to the Chapel as their fathers did. I have no figures to hand but I’d imagine that a high proportion of children have two parents present.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Our comments crossed – I’ll take a look at the websites you mention.

  • ragingnick

    The enforced revival of dead or useless languages is part of the broader project of multiculturalism. The progressive state apparatus sees in the preservation of minority languages another means of maintaining the divide and rule methodology of identity politics.

    The most basic foundation of a civil society of shared values is a common language, the multilingual state is the route to Balkanization.

  • Chip that is a blinder of a comment. SQOTD!

  • Lee Moore

    {Welsh} is also bloody difficult to learn unless imbibed from your mother’s knee.

    I went out with a Welsh girl once. I couldn’t work out how she was able to talk so much and so fast for 24 hours a day non stop. Now the mystery is solved. She must have been using her knees too.

  • Andrew Duffin

    Similar things could be said about Scottish Gaelic, which is being forcibly maintained across large areas of the country not all of which ever had any native speakers. For instance, in Ayrshire – where there are not and never have been any native Gaelic speakers (Burns wrote in old Scots, which is a dialect of English) – taxpayers’ money is being wasted on duplicating the station name signs with Gaelic place names (many of them invented, I imagine) on the railway.

  • A Brilliant assessment Natalie of the Orwellian Wales where a Social Engineering experiment is practised through Welsh Governments dictate and not seen in Europe since the Stalinist era. Everything that matter or should matter in Wales, Education, NHS, Economy and so on is in terminal decline and largely down to the Welsh language imposition. As I happen to be a parent of two kids in Welsh education I could see first hand the corrosive and damaging aspects of Welsh language where Welsh speaking teachers are being given a job for life to impart the language into the little minds with no regard to academic and social damage they are inflicting on non Welsh speaking children.

  • John Galt III


    I have no problem with people wishing to keep their ancestral language. But,

    1) Not with my (our) taxpayer money
    2) When these people can’t get jobs, and build meth labs I don’t want my money going to their reservations. Montana averages 70% unemployment in its (7) reservations. The government keep giving them millions for their dysfunctional “culture”.

  • J.Jones

    The trouble is that what starts as a fine idea (save an ancient language) and sounds very like something that the Liberal establishment should always support (Save the giant Panda, Snow Leopard, Polar Bear) becomes a monster that is protected with religious ferocity. In Wales “Human Rights” have become confused to the point where Welsh is hedged round with laws but the majority language, English, has no protection.
    The usual sneer is “English doesn’t need any protection” very true of course but that doesn’t mean that people who want to speak only English in a country with two official languages shouldn’t have legal protection.
    Here in Wales Local Authorities are required by law to survey parents to see if they want to send their children to a Welsh medium school. The LA must provide that school. In Gwynedd all primary schools are Welsh medium, In Anglesey the same and in Ceredigion all but a handful. Similarly areas of Carmarthenshire. The internal language of the Authorities themselves is Welsh…..no non-Welsh speakers are employed in Gwynedd, few in Anglesey and Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire have the aspiration to conduct all business in Welsh. Parents in these areas have no right to English medium education, they have no access to the largest source of employment, the LAs themselves, and migration is forced onto non Welsh speakers.
    Learning Welsh does not seem to be the key…77% of people in Welsh essential jobs had a fluent Welsh speaking parent. Only 15% of people who didn’t have a Welsh speaking parent are in Welsh essential employment.

  • Jeff Evans

    It has always puzzled me that (sweeping generalisation) people who don’t believe in the Divine, and by imlication do believe in Natural Selection, are the most active in causes aimed at preventing Natural Selection reaching its ultimate conclusion – either with tigers or traditional languages.

  • I am a great believer in Natural Selection, but the only Divine I believe in is the Flying Spaghetti Monster (PBUHNA) 😉 I also advocate vast human intervention into a great many things, just not by the state at gun point. My take on Natural Selection is our brains can enable us to supersede mere genetic selection… I look forward to my cyborg future surrounded by tigers preserved for posterity… on private property.

  • A Veteran

    Talking to a couple of Welsh students who went to Liverpool university to study science; they said they struggled because their knowledge of English science and engineering terms was inadequate because they were taught through the medium of Welsh and they stated they feel they would of got better marks if they only knew more English. e.g. Titration.
    I have noticed no studies have been done to look at the negative side of compulsory Welsh and lower English standards in English speaking homes in Wales, only the PISA results indicate something is seriously wrong in Wales compared to the rest of the UK and the World.
    Please don’t call me a racist or anti Welsh just because I ask dare ask questions, I’m a veteran and fought for freedom of speech like so many before me and hate this anti English attitude that seems to be on the rise.
    I know someone who had his outside walls painted because he dared to state facts so I would like my name kept secret.

  • David Crawford

    John Galt III,

    One thing about American Indians: Any Indian who had anything going on got the hell off the reservation and moved to where the opportunities were. My late father sure did. The last thing he wanted for himself and us was to have us waste our lives back on that shit-hole of a rez. Those places are nothing but rural slums with all the fucked-up problems you see in modern American slums.

    BTW, probably the best social program for Indians is/was the US military. Young guys from the rez would join/get drafted into the Army or Marines and would see the wider world. A lot of them could see what they could have if they moved off the rez compared to life back on it. Most of them never went back.

  • I grew up in Wales, and learned Welsh in school from age 7 and so can pronounce place names like Llanelli, Maenclochog and Pwllheli and see words like “ysbyty” and know immediately that it is pronounced “is-but-ee” and it means hospital*. But my parents were English and had not long settled in Wales, and the thing they found the most curious was, although the various Welsh teachers would harangue parents into accepting the importance of the kids learning Welsh, the language was actually dying because Welsh speakers were not passing it onto their children. Indeed, our neighbours spoke Welsh as a first language but their children did not. The compulsory teaching probably did do a lot to save the Welsh language from further decline, but it totally baffled my parents to see the state insisting on doing what native Welsh speakers could not be bothered doing within their own families.

    *I have found this somewhat useful, in the sense that the Welsh sound “ch” is the same as the Russian “x”. I can therefore say “xorosho” better than most foreigners.

  • I always thought that was exactly why people in Wales spoke welsh.

    One of the daftest myths that persists about the Welsh is the story – and I’ve heard it from at least two people who swear “it happened to me, honest” – is the stereotypical story of walking into a shop and the people stop speaking English and switch to Welsh. This is bollocks, for obvious reasons which are no different from any other place and language: Welsh speakers are almost always able to speak Welsh as a first language, few can speak it very well as a second language. So if a conversation was able to take place in Welsh, it would have been going on in Welsh already. Welsh speakers don’t hang around speaking English with each other unless there is somebody in the group that cannot follow the conversation, in which case they’d not be able to switch to Welsh. The idea is as daft as a bunch of Dutch all speaking English and then switching to Dutch when an Englishman comes in. Doesn’t happen.

  • Watchman

    Language is a function of thought, not (as the collectivists seem to think) an independent variable. The success of a language is related to its utility – to take an example, Celtic languages seem to have spread across Britain alongside a culture which prioritised military status of leaders and also intesified agriculture. This is not to say that Celts (whatever they might be) spread across Britain, but that a successful model of rule and agriculture spread across Britain, with Celtic terminology and an incentive to use Celtic language to interact with others in the same culture as a corollary.

    The spread of English (understanding of which is now essential to go far in science or computing, and pretty much in engineering or most of the humanities and social sciences) is similiar – it is tied in with the industrial revolution (the terminology of which was created in the UK, in the main) and with the development of modern communication technologies (led by the US). As the UK (and ultimately the US) managed to assert supremacy over rival French and German claims to hegemony, it got to use its language for the European technological advances worldwide.

    People will therefore naturally tend to think and talk in English when they want to communicate around modern life – preserved languages like Welsh and Maori do not have the structures evolved to do that, and seek to replace this by simply providing translations of English words and even concepts, which mean that speaking these languages is not really discussing an issue in those languages, but rather in translated English. There are plenty of viable alternative languages which have their own evolved ways of describing technology and the like (as with the Germanic languages that bordered the Celtic ones on the continent also being able to express the same concepts), be they Chinese, Spanish or even French, but a language which simply has to import and translate concepts, with no real evolution of ideas, is simply not really serving a function. It has basically failed in the marketplace. English has succeeded, until the next cultural change which requires a different language to truly adapt to it comes along…

  • David Crawford

    Tim Newman,

    There’s another myth about language that they tell here in the U.S. Basically the myth is that American Indian kids were banned from speaking their native language when they went to BIA boarding school, to the point that they were beaten if they did. People believe it because it fits a certain narrative (evil white people wiping out native cultures).

    My father went to boarding school at Flandreau (South Dakota) in the late 1940’s/early 50’s. He said that was bullshit. They had a rule that inside the school building everyone spoke english. Back in the dorms you could speak whatever the hell you wanted. (With the exception that you had to speak english to the staff). They had to have a common language as there were kids (and staff) from a half-dozen different tribes there (mainly Sioux and Chippewa but also smaller tribes like the Arikara, Mandan, and Menominee).

  • I have no figures to hand but I’d imagine that a high proportion of children have two parents present.

    Having spent a healthy youth in West Wales, there isn’t a lot on offer to cause one to stray. Most couples down there are farmers’ sons and daughters paired off at the Young Farmers club.

  • Paul Marks

    Even the BBC (hardly a right wing institution) admits that genetically there is no such thing as “the Welsh people”.

    Genetically people in South Wales are quite different from people in North Wales.

    People in Dorset (England) are also not just different from the “Celts” of Cornwall, they are different to the people in Dorset over the other border of Devon.

    There is no such “race” as “Celtic” – dark haired dark eyed Irish “Celts”, red haired green eyed Irish “Celts” and on and on.

    As for language – a lot of the towns of South Wales (as RAB points out) never had Welsh names (ever).

    It is a made up (1960s) nationalism – pushed by bully boy “activists” and the power of the state.

    By the way the – Saxons-in-the-forest view of the English is also drivel.

    The English are a mixed people – defined by language and culture, not German (Herder and Fichte) style “race”.

    Folk does not mean Volk – even if the two words have a common root.

    Folksy does not mean the same thing as Volkish.

    Even Alfred the Great had many Romano British forefather (as well as Germanic ones).

    Not usual for Wessex – and it is from the Kings of Wessex that the line of the present Queen comes from.

    All Royal families are mixed – there is Irish (of various different sorts) and Norse in the Royal family also.

    The United Kingdom is a political and cultural union – not a racial one.

  • Paul Marks

    The vowel shift is interesting – it happened in the centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire.

    Welsh is indeed a form of “P Celtic” – but it is not the form that would have been spoken in the southern part of this island during and before the Romans (the vowel shift means that it sounds different).

    The Q Celtic forms of parts of Scotland and Ireland (and, historically, the Isle of Man) is different also.

  • Funny, but I don’t see any such impetus from the current South African Government for the maintenance of the Afrikaans language and culture… I wonder why that is?

  • Veryretired

    Tranzi elites love all those quaint customs and scenic wildernesses and indigenous people and all the other multi-culti delights they can visit, take some pix, and say “aaah, how cute” about.

    Then they get back in their limo, drive to their jets, and get the hell back to the metropolis with all the amenities, and nice restaurants, and congratulate themselves about how they have “preserved” some heritage something or other.

    All this preservation stuff is feel-good ism, and that’s all it ever was.

  • Slartibartfarst

    @Veryretired: I tend to agree with what you write there, but the origins of this are worth considering.
    I went through the compulsory Welsh thing in Wales – Welsh became compulsory after the Welsh Nationalist Party gained control and then started to force its religio-political ideology on all the people living in Wales.
    At primary school one had to take an exam called “11-Plus” at the end of primary. The 11-plus was a streaming exam, with a component in Welsh and another in English – if you passed you went to grammar school on a university path; if you failed you went to a “technical modern school” on a “technical” education path. No matter how well you did on the English component, if you failed the Welsh part, you failed the exam.
    I went to the grammar school, where Welsh was compulsory in the first year, which filled up my language subjects slots, so I couldn’t do French as I had planned, until year 2.

    Even though I became fluent in Welsh and quite like the language, I never could see – and still don’t see – that any useful purpose was achieved by having to learn Welsh. The Welsh + English road-signs (especially on motorways) are a tribute to moronic bureaucracy.
    However, to be able to speak Welsh (like Monty Python’s Llap Goch) you require a PhD in throat-clearing and spitting, and I found that that skill made it really easy to hear and get my tongue around French, Spanish and especially German pronunciation when I later took those languages. I was fluent in French and had passably good Spanish and German, and I reckon Welsh even helped me to hear and improve my English pronunciation. So maybe I did get something indirectly from learning the Welsh language.

    But there is no “Welsh” culture per se. It was (probably systematically) expunged, along with the language. I recall from my history lessons that the only reason there is a Welsh language was that someone discovered a St James bible that had been translated into Welsh, enabling the alphabet and language to be revived from that.

    The Welsh case is different to that of Maori. Fast forward to when I immigrated to New Zealand, where Maori nationalism was pushing to increase awareness of Maori culture and language. It hasn’t gone as far as making Maori compulsory, yet, though successive governments have appeased Maori by adopting some so-called cultural aspects of Maoridom in government and local government departments and processes, and teaching about it in primary schools and even (now) secondary schools, though fortunately cannibalism doesn’t seem to be on the list.

    The NZ case for preserving Maori language and customs was/is stronger than for Welsh though, insofar as Wales was overrun by the Romans centuries ago and then had its pagan culture absorbed and expunged by the RC religio-political ideology, whereas the NZ people/government have recognised that NZ was basically taken away from the Maori relatively more recently (within the last 200 years approx.) by the colonists, through trade and brutal force – and apparently at a very cheap price too. The natives were arguably ripped off and some tribes are still arguing about whether (or how much) they will accept in the restitution they have been offered, though others have settled a handsome payout and moved on.
    So I am in favour of recognising Maoridom in NZ, though the language is arguably a dead language (like Welsh) and seems to be kept as a culturally divisive thing – which unfortunately makes it difficult for Maori to acculturate to the dominant pakeha culture and especially the work ethic. Alan Duff, a Maori writer, wrote about this Maori condition in “Once Were Warriors”, which was subsequently made into a very graphic and brutally honest movie.

    The results of that lack of acculturation by Maori probably include, for example, the relatively low educational achievement standards and low socio-economic status of Maori in general, and their over-representation in statistics relating to social issues – e.g., public health (especially child health and abuse), and social reform – e.g., Maori comprise an est. approx. 11.6% of the total NZ population, but recent prison statistics show that Maori comprise 51% of the prison population (58% Female, 51% Male).

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Roue le Jour
    March 20, 2015 at 5:04 am

    There’s a lot to be said for learning another language so that you can’t be overheard. If we all spoke Latin, do example, we could say what we liked without being chided by collectivists for hate speech.

    On the other hand, the more languages you know, the harder it is to listen to opera in blissful ignorance of how asinine the plots are….

  • Paul Marks

    The history of southern Wales and northern Wales is different under the Romans.

    The Romans took over all Wales – but there was always less control in the hill and mountains in the West of this island of Britain.

    However, late on in the Roman Empire (when everything was falling apart) the Romans allowed a warlord to come down from the border country with what is now Scotland and “maintain order” in North Wales.

    He and his thugs were worse than the Romans – and they made serfs of the people.

    It was not the same in Central and South Wales.

    As for that “King James Bible in Welsh”.

    Oh bleep, bleep, bleeping bleep (I should not swear about the Bible).

    Your history lessons were awful Slartibartfast – your history teacher should have had his backside kicked – all the way down the street.

    The Morgan Bible (the Welsh Bible) was specially ordered by Queen Elizabeth (the one with the Welsh grandfather) to help convert the people of Wales from Rome.

    If only the lass had ordered (and really pushed) an Irish Bible…….

    By the way – in case someone out there believes the idea that the Welsh were oppressed by the English.

    It was the Welsh who conquered England in 1485 – not the other way round (there were not many people called “Tudor” in the forests of Germany).

    Yes of course I am oversimplifying – but faced with the “oppression” drivel why should I not be just as crude in return?

    And Powis Castle *(perhaps the house in Wales) was always in Welsh hands – as were many other great landed estates.

    Poor “oppressed” Lord Clive (married into the Welsh gentry and aristocracy) – seeking out the Indians in blood brotherhood.

    They loved him so much they gave him lots of money, and he loved them so much – that he did not kill them all.

    And then that is poor oppressed Robin Hood of the seas – Captain Morgan (later Governor of J.)

    I do not know if he was from South Wales or not – whether he was one of the Morgan’s people.

    But I like to think of Captain Morgan as a big Silure (spelling alert) – of the type the Romans learned to resect.

  • Rich Rostrom

    The government keep giving them millions for their dysfunctional “culture”.

    Exactly. All of these language/culture preservation programs quickly become patronage gigs for “professional Whateverians”.

    “Bilingual” (Spanish/English) education in the states was a racket for “Hispanic” activist quangos; the Spanish-language instructors were all hired through them, with no requirements for teaching certificates or experience.

    BTW, Kim, after his visit to South Africa in the 1950s, Robert Heinlein had something to say about government-mandated usage of Afrikaans.

    Paul Marks: Morgan was born near Cardiff.

  • Niall Kilmartin

    Victorian Welsh parents supported the Welsh knot for the very sensible reason that they sent their kids to school to learn what they did not already know (e.g. to speak English) not what they already knew well (e.g. to speak Welsh).

    It was the same in Scotland. On the Moray Firth (my ancestral home) people spoke ‘English’ but in an accent so thick, and so full of dialect words, that even when I was young few south of Forres could follow it (and my great Aunt Jessie’s accent made the one I knew in my childhood sound very mild). In school, pupils were taught to speak English – and were discouraged from using the local dialect in class, so as to help this. The modes of discipline used for this were the normal ones for the time – actually, a lot gentler than the ones used to teach mathematics in my mother’s school, but she recalls her maths teacher as being, how might one put it, very determined that his pupils should learn. 🙂

    Given the norms of Victorian school discipline, I always assumed the Welsh knot was seen as a mild punishment – that not doing your homework for example, whether your English homework or any other lesson’s, might have been more severely punished in those days.

  • Niall Kilmartin

    My point in my post above is just that the politically-correct view of things like the Welsh knot that one hears these days has the same qualities of absurdity and counter-productiveness as is so common in PC.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Niall Kilmartin,

    I agree that the punishment one got for being caught with the Welsh Not at the end of the day was nothing out of the ordinary for the time. I do think, though, that there was something extra-nasty about the way that pupils landed with the Not could only escape the punishment by catching out one of their classmates speaking Welsh and passing the Not to him or her. It really does make me think of the almost-funny description in Jung Chang’s Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China of the mutual treachery and occasional self sacrifice that came about when every work unit was required to denounce someone in their team as a “rightist”. For those who haven’t read the book, it says that some of the denouncees were colloquially known as “toilet rightists” – it was dangerous to leave the endless meetings to go to the toilet, because when you came back you might find your comrades had taken advantage of your absence to fix on you as the one to denounce.

    According to the Wikipedia link above, use of the Welsh Not was criticised as arbitrary and cruel even in the 1847 official report on education in Wales, which caused an outcry in Wales at the time because of its hostility to Welsh.

    Just as modern Welsh language activists skirt over the frequent support of Welsh parents for punishments for pupils speaking Welsh, they tend to exaggerate how long the actual Welsh Not (as opposed to general punishment) persisted.

    All part of their general victim mentality, which is indeed counter-productive as you indicate. It’s much more psychologically satisfying for people to defy the ghosts of long-dead cane-wielding schoolmasters in black robes than to address the factors actually working against the Welsh language in 2015.

  • Jacques Protic

    Some very astute and perceptive observations Natalie and as you say Wales has moved into the Orwellian World. Noticed J Jones’comments which should alarm the Welsh political establishment should they chose to read Samizdata.

    Debating implications behind the Welsh language imposition is a closed subject not tolerated by the Welsh media (Especially BBC Wales) and people like me who often voice concerns of Human Rights errosion are subjected to immense hate campaign by the Welsh nats internet trolls (These people do not shy away from libelling people, using death threats and in my case also resorting to mindless damage of my car).

    No Westminster or Welsh Assembly politician dares to challenge the new Welsh order with a small exception of David Davies – Fascinating debate between him and a Welsh nat: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00t7hrq

    Just wonder how many people realise that the Welsh Labour Government has made it nearly impossible for non Welsh speakers to hold public jobs in Wales. The message is ‘Assimilate or Leave’ (80% of the population left in the cold)!!??

  • The Sanity Inspector

    Oh I’m proud to be a citizen of Cardiff
    The finest spot upon the map of Wales
    We’ve the City ‘All, the Arms Park, and Brains Breweries
    Where they makes the beer they calls the Prince of Ales.
    But now they’re trying to alter all our signposts
    And make us live in streets we cannot say
    I don’t mind the Pakistanis and the coloureds
    But I wish the bloody Welsh would stay away…
    –Gareth Jones, _Welsh and Proud of It_, 1974

  • Jacques Protic

    Do understand your rationale about Cardiff, Sanity Inspector and you may be interested what Daniel Glyn had to say about your City in the recent interview with Huw Edwards on Welsh Politics – See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0539lkw/the-wales-report-05032015 Perhaps a warning needs to be flagged up – You may need a ‘Sick Bucket’ before you press the play button! Daniel Craig has forgotten to mention that Cardiff hosts the Welsh Government who has imported 1,000’s of Welsh speakers from North West Wales to run the Civil Service and other Governmental functions – These people are demanding Welsh Education for their kids and Welsh Medium schools are sprouting all over Cardiff – Cardiff is under siege and changing!!

  • John Galt III

    David Crawford,

    Totally correct. The last guy who really understood all this was ‘Indian Charlie’. He was in the Kaw tribe and wanted to outlaw the reservations. Later, known as Charles Wilson, he became Herbert Hoover’s Vice President of the United States. He detested the reservation system and all the dysfunctional behavior it engenders. My wife is part Sioux. She realizes as all tribal folks do that when you leave the ‘Res’ you are not welcome back, but if you don’t leave you are screwed.

  • Jacques Protic

    Natalie, A small detail in the NZ video that most people will fail to see its significance unless one has specific local knowledge. John Bright’s school in Llandudno was featured together with couple of its pupils and school’s headmaster. (My 16 year old son was JB’s pupil and as of September my daughter will start year 7 there, so know the school well).

    For some bizarre reason the presenter mentioned that this school was built on a rubbish tip or words to that affect and built with private moneys too (In-spite of this ‘disadvantage’ JB school is immensely popular locally and most children from Llandudno chose JB’s as it’s an English Medium School and in preference to nearby Creuddyn school which teaches through the medium of Welsh – Creuddyn school hasn’t got many Llandudno kids but the Education Authority buses in children from all over the Conwy County and twice a day the school resembles a busy transport terminal as dozens of buses are shipping in the ‘Eager Welsh learners’.

    Local primary schools in Llandudno which are all managed by Welsh speaking teachers use John Bright’s ‘rubbish tip origins’ to discourage parents of choosing JB and invariably adding ‘there may be health issues from poisonous material buried under the school’ – Bizarre or Not, but 100% true (Incidentally most JB’s pupils see compulsory Welsh language lessons as an absolute waste of time and most detest Welsh lessons, so the TV team must have been very lucky to find two girls who like speaking Welsh – Shame the interviewer didn’t conduct discussion through the Welsh language as neither of them can speak it, but they gave the ‘right answers)!! Finally perhaps the following may be of interest: http://www.glasnost.org.uk/blog/

  • Slartibartfarst

    @Paul Marks: Thanks for correcting me on my poorly-remembered history lessons about which bible was used to restore the Welsh language. I’m sure the fault was mine, not my teacher’s.

    On the other points you make about the Welsh Nats and the prevailing political situation, I would suggest that what you describe is a long term strategy of taking Wales back for Welsh sovereignty, and that it is steadily moving towards a stage of irrevocable fait accompli. The fiercely independent Welsh Nats are taking back (or arguably may have already taken back) their country from the grasp of the detested English, and now the Nats are merely cementing the situation in place for perpetuity – e.g., by building-up the Welsh nation’s infrastructure.

    I am not arguing whether they are right or wrong, but I feel bound to say “Good on ’em.” They have used leverage through the British political/democratic processes (and funding) and EU socialist processes (and funding) to do that, and they will probably succeed in the long term strategy. Why shouldn’t they if they represent the majority in Wales?
    I was brought up in Wales, and my mother taught me the rule “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. So I immersed myself. I became fluent in Welsh, sang the Welsh anthem and other beautiful songs as a member of the school choir, and represented my school in the eisteddfods.
    Notwithstanding this, I was singled out (being the only English boy in the grammar school at the time) by a degree-qualified teacher who asked me “What is an English boy like you doing taking up a Welsh boy’s place in a Welsh school?” I couldn’t answer the question, and when I got home I asked my mother what the teacher had meant.
    My mother replied, “Oh! That’s the university-educated Miss Jones! Well, well, you’ve just met your first bigot.”
    I asked what a bigot was, and mother told me to look it up in a dictionary.
    I did, and I had to smile at her accuracy with the English language.
    However, that experience sums up some important aspects of the Welsh character: they understand the need for education as a tried-and-tested way out of serfdom/poverty/dependence, and they take up teaching posts where they tend to remain fiercely nationalistic and teach that nationalistic sense (as propaganda) to children in school – and why shouldn’t they? It’s their country (or it was), after all, and they are heartily sick of the history of the English trampling all over them and oppressively milking them economically for all they are worth – e.g., in the coal and slate mining industries. – and with an utter disregard for the safety/lives of the Welsh.

    If there is any single event that indicated unequivocally that the English were unfit to rule Wales – either economically or otherwise – one that stands out would be the Aberfan disaster. This was a disaster waiting to happen – a manmade ticking timebomb building up in Aberfan. It was the catastrophic collapse of a colliery spoil tip in the Welsh village of Aberfan, near Merthyr Tydfil, on 21 October 1966, killing 116 children and 28 adults. It was caused by a build-up of water in a waste tip, the accumulated rock and shale, which suddenly started to slide downhill in the form of slurry.
    The black humour at the time had it as: “What’s black and goes to school on Friday? A number 7 tip.”

    This was an avoidable disaster: it had been predictable and was a predicted risk, yet the risk had been ignored in characteristically cavalier fashion by the English National Coal Board. The official inquiry blamed the National Coal Board for extreme negligence, and its Chairman, Lord Robens, for making misleading statements. Parliament soon passed new legislation about public safety in relation to mines and quarries. Oh dear, what a pity, never mind.

    The Welsh were second-class citizens then, and will probably remain such until they gain full sovereignty for Wales. After that, they will only be able to hold themselves accountable.
    So what if they need to engage in tactics that appear to be fascist/compulsive rules? I would suggest that in the Nats’ eyes, the ends justify the means. The English would likely as not steadfastly resist the sort of change the Nats are after – full independence and sovereignty, whilst at the same time maintaining access to the funding teats of the English and (now) EU systems, as recompense/restitution for the centuries of subservience.

    Why shouldn’t they take their fates in their own hands? Otherwise, what sort of a future do you think they could look forward to with “more of the same”, under a debilitating succession of idiot English prime ministers and idiot royal Princes of Wales? The English system is arguably already irretrievably broken, with the country and its laws being given away/subsumed to the religio-political ideologies of the EU socialists/communists and the barbarians at the gates.

    So, I shall shout it out for the Welsh, and very loudly too: “Cymru am byth!”

  • Dafydd

    There is so much misinformation above it is quite laughable, but I have heard it all before

    [Central part of comment deleted by NS. All shades of opinion are welcome, including those I disagree with very strongly, but I’m just not going to get into playing reluctant host to personalised flame wars.]

    The fact is the demand for Welsh medium education far exceeds the supply, even today.

  • Mr Ed

    I once met an English chap, RAF brat, who had gone to school in North Wales. He told me that he was taunted for being English in a lesson, and his response at one point was something like “If it wasn’t for us, you’d all be living in mud huts” He got a severe pasting at the next break time. Lesson learnt.

    Aberfan was a disaster of nationalisation (like the Aral Sea), a policy which the Welsh populace had voted for overwhelmingly. If they had to do the same again, they would my friend, Fernando.

  • Dafydd

    Natalie, with all due respect it’s not a flame war to point out some facts about the commenter above.

    His eldest child attends a bilingual school where less than 20% prefer not to be taught in Welsh, consequently there is an EM stream that receives 88% of their lessons in English, this totally contradicts his assertions of any compulsion to be taught solely in Welsh!

    In addition it has been suggested above that there is a financial supplement for WM education, this is factually incorrect as there is no supplement whatsoever, not a penny.

  • Dafydd

    Jacques Protic

    “Natalie, A small detail in the NZ video that most people will fail to see its significance unless one has specific local knowledge.”
    “For some bizarre reason the presenter mentioned that this school was built on a rubbish tip or words to that affect and built with private moneys too”

    In fact it was built near an old waste tip and financed by a PFI, anyone with local knowledge would be fully aware of this!


  • Jacques Protic

    Fully aware of the situation Dafydd, but perhaps you can do me a favour by forwarding your comment to the head teachers of Creuddyn WMSS, Glanwydden primary school next door to Craven and other Llandudno EM primary schools that have Welsh speaking head-teachers. It’s them who are trying to scare parents from sending kids to John Bright’s or Eirias High but not working!!

  • Slartibartfarst

    @Mr Ed:

    Aberfan was a disaster of nationalisation (like the Aral Sea), a policy which the Welsh populace had voted for overwhelmingly. If they had to do the same again, they would my friend, Fernando.

    That’s an interesting perspective/opinion, but it is a non sequitur (it does not follow). As I wrote:

    The official inquiry blamed the National Coal Board for extreme negligence, and its Chairman, Lord Robens, for making misleading statements.

    It may be that, had the Welsh been in charge of things, they might have made the same mistakes, but that would be pure retrospective/historical speculation on our part.
    What I do know is that many Welsh families experienced grief for their dreadful and avoidable human loss, together with a sense of utter contempt for their English masters – the NCB and Lord Robens. Something had to be done about it. When one has been let down that badly, one would be unlikely to tolerate the possibility/risk of a second occurrence.

  • J.Jones

    I’ll just put you right on one or two things; each of the 22 unitary authorities has control over their school’s budgets. 70% of moneys allocated for education have to be distributed according to strict criteria, how the remaining 30% is distributed depends on the decision of the local authority but amongst the criteria allowed is Welsh medium schooling. As a result some authorities allocate substantial amounts of money based on “Welsh Medium supplement” or “Welsh Medium per capita weightings” where each pupil in a WM school is counted as 1+ of a pupil in an EM school. Some WM schools also receive a lump sum “Welsh administration payment”. In all, working out how much is allocated because of medium is difficult but for many years Cardiff had a straight forward Welsh Medium supplement that was the equivalent of half a teachers salary in each WM primary school (no matter how large or small) and the equivalent of 2 full teachers salaries in each of the two WM secondary schools. The amounts were £25,000 and £90,000 before this system was changed to reflect the number of pupils…..the sums of WM supplement are still in the region of £600,000. This is not the highest rate of supplement however, Denbighshire allocates nearly £900,000 to WM schools by virtue of their medium alone (in addition to all other funding that they would get as EM schools). At key stage 5, Sixth form, the Welsh medium supplement is one that is decided by the Welsh Government and is substantial. In education both the EM children and their parents are very much second class citizens.

    The situation with secondary schools in the Fro Cymraeg is that most are designated as Bilingual although 6 in Gwynedd are WM (every lesson in Welsh). The main problem for English first language pupils is Primary schooling where there is no option but WM schooling. Pupils from English speaking homes fall behind their Welsh L1 peers by the end of Key stage 2 and never fully recover.

    Welsh medium schools are increasingly popular except where they are compulsory where many parents would give anything to have an EM school available. WM schools are mostly home to the children of non-FSM pupils and as a consequence their results always look good…until you compare them with similar EM schools when it’s easy to see that WM schools lag behind. In Wales you CAN fool all of the people all of the time..and those that you can’t fool are just brow beaten and intimidated until they slink away. It’s coming your way NZ!

  • Dafydd

    “Fully aware of the situation Dafydd, but perhaps you can do me a favour by forwarding your comment to the head teachers of Creuddyn WMSS, Glanwydden primary school”

    Jacques, have you apologised yet for the false accusations that you previously made against Ysgol Glanwydden ?



  • Dafydd

    J.Jones (Joe Stoner)

    Everything you wrote above is 100% factually incorrect and quite frankly so ludicrous it doesn’t deserve any further comment!

  • Jacques Protic

    Thank you Dafydd truly fascinating, not seen those before but BBC Cymru English is appalling. You’ll have to wait for part II of Conwy LEA Stealing Children’s Future (Delayed it for the sake of my daughter who was got at by few Y Fro arrogant parents but it won’t be long now). It’s good to expose the ugly face of Welsh nats to the wider audience and again thank you for your contribution!

  • J.Jones

    Everything that I wrote is true and you denying it does not make it less so. I also object to you attributing someone else’s name to me. I have given my christened name.

  • Mr Ed


    It may be that, had the Welsh been in charge of things, they might have made the same mistakes, but that would be pure retrospective/historical speculation on our part.

    Had the many Welsh Communists been in charge, the children might not have been killed by the collapse, they might have died in a terror famine instead, along with many others, but that never happened. We do know that a telephone cable was stolen, preventing any chance of warning, although the scope for warning was ruled out as a possible factor, it hardly suggests that local management would have helped. It would be a bit like saying Albania was better off under Hoxha rather than under Khrushchev as a Soviet satellite, because Hoxha was local. It would be an argument based on nationality, not logic.

  • Royston Jones

    It’s not often one gets to read such a melange of bigotry and sheer ignorance, so I won’t stay long. My contribution is in the form of a question.

    Until fairly recently Maori was the sole language of New Zealand and Welsh the language spoken by almost all Welsh people (with most unable to speak English), indeed, at one time, Welsh was the language spoken in England and Scotland.

    So how did we arrive at a situation where Maori and Welsh have become minority languages? The answer is invasion, colonisation, exploitation, racism and marginalisation. Crimes that many commenting here seem to defend.

  • Indeed Royston Jones, that is why I support the campaign to demand the Italian government, as heirs to the Roman Empire, pay the people of British Isles compensation for the lengthy period of Roman occupation. Likewise the German government must pay compensation to discharge their liability for the Saxon era of invasion and linguistic imperialism. And then there is the Normans, but given my name, I will skip over that one…

  • J.Jones

    It’s history Royston. Populations change, attitudes change, languages become dominant or die out. No one in Wales likes to confront the historical truth that it was Welsh speaking Welsh parents who perceived that the only way for their children to earn a good living was to travel to England or the colonies and the only way to make that possible was to learn English.

    Whatever new law is brought in in Wales Welsh will continue to be the chosen language of about 5% of people with maybe another 5% fluent but indifferent to which language they use. The games up, the show’s over, Welsh is dead apart from those whose living depends on persuading everyone else that we really need to speak it.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Royston Jones, while I haven’t agreed with several of the comments I can’t point to a single one that defended invasion, colonisation or exploitation. Racism and marginalisation are notoriously in they eye of the beholder, but I’d argue that one of the biggest factors contributing to the decline of Welsh and other minority languages is that they have become associated with a culture of victimhood. That does not generally attract new speakers or encourage existing speakers to keep up their skill in the language.

    There is also the point that languages cannot suffer injustice or receive restitution. Only people can. Only living people can.

    I want Welsh to flourish. I’m currently listening to the second of the excellent series of short online lessons recommended by commenter “Alex” near the top of this thread, Say Something In Welsh. He or she is right: a lively online course does a thousand times more for a language than all the government-funded programmes.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    By the way, is there anyone here who speaks good Welsh and is willing help me out by translating a short phrase? I’d like to do a second post focussing on the way that the paradigm of compulsion has blocked thinking about ways to promote minority languages without the use of force. I’d like to take the title from one of my better lines, “State protection is better than state persecution as cancer is better than a knife in the ribs”, but in Welsh. Preferably the dialect of South Wales, but either North or South Welsh would be fine. My husband’s O-Level in Welsh was a long time ago and sadly the fluent Welsh speakers on his side of the family to whom I would once have turned for this request have all passed away.

    Consider doing this even if you think my views on Welsh are quite wrong. No cause ever won adherents by avoiding contact with those who disagree.

  • Jacques Protic

    Natalie, It is difficult to rationalise with Welsh nationalists most of whom still live in XIII C world – It’s worth examining UK’s 1950’s period and House of Lords Archives – See: http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/lords/1958/nov/26/compulsory-teaching-of-welsh (Interesting to note Welsh language imposition then by what Lord Raglan saw as illegal measures but most interesting is his take on BBC Wales (BBC Wales is a Talfan-Davied Family Dynasty past from grandfather to his son, then the son passing on the reins to his son – All 100% Welsh nationalists)!!

  • Slartibartfarst

    @Natalie Solent:
    What is the Welsh phrase you mention above, please? I might be able to help, though haven’t used Welsh for years now.
    @Mr Ed:

    It would be an argument based on nationality, not logic.

    This is part of your response to the point I made, which was that what you had said (“Aberfan was a disaster of nationalisation”) was a non-sequitur and pointed out that the official enquiry said it was gross negligence by the NCB. You are/were apparently unable to refute that.
    I think it could be interesting to discuss what you infer – that there could be an argument somehow being put forward that (say) the Welsh should take back Wales on the basis of nationality. You make the statement that such an argument “would be an argument based on nationality, not logic”.
    I don’t have any view on such an argument either way, but if it were put forward on the basis of nationality – e.g., the Nats’ catch-cry of self-management, “Wales for the Welsh” or similar – then that would presumably be a logical argument based on the premise that Wales should be self-governing, or something. That would seem to be an inherently logical argument, regardless of whether one agreed with it.
    If that is true, then it would be incorrect to say that it “would be an argument based on nationality, not logic”. That is, it would be an argument based on nationality, and with a logical premise and structure. One might (say) debate the argument, or question the validity of the basic premise, but that would be another matter.
    @Perry de Havilland:

    Indeed Royston Jones, that is why I support the campaign to demand the Italian government, as heirs to the Roman Empire, pay the people of British Isles compensation for the lengthy period of Roman occupation. Likewise the German government must pay compensation to discharge their liability for the Saxon era of invasion and linguistic imperialism. And then there is the Normans, but given my name, I will skip over that one…

    Quite. How far back do you go, once you start? This made me smile, since it pretty much described what the NZ government tried to do (as I mention above) in making restitution to the Maoris for the taking away of their tribal lands by the colonists.
    As far as I am aware, the Maoris do not intend extending such a principle of restitution to the former tribal inhabitants of NZ – the Moriori – who were apparently all killed/eaten by the more warlike Maori.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Slartibartfast, the phrase I would like translated into Welsh is: “State protection is better than state persecution as cancer is better than a knife in the ribs”

  • Mr Ed

    Slartibartfast: As an admirer of the Norwegian coastline, I hope that we are not grounded here, but:

    This is part of your response to the point I made, which was that what you had said (“Aberfan was a disaster of nationalisation”) was a non-sequitur and pointed out that the official enquiry said it was gross negligence by the NCB. You are/were apparently unable to refute that.

    Aberfan happened under nationalisation, this was what the bulk of the Welsh people voted for. To blame the English is absurd, as the Welsh in power would have done the same, and the consequences of nationalisation (neglect, indifference, in the UK Crown immunity) are the same. That is not to say that this incident might or might not have happened, no one could say.

    To say that Wales would be better off under Welsh rule ignores that it would still have been state ownership of the works, with all the self-granted privileges that the State gives itself, as well as the lack of economic focus. Would Welsh self-governing management have prevented Aberfan? Perhaps, but look at the Welsh NHS, hardly doing very well is it?

    I was not saying anything about the Welsh taking back Wales, simply that for anyone to blame the English is absurd. The Welsh voted for Labour policies, and they have got them over the years, good and hard as Mencken put it, and then they come back for more.

  • Slartibartfarst

    @Mr Ed: Oh, I think I see what you were getting at – i.e., the Welsh probably didn’t get any more or less than what they effectively voted for. In that view, they arguably deserved what they got, but try convincing the bereaved families of that.
    I don’t know whether anyone blamed the English per se for Aberfan, but the blame was attributed to gross incompetence, and laid squarely at the feet of the NCB – an English government organisation.
    It’s labouring the point that I was making, but once one has demonstrated such execrably gross incompetence, one has shown oneself to be totally unfit for the responsibility and it should be taken away from one altogether. In the case of Aberfan, it wasn’t, nor was the NCB re-engineered and restructured – as it probably/arguably should have been.
    If the Welsh were given self-government and sovereignty, then they would probably at least try to rise to the challenge, and in any event would arguably be hard-pressed to make a bigger mess of things than their English overseers have ably demonstrated they are capable of, over the years.
    We’re all human. It is human to err. Humans screw things up. Why should that remain the prerogative of the English?
    Singling out “…the Welsh NHS, hardly doing very well is it?” as an argument against Welsh self-government or something would seem to be:
    .(a) an ignoratio elenchi (a “red herring” or genetic fallacy) – assuming a perceived defect in the origin of a claim discredits the claim itself.
    .(b) a non sequitur (“it does not follow” or irrelevant conclusion: diverts attention away from a fact in dispute rather than addressing it directly.
    .(c) an argumentum ad ignorantiam (forwarding a proposition without any certain proof), if in fact we don’t know whether it is true that the Welsh NHS is a failed system.
    .(d) for all I know an argumentum ad populum (appeal to the people/consensus, popular sentiment – appeal to the majority; appeal to loyalty).
    In any event, though I don’t know much at all about the NHS, I would presume that the Welsh NHS is generally based on the English model – no? In which case, if it was, then it could arguably be further ammunition for the case for the Welsh taking over the English systems used in Wales, and then fixing them in that local context so that they better meet the needs of the Welsh population.
    I’m all for having a rational discussion, but one logical fallacy is one too many for any logical structure, and essentially demolishes it, and two would not be a good look. Any more than that would gain an “F” for a student of mine.

  • Mr Ed

    It is fallacious of itself to say that I am making non-sequiturs, I am simply making observations on statism leading to incompetence and indifference, such as the Aral Sea. I am not citing the NHS as a chain in my reasoning, just illustrating the general point. So please leave off fallaciously accusing me of resorting to fallacy, if you would be so kind.

    It must surely have been a local decision to have set up the arrangement that led to the spoil tip collapsing, the NCB was not an English organisation, it was the National Coal Board for Great Britain. It is obviously idiotic to put slurry at the top of a hill, as gravity is a universal force.

    Again, given the level of Welsh politics, arguing for local management might be like saying Albania is better off under Hoxha than a Brezhnev puppet.

  • Slartibartfarst

    @Natalie Solent I couldn’t do it, but Google translate helped.
    Try “Amddiffyn y Wladwriaeth yn well na erledigaeth wladwriaeth fel canser yn well na cyllell yn y asennau”.
    – which back-translates to:
    “State protection is better than state persecution as cancer better than a knife in the ribs”
    – which is pretty close to the starting point:
    “State protection is better than state persecution as cancer is better than a knife in the ribs”

    By the way, “If you ever need a bit of protective colouration at a (say) gathering of Welshmen, then try saying:
    “Twlltin bob sais” – “A#s#holes to all Englishmen” (colloquial). (I think that’s how it was spelt.)
    They’ll probably buy you a pint – maybe two if you pronounced it correctly.

  • Jacques Protic

    Natalie, Another Welsh translation you asked for “Mae amddifyniaeth y wladwriaeth yn well na erledigaeth y wladwriaeth a mae canser yn well na chyllell yn yr asennau” On the English version – One thing will slowly kill you while the other is quick but both result in death so neither state protection or persecution is good for you!! In the Welsh Language context, the Welsh state applies ‘Language protection’ as well as practising persecution via the ‘Welsh Language Police’ (Welsh language Commissioner)!

  • I just deleted a comment.

    For the record, threatening comments get recorded, deleted and if need be passed on to the Police along with an IP address, so keep that in mind if you are a turd with a keyboard looking for somewhere to sound off. That place is not here, so fuck off.

  • Slartibartfarst

    @Perry de Havilland::

    I just deleted a comment…

    Aw, why? NS had already snipped off the end bit, and what was left arguably spoke volumes about the writer – that is, assuming it wasn’t done tongue-in-cheek”.
    It could have been a good example of the politically acceptable face of yer akshull extreme Welsh nationalism. There’s a lot of it about, I hear.
    Reminds me of some years back, when there was an amusing TV comedy show spoof of the National Coal Board’s TV advert:

    “Come home to a real fire.”

    The spoof went something like:

    “Come home to a real fire. Buy a holiday cottage in Wales.”