The Tour of Wales




Celtic Brass Spiral

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The Language Debate

Are incomers like foot and mouth disease? Of course not was the first reply I received to this question (only not so polite).

The context of this question is an article in Barn last June, which caused a stir in the English press as a sign of racial intolerance from language activists - but the article was written in Welsh, and not widely understood by those who castigated the author.

I think the comparison was ill judged - in many ways the effect of incomers into a community are simply incomparable to the devastation caused by foot and mouth, but it seems to me that the author was making a point that Welsh speaking communities are changing as a result of English in-migration.

If a large proportion of Welsh speakers in a Welsh village are replaced by monoglot English speakers, then things start to change. Social events in the village are no longer conducted through the medium of Welsh. The local shop (if it still exists) will become more English if it is to survive, and the fabric of the community is fundamentally changed.

Okay, so it is nothing like foot and mouth disease, where millions of animals were slaughtered and farmers livelihoods were destroyed. The comparison was ill judged, but the effects are real.

"Should the English be monitored and controlled?" This refers to the comments of Seimon Glyn, and represents a radical plan to attempt to address the damage being done to Welsh communities. 

On civil liberties grounds, the answer to that question must be an unequivocal no. That does not mean to say that the problem can be ignored.

I think Seimon Glyn's outbursts were insufficiently inventive. Can't we think of better ways to protect Welsh speaking communities than monitoring and control of the population?



  © Stephen Kingston