7.4.09

Cynhadledd y Blaid - NEGES DDWY-IEITHOG!!!

BILINGUAL POSTING - SCROLL DOWN TO READ THE SECTION WRITTEN IN THE LANGUAGE OF BABYLON

Fe fum i lawr yng nghynhadledd Plaid Cymru dydd Gwener diwethaf, yn bennaf er mwyn cymeryd rhan mewn trafodaeth ar flogiau gwleidyddol yng Nghymru. Y panelwyr eraill oedd John Dixon, Chanticleer, Heledd Fychan, a seren y sioe, Iain Dale - gyda Bethan Jenkins AC yn cadeirio. Er bod 5 o'r 6 oedd ar y panel yn siaradwyr Cymraeg, ac er bod gwasanaeth cyfieithu ar y pryd yn cael ei ddarparu, cafodd y rhan fwyaf o'r drafodaeth ei chynnal drwy gyfrwng y Saesneg. Siaradodd Heledd Fychan yn bennaf (80%) drwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg, ac fe lynnais i at y Gymraeg tan y cwestiwn olaf un - a hynny oherwydd bod y cyfieithydd wedi mynd i baratoi at sesiwn arall.
Yn ystod y drafodaeth, fe gododd y cwestiwn o flogio yn ddwy-ieithog. Fi yw'r unig un sydd yn blogio yn y Gymraeg yn unig, a hynny oherwydd fy mod i'n teimlo cyfrifoldeb gwleidyddol i wneud hynny (er dwi'n cydymdeimlo gyda sefyllfa Heledd Fychan a John Dixon, sydd yn ymgeiswyr seneddol, ac felly yn gorfod cyrraedd pob un o'u hetholwyr). Fe ddisgrifiais fy hun - gyda fy nhafod yn fy moch - fel "cenedlaetholwr diwylliannol, hen fasiwn a chul", a dwi'n cydnabod yn agored mod i'n cael anhawster gyda'r cysyniad o ddwy-ieithrwydd. Ond fe ddywedodd Iain Dale ei fod wedi mynd i edrych ar flogiau ei gyd-banelwyr i gyd cyn dydd gwener, ac ei fod yn siomedig nad oedd wedi gallu deall fy negeseuon i. Felly, yn arbennig ar gyfer Iain, dyma neges ddwy-ieithog.

I enjoyed myself at the Spring Conference last Friday, and I thought that the panel on blogging was very enjoyable - certainly more fun than the sessions on Local Government and the EU that I attended. And the question about bi-lingual blogging has impelled me to write this - my first, and probably only - English language posting on the blog.
During the panel discussion, I described myself as a narrow-minded and old-fashioned cultural nationalist. Whilst this was slightly tongue-in-cheek, there is an element of truth in what I said. I am a member of Plaid Cymru for one reason above all others - to work towards the survival of this small and fragile language that I speak with my parents, my partner, and my children. This doesn't mean that I am a one-note politician; far from it - I have views on every political matter under the sun. But while I believe, for instance, in saving the whales or protecting civil liberties, I also realise that there are a lot of people out there who are already fighting for these causes. Welsh speakers are a minority group within a tiny region of a global power. My personal feeling is that if I don't put the language at the top of my political agenda, then who will?
Which brings us to bi-lingualism. Since devolution, there has developed a cosy political consensus around the language. The narrative from the Assembly since 2001 (the last census) goes like this - the number of people speaking Welsh has risen for the first time in 50 years, therefore everything is fine.
The problem with this outlook is that by focusing on the net increase in Welsh speakers, we take a simplistic, reductionist view of the situation. What has actually happened is that the proportion of Welsh speakers living in the traditional Welsh-language communities (Gwynedd, Anglesey, Sir Gaerfyrddin, Ceredigion, parts of Denbighshire, Conwy and Pembroke) has declined in the period 1991 - 2001, but that more young children have been taught the language in the traditionally English-speaking areas of the South-East.
So, while there has been an overall rise in the number of Welsh speakers, there has been a decline in the numbers where it really matters. We know from any number of studies that for a language to survive, it needs to be spoken as a community language. The numbers who have learnt Welsh in the past 10 to 20 years are primarily children, who are learning to speak Welsh as a second language. Some of these children will adopt Welsh as a commonly used language in adulthood - as a first language in some cases - and a minority of them will pass it on to their own children. But for the majority of them, Welsh will remain a second language for the remainder of their lives.
Which brings me to my trenchant position on bi-lingualism. Bi-lingualism, as a policy principle, best serves those Welsh speakers who live outside the traditional Welsh-speaking areas. But it does not serve the interests of those people who are already livung their lives primarily through the medium of Welsh. In many communities, the rhetoric of bi-lingualism serves to undermine Welsh. In the same way as it elevates Welsh in Cardiff or Caerffili, it elevates English in Caernarfon or Tregaron.
I firmly believe that bi-lingualism should be the norm for most of Wales. But I also believe that if the Welsh language is to have any hope of survival, then we need to accept that there are places and situations that should be allowed to opt-out of bi-lingualism; places where Welsh is given primacy over English. Some of these spaces, we can carve out for ourselves, which is why I try and use Welsh wherever it is possible, including this blog (and certainly when addressing the Plaid Cymru conference). But in other areas, we need a government policy that recognises the differing linguistic needs of different communites. This is an unpopular position, within Plaid Cymru as much as any other party, but I think that it is the only way that we can ensure the language's survival.

13 comments:

Glyn Davies said...

You can be a Conservative and have an obsessive love for the Welsh Language. The politician who has done most for Yr Iaith Cymraeg is Lord Roberts of Conwy.

Anonymous said...

Pwy nath ollwg rhech ddrewllyd?

L R J said...

Dwi'n cytuno hefo Glyn Davies am hynny. Ag dwi yn cytuno gyda Dyfrig, all dim un iaith enwedig un lleiafrifol fel y Gymraeg byw a thyfu heb ei cardarnleoedd.

Blog da iawn, Dyfrig.

Anonymous said...

Glyn, dydi rwyn sy yn poeni am dyfydol yr iaiht - fel rhan fwyaf ohonom mi y Cymry Cymraeg - ddim hefo obsessiwn gyda'r iaith. Fel ddaru Dyfrig dweud os nad ydyn ni yn cadw'r iaith i fynd, pwy sy?

Al Iguana said...

agreed. The south-east is the language "front-line". But there is no point fighting a battle on the front-line if you're letting the enemy slip around and destroy the thing you're trying to protect from the rear.

(I use "enemy" in the loosest possible term, of course. Just strategy similes)

GWILYM EUROS ROBERTS said...

Dyfrig,
Mae dy flog yn un da ac yn ddealladwy i Gymry Cymraeg er nad wyf pob tro'n cytuno gyda'r hyn ti yn sgwennu.
Dwi wedi dewis sgwennu yn Gymraeg a Saesneg er fod ambell edefyn mewn un o'r ddwy iaith yn unig.
Mater o ddewis yw hynny, at etholwyr o fewn fy Ward ydw i yn anelu fy mlog yn bennaf serch hynny gwn fod cyfeillion, Y Wasg ac ambell i granc yn ei ddarllen hefyd.
Dwi'n sicir fod y Blaid ymhell ar y blaen yma yng Nghymru gyda'i defnydd nhw o'r dechnoleg fodern er mwyn cyfathrebu, bod hynny trwyo floggio, twitter, facebook a'r We.
Dal ati, er mod yn hoffi darllen blog Iain...tydi yntau fel ni i gyd ddim pob tro'n iawn ac dwi yn meddwl drwy wneud y sylw mae o wedi ei wneud nad ydi o cweit wedi deallt demogrffeg a sefyllfa ieithyddol Gwlad y Gan yn iawn.

Dyfrig said...

Glyn,
As it happens, I agree with you that the Conservative Party did a huge amount for the Welsh language during the 1980s. Despite Thatcher's initial u-turn on S4C, she did eventually capitulate, and it was a Tory government that eventually signed off on creating S4C. But I think that the biggest contribution was the passing of the 1988 Education Act, which essentially made Welsh lessons compulsory for most Welsh pupils. And the inclusion of Welsh in that act was primarily the work of Wyn Roberts.

David said...

I have a huge problem with having a Welsh-only language policy in that it implies anyone who doesn't speak Welsh is somehow less Welsh than those that can, and excludes them from life like complete outsiders. I am not Welsh but visit primarily Welsh speaking areas regularly, and the bi-lingual policy works well as not all residents speak both languages. Are they second class citizens?

Owen Afortune said...

"not all residents speak both languages. Are they second class citizens?"

Yes.

The truth of the matter is that welsh is unneeded. How many native welsh speakers do not understand english?

I'll put £5 down that the only people in Wales who cannot cope well with english are the Polish plumbers and Lithuanian lap-dancers and I suspect that they don't cope well with welsh either.

Dyfrig said...

David,
I'm not sure what a "Welsh-only" policy would look like. I am certainly not advocating building a wall around Gwynedd, and only admitting people who can recite at least 3 poems by R Williams Parry.
What I am advocating is that in certain areas of public policy, more should be done to protect the needs of the Welsh language communities. One area might be planning, where the linguistic needs of an area could be a planning consideration - in the same way that the needs of a colony of bats is a consideration. Another might be education, or public sector employment policy.

Foomandoonian said...

Sweeping aside for a minute all the history and politics: Wouldn't it be best if we all spoke the same language?

This is a naive ideal I realise, but imagine a world where everyone could understand everyone else. Shouldn't any effort to change peoples language habits be pushing in that direction?

I know this is a highly emotive subject, and that an Englishman posting an incendiary comment on a Welsh language blog might not be welcome. Please take my word that this is not some kind of trolling exercise: I'm willing to be enlightened!

(Besides, I realise if the whole world were to speak one language, I would probably have to learn Chinese!)

Heledd Fychan said...

Siwr mi siarad mwy na 80 y cant o Gymraeg! Blog da iawn serch hynny a trafodaeth ddifyr ar y diwrnod. Dal yn llawn cyffro ers y gynhadledd.

Anonymous said...

My bete noir is bilingual street names. How can something have two bloody names? Invariably, the English version gets predominance on official and legal documents. Where Plaid is in power, they should be rationalised. It is legal: local authorities name streets.