Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Should the S4C conversation be restricted ...

... to Welsh speakers, or should the debate be thrown open to all who would contribute, contribute both money and ideas.

At Wales Home the conversation is in Welsh with a paper by Bethan Jenkins Plaid Cymru AM [the photo needs updating] titled "angen-chwyldro-yn-s4c" , unfortunately for myself, and I suggest many others, it is in Welsh without an accompanying translation, as are the following comments.  It is true that Google translates the text so that as Heledd Fychan writes "... an excellent way to get the gist of the article if you can’t wait for the translation!" Now the "gist" of the debate falls far short of a "conversation", and if the supporters of S4C want a £100 million contribution from the taxpayers I suggest all the voices of Wales should be included, or at least be able to follow the thread with all the subtleties that a language can bring.

Would I have been critical if the conversation had been about the keeping of orchids, absolutely not, but where topics relate to the communities living in Wales I would like the opportunity to contribute, particularly when the conversation is started by a Welsh Assembly member.

So, am I being overly sensitive, I don't think so, whilst Bethan Jenkins might have the best intentions, she and her team have indulged in "exclusion", an unworthy characteristic in politics.


  1. This is completely wrong.

    "It is in Welsh without an accompanying translation."

    No it isn't. Go take another look.

    "As are the following comments."

    Some 11 of the 14 comments there are in English.

    "If the supporters of S4C want a £100 million contribution from the taxpayers I suggest all the voices of Wales should be included, or at least be able to follow the thread with all the subtleties that a language can bring."

    Even if you'd had a "gist" - which you have done, because the last time you complained of a Welsh-only piece on WalesHome, you referred to Google Translate - you would have discerned that it is not a defence of S4/C's budget at all. It is a call for the channel to reform.

    "She and her team have indulged in 'exclusion'." That may be a little difficult, as two of her three staff - me included - don't speak Welsh.

    "So, am I being overly sensitive?" No, just factually inaccurate. You've penned a fiction about Welsh speakers to suit your own argument - an unworthy characteristic in bloggers.

  2. You can re-write history as much as you want Duncan, the translation appeared much later than the original post, your employer is the bi-lingual Plaid Cymru AM, an extra hour or so and a translation could have been part of the original post.

    The translation wasn't, therefore the post was a private conversation between Welsh speakers.

    ... let me remind you of what Heledd Fychan
    July 11, 2011 at 1:38 pm wrote as a comment

    "John – there will be a translation available later, but WalesHome is actively looking for more pieces in both languages. Wales is a country with two languages and we welcome contributions in both. Google translate is an excellent way to get the gist of the article if you can’t wait for the translation!" ...

    ... quod erat demonstrandum.

  3. That's an issue for WalesHome, not the AM. She was asked to supply a piece to The Slate blog on the Plaid Cymru site, and that she did. I suggested to WH (with which I am no longer involved, save writing the very occasional piece) that it might like to run it also.

    Apart from the fact that your reply addresses none of the factual inaccuracies in the original post, what you are inferring by referencing Heledd's comment is that it is up to non-Welsh speakers like yourself to decide what subject matters Welsh speakers may discuss in their preferred language. So in fact your QED is not proof at all.

    Perhaps you'd care to provide us with a list so I can make sure the AM does as she's told? No doubt you think this is an issue of representation, duty to tax payers etc etc. In fact, it's a view from the 1950s.

    This is the latest in a series of posts from yourself in which you fabricate events involving either the AM or Plaid Cymru in order to suit your own narrative. We've had this conversation before, but it's worth repeating. I say now as I said then - you are more than entitled to your views and anyone who does not agree with the nationalist viewpoint should take issue with "history is on our side" argument that rears its ugly head from time to time. But you are allowing fantasy to get in the way of what should be a challenging (and proper) argument for nationalists to engage in.

  4. Your third paragraph is interesting Duncan, In the 21st century we would say "do your best for everyone".

    But your second paragraph is controversial, where a section of society uses a minority language to hold a national conversation that impacts every part of society, we should expect to be able to contribute to the discussion.

    We are not talking of "Aunt Margaret and her holiday in Bangor", it is a conversation about £100 million a year plus the associated economic and social consequences in Wales.

    So for the record, the issue is very simple, if you hold a conversation in a public manner, WalesHome ( http://waleshome.org/ ), using a minority language without the translation you exclude.

    I concur with Luke Holland July 11, 2011 at 11:20 pm who wrote ... Have no issue at all with a Welsh language article, though think it’s a shame to miss out on one of Bethan’s pieces. They are invariably well read and thought-provoking, even though I rarely agree with her. I’d also contend that of all the articles to appear in Welsh only, I’d not have chosen this one.

  5. Heledd Fychan13 July, 2011 10:04

    Wales is a bilingual country with two languages. WalesHome would be wrong to ignore that fact, and were under no obligation to provide a translation but we did because it was an important and well written piece. I take full responsibility for the fact that we published the piece in Welsh before a translation was ready. It is in no way Bethan's fault. But I think you should reflect on your own negative attitude towards the language. If people want to write and debate in Welsh, then they have every right to do so and WalesHome can publish content in either language. Are you honestly saying only unimportant things should be discussed in Welsh? If so, then I am very sorry that you have such a narrow view of the world. Wales is a vibrant country, that has lively debates in two languages. We are lucky, and we should celebrate that fact.

  6. You are quite right Heledd, the peoples of Wales are entitled to debate in any language they wish.

    You are quite wrong making the assumption that my "Aunt Margaret and her holiday in Bangor" represents "unimportant things", rather it represents those topics that are not national conversations.

    My views concerning the Welsh language are no secret; I personally believe it will not survive in the world because it has insufficient critical mass, even if every person living in Wales spoke Welsh it still wouldn't have a sufficient critical mass to survive in the face of International English, the media will finish it in a few generations time. But that is a personal opinion that has no bearing on the S4C conversation.

    Having said that, there is no reason not to have a Welsh language television channel, there is every reason to expect excellence, I would have liked to give my two-pennyworth to the debate, but it's not going to happen, my contribution would have centred on "less can be more" and "education could use S4C".

    Sad Duncan has left WalesHome.

  7. Duncan Higgitt13 July, 2011 12:48

    I left WalesHome in capable hands, I'm pleased to report.

    I think you've talked yourself round the houses on this one, John. Which is a pity, because you would have found yourself in agreement with a fair bit of what Bethan is arguing. She has stated elsewhere that the channel could serve a useful role in education.

  8. I'm very sorry Duncan, it is about inclusion in debate not whether I agree or disagree with the writer, I have been writing of missed opportunities and S4C for many, many months, and it does seem there is probably a lot of common ground between Bethan and myself and many other people on the subject.

    But the issue is whether the writer wishes to debate with everyone or just those people who understand their chosen language. At the time of publication, Google provided a poor translation, not good enough for debate, but here is the nub, a writer will expect to debate in the language used, readers will expect to debate in the language used. I do not believe there was the expectation of debate using English, and because of the responses,including the response by Heledd Fychan today at WalesHome I am more convinced, so be it, but how are the 80+% non-Welsh speakers going to contribute to important issues, obviously they won't. Wales will be the poorer.