Sunday, 23 December 2012

Should the past be a burden to bear ...

... or should tomorrow be our only concern ?

Thursday last Wales Online letters to the Editor, a heartfelt submission...
The price of identity

SIR – Your report on the demise of the Welsh Language in the 2011 Census is alarming (“Language is in crisis, says Cymdeithas, as proportion of Welsh speakers falls to 19%”, Dec 12).
I was born and brought up in a Welsh speaking mining valley, couldn’t understand or speak a word of English before the London evacuees of 1940s arrived; and pretty soon we had converted them to Welsh Speakers.

Following the discovery of anthracite coal, migrants had arrived not only from many Welsh counties but from England, too, but the language sustained its position. Primary school was Welsh speaking – but as the “scholarship” paper was mostly English we had to learn it, and then all lessons (apart from Welsh!) were in English, but the language outside was Welsh.

Our forefathers built grammar schools to ensure their sons didn’t follow them down the pits, but when “children” qualified for universities, most couldn’t find professional posts in the country and had to migrate to the open arms of England. Most never to return to Wales, their parents’ homes sold – very often to migrating English.

The age of the chapels’ domination is also history; before television, the car, and Sunday opening, it was colleges, religion, entertainment, where poorly educated older people gained knowledge and language from the pulpit, Sunday School, choir singing and all in the one language Welsh.

Apart from The Western Mail, Wales on Sunday, local papers and Y Cymro, the English media really ignores Wales. The constant drip-dripping of their editions is Anglo influential as is television: Coronation Street, Emmerdale, drown out Pobol y Cwm. Similarly the English radio programmes Radio Cymru, their prolific influences controlling to a large degree an Anglicisation of news and events leaving Wales to a great measure in a poverty of Welsh/Celtic aspiration retaining it in talk and thinking and behaviour and we’re too idle to realise how our thinking to a large extent is accustomed to an Anglian perspective.

Until we awake to change and revival, this power will continue to influence our non Welsh thinking.

Destroy one’s culture and language and you destroy a nation’s pride. Too often, sadly, one doesn’t realise the value of something until it’s lost. One’s language is part of one’s culture. Lose that and how do you know who you are! You don’t destroy a nation’s pride!

The price of identity is eternal vigilance. The same must apply to one’s literature. To honour this one must understand this: Silences are the allies of enemies, detrimental to democracy.

The past can be a heavy burden to be sure, but it is heaviest of all when hindsight told you what had to be done and you did nothing.

ADRIEN JONES of Llandeilo,  Carmarthenshire
The writer pens with a certain passion, a passion that holds dear his need to protect the Welsh language, he also assigns language to culture, an integral part indeed, and finally tells the readers of Wales Online that the culture that is Wales is dependent on the Welsh language for its very survival.

I'm certain he is not correct, Wales is as multi-faceted as the UK as a whole, as diverse as the USA, we have a multitude of nationalities settled in Wales, even youth culture is an illusion with so many subcultures.

Culture has been displaced by society, and the question Adrien of Llandeilo should ask is "can his passion ever be embraced by the majority of society that have rejected the language"?

There is a company in North Wales, The Snowdonia Cheese Company, that fills a niche in the cheese habits of the UK, this is the future of Wales, doing business with the world in a language shared by the world ... there is only English writing on this particular wall ....

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