First off, DIOLCH YN FAWR to all who took part in my survey. The total numbers of people taking the survey (at the time of sharing these results) was 43.
My main purpose behind the survey was to rubbish claims that people in Wales don’t speak Welsh. I’m fed up that the only statistic batted around is that 22% of the population identifying as fluent in Welsh has recently dropped to 19%.
I’m also fed up with those who claim that English-medium education is not producing Welsh speakers.
Should 5 years of French, Spanish or German not result in relative fluency? But Brits still go abroad expecting Europeans to be fluent in the language WE choose rather than the language of their land.
Should we not be more concerned with the fact that, despite educational devolution in Wales, our children still know more about Henry VIII’s chauvinism than his damning laws against Wales’ people, culture and language?
To those who bemoan English-medium Welsh classes in our schools I say this:
When you lower your expectations, everything around you becomes more miraculous and wonderful than you could ever have imagined. For now at least, lower your expectations of a bilingual populous and take pride in what we know.
No, the current situation in forging a truly bilingual nation is not perfect, far from it, but for now the fight is not in gaining a bilingual nation – the first step in this battle is normalising the language. And the best way to do that is by using it when we can.
Iawn, rant over. Here’s what I found:
No matter the level (or lack of) education in Welsh, every single one of the respondents knew how to say the word ‘thanks’ in Welsh.
And that’s it.
That’s all I wanted to know.
I mean, it didn’t even matter how long it had been since people had studied Welsh;
If you’re interested, in addition to the fact that 100% of people who completed the survey knew how to be polite in the Welsh language, only one person did not remember how to say ‘how are you?‘ (= sut wyt ti? + others).
Therefore if I told you that ‘iawn‘ means ‘ok,’ tell me you can’t work out the following conversation:
“Sut wyt ti?”
“Iawn diolch. Sut wyt ti?”
Fine, so it’s no closer to moaning about the weather and asking how the kids are as it is to discussing the economic and cultural benefits of an independent Wales completely through the medium of Cymraeg but it works.
We can do it. We can ALL do it.
Hearing Cymraeg on the streets does not have to be reserved for Aberystwyth, Bala and Caernarfon.
Using our Cymraeg, however humbly and simply, tells people that we are different and are proud to be so. It tells people we care about the medium of conversation used by those who forged the land which today we call home. It normalises our heritage.
The main aim of the survey may have been to discover to what degree people have at least a basic proficiency in Welsh but there were many secondary results that grabbed my attention upon analysis too. Things like:
- Despite a mere 43 responses, there we 4 different versions of the term ‘because it is’ offered – achos mae’n / oherwydd mae’n, am ei fod yn, gan ei fod yn.
- 47% (20) of respondents said they use at least some Welsh EVERY DAY. Tidy!
- Only 2 people were unsure on how to ask for something using ‘can I (have a)….?’ (= ga’ i….?) and 7 were unsure on how to say ‘I want (a)….’ (= dwi eisiau + others). 2 southerners managed to get ‘moyn’ in there. Well played, my southern friends.
- 4 Gwyndodians (North West Walians) infiltrated question 4 proclaiming that good morning is ‘borA da’ and not ‘bore da.’ Cheek!
- And finally, Respondent 18 decided to take his/her opportunity to show us all how to use ‘can I have’ and ‘I want’ in a fantastic sentence. Whack the kettle on then!
May I offer two recommendations?
1. In less than a day, I managed to ask 43 people with varying degrees of Welsh ability how to say ‘thank you‘ in the language of the heavens. Save for one typo saying ‘dioloch,’ every single one of the respondents knew it.
I promise you this; if you have the guts to say ‘diolch‘ instead of ‘thanks‘ to anyone, my money is on that they’ll understand you. You might even get a ‘croeso‘ in return – in which case I dare you to not smile to yourself when you hear it. Impossible!
2. Whoever you are, when asked whether you speak Welsh, saying ‘no’ is simply a lie. Perhaps you believe your abilities to be ‘limited’ (though some would still say that edges towards modesty), but you definitely do not speak zero Welsh.
One particular challenge faced when you upgrade your Welsh linguistic confidence is when you’re asked by others to speak some. ‘I can’t remember off hand’ is not an acceptable answer.
People would love to hear ‘bore/p’nawn/nos da!‘ They’d love to hear that our word for ‘thanks‘ has a sound that died out in English hundreds of years ago. And who wouldn’t want to tell someone their name and at the same time sound like you’re saying ‘[name] had a wee!‘?
Alternatively you could punt for the phrase I go for – ‘dwi ddim yn gwybod‘ (dwee thim un gubod). It means ‘I don’t know.‘ Doesn’t sound too fun but it gets hilarious when someone then asks you what it means.
You’re welcome…. I mean ‘croeso!’
Cymraeg am byth i bawb.
You can still take the survey here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/r/D983W68
Or, alternatively, you can see all the results here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/results/SM-PSR6NGBH