The feistiest smartphone argument you’ll find these days is the battle between Android and Apple devices. Apple has notoriously occupied the ‘high-end’, ‘look-at-me’ patch but Android users always seem to wear that smug smirk on their faces when they’re told their device doesn’t measure up to Steve Jobs’ brain child.
My technophobia means I’d rather not engage in these debates, preferring to simply sit on the fence whilst explaining how my ten-year ‘love affair’ with a massive array of Apple devices means that, for now and probably into the foreseeable future, I’m well and truly an ‘Apple slave’ – whether I like it or not!
I fear I’ll forever be one too. I know iOS and feel comfortable with it and, as the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke….
I like Apple. As I’ve said, I just get it. I can have my calendar in Welsh and my Google searches prioritising my chosen language. Perhaps more important than that, I’ve amassed so many apps over the years and I’d be sad to find that Android couldn’t offer me their equivalents. Changing wouldn’t just mean learning to use another operating system, it would also mean learning how to use my current apps in new ways too. Then there’s the iCloud (Apple’s cloud storage feature) issue where I’ve saved every single text message I’ve ever sent to my [now] wife, all the notes and ideas I’ve collated over the years, all the photographs I’ve ever taken and all the music I’ve collected since I’ve used Apple devices. Put simply, changing now would just be a huge pain in proverbial that, in truth, I’m fully able to avoid.
But there’s no denying that there are times when Android is better than Apple; removable storage options, universal headphone jack, wider customisation opportunities, ability to utilise widgets, USB-C charging/link connection, Irish language interface, retro game compatibility…. and many more.
I’d be lying if I said the thought has never crossed my mind about making the leap out of and away from my Apple comfort zone.
In a sense, the Welsh language is a bit like Android. English is a bit like Apple.
Nowadays in Wales, we all know Apple. Whether someone uses an Android device or not, you’ll probably struggle to find someone who has never ever owned at least one of Apple’s products. Neither would it be a lie to admit that most people here prefer Apple. And, much like we are all comfortable with Apple devices and their operating systems, we’re all aware of and, more than likely wholly proficient in, the English language as residents of Wales.
For ultimately the same, core reason I’ve forever been apprehensive around ditching Apple for Android, making the huge leap away from the language we’ve heard and used throughout our lives is never a decision made lightly. It’s bloody scary, in fact.
There seems to be an intrinsic national ‘shame’ that we don’t speak our national language (perhaps why we can often be ‘over’ patriotic at sporting events to compensate?) and most residents of Wales will tell you they wish they could speak the language fluently. So why the apprehension to learn and/or use it?
We know the benefits of learning and using Welsh. The cognitive avail of learning languages in general is then topped with the ability to converse in a language that was used to shape and forge this nation of ours. Doors open into a new world of culture and literature that English-medium education and media simply do not explore.
‘Cenedl heb iaith, cenedl heb galon’ – A nation without a language is a nation without a heart. We all yearn to ensure that the purest of hearts continues to beat amidst our hills and valleys. But none need despair…. we can all contribute.
Making the decision to learn Welsh is relatively simple in comparison to making the leap into actually using the Welsh we know – whether we’d consider ourselves fluent or not. Getting people signed up to classes or reaching a 50-day streak on Duolingo is not the problem…. it’s getting people to lend their voice to Welsh in order to give the old language its own. Unfortunately, its the ‘using’ where most of us lack confidence.
The fear of mis-mutating is like losing ten years of photographs and memories from your iCloud. Not being able to express oneself effectively in a local shop produces the same frustration as losing the ability to iMessage their mates from their new Samsung tablet. The potential shame of sounding stupid in front of peers is akin to looking stupid when you can’t find where ‘Settings’ is on the new Android phone you’ve just spent £700 on and have to ask a twelve-year-old who finds it in less than three and a half seconds.
But maybe our job as a society is not to force everyone to use an Android device, but to make them proficient enough to effectively utilise both Apple and Android devices when the occasions when either would be more efficient arise.
Look, pitiful techno-metaphors aside, in order to ensure we bring our language with us to be part of our ever-evolving Wales, we need to understand that not ignoring and bypassing English is just as important as encouraging ourselves and others into using Welsh itself.
For me, bilingualism doesn’t mean having every provision in the land in both Welsh and English (as much as I fully support the current law that everything has to be), it means that there simply exist occasions (or ‘places’) where either can flourish – even if the other language in certain occasions or places doesn’t.
If you don’t feel confident pitching your latest idea to your boss in Welsh but would happily greet them in the morning with ‘Bore da, sut mae?’, you’re bilingual. If your Cymraeg comfort zone doesn’t quite reach as far as telling your mechanic that your engine’s making a funny noise but you’ll happily bid him/her ‘Diolch yn fawr’ to thank them for their work, you’re bilingual. When my mate and I are down at Wrecsam’s Cae Ras stadium we rarely speak Welsh to each other – it just doesn’t feel ‘right’ to me when I’m talking about football – but when we discuss where to meet up for a pint of Wrexham Lager afterwards or how one another’s family is, we’d never even consider speaking English.
Admittedly, at present it seems as though English is the language of choice for the lion’s share of daily life in Wales but this does not mean that, in the first instance, occasions where Welsh is the natural first choice don’t exist and, secondly, that we can’t all encourage ourselves and one another to forge new places for Welsh to thrive day-to-day. Essentially, we can all embrace the occasions when and where Welsh already has a place and then make our own additional places too. Why not talk to your cat in Welsh? Ditch the word ‘thanks’ for a juicy ‘diolch’? Maybe the Cae Ras might become your ‘patch Cymraeg’ where it may never be mine?
My taid [grandfather] would often encourage me to ‘always leave a place tidier than how we found it.’ Why not make the lives of yourself and others around you a little bit more ‘Welsh-ier’ then when you found it?
Give it a go and dal ati.
I’m off to buy a new Apple Watch.