Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Setting an example

There's an article in today's Western Mail about Dŵr Cymru call centre staff being trained to work in Welsh as part of a new qualification.
This a positive step in my opinion and many public bodies serving 'customers' in Wales would do well to follow this privately owned utility's lead.

It reminds me of my own time working in a call centre for the Inland Revenue. I was one of around 200 staff based in Cardiff and another 200 in East Kilbride, Scotland who answered queries on the Employer's PAYE Helpline. As far as I knew, I was the only first language Welsh speaker working there although there were a few second language Welsh speakers who had gone throught Welsh medium education in the south east*. As calls from 3 different lines were diverted to us anyway, I suggested to the call centre manager that a Welsh language option could be added and that I'd be willing to recieve these. The manager's reply was that as we were answering calls from all over the Uk and not just from Wales that the Welsh Language Act didn't apply. Although I don't know the ins and out of the act I'm sure this was'nt the case, but even if it was true the Revenue could have been giving it's customers a much better service.

Sometimes when I was speaking to an employer I could detect by their accent that they were Welsh speakers and I would offer to continue the call in Welsh, and apart from one caller they all prefered to continue in Welsh. In around 3 years I'd say by a conservative estimate that this happened around 50 times. As someone from north Wales it's esier for me to detect who speaks Welsh from north Wales accents, so there may have been the same amount again with south Wales accents which spoke Welsh but unknown to me. I've since estimated that if I recieved a hundred calls from Welsh speakers (probably more) and that between Cardiff and East Kilbride there are 400 call centre staff, then as much as 40,000 calls to the helpline could have been made by Welsh speakers (please correct my maths if I'm wrong).

* There are 9 Welsh medium comprehensive schools in the south east. 4 in Rhondda Cynon Taf, 2 in Cardiff, 1 in Caerphilly, 1 in Torfaen and 1 in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Spot on

Who are the British nationalists? A great post on the new British Nationalists in Wales Watch blog. The author claims that the Labour party have a problem with being branded as a Brithish nationalist party.
So, if a person who believes Wales has the moral right to become a nation state with its own head of state, a seat at the United Nations and full member-state status of the European Union is called a 'Welsh nationalists', then, it stands to reason, logically, that a person who believes the same moral right exists for the 'British' imagined community should be called a 'British nationalist'.

It's the tactic of all nationalisms which are the nationalisms of the dominant imagined community to paint the aspirant nationalism of nations within the state as dangerous, racists or abnormal. That's the tactic throughout history from the Russians in the USSR, to the Turks viz a vis the Kurds; the French ascendency within the Belgian state against the Flemings; the Indonesians against the East Timorese.

I find it funny how the three British parties refer to Plaid Cymru as 'the Nationalists' even in the debating chamber although all the other parties are given the repect of having their party names used (with the exeption of the Conservatives perhaps who are sometimes called the Tories). Although I'm not a memeber of Plaid Cymru, I consider myself a Welsh nationalist and don't see anything wrong with the term, but the use of the word by these parties is intended as an insult I think. The thing is they are also nationalist parties themselves as their belief is in what they see as the British nation where as Welsh nationalist believe in the Welsh nation and he people of Wales.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


I've come across an interesting page on the BBC site called Voices which describes the various langauges (indeginous and non indeginous) spoken in the UK.

The Voices in your area section for Cumbria has a section about counting sheep, which reminded me of an interesting site I found a while ago about how some farmers in north England still use a method of counting which is very similar to modern day Welsh, even though Welsh (or Brythonic at the time) ceased to be spoken in this part of Britain over a thousand years ago. There's a tourist atraction called Rheged (name of old Celtic kingdom) in Cumbria which mentions the area's Celtic history.

Edit: I have been informed via comments (by Nick) that Cumbric may well have still been spoken in the Eden Valley as late as the 1300's.

Fame at last.

Well, not exactly. Only about 3-4 people usually visit this blog daily, but I had 17 and 18 visits yesterday and the day before (It's little thing like this that pleases me you see). You can see how people come to your blog by viewing this page. For quite some time now, most visits came from people searching for 'Welsh Crazy Frog', but recent visits have come from a link from The Campaign for an English Parliment blog of all places. I'm assuming because my previous post about a 'Map of the 100 nations of Europe' was posted on the (Scottish) Independance blog.

To be honest I've not given much thought to a Parliment for England. I realised and expected that there would be a new take on Englishness and England as a nation in the wake of devolution for Wales and Scotland, but I thought this would be to strengthen it (at the expence of Britishness hopefully) rather than undermine it. In the days prior to devoulution, I was very much for devolution for two main reasons
1. As a nationalist I saw being governed by a PALIAMENT (not the present mess) elected by the people of Wales as a better solution to meeting the aspirations and tackling the problems of our small nation. Even with the best will in the world a prime minister in London is never going to put the interests of the 3 milion in Wales people before the interest of 48 million (?) people of England.
2. The Welsh population of 3 million (and 5 million in Scotland) are nice suitable numbers for administrating, and compares with devolved 'regions' in Europe and with some of the smaller states in the USA.

After taking the populations of Wales and Scotland (and Northern Ireland) away from the total UK population, you are left with an unit which is still too large to be goverend effectivley if you believe in devolution. Will dividing this unit (England) into regions threaten an English identity?