Monday, October 31, 2005

Alun Pugh made me spew

I understand very little about poetry so I'd best not comment about it. As Alun Pugh AM (Minister for Sports and Culture, with responsability for the Welsh language) seems to know nothing about linguistic rights, he'd be wise to keep quiet as well.
I was dissapionted but not surprised by his disgraceful article in the Western Mail last week where he has a pop at Welsh language campaigners. In the article there are numerous comments that need responding to and challenging. He claims that demanding a new Language Act isn't necessary and suggests goodwill alone will bring equality for those who want to live their lives through the medium of Welsh, and that campaigning for more rights for Welsh speakers will alienate those who don't speak Welsh.
I've stopped buying the Western Mail as I think it's standards have dropped even further after the paper's change to tabloid size (and content), so I don't know what's been said in it's letters column, but in today's edition there's an article in response by Steffan Cravos, Chairperson of the Welsh Language Society. Here are some of his points:
Alun Pugh naively makes this judgment: “Major companies like Tesco and Ikea are happy to work on extending bilingual provision without the stick of legislation".

The tokenistic exceptions of sporadic and piecemeal developments to which he refers prove the rule; unless private companies are required by law to operate bilingually, they mostly choose not to do so.

Alun Pugh suggests that a new Welsh Language Act would “alienate the 80% of people in this country who have not been fortunate enough to learn both our national languages". There is no evidence to support this view and it is surely scandalous for Alun Pugh to be so divisive.

Another well worded response is found on Morfablog, and here's a translation of what Nic has to say:
Hir ei dafod, byr ei wybod / Long tounge, short of knowledge (a reference to some of the patronising Welsh idioms that Alun Pugh scattered his article with for effect)

To be fair to Alun Pugh, he know's exactly what he's doing, which is the same thing that the Labour Party have been doing since the days of George Thomas: keeping the non-welsh speakers in fear of the Nashis by saying that they're in danger of becoming second-class citizens in their own county. Talking about those who call for, and work towards securing, civil rights for the 20% of the welsh population who speak Welsh as if they were a threat to the civil rights of the 80% of the population that do not speak Welsh. This is a tactic that the Southern Democrats in the USA used in the 60's to secure the support of the white poor; demonizing civil rights protestors.

And this in the same week as we lost Rosa Parks.


Have you seen the shots of police officers dragging Cymdeithas yr Iaith supporters by the hair during the protests of the 70's? Of the "respectable" Welsh speakers shouting and spitting at them on Post Office floors in the 60's?. Without these peaceful protests which have kept a continued pressure on the "authorities", Welsh speakers would have no lingustic rights at all. Alun Pugh speaks as though Welsh speakers insist that they are superior to those who do not speak the language. Our place is to ask for concessions from large companies like Tesco and Microsoft, and not be so impatient if they're not quite ready to satisfy us. Better not rock the boat too much by demanding that they treat the Welsh language equally with the English language, or they'll do what? Remove their business from Wales? Good riddance.

If the Welsh Assembly Government had the balls to pass a Language Act that was worth the paper it was written on, it would be possible to tell Microsoft “either you produce Welsh language versions of all your software, or we install Linux and Open Office on every publically owned computer in Wales”. But instead, the Assembly Government has to go to Bill Gates with cap in hand, ask politely, offer to pay for the translation work with taxpayers' money, and then say thank you very much to Microsoft in every press release for the next three years, as though they'd done us a huge favour, leaving us to spend money on software that we've already paid for.

We are idiots babe,
It’s a wonder we can even feed ourselves.

Bob Dylan said that.

Cei di fod yn fy mreuddwyd i
(You can be in my dream)
Os ga’ innau fod yn dy freuddwyd di.
(If I can also be in yours)

Dylan said that as well.

Appologies to all Bob Dylan fans if I screwed up translating the last two lines back to English.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Scotland and England to go alone in the Olympics

Website and Blog of the Campaign for a Scottish Olym,pic Team.

Website of the Campaign for an English Olympic Team.

Anyone interested in starting a Campaign for a Welsh Olympics Team? It's only a matter of time.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Rosa Parks (1913 - 2005)

Rosa Parks died today aged 92. In 1955 she was arrested in Mongomery, in the state of Alabama for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white man. This simple act was a catalyst for the civil rights movement in the USA. I heard a clip on the radio when she was interviewd a few years after the evnet and she said;

..I had to find out what rights I had as a human being.


Monday, October 24, 2005

Celebrating 200 years since what exactly?

What did you do to celbrate the battel of Trafalgar? If like me, then nothing. Galgacus points out here that it was around the same time that the same army that fought the French was also clearing the highlands of Scotland.
Yesterday marked the 200th Anniversary of the battle of Trafalgar, with celebrations around the country marking the victory, and the death of Nelson. It’s worth remembering what was going on at home whilst these victories were taking place abroad. The same army which was bravely standing up to Napoleon was also “bravely” standing up to unarmed farmers, burning them out of their homes and throwing them off their own land.

More on the BBC website and on Wikipedia

Monday, October 17, 2005

Only a week ago..

...I was in a pub with Geraint and Mair, chatting away in Welsh. We'd gone to the Mochyn Du to meet Chris, who we'd met through blogging. Chris who's an American, and pictured above photgraphing himself in a public toilet in Cardiff (why?) keeps a Welsh language blog, which he's been using as a way of improving his Welsh writting skills. He's completly self taught using mainly the BBC's Catchphrase website, and his ambition is to study a degree in Welsh at Cardiff University.
I'm sure you're thinking he's mad (as I did), but for someone who had only had 2 or 3 face to face conversations in Welsh in his whole life, he could speak it fluently, holding his own in a conversation with three (first language) Welsh speakers and expessing himself natrually.
Needles to say, when he had an interview with the School of Welsh the following day, he was accepted on the course for 2006. Chris spent a lot of the evening appologising for George Bush, but there's no need for Chris or any other American to do this as I don't consider the cretin Rhodri Morgan's actions (or inactions more like) to be any fault of mine.
Hopefully I'll be spending many more evenings in the Mochyn Du with Chris and others in the future.

You can read about his trip on his English blog

Clever campaigning in Brittany

Parents who have been campaigning for the appointment of a Breton speaking teacher have run a Teleathon, after the education authority refused to fund the post at Lorient Merville school. This recieved a lot of coverage on the internet and led to a u-turn by the authorities.

During the campaign, parents occupied part of the school and taught the children themselves. The authorities refused to nagotiate with them unless the following four points were met:

1) The parents had to vacate the building
2) The Breton flag had to be lowered (as it's considered an 'overt' symbol whatever that means!)
3) The children had to remove badges which said Me a gomz brezhoneg (I speak Breton)
4) No one was to speak to the media

The actions of the French authorities are disgraceful!

More about the above on Eurolang archives(PDF)

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Cochion Caerdydd (Wrexham FC supporters group)

In the 5 years I've lived in Cardiff I've met many Wrexham fans and thought how good it would be if we all got together to travel to matches. I'm not a very good organiser, but with the increase in internet use, I decided to set up a blog and a forum to bring people together. I publicised the forum on Red Passion, and within a few days 16 members had joined.
The first thing we're going to arrange is a minibus to theaway match at Oxford on the 12th of November.

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Thursday, October 13, 2005 Blog Aggregator for Wales

. is a blog aggregator for English language blogs from Wales or about Wales. The creator Aran Jones has already set up which is an aggregator of Welsh language blogs. If your blog fits the bill, and you'd like it included then e-mail you blog's name, url and feed to: aran AT

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Tryweryn: City of Liverpool apologise

Last pupils of Ysgol Capel Celyn (Picture: Gwyn Evans, Y Bala)

From the BBC
BBC Wales can reveal that Liverpool council is close to making a formal apology for the drowning of a Welsh valley almost half a century ago.

Party leaders on the city council have agreed the wording of an apology to go before the council on 19 October.

Although many say that it's bit late in the day, it can only a good thing. It's not really reasonable to lay the blame on the current councillors of Liverpool as they would have been young children at the time, but what happened at Tryweryn is very symbolic of Wales being 'used' by England and 'Cofiwch Dryweryn' (Remeber Tryweryn) is a slogan very much in use today. The name Tryweryn has become a by-word for injustice, and was probably the starting point for modern day Welsh nationalism. It's probably one of the best examples why proper devolution was/is required. At the time every single MP in Wales (even the Tories!) opposed the drowning of a whole community.

Here's more info from the Natinal Library's Ymgyrch! site.

In Pictures: The valley drowned fro a reservoir
Letter's, photo's amd Pamphletes from Gathering the Jewels website
Remember Wales (BBC)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Epynt memorial service

Bois Epynt / Men of Epynt by Aneurin Jones

A story that appears on the BBC Cymru website, but not on the BBC Wales site. There's a mention in the Daily Post (scroll down)

A service was held at the ruins of Capel Babell (chapel) on Epynt mountain by Cymdeithas y Cymod on Saturday (8/10/05) to commemorate opposition to 40,000 acres of farmland in Breconshire being confiscated by the MOD in 1940. Not only was it a travesty that 400 people were forced from their homes at only a few weeks notice and having to leave farms which had been in the farmed by their families for generations, but also it meant that the linguistic border of Wales was moved many miles westwards.

Beautiful Welsh farm names such as Clwyd Bach y Groes, Hirllwyn and Pentref Uchaf are now called Dixie's Corner, Piccadilly Circus and Gallows Hill. Capel Babell was the first bulding to be used for target practice.

A spokesman for Cymdeithas y Cymod said that "the British War Office's injustice of completly destroying a Welsh speaking heartland will not be forgoten".

"The injustice does not diminish with time or while the the military still keeps hold of our land" he added.

Gruff Rhys recently wrote a song called Epynt. It's a play on words as Epynt sounds like 'E'-'pound' in Welsh and therefore has a double meaning, i.e. refering to the debate about the Euro and the pound.

From his website:
Epynt is a mountain in Mid Wales. It’s also about the battle between the Euro (the E in Epynt) and the pound (pynt in Welsh). The conclusion is that it’s better to get rid of money altogether.

You can listen to it here

More on Critical Montages blog