Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Popeth yn Gymraeg (Everything in Welsh)

Popeth yn Gymraeg is a new 6 part series which started on S4C last night (which I managed to miss - Grrr).

The idea of the programm is very simlpe; the presenter (poet Ifor ap Glyn) travelles around Wales only using Welsh. It may sound a bit gimmicky, it has the potential to be a very telling programme, a bit like a Dave Gorman plot but with a bit more of a point.

Being a Welsh speaker I know the feeling of wanting to use your Welsh at every possible opportunity but always being unsure if the next person you meet will speak Welsh and how will the person react to you if they don't. This is a situation that I play out many times a day, and is part and parcel of being a speaker of a minority language. As I know my chances of having a response in Welsh varies from one part of Wales to another, so does my own behaviour (linguistically) and I believe this is also explored in the series.

That nice man Nic Dafis has also posted partly in english on his blog about the programme and raises a few good points:
As the soon to be sadly missed Welsh Language Board keeps reminding us, the only way to know if a stranger speaks Welsh is to start every conversation yn Gymraeg and see what happens. But what Ifor is doing takes the thing to a whole new, and potentially revolutionary (I don’t think that’s too strong a word) level:

There’s a difference between starting a conversation [in Welsh], and insisting on continuing a conversation in Welsh. We’re nervous as bilingual Welsh speakers… but if we were to insist on speaking Welsh, other people in our communities would have to learn. [..]

Do we still have the strength? Through protesting for the externals - official status, roadsigns, forms and so on - have we lost something of the devilishness, the strength of will, which allows people to insist on speaking Welsh?

I don’t suppose for a moment that Ifor is saying that the protesting has not been of fundamental importance, but I agree that the really revolutionary act, – and the only one necessary if only enough people would do it – is speaking Welsh, and only Welsh, at all times.

He also suggests that the programme should be aimed more at non-welsh speakers the Welsh speakers,
....it’s non-Welsh speakers who really need to see this programme, not Cymry Cymraeg. If you’ve never found yourself in the position of having to use a foreign language in your own country to make yourself understood, you’re less likely to understand how alienating that experience is, or how often Cymry Cymraeg forced to go through it.

As with most S4C programmes english subtitles are available on Teletex page 888, so who not give it a go?


Blogger Nic Dafis said...

Nice man? Where? ;-)

In the comments on the post you quote, Chris Castle has taken me to task a bit for suggesting that Welsh speakers don't need to see this, but he's missing my point (which is probably my fault, as ever, for not making it clearly enough). I think everyone in Wales should be made to watch this programme, with eyelids forced open, Clockwork Orange style.

Every time I use English, in Wales, I'm doing it for one reason only: because the "other person" doesn't speak Welsh. I am, in effect, being forced to use English by the other person, although he or she might not realise this, and I may not be conscious of it either, unless the conversation turns to the issue of the language itself.

Practically the only time I use English on the web is to talk about these kind of things, in the hope that someone, somewhere, might be nudged along the path towards Cymraeg.

Hey, look at me, how good am I? ;-)

11/30/2005 12:34 pm  
Blogger Maalie said...

If I hear one of my students with the slightest hint of a Welsh accent I will say: "Siarad Cymraeg?" or "O le 'dych chi'n dod?" sometimes with surprising results.

12/09/2005 10:15 am  
Blogger Rhys Wynne said...

That's right, you'll never know unless you ask/try!

12/09/2005 10:40 am  
Blogger Rhys Wynne said...

Actually this happend to me on Wednesday night catching a bus home after listening to a certain Carwyn Fowler play in Callaghans in Cardiff city centre. I was chatting to a guy at the bus stop and as I have a northwalian accent he asked if a spoke Welsh. He came from Aberystwyth and goes to the pub at the end of my street :-)

12/09/2005 10:43 am  
Anonymous Dan said...

Damn I've missed every episode of this due to being at Welsh class on Monday nights! Don't suppose anyone is recording and torrenting it are they? Theres next to no S4C on uknova sadly :(

12/10/2005 6:48 pm  

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