Alun Pugh made me spew
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.