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?