Helen (heleninwales) wrote,

Sometimes things change for the better

Over on the SSiW forum, someone has posted about having a bad experience as a Welsh learner when trying to converse with native speakers. Someone else replied:
I have honestly never met any Welsh speaker who has not been 100% positive, encouraging and inclusive about the language.

And this was my response:
Then you are either very lucky or rather younger than me. One of the reasons it’s taken me so long to become a fluent speaker is that when I was first learning (in the mid-70s) many native Welsh speakers were ambivalent (to put it kindly) about people learning the language. There were many reasons for this, one of which is that Welsh was not taught well back then, learners did not have good accents and people didn’t like to hear their beautiful language mangled. Their view seemed to be that if you couldn’t speak Welsh well enough to compete at the Eisteddfod, then you shouldn’t be speaking it at all. Then there were the people who felt that the ability to speak Welsh was a literal shibboleth to keep out outsiders.


That was then and now things are amazingly different. I felt the shift at the beginning of the 21st century and soon after that, I started learning via the Llanllawen method (similar to SSiW though not quite the same). It wasn’t just in the Welsh learner community either. Young Welsh people were taking Welsh out of the stuffy Welsh establishment and into the rest of the world. Welsh music took off and gained a wider appeal. People started writing Welsh online in the same way they spoke it, ditching all the literary forms. It’s actually similar to what happened to English in the 1960s, but which came to Welsh rather later.

Welsh gained confidence and became not a secret language to mark out a select tribe, but a modern European language, proud of its heritage but not afraid to move with the times and welcoming to anyone who wants to make the effort to learn it.

Thinks really are so much better now regarding the Welsh language and in so many ways.

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