June 14th, 2010

dysgu Cymraeg

How to spot a Welsh speaker in the wild

In this post, I'm going to look at a common problem that Welsh learners encounter, namely spotting a native speaker in the wild.

There is a prevalent myth that Welsh people only speak Welsh in public to annoy the English. Time and time again, I've heard people claim that while they were standing outside the shop, they could hear that the conversation was in English, but the moment they cross the threshold, it turns to Welsh to exclude them. Well, I've lived in Wales for over 30 years and I can say categorically that it just never happens.

If only it were true!

If it were true, we Welsh learners would have no difficulty at all in finding people to practice with. Collapse )

Basically, you have to be alert. Some shops and cafes display a sign saying that Welsh is spoken there. Very occasionally, someone may wear a badge conveying the same message. I have one that says Dw i'n dysgu Cymraeg (I'm learning Welsh (see icon)) and there was an equivalent one given out for people who were willing to speak with learners. However, speaking personally, I never spot the "Welsh spoken here" sign until I'm half way through the transaction. All you can do then is remember for next time. From now on, one of my goals is to make a list of places that do have Welsh speaking staff. I'm also going to try to make a note of which of the checkout staff at the Co-op are Welsh speaking because some are and some aren't.

Otherwise, keep your ears open. What language did the person in front of you use when speaking to the shop assistant? If it's Welsh, then it's safe for you to do the same.

(Crossposted to LJ and Dreamwidth. If you want to comment, please feel free to do so at whichever site you find most convenient.)
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