Best practice: Задача следующих лет - поддержание устойчивости валлийскоговорящих сообществ

LANGUAGE campaigners hope their 50th anniversary will inspire the next generation to save Welsh speaking communities.

Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg was formed as a direct response to a warning by writer and language campaigner Saunders Lewis in the early 1960s that Welsh would disappear if nothing was done to save it.

He said revolutionary means were needed to preserve Welsh. Just weeks after giving a radio lecture on the subject in February 1962 Cymdeithas came into being.

Last night Cymdeithas chair Bethan Williams said: “In 1962, we lived in a Wales of English-only road signs, English-only BBC radio and television, virtually English-only education and few government services were available in Welsh.

“For me as a young campaigner, it’s easy to forget the achievements of the generation who formed Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg back in 1962.

“But thanks to them, we now have a Welsh language TV and radio station, Welsh is an official language and the language is more visible.

“We do not have the resources of big business or lobby groups to put forward our case – we just have people who care.”

Ms Williams added while much has been achieved she does not want Cymdeithas to give up fighting for the language.

“I'm determined we do not rest on our laurels. Those recent campaigns show we have managed to adapt to the onset of devolution. All these efforts mean Saunders Lewis’ fear – the language would disappear entirely – has not happened. There will be some future for the language. The question now is what sort of future?

“The biggest threat the language now faces is at a community level. The last census showed a dramatic decline in the number of places where more than 70% of the population speak Welsh - from 92 in 1991 to 54 in 2001.

“So if the last 50 years was about securing status for the language, the next is about sustaining Welsh language communities.

“Our top priority for the future is to protect and grow Welsh as a community language and take steps – economic, legislative and policy - to reverse the decline the number of Welsh speaking communities and protect our unique national language, the oldest living language in Europe.” she said.


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