Archive for the ‘Welsh’ Category

Learning to Drive Without Learning the Lingo

Posted on October 5th, 2013by Melanie
In English, Events, Welsh | Leave a Comment »

Driving testsIf people find ‘back seat’ driving irritating, then ‘back seat’ interpreting is even worse. Costing taxpayers £250,000 each year, the use of interpreters or pre-recorded voice-overs in foreign languages during practical and theory tests has resulted in over 1,000 licences being revoked due to fraud and a number of convictions of interpreters.

The system allows people who speak foreign languages to learn how to drive by choosing from 19 foreign voice-over languages available for the test, or to use an interpreter where their language is not a pre-recorded option. This system, however, attracts fraudsters as learner drivers have been helped to cheat by being covertly coached in the foreign language.

The fraud scandal has led the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, to make the decision to scrap all driving tests conducted in foreign languages from early next year with the goal of stopping fraud, boosting safety, cutting costs and enhancing ‘social cohesion and integration’ as the tests will only be available in English or Welsh. He also stated that this requirement will ensure that, on passing their test, all new drivers will be able to understand any emergency information or traffic updates.

The Right Decision?

What are your views of the current language system used by foreign learner drivers in the UK and do you agree or disagree with the decision made for next year’s driving tests?

Basic Words for a Well Earned Spanish Summer Break!

Posted on April 11th, 2013by Melanie
In Welsh | Leave a Comment »

Before heading out to the sun-soaked shores of southern Spain, a group of friends decided to take a basic course in Spanish to get a head start for their Hispanic holiday.

Eager to learn some common, everyday phrases and questions they signed up for a beginners’ course to learn Spanish in Bedford. Rather than the teacher visiting one of their homes for the lessons, they decided to choose a more casual venue and opted to go to a local café to have their group lessons. This made the style of learning much more interactive as the teacher taught them the Spanish way of ordering food and drinks while they ordered their own snacks and beverages during the lessons. They learned how to describe people and their features by pointing out customers in the café. They translated the menu in order to learn the names of different fruits and vegetables, breads, cakes, drinks and popular international dishes.


Having a native Spanish speaking teacher was an added bonus as it allowed the group of friends to hear the correct pronunciation of words and they were able to pick up the dialect with ease. Practising conversations with each other in such an animated environment was invaluable as a training technique for genuine situations they might find themselves in when they visited Spain.

Armed with their new language skills and a pocket Spanish dictionary, the friends headed to the airport for the start of their exciting summer holiday with the promise of sun, sand and sangría!


Panda or Dodo

Posted on January 4th, 2013by jake
In Welsh | Leave a Comment »

The Telegraph recently published an article critiquing British taxpayer money being spent on publishing books in the Welsh language. According to the Telegraph

In the past five years the Welsh Books Council and Literature Wales have received more than £42m from the Welsh Assembly and Arts Council Wales, which in turn receive their funding from Westminster.

Last year the Welsh Books Council received £7.6m of taxpayers’ money out of which £1,853,500 went towards the publishing of Welsh language books. The journalist is aghast at this sum of money being spent because of dismal sales when the books are published. Unfortunately the amount of people that can speak Welsh is declining. According to the latest census only 562,016 people in Wales can speak the native language, roughly 19% of the population. It is hardly surprising given this information that Welsh language book sales are so dismal, as the market is small and diminishing. Where does this leave Welsh? Should we allow it’s decline and eventual extinction or should we treat it like we treat the panda and throw money at it to ensure its survival?

I attended school in Wales and I was required to learn Welsh until the age of 16. The general consensus amongst my peers was that Welsh was a dead language and therefore it was pointless to learn. Much better to spend time on German and French which could help us in the future. I now regret this way of thinking and I regret after countless hours of Welsh lessons being able to say only a handful of phrases in Welsh. Welsh predates English in Britain and has a long and complicated history. I’m of the opinion that if a species like the panda is in need of assistance because its numbers are depleting we need to spend more not less. Is this not the same for languages? The Telegraph appears to believe not, but if schemes like these fall victim to austerity cuts it’s quite likely Welsh will go the way of the dodo.

via: The Telegraph

Saving Welsh

Posted on December 15th, 2012by jake
In Welsh | Leave a Comment »

The Welsh Language Society (or Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg as they would no doubt prefer to be called) is asking the Welsh government to create new legislation to ensure the protection of the Welsh language. The call for more legislation comes after disappointing census results which detail the decline in Welsh speakers including a fall in the traditionally Welsh speaking areas Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.

According to the BBC ‘around 300 people attended a rally in Caernarfon to launch the campaign’ in which The Welsh Language society outline their wish for ‘the Welsh government to quadruple the amount invested in developing and protecting the language.’

The census figures published on Tuesday recorded an overall drop of 2% in the number of people who speak Welsh in Wales, to 562,016. That represents 19% of the population in Wales.

In the two historical Welsh-speaking heartlands of Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion – the drop was far more marked.

In Carmarthenshire, 43.9% of the population aged over three said they could speak Welsh in 2011, down from 50.3% in 2001 and 54.9% in 1991

In Ceredigion it was 47.3% in 2011, down from 52% in 2001.

via: BBC News


Posted on October 23rd, 2012by jake
In Culture, English, Uncategorized, Welsh, Words | Leave a Comment »

I didn’t think growing up in Wales had influenced my speech until I moved to England. My entire family is English but many Wenglish (Welsh-English) words have made their way into my vocabulary. I remember during a conversation with my English housemates describing how a cat had ‘scrammed’ me. A perplexed look greeted me after using the word ‘scrammed’. ‘What do you mean scrammed?’ they asked, kindly offering the word ‘scratched’ as an alternative after I made the hand gesture of a cats claw. For me scratched did not sufficiently describe what I wanted to say. A scratch is a minimal injury, a mere surface wound inflicted by a single claw. Scrammed is more violent, it implies malicious intent, brute force and many claws dragging down. I had previously thought that scrammed was a standard English word and it was confusing to me that other people had no idea what it meant.

Many differences in Wenglish can be observed in sentence structures. When answering a phone call if you wanted to ask the caller where they are, many Welsh people would say ‘Where you to?’ instead of ‘Where are you?’. If the caller wanted to tell you that they will be with you shortly they might say ‘I’ll be there now, in a minute’ offering you two conflicting answers. Wenglish quirks often stem from additional superfluous words being used to express a simple statement. An example of this is instead of saying ‘I love you’ a Welsh person might say ‘I loves you I do’. Before moving to England these statements were standard English in my mind. Although most Wenglish words and phrases have now been erased from my vocabulary, I do smile whenever I’m back in Wales and hear somebody on their phone asking ‘Oh, where you to?’.

New hope for Welsh?

Posted on April 29th, 2012by Michelle
In Indigenous languages, Language acquisition, Welsh | Leave a Comment »

There is renewed hope for the future of the Welsh language following the Welsh language commissioner’s first speech earlier this month.

Meri Huws is the first Welsh Language Commissioner, and her duties include promoting and facilitating use of the language, conducting inquiries and working towards Welsh being equal with English. Huws’ first speech highlighted these duties as she spoke of her vision that Welsh speakers have the confidence to use the language and trust that any prejudice would be rectified by law.

About 21% of the population of Wales speak Welsh, according to the Welsh government. There is a wide range of views on the future of the language, with some welcoming the Commissioner’s policies, others seeing them as a burden on small businesses or that Welsh is a dying language not worth saving.

The appointment of Meri Huws may herald an increase in the number of language commissioners across the UK, with Scotland and Northern Ireland watching closely; there is an argument that commissioners should also be established in England to help protect minority languages.

(Source: Guardian)

Gower dialect to be recorded

Posted on August 7th, 2011by Michelle
In Culture, dialects, Welsh | Leave a Comment »

The dialect of people living on the Gower Peninsula, Wales is set to be recorded in a dictionary.

The project has been earmarked for Heritage Lottery Funding (HLF) through its landscape partnership programme, lead by Swansea Council. In addition to the dictionary, conservation work will take place and volunteers will be given IT skills training to create a website for a virtual visitors centre.

… the dictionary is a mixture of Welsh and English with specific names for plants and animals, not heard anywhere else in Wales.

Peculiarities of Gower dialect are thought to have developed due to its geography and were recorded in the mid 19th Century. (Source: BBC News)

Some examples of Gower dialect include “umman” for woman and “soul” for cheese or butter.

If successful, the HLF bid will encourage the local community to get actively involved in preserving their culture and heritage.

Two languages can co-exist in the same society

Posted on March 6th, 2011by Michelle
In Culture, Spanish, Welsh | Leave a Comment »

New research has shown than two languages can co-exist in the same society. Previously it had been thought that the ‘stronger’ language would overtake the lesser spoken one, until it died out.

Conducted by researchers at the University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, mathematical models were created to show that levels of bilingualism can lead to the steady co-existence of two languages. The research analysed patterns among populations speaking Castilian, the main language of Spain, and Galician, a language spoken in Galicia (north-west Spain). The results could be used to inform other bilingual countries such as Wales.

Joseph Winters from Londons Institute of Physics said: Older models only took the number of each languages speakers and the relative status of each language into consideration, concluding that eventually the most dominant language would kill off the weaker; the decline of Welsh is often cited as an example of this.

The researchers used historical data to show how you can predict the continued existence of a language when you also incorporate a mathematical representation of the languages similarity to one another and the number of bilingual speakers, into the calculation.
If a significant fraction of the population is bilingual in two relatively similar languages, there appears to be no reason to believe that the more dominant language will inevitably kill off the weaker, Mr Winters added.

Researcher Jorge Mira Pmrez said: If the statuses of both languages were well balanced, a similarity of around 40% might be enough for the two languages to coexist.

If they were not balanced, a higher degree of similarity above 75%, depending on the values of status would be necessary for the weaker tongue to persist. (Source: Wales Online)