Welsh language

Welsh language
   Welsh is acknowledged as the strongest surviving Celtic language, partly thanks to the Welsh Language Act and the setting up of the Welsh Language Board, which insist, among other things, that the language appears on road signs, is taught in schools and is a requirement for certain jobs. Also, the University of Wales’s Board of Celtic Studies is working on a historical dictionary of the Welsh language and major surveys of place names and dialects at its Aberystwyth Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies.
   Known as Cymraeg, Welsh comes from a Celtic branch of the Indo-European language family. It is spoken more in the north than the south. After a period of decline, the trend is now towards more Welsh being spoken, especially by young people. A 1981 census showed that 18.9 percent of the Welsh population used it. A Bangor University report showed that figure had risen to 22.8 percent by 1996. The advent of the television station S4C has obviously enhanced the survival of Welsh. The popular Welsh-language sitcom Pobol y Cwm (People of the Valley), for example, reflects daily Welshspeaking lives, and the Welsh news programme Newydd mediates everyday events through the Welsh language.
   Outside Wales, the forty-year-old Welsh School, housed in a Welsh chapel in Willesden in northwest London, is more popular than ever. The Canadian astronaut Dr Dafydd Rhys Williams learned Welsh so that he could send messages from the space shuttle Columbia to the BBC Wales television programme Wales Today.
   Immigrants to Wales face difficulty with the education of their children, which is often solely through the medium of Welsh. This practice is also questioned locally by people who fear it will narrow job prospects for their children. Litigation has even been initiated by non Welsh-speaking people from South Wales to outlaw the compulsory learning of Welsh.

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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