The Corridors of Power

I've just stumbled upon a rather interesting political blog called The Corridors of Power, by Emma McFarnon, a postgraduate newspaper journalism student at Cardiff University.

Her most recent article is on the growth of the Welsh speaking community in Cardiff.

As her profession might suggest, the blog comprises longer articles which seem to be well researched and make good use of sound and video material. I've only skimmed through a few of them, but it looks well worth reading on a regular basis.

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Anonymous said...

Quite nice piece about Welsh in Cardiff though it does somewhat continue with the narrative that Cardiff isn't/wasn't a Welsh-speaking city when in fact Welsh is the only language which has been spoken continiously in Cardiff for 2,000 years.

The majority of religious services in Cardiff in the 1840s were conducted in Welsh. In the early 19th century the new minister at Roath (a Scotsman) complained that people in his parish couldn't speak English. He's been led to believe that this was 'quite common in places like Cadoxton but not so close to the border' (he was obviously thinking of the old Wales and Monmouth 'border').

In the late 19th century the Cymrodorion in Cardiff wrote a letter to protest to the railway company (GWR?) that a monolingual railway worker in Cardiff had been sacked for not being able to speak English. You need only to to the Fuwch Goch pub in Womanby Street (Heol y Fuwch Goch - the red cow street - was the old non-official Welsh name for the street) to see court transcripts in Welsh from the late C18 and early C19. All court proceeding were in English, so anything in Welsh means that the defendants either libelled people in Welsh and the court had to hear the original words used. The graphic and slanderous name-calling in Welsh by the residents of Splott will dispel any myth that Welsh doesn't belong to Cardiff as some will have us believe - especially those in Mark Drakeford's Labour party.

One reason why people are surprised by the growth of Welsh is that they compare it with their own baseline which tends to be the 1950s - the age when they were young maybe. This decade was possibly the historic low point for the Welsh language in Cardiff since possibly the time when Welsh people were literally not allowed to live within the walls of the town in the Middle Ages. Although, some tentative steps were taken to develop the language at that time, in terms of percentage and number of speakers it was at an all-time low. It really gives an inaccurate picture of Welsh in the city's history.

Looking at the history of Cardiff (both the old walled town and the one included its present bounderies) the strength of the Welsh language in Cardiff today is actually much lower than it has been in the past and is only now approaching the percentage it would have been in the late C19 - 67% of Llysfaen (Lisvane) residents spoke Welsh in 1891.

It's but the latest upswing in a languge which has seen ups and downs over a millennia and more - language which has locked out of the town's walls; locked out of authority and education and submerged under huge waves of English-speakers - the dominant state language - from England and Ireland.

The revival of Welsh in Cardiff is to be welcomed. But Welsh isn't a 'new' language in Cardiff, it's the oldest language in Cardiff. It's time someone wrote it's history.


Anonymous said...

Hello! Just wanted to say a huge thank you for talking about my blog! It's very much appreciated. I've really enjoyed reading your blog too, and have just linked to it.

All the best,

MH said...

Thanks, Emma. You've got a good blog and it deserves to get lots of readers.

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