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"Hello, I'm Bob Marshall. I'm head chef at the Carreg Môn hotel in Anglesey and I insist that my staff only speak in English. What's wrong with that? We have the highest regard for the welfare of our staff, and as anyone with an ounce of common sense will tell you, speaking any language other than English is neither safe nor healthy. It's for their own good.

"Besides that, the Trade Descriptions Act would not allow us to serve full English breakfasts unless only English had been used during their preparation.

"So please consider coming to stay here. For some strange reason, we've been getting hardly any visitors lately, even though the Daily Post just ran a story which gave us some fantastic publicity."

Daily Post, 14 April 2011

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11 comments:

Aled GJ said...

As galling as it may seem, the truth is that we still need cases like this. They raise people's awareness of the language issue, they fortify people's Welshness and galvanise people into action! Here in the Welsh language heartlands,there seems to be a cosy consensus about the desirability of Welsh, whilst actual use of the language is plummeting. If we are serious about maintaining Welsh as a community language, we need more language conflict like this.

Carl Morris said...

Aled, really though? Does this make an iota of difference to actual use?

Shouldn't we be hoping for new challenges rather than re-treading something that should have ended with Brewer Spinks in 1965?

Hogyn o Rachub said...

Frankly, it's disgusting that this still happens. I really, really hope that the matter is taken further with the Equality Commission - although it has a dire record when it comes to the Welsh language.

glynbeddau said...

If I were a conspiracy theorist I would be wondering why this story has come out just before the Assembly Elections?

Could it be to provoke militant supporters of the language to take action and then embarrass IWJ and Plaid in the constituency.

They seem to on a regular basis.

And theres that rather dubious story of someone removing signs before a fun run because they were in English.

Of course the London Media picked up on that one.

Fortunately I can't believe this is conspiracy it would be far too devious.

MH said...

No one doubts that this sort of thing should have ended years ago, Carl. The problem is that it hasn't ended. And yes, this is the sort of case that DOES make a difference to the use of the language. It is about whether people have the right to use the language in the workplace, as opposed to it being restricted to family, social and civic life.

Perhaps effective action will be taken under the new Language Commissioner. But everything will depend on his or her willingness to do so, for there is no mechanism by which individuals or groups can assert their rights for themselves. And in a sense it will depend on polictical will, because appointment and accountablity are to the First Minister who, I'm sure, will not appoint someone without there being some sort of understanding about how active or passive that person is expected to be.

Of course there are many other challenges as well, but we don't have to deal with only one at a time.

-

On HoR's point, I agree. Bwrdd yr Iaith only say that the matter "could be taken up by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission" because they can't do anything about it themselves ... other than name and shame, which is what we're helping to do by publicizing the incident now. But the EHRC don't have a good record on this, largely because they are not set up in a way that could deal with it. They have their own "square peg" remit, which includes only nine legal grounds, namely "age, disability, gender, race, religion and belief, pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnership, sexual orientation and gender reassignment." This means that the "round peg" issue of language has to somehow be squeezed into one of these nine categories, with understandably limited successs.

Believe it or not, the EHRC does need to take on board certain "specific duties for Wales", but language is not one of these. We could and should press for the law to be changed to allow it to be. But of course people have been pressing for this before without any success.

There is already plenty of argument about how fit for purpose the EHRC is anyway. Not so much because of what it has to deal with, but the way it goes about it. To me, the obvious answer is to set up our own EHRC in Wales not only so that language can fit seemlessly into an overarching and inclusive framework of rights and responsibilities, but so that we can ensure that all such rights are better protected.

This is already the case with Northern Ireland (actually it has two, the ECNI and NIHRC, and I'm not sure Wales would need both) for the simple and obvious reason that it has its own unique set of circumstances. But so do we in Wales, so why on earth shouldn't we have a body tailored to suit our own specific needs?

MH said...

I wrote the above before seeing your comment, Glyn.

I'm not sure that we need to be defensive about this, as if standing up for basic rights is somehow going to damage our chances of electoral success. This is an issue on which we should be loud and proud.

Siônnyn said...

This hotel has guaranteed that there will be no more local trade, (apart from white settlers) and in the winter, I would think that their business will suffer badly. New management by the New Year? Or possibly, a new head chef, followed by a very public apology.

glynbeddau said...

MH.
You're right of course . There mustn't be any period when such rights are played down for electoral gain.

MH said...

I've just noticed a "need to" in my comment that shouldn't be there, and reverses the meaning in:

Believe it or not, the EHRC does [need to] take on board ...

Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Siônnyn said...
"This hotel has guaranteed that there will be no more local trade, (apart from white settlers) and in the winter, I would think that their business will suffer badly. New management by the New Year? Or possibly, a new head chef, followed by a very public apology."

Didn't something similar to this happen in Y Felin Heli a few years back? I think it was a restaurant. What happened to that establishment?

Anonymous said...

Have you all joined the Facebook group?

Type in 'Carreg Mon'.

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