Two faced about our two languages

Although not reported anywhere in English, both Golwg and the BBC's Newyddion carried a story about an application for funding from the Big Lottery Fund being refused to one of the Papurau Bro on the grounds that the paper is in Welsh only, rather than bilingual.

     

Apparently the Welsh Language Scheme agreed between the Big Lottery Fund and the former Bwrdd yr Iaith stipulates that lottery funds should only be granted for bilingual projects. This is the translation of what Fflur Lawton said in the interview:

"The terms and conditions of every grant that we give out ask for [the applicants] to make provision for their projects to be in Welsh and English.

"So if they have things like websites or send things out to people, we ask for them to be bilingual; and this is part of the terms and conditions of their grants."

The new Language Commissioner's reaction was to say that they had given advice that it was appropriate to give grants to bodies that work entirely in Welsh if it was to promote or facilitate the use of Welsh. However this advice seems to have been given a couple of years before the WLS was agreed, and not to have been reflected in the final agreement.

It's very easy to say the BLF should make an exception in this case, especially as it would appear that the amount involved is relatively small (for publishing software). But I'm not sure that's the right way of looking at it. Wouldn't it be much better to get the BLF to stick to what they actually agreed, and insist that they do in fact only give grants to projects in Wales that are delivered bilingually?

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I don't want to pick on any one organization that has received lottery funding from the BLF, but the first thing that came up when I Googled "Projects in Wales, National Lottery" was FareShare North Wales. As we can read here, Crest Co-operative recently received £246,926 to help set up the first ever FareShare project in Wales to provide free meals for vulnerable members of the community.

The aims of the project are of course thoroughly praiseworthy. But if we look at their website we can see that it certainly isn't bilingual, nor is the specific page of the project they received funding for. So it appears that Fflur Lawton was being disingenuous; the Big Lottery Fund is being two faced when it comes to treating our two languages equally.

It would be well worth checking whether the BLF actually pays any more than token lip service to what it claims is part of the terms and conditions of every grant it makes in Wales. Some £75m of lottery money will be distributed in Wales each year by the BLF and other distributors. To my mind it is better that none of this money is given to any project that is only going to be delivered in one language, whether that language is English or Welsh. Sticking to that principle would make much more of a difference in overall terms than if we asked the BLF to make a one-off exception for a few hundred pounds of software.

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8 comments:

glynbeddau said...

Yes It seems that Bilingual does not mean equal use if two languages and Organisations including (except Plaid) the main Political Parties in Wales who should be setting an example.They mostly give only a Token contribution in Welsh.
Their Websites should be fully bilingual

Anonymous said...

One of the big problems with Welsh language stories like this is that they remain within the Welsh language media and thus the rest of Wales (and the world) doesn't hear about it.

Carl Morris said...

There's more than one way to do bilingualism. Translation could be the way to go for the PR and publicity side of any project.

But surely there needs to be a distinction with 'content' which is a different situation and not always best served by slavish bilingual mirroring.

Part of the point of a papur bro is that it is monolingual, that's its soul. Just as, say, National Theatre Wales is monolingual in its English content too, as a counterpart to Theatr Genedlaethol.

A thriving media and culture in both languages is vital, just wondering if translation is necessarily the best strategy?

The Lottery Fund obviously haven't given it much detailed thought either way.

'ö-Dzin Tridral said...

As a learner, it helps me hugely if publications are available bilingually - even road signs and misprints in Tesco. It's good to encourage all organisations - whether they're starting from Welsh or English - to produce their material in the 'other' language.

MH said...

Your comment had got caught in the spam filter, Carl. I'm certainly not saying that papurau bro should be bilingual. I was just pointing out that if the Big Lottery Fund has agreed to only fund projects which are bilingual, it would be better to get them to stick with that policy than make an exception in a case like this.

It's a matter of scale. If they make exceptions, it will inevitably mean far more lottery money being given to projects delivered only in English than only in Welsh. Of course the BLF is currently funding projects in Wales that are delivered only in English, and that is two-faced hypocrisy on their part. But what's done is done. The question is what we should press for them to do from now on. The Language Commissioner seems to be saying that they should make an exception in cases like this. I am saying that if the BLF make an exception in favour of Welsh in this case, it gives them carte blanche to carry on giving far more money to projects delivered only in English.

It is therefore much better for Y Gloran not to get lottery money, providing that the BLG only funds bilingual projects in future, in accordance with the WLS that it has already agreed.

Ysbryd Penderyn said...

As a welsh learner I think this is disgusting double edged sworded treatment ofthe old british language

Ysbryd Penderyn said...

As a welsh learner I think this is disgusting double edged sworded treatment ofthe old british language

Anonymous said...

In what way is the "The Reader Organisation", based in Liverpool, who've been awarded £236,309 from the Loteri Fawr, 'bilingual'.

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