The Pulizleg Prize

This year's Pulizleg Prize for pointless journalism must surely go to Graham Henry of the Western Mail for this article about the latest census figures on Welsh language ability. It carried the sub-headline:

     New figures from the 2011 Census show the number of children speaking
     Welsh is more than twice that of those aged 16-64 and the over 65s

In fact, every single figure quoted in the article was available from previous releases. The thing that was new in yesterday's release was that Welsh language ability was correlated with country of birth and national identity.

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Wales Online may have missed the significance of the new data, but at least Newyddion 9 understood what the new figures meant. They correctly reported that:

•  of the 830,000 people in Wales who were not born in Wales, only 66,000 could speak Welsh

•  in Ceredigion, 75% of those born in Wales could speak Welsh, but only 15% of those not born in Wales could

•  in Gwynedd, 89% of those born in Wales could speak Welsh, but only 20% of those not born in Wales could

•  in Sir Gâr, 54% of those born in Wales could speak Welsh, but only 13% of those not born in Wales could

For those who want the full data, the figures for Welsh language ability correlated with country of birth are here, and with national identity are here.

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But even though Wales Online aren't that good with numbers, they sometimes make up for it with their pictures. This one is brilliant:

     

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2 comments:

Ambiorix said...

New figures from the 2011 Census show the number of children speaking
Welsh is more than twice that of those aged 16-64 and the over 65s
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Whenever the western mail writes something on he welsh language, I become deeply suspicious!

MH said...

To be clear, I wasn't saying that any of the figures in the article were incorrect, Ambiorix, I was just saying that they weren't new figures. In fact, given some of the rubbish that the paper has printed about Welsh, it was a surprisingly positive article.

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I'd also say that new figures published contain some quite positive information. 20%, 15% and 13% of immigrants to Wales in the heartland areas learning to speak Welsh shows a healthy desire to integrate and play a full part in their adopted communities. That's something to be welcomed, and something to build on. I can imagine that for every person who learns Welsh to the extent that they can say they speak Welsh, there must be another two or three who are trying to learn but have not yet got far enough to move from thinking of themselves as being a "Welsh learner" to thinking of themselves as being a "Welsh speaker".

If we can make adult learning more effective, there's no reason why we can't significantly increase these figures. That's a subject that was addressed recently by Heini Gruffudd and Steve Morris in this document, with an executive summary of it here.

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