Monday, 1 October 2012

You can't have it in Welsh because ...

1. It would cost thousands of pounds

2. It would confuse people

3. It would make people have accidents

4. Of course we all want it to be in Welsh but at times like these we have to tighten our belts, it's a luxury we can't afford, we could be spending the money on children in hospital, people will have to go without their operations if you have it in Welsh ... [&c. &c. ad infinitum - increasingly frantic variations on 1.]

5.  It isn't compatible with the software

6.  But everyone speaks English anyway

7.  It's too much work to have it in Welsh, so if it has to be in Welsh as well you can't have it at all

8.  It can't be translated because it is a brand name

9.  The Welsh version is a work in progress

10. "You can never have it in Welsh because you have an insatiable appetite; if you have it in Welsh you will never be satisfied, you will want more and more!" - or words to that effect; paraphrasing the late Lord Tonypandy

Have I missed any?


  1. Thank you Helen. This is a can of worms that needs its lid removing, Then we need to shake the can and make sure all the worms are out. There's a lot to be said about this and probably many more points to add.

    I will try to be brief...

    We're trying to turn an oil tanker that's been full-speed-ahead in the direction of monolingualism for hundreds of years. Turning probably didn't even start until the 1960s, so although it seems like a long time, you have to consider the momentum that was sending us in the other direction.

    I think it's important that where a reason against Welsh is false, the truth should be published. Where there is truth in in what's being said it needs to be understood, possibly explained, possibly countered.

    Some things have an element of truth and possibly always will. Even so, it may not be relevant.

    Moving Wales in the direction of bilingualism costs money. We could always spend the money on something else. This is all true. What are always given as the other things we could spend money on are schools and hospitals. That's interesting in itself - why those? What's never given is the amount. What is the cost to Wales of bilingualism? What does it look like when expressed as a %age of the spending on the Welsh NHS? If we knew that we'd be better informed than we are.

    Another question that could be asked is why is Wales not already bilingual? What led to the decline of the Welsh language? If Wales had stayed speaking Welsh, it would naturally have become a bilingual nation because English is a useful language to know. Many nations in Europe have English as a second language.

    If the decline in Welsh was due to deliberate decisions made by the monarchy and government of Britain (and to some extent this is the case), then perhaps the heirs of those decision-makers should contribute to the re-establishment of welsh. They should undo the damage that their forebears did.

    I've not been brief (sorry) and I've not really got started... !

  2. Lots of points! Just picking up on one, the one about schools & hospitals vs. Welsh language, because I realise that the same kind of thing is said about all sorts of other things too - e.g. the councils who wish to close libraries often present it as a choice between libraries and social services; but, as you say, we never actually know what specific amounts are involved and whether diverting them from one thing will mean that they do actually go towards the other thing. The finances are not transparent and I suspect the money comes from separate "pots".

    1. I think false choices are a common tactic in arguments. Wikipedia has it as false Dilemma (

      My thinking is that this argument (Money we spend on Welsh could be spent on Hospitals) will *always be true* and is therefore irrelevant. It's irrelevant because the person putting forward the argument probably has no interest in there ever being a time when they'd spend money on Welsh.

      Knowing actual amounts of money would be useful.

    2. There is also the common element of setting up something with an emotional/moral aspect vs. the thing which is being argued against. ("So you would rather spend the money on Welsh language signs than on this little child's operation? = You are a bad person"). Designed to put you on the back foot and make you look selfish and uncaring - even when there was never any question of a connection of any kind between the two things. Actual amounts of money spent on Welsh are presented in the media as being enormous, which is totally mystifying to me (as I know how much translators get paid, and it is not a lot!)

    3. I agree.

      It's only recently occurred to me, dimwit that I am, that a statement framed in terms of money immediately biases the discussion.

      Money for Welsh is only one dimension of any discussion of the Welsh language. To begin a discussion with "we could use the money instead for ..." makes everything that follows appear to be about finance.

      There are some people who would appear to be against the Welsh language regardless of cost. They'd oppose it if it cost nothing.

      It would be good to lay out all the dimensions of debate so that we could properly understand people's views.