Despite centuries of oppression by the English language, the Welsh peoples have continued to sustain a sense of Welsh identity and to revitalize their language. The Welsh language known as Cymraeg in Welsh also has one of the oldest and most colorful literary traditions of all the European languages, dating back as far as the 6th century. The Celtic subfamily is divided into a Continental and Insular group, the Continental group now being extinct. The Welsh language belongs to the Brythonic division, along with the Breton and Cornish languages. The Celts were a dominant tribe in Central and Western Europe throughout the first millennium BC, and it is believed that at one time Celtic languages dominated these areas of Europe. Although Latin largely came to replace Celtic languages, they continued to survive on the British Isles. Early Welsh Literary Tradition Despite long-standing threats from the English language, the Welsh language has one of the richest literary traditions in Europe. The earliest examples of written Welsh date back to the 9th century.
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Origins[ edit ] Welsh evolved from British , the Celtic language spoken by the ancient Britons. It is not clear when Welsh became distinct. Jackson suggested that the evolution in syllabic structure and sound pattern was complete by around , and labeled the period between then and about “Primitive Welsh”. Jackson, however, believed that the two varieties were already distinct by that time. However, much of this poetry was supposedly composed in the Hen Ogledd, raising further questions about the dating of the material and language in which it was originally composed.
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During the Early Middle Ages the British language began to fragment due to increased dialect differentiation, evolving into Welsh and the other Brythonic languages Breton , Cornish , and the extinct Cumbric. It is not clear when Welsh became distinct. Jackson suggested that the evolution in syllabic structure and sound pattern was complete by around , and labeled the period between then and about “Primitive Welsh”. This Primitive Welsh may have been spoken in both Wales and the Hen Ogledd “Old North” , the Brythonic-speaking areas of what is now northern England and southern Scotland , and therefore been the ancestor of Cumbric as well as Welsh.
Jackson, however, believed that the two varieties were already distinct by that time. The earliest Welsh poetry — that attributed to the Cynfeirdd or “Early Poets” — is generally considered to date to the Primitive Welsh period.
History[ edit ] In , 48 per cent of Welsh names were patronymics, and in some parishes over 70 per cent. Other names were derived from nicknames , rarely occupational names, and a few non-hereditary personal names. Patronymics could be extended with names of grandfathers and earlier ancestors, to perhaps the seventh generation.
Those extended patronymics were essentially a genealogical history of the person’s ancestry along the male line. The Encyclopedia of Wales surmises that the system arose from Welsh law , which made it essential for people to know how people were descended from an ancestor. In the reign of Henry VIII surnames became hereditary amongst the Welsh gentry , and the custom spread slowly amongst commoners.
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Terminology[ edit ] The names “Wales” and “Welsh” are traced to the Proto-Germanic word ” Walhaz ” meaning “foreigner”, “stranger”, “Roman”, “Romance-speaker”, or “Celtic-speaker” which was used by the ancient Germanic peoples to describe inhabitants of the former Roman Empire, who were largely romanised and spoke Latin or Celtic languages. The use of the word Cymry as a self-designation derives from the post-Roman Era relationship of the Welsh with the Brythonic-speaking peoples of northern England and southern Scotland, the peoples of ” Yr Hen Ogledd ” English: Thereafter Cymry prevailed as a reference to the Welsh.
When the Roman legions departed Britain around , a Romano-British culture remained in the areas the Romans had settled, and the pre-Roman cultures in others. Genetic research on the Y-chromosome has shown that the Welsh, like the Irish, share a large proportion of their ancestry with the Basques of Northern Spain and South Western France, although the Welsh have a greater presumed Neolithic input than both the Irish and the Basques.
One consequence of this is that it is very unusual for a Welsh speaker to meet someone with whom Welsh is the only common language: most commonly this would be a Welsh Welsh speaker, who probably has no Spanish, and a Patagonian Welsh speaker who quite likely has little or no English.
Even the country’s national symbol—the dragon—is a mythical beast. Almost every mountain, river, and lake, as well as many farms and villages, are associated with some legend of tylwyth teg fairies , magical properties, or fearful beasts. The Welsh claim that the legendary British hero King Arthur, as well as his magician-counselor Merlin, were from Wales. Another popular subject of Welsh legend is the prince Madog ab Owain.
He is said to have discovered America in the twelfth century AD. The Welsh are generally quite strict about religious observance. Wales also has small numbers of Jews, Muslims followers of Islam , Hindus, Sikhs followers of a Hindu-Islam religion , and other religious minorities.
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The Dream of Rhonabwy c. They were not original compositions, drawing as they did on pre-existing traditional material, whether from oral or written sources. But these traditions were reworked, often to reflect contemporary concerns. We might read the Mabinogion as both an interpretation of a mythological past and a commentary on the medieval present.
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Cymru, the nation; Cymry, the people; Cymraeg, the language Orientation Identification. The Britons, a Celtic tribe, who first settled in the area that is now Wales, had already begun to identify themselves as a distinct culture by the sixth century C. The word “Cymry,” referring to the country, first appeared in a poem dating from The words “Wales” and “Welsh” are Saxon in origin and were used by the invading Germanic tribe to denote people who spoke a different language.
The Welsh sense of identity has endured despite invasions, absorption into Great Britain, mass immigration, and, more recently, the arrival of non-Welsh residents. Language has played a significant role in contributing to the sense of unity felt by the Welsh; more than the other Celtic languages, Welsh has maintained a significant number of speakers.
During the eighteenth century a literary and cultural rebirth of the language occurred which further helped to solidify national identity and create ethnic pride among the Welsh. Central to Welsh culture is the centuries-old folk tradition of poetry and music which has helped keep the Welsh language alive. Welsh intellectuals in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries wrote extensively on the subject of Welsh culture, promoting the language as the key to preserving national identity.
Welsh literature, poetry, and music flourished in the nineteenth century as literacy rates and the availability of printed material increased. Tales that had traditionally been handed down orally were recorded, both in Welsh and English, and a new generation of Welsh writers emerged. Wales is a part of the United Kingdom and is located in a wide peninsula in the western portion of the island of Great Britain. The island of Anglesey is also considered a part of Wales and is separated from the mainland by the Menai Strait.
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Could not subscribe, try again laterInvalid Email Only around one in eight of the words spoken in the Welsh Assembly are Welsh, research by language campaigners has found. Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg found that while some use the language most of the time, others barely use it at all. Cymdeithas suggested that the lack of Welsh being spoken by Ministers had contributed to the low figures.
First Minister Carwyn Jones, who is fluent in Welsh, had used the language less than the average: Our politicians have a particular responsibility to show leadership. It seems to be common practice, or policy, of Ministers to make the majority of their speeches in English and to answer English questions in English even though there is simultaneous translation available at all times.
The statistics note the number of words spoken, and in which language, in plenary sessions of the National Assembly between the elections in May and the end of Simon Thomas AM is the Assembly Member who has contributed most in Welsh in terms of the number of words spoken in plenary sessions since the elections — a total of 82, of words in Welsh.
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Galli might also stem from a Celtic ethnic or tribal name originally, perhaps one borrowed into Latin during the Celtic expansions into Italy during the early 5th century BC. Several archaeological cultures are considered Celtic in nature, based on unique sets of artefacts. The link between language and artefact is aided by the presence of inscriptions. Celtic cultures seem to have been widely diverse, with the use of a Celtic language being the main thing they have in common.
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Could not subscribe, try again laterInvalid Email The Welsh Government has issued a rallying to call for the whole country to help it achieve its ambition of increasing the number of Welsh speakers to a million by Publishing a policy paper titled Cymraeg , First Minister Carwyn Jones and Welsh Language Minister Alun Davies stressed that while the Welsh Government would provide leadership, the target could only be achieved if the whole nation pulls together to make it happen.
The document sets out 10 mainly education-linked measures it will take in support of the aim: We need to renew our energy, be systematic in our approach to planning, and improve collaboration in order to secure the legacy our language deserves. This Government has the will and the commitment to do so. But it is also vital that we as a nation take ownership of the challenge. We can, however, work to provide the conditions to facilitate an increase in the number of Welsh speakers and an increase in the use of Welsh.
If we want to achieve this, the whole nation has to be part of the journey — fluent Welsh speakers, Welsh speakers who are reluctant to use the language, new speakers who have learned the language, and also those who do not consider themselves to be Welsh speakers. Everyone has a part to play, and we want everyone to contribute to realising our ambition. This is because the Government had failed to win over local authorities, especially in South and East Wales.
The Government now needs to show how it will ensure that local authorities get the support and finance to attain these ambitious targets. The Government needs to convince local authorities in all parts of Wales that Welsh- medium education should be a priority for the next 30 years. Unless this occurs, the strategy will fail. So increasing the infrastructure of Welsh medium schools is an indispensable element of our journey towards the million.
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Welsh Cymraeg or y Gymraeg is a member of the Brittonic branch of the Celtic languages. Historically, it has also been known in English as “Cambrian”, “Cambric” and “Cymric”. According to the Census,
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Bilingual road markings near Cardiff Airport. In Welsh-speaking areas, the Welsh signage appears first. Although Welsh is a minority language, support for it grew during the second half of the 20th century, along with the rise of organisations such as the nationalist political party Plaid Cymru from and Welsh Language Society from The Welsh Language Act and the Government of Wales Act provide that the Welsh and English languages be treated equally in the public sector, as far as is reasonable and practicable.
Each public body is required to prepare for approval a Welsh Language Scheme , which indicates its commitment to the equality of treatment principle. This is sent out in draft form for public consultation for a three-month period, whereupon comments on it may be incorporated into a final version. Thereafter, the public body is charged with implementing and fulfilling its obligations under the Welsh Language Scheme. The list of other public bodies which have to prepare Schemes could be added to by initially the Secretary of State for Wales, from — , by way of statutory instrument.
Subsequent to the forming of the National Assembly for Wales in , the Government Minister responsible for the Welsh language can and has passed statutory instruments naming public bodies who have to prepare Schemes. Neither the Act nor secondary legislation made under it covers the private sector, although some organisations, notably banks and some railway companies, provide some of their information in Welsh. The Welsh government’s Minister for Heritage at the time, Alun Ffred Jones , said, “The Welsh language is a source of great pride for the people of Wales, whether they speak it or not, and I am delighted that this Measure has now become law.
I am very proud to have steered legislation through the Assembly which confirms the official status of the Welsh language; which creates a strong advocate for Welsh speakers and will improve the quality and quantity of services available through the medium of Welsh.