Welsh (and English?) now an Official Language in Wales….

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We’ve just passed A Welsh Language Measure – David Williamson (of Belfast I believe) writes in the Western Mail:

Leading activists yesterday welcomed a last-minute move by the Assembly Government to secure the status of Welsh as an official language in Wales as AMs voted on flagship legislation.
The Assembly yesterday passed the long-awaited Welsh Language Measure which will lead to new bilingual duties on publicly- funded organisations and key utility providers.
Early yesterday afternoon it emerged that the Assembly Government had added a clause strengthening the official status of the language. Plaid Cymru AM Bethan Jenkins had prepared amendments of her own to bolster the legislation but was satisfied by the changes and did not put her proposals forward.
She said: “This strong statement of official status for the language will boost the Welsh nation in the future, and this is something we celebrate and celebrate it we will.”

The BBc describes An historic assembly vote.
Alun Ffred says:

“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 the National Assembly has approved this Measure. 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. Today is a truly historic day for the language.

From the same Government site – this is what the Measure does:
•confirms the official status of the Welsh language.
•creates a new system of placing duties on bodies to provide services through the medium of Welsh.
•creates a Welsh Language Commissioner with strong enforcement powers to protect the rights of Welsh speakers to access services through the medium of Welsh.
•establishes a Welsh Language Tribunal.
•gives individuals and bodies the right to appeal decisions made in relation to the provision of services through the medium of Welsh.
•creates a Welsh Language Partnership Council to advise Government on its strategy in relation to the Welsh language.
•allows for an official investigation by the Welsh Language Commissioner of instances where there is an attempt to interfere with the freedom of Welsh speakers to use the language with one another.

I’m not a lawyer but as Welsh is now an official language here and by the act has equal status with English then de jure English becomes an official language in Wales – unlike anywhere else in the UK…..(I think…)

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  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Newiddon Da! (sp)

  • Cymro

    English is an official language in Wales since 1993 officially.

    This latest Welsh Language Act is an effort to overturn the Laws in Wales Acts 1536 and 42 (commonly known as the Acts of Union) which had the intention to “utterly to extirpe alle and singular sinister usages and customs” belonging to Wales.

    Section 20 of the 1535 Act makes English the only language of the law courts and that those who used Welsh would not be appointed to any public office in Wales:

    “Also be it enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That all Justices, Commissioners, Sheriffs, Coroners, Escheators, Stewards, and their Lieutenants, and all other Officers and Ministers of the Law, shall proclaim and keep the Sessions Courts, Hundreds, Leets, Sheriffs Courts, and all other Courts in the English Tongue;
    (2) and all Oaths of Officers, Juries and Inquests, and all other Affidavits, Verdicts and Wagers of Law, to be given and done in the English Tongue;
    (3) and also that from henceforth no Person or Persons that use the Welsh Speech or Language, shall have or enjoy any manner Office or Fees within this Realm of England, Wales, or other the King’s Dominion, upon Pain of forfeiting the same Offices or Fees, unless he or they use and exercise the English Speech or Language.”

    I guess English isn’t an ‘official’ language in England ‘cos it’s so self evidently so.

    In any case, a good day for the language and a success for the One Wales government of Plaid Cymru and Labour. After almost 4 years to get it through the Assembly, both houses in Westminster and then back to the Assembly, the culture Minister, Alun Ffred Jones (Plaid) will be very glad. He received a lot of pressure from opponents of the act and supporters of the language who wanted a stronger act. http://cymdeithas.org/english/

  • Huw

    Like the fellah said.. “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.”

    After years and years of campaigning, the authorities have passed several bits of legislation giving Welsh some status. The first was in the 1960s which didn’t so much as give rights but removed the decrees banning the language centuries ago.

    Wales – being part of UK – has no constitution or bill of rights so it is hard to declare that English and Welsh are both equal, its had to be done bit by bit.

    The day after each of the laws became official, new campaings started to take things further.

    Well done to all those who have kept the pressure up for so long.. No doubt another campaign will be on the go soon!

    Hope the decision will influence Stormont regrading the Irish languge rights act

  • francesco

    “Look what these bastards have done to Wales. They’ve taken our coal, our water, our steel. They buy our homes and live in them for a fortnight every year. What have they given us? Absolutely nothing. We’ve been exploited, raped, controlled and punished by the English — and that’s who you are playing this afternoon”

    in welsh now lads!

  • Dewi

    Phil Bennett?
    “Edrychwch beth mae’r bastads di dwnud i Gymru. Wedi dwyn ein glo, ein dwr, ein dur. Yn prynu ein tai a byw ynddynt am benwythnos y flwyddyn. Wedi ein triesio, ein rheoli ac ecspoitio gan y Saes – a rhain da ni’n chwarae prynhawn ‘ma.”
    English official since 1993? Is that an Act Cymro?

  • Cymro

    … there’s always Googletranslate too Francesco when you’re in need of a spot of Welsh translation! ;-)

  • Danny

    This is a positive development.

    In the Republic, many people claim an ability to speak Irish, but very few do.

    Is it the same in Wales regarding Welsh? I’ve read that around 20% speak Welsh, but is this the percentage of the population who *can* speak it, or the percentage who actually do speak Welsh habitually/every day?

  • Dewi

    Probably 15% speak every day.