The Western Mail reverts to an old old type…

The Western Mail, Wales’s National Newspaper, has lost the plot.
A front page editorial states:

AN EXTRAORDINARY recommendation has been made by eight AMs that would see up to £400,000-a-year spent on translating the written record of every meeting held at the National Assembly into Welsh.
We say that at a time when budgets are squeezed and public services are being cut, this is a luxury we cannot afford

And:

We fully support the right of AMs and others to address meetings in Welsh or English, according to their choice. We can go along with the decision to publish in both languages the official Record of Proceedings of plenary meetings. But we believe the recommendation to translate all contributions made in English into Welsh is a step too far at this time of austerity.
Supporters of the move – notably Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (the Welsh Language Society) and, for fairly obvious reasons, Cymdeithas Cyfieithwyr Cymru (the Association of Welsh Translators and Interpreters) – back it because they have a purist’s devotion to all-embracing bilingualism at any cost. Some point to the New Brunswick provincial legislature in Canada, where all proceedings are published in both English and French.
Perhaps in an ideal world such a comprehensive approach to bilingualism would be desirable. Our decided view is that at this time it is unaffordable.

It might be unaffordable for the Western Mail if #Westernfail is anyway indicative of public opinion.
A selection:

Cymru ‏@Ynys_Prydein
Absolute Uproar with learners of the Welsh language earlier over the outrageous statement by the #westernfail #boycott,
Charlotte Britton ‏@CharlotteHB89
Shipton’s response is pants… They’ve alienated the only ppl who read the damn thing anymore – what a stupid thing to do #westernfail,
Glyn Wise ‏@GlynWise
I will never buy the Western Mail after seeing it’s headlines this morning! I advise you to do the same! #Westernfail #Boycott;
Dafydd Trystan ‏@DafyddTrystan
I have bought the Western Mail for most of the past 20 years. No longer @WalesOnline #Westernfail,
Sian Lloyd ‏@SianWeather
@WesternMail_Ed @Walesonline Have you lost your marbles guys? #westernfail,

A selection – apparently #Westernfail was trending pretty highly on Twitter this morning.
Me – I buy it for the Rugby, and they’ve had a really decent effort at doing Welsh history seriously..However I’ll leave it to Syniadau –In the gutter, and heading down the drain.

I took a quick look at Wiki to see what its circulation figures were. Wiki still has the figure for August 2009, namely 32,926. But that figure has now dropped by more than 7,000 to 25,898, as we can see here.
It obviously can’t go on like this, and desperate directors do desperate things. In fact the Monday to Friday circulation is an even more disturbing 23,777 so the paper relies very heavily on its Saturday sales of 36,015 … and this explains why becoming a weekly is on the cards.

And from Oggy…:

To put things into context, £400,000 equates to:
About 0.9% of the Assembly’s administration costs for 2012-13
0.003% of the entire budget of the Assembly
About 3-and-a-bit Local Authority executives (out of God knows how many).
One third of the Older People’s Commissioner budget.
Roughly the cost of 7 AM’s annual salaries.
Slightly less than the Value Wales budget. (No, I hadn’t heard of them before either)
£23million less than the Welsh Government have chosen not to use to counteract Council Tax Benefit cuts.

A disgrace and a shame – at least you have a few papers to choose from….

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  • Reader

    Dewi: A selection – apparently #Westernfail was trending pretty highly on Twitter this morning.
    Presumably driven by Welsh speakers eager to read the Welsh translations of Assembly meetings.
    If you had £400,000 to spend on supporting the Welsh language, is this how you would spend it?

  • sonofstrongbow

    A democracy must be both open and transparent. All parliamentary proceedings from debates in the house to the minutes of the very least of committees need to be available for the electorate to read.

    The Welsh Assemby have a duty to provide Welsh speakers written material in a language they can understand. For a Welsh newspaper to support an attempt to disenfranchise Welsh voters in this way is an outrage.

  • Billy Ghoti

    “The Welsh Assemby have a duty to provide Welsh speakers written material in a language they can understand.”

    It must be very difficult for them to get around in Spain, Italy and Florida, for example, when on holiday.

    How do they manage?

  • Dewi

    For a Welsh government not to publish everything in Welsh is bizarre. In Wales.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Dewi, spend 400k on political waffle that few people read in English, a miniscule number of people would read in Welsh, and the chances of monoglot welsh speaker reading it are non existant?

    Catch a grip man, probably more than 99% of the work translated would never ever be read by anyone in welsh. Have a translation service available if someone really wants to read a particular debate but other wise think of saving the trees man!

    Now 400k could run a good welsh poetry competition or translate some excellent foreign literature into welsh, or run a few courses in an area where the launguage is struggling. I’m sure you could think of a million better uses.

  • Dewi

    “Presumably driven by Welsh speakers eager to read the Welsh translations of Assembly meetings”
    Believe it or not I actually do..

  • Dewi

    DR – -its about status…tonight i was was watching BBC Parliament as we do…about a third of the speeches were in Welsh. Cool – why translate that stuff to English? . and anycause we don’t need our poetry translated to english – you lot just need to learn about culture..

  • Drumlins Rock

    “you lot just need to learn about culture”

    explain?

    ps I said nothing about translating poerty to english.

  • Dewi

    Not the most coherent of my postings DR…….

  • cynic2

    “The Welsh Assemby have a duty to provide Welsh speakers written material in a language they can understand.”

    They all speak English anyway.

    And what version of Welsh. There are at least 4 dialects so do they cover all 4?

  • Tochais Síoraí

    It must be an interesting feeling being lectured on your strain on the UK budget from NI, Dewi.

  • Drumlins Rock

    tochais, he posted it here so I presume is looking comment on the issue.

  • Dewi

    And what version of Welsh. There are at least 4 dialects so do they cover all 4?

    No partcular variation in written standard Welsh. Probably less variation than English in England to be honest. Do they write Hansard in Geordie?

  • Drumlins Rock

    Dewi, btw i’m a great fan of Welsh culture

  • sonofstrongbow

    cynic2,

    Thanks for the clarification. I imagined those dissing the Western Mail were protesting in support of Welsh folks who did not speak or read English. I now see the heartfelt, and oft venomous, cries as simply self indulgent (bit brass-necked of the translators getting on board though).

    It seems that “culture” can be every bit as big a sensitive minefield in Wales as it is locally. Poor Western Mail for failing the Culture Test: perhaps there is a troop of white-coated Bards at the ready to measure where an individual sits on the Welshness Grid?

    Is ‘West Englisher’ the Welsh equivalent of the Irish ‘West Brit’ I wonder?

  • Dewi

    Simples – National Assembly should publish everything in national language(s). What’s the point if it don’t?

  • sonofstrongbow

    Perhaps the point is to govern effectively and think about ‘need’ before writing cheques with taxpayers money.

    Throwing esoteric shapes might feel good but as someone once said you can’t eat a flag and I guess there’s also limited sustenance in reams of unnecessary printed paper.

    Indulging in pointless exercises will not help to define Wales as being different from the rest of the UK. It already is.

  • Reader

    Dewi: What’s the point if it don’t?
    This is the point, I think:
    http://wales.gov.uk/docs/strategies/110929fullen.pdf
    Or, if you prefer:
    http://wales.gov.uk/docs/strategies/110929fullcy.pdf

  • Dewi

    Thanks Reader – i do prefer reading the Welsh — might be the point?

  • cynic2

    “National Assembly should publish everything in national language(s)”

    recent figures then suggest that Dail Eireann should spend more on Polish translation than Irish then

  • Drumlins Rock

    Dewi, I take it you are someone who has a strong interesting in the workings of the Welsh assembly, can you tell me how many of the records of its meetings in the last year you have read?

  • Dewi

    DR – i’m almost ashamed to admit it’s on my favourites links…..once a week about – say 50 would not be far off.

  • Drumlins Rock

    that is sad Dewi! I rarely check the Stormont ones, I can see that you would prob use the Welsh version in that case. However I still think direct investment would be better for the language, and tend to think making things too offical actually sitfles them over time, essentially whats happened Irish in the RoI.

  • Dewi

    It is sad….but if the national assembly don’t respect the national language…….why should anyone else?