24/05/2012

The Cost of English in a bilingual Wales

One of the things that I have found interesting about the Western Mail's attack week feature on the Welsh Language is how they conflate bilingualism with excessive support for the Welsh Language.

A perfect example of this can be found in the support for the paper's anti Welsh attitude garnered from Paul Murphy: who warns against 'excessive' spending on Welsh language schemes!

The very word bilingual suggests something to do with TWO languages so any perceived cost of bilingualism should, surely, be shared between BOTH languages. A monolingual transcript of Assembly proceedings, in either language, would have a price tag attached. So how much of the £400K bilingual waste of money is actually being spent on JUST the Welsh Language?

Does English come free of charge?

However I am willing to agree with the Western Mail, translation costs money and in these straightened times money is short. When witnesses appear before committees of the Assembly and present their evidence in Welsh, or when members address those committees in Welsh, translations are a waste of money; they are unneeded and cost too much; after all those of us who can understand Welsh can sacrifice that wasteful spending on English in order to put that wasted money into more worthy pots! Translating those contributions into English is expensive, a waste of money and shouldn't be allowed!

I have attended many hundreds of bilingual meetings in Wales during the past forty years, without ever using any translation facility – as a fluent user of both Welsh and English I don't need translators – those who need the translation facilities are the mono-linguist English, not us bilingual Welsh speakers!

Translation, in Wales, is primarily, spending on the English Language!

21 comments:

  1. As a monolingual English speaker I am bemused at the fuss, surely if there is to be access to the full record of the proceedings of our National Assembly then it is automatically in both national languages. To argue otherwise is to say that there is only one national language in Wales. Simple.

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  2. It's high time the full costs of the English language to the Welsh taxpayer in education, local government, national government, road signs, public service announcements etc etc are calculated and made public. Just how much is this obsession with the English language costing us year in, year out?

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    1. It's exactly this sort of nonsense that has turned Wales into the poorest region of the UK. There's a simple fact here - you cannot use legislation to dictate how people speak. It's been tried again and again and never works. Basically, all of this effort to try to reinforce the Welsh language is doomed to fail because it only treats the symptom, not the problem. If the symptom is a lack of Welsh speakers, the cause is the lack of benefits involved in using Welsh. It's widely seen as a joke in the rest of the UK and most young people (even in Welsh schools) also see it as a joke. There are no great Welsh language films, very little great Welsh literature, no great Welsh artists, composers or scientists (I'm talking about people of the calibre of Descartes, Shakespeare, Beethoven, Elgar), so what is the benefit of speaking this dead language?

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  3. The obsession over the Translation cost's is sabber rattling by the Western Mail, it's the English reminding us all that we are a conquered people. And the fact that we as a Nation still speak our own language really, rankles them!

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  4. This is just the typical anti-English, anti-non Welsh-speaking-Welsh attitude from a nationalist. Everyone in Wales should have access to Welsh democracy, not just the Welsh speaking minority, everyone. This goes equally for those Welsh speakers who would prefer Welsh language translations, as for those people who cannot speak Welsh. To exclude people on language is, frankly, biggotted.

    Your blog post is just as nasty, bigotted and mean as the article in the Western Mail you are criticising. You are a hyprocrite.

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    1. You're quite right. Welsh speakers don't translating services it's the monolingual person, that's a fact. So how about if the authorities started charging 50p every time somebody wanted a translation service from Welsh to English? Could be an incentive for people to learn too.

      Oh "Geraint" get a life, you sad little man.

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    2. Have a look at the definition of "irony" on one of the online dictionaries Geraint!

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  5. Well the Assembly member for Aberconwy is supporting the Welsh language and I say good on her

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  6. Does St Janet speak Welsh?
    Is St Janet learning Welsh?

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  7. As a monoglot Scot in Wales I might learn a bit faster if I didn't always get a cheat sheet with the translation done for me.

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  8. There are just over 3,000,000 people living in Wales; 300,000 of them speak Welsh fluently and/or class it as their first language. That is 10% of the population, or slightly under if we want to be pickerty, which I don’t, so we’ll call it “10%”. The cost of translation has been estimated at £400,000, not a lot if you break it down into per person:per year ratio.
    In our ever increasing politically correct society should we also not translate all the meeting minutes into other languages? There are 870,000 non-Welsh/English people residing in Wales who class their first language as non-Welsh/English, the statistics do not give a breakdown of what their first language is but if we allow for the A8 countries (EU), one or two African countries and of course Asians, Chinese, Indian and Pakistanis we can then determine 14 to 15 different translations would be required at a cost of, approx, £4.5 million, with the Welsh translations added to it we can “round it off” at around the £5m mark.
    At this point I will become “pickerty” if Welsh speakers, who also mainly speak English, can justify spending £400,000 just to make a point then why not fully commit the tax-payers money to full equality and translate into all languages?.....after all what’s good for the goose....

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    1. Are you sure of your statistics? 870 thousand non native speakers? That's 29% of the population. 30% of the population were born in England so that means natives are in the minority. Sorry, that does not sound right, and I live in Swansea near the muslim quarter.

      Your colonial assertion that Welsh speakers should be made to speak English just because they can marks you out as an English imperialist, not surprising for someone who stood for the BNP in N Wales.

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  9. "There are 870,000 non-Welsh/English people residing in Wales who class their first language as non-Welsh/English"

    A lie.

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  10. The latest “up to date” statistics are from 2011 and I’ve allowed a 0.3% increase for this year. As you will see the “Other White” are from the A8 countries, no breakdown given, “Mixed” I haven’t included as one would expect them to have Welsh/English as their first language.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/interactive/2011/may/19/ethnic-breakdown-england-wales?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487

    I do not expect an apology, nor is one needed; the point I was trying to make, my “anonymous Friend”, was that if the minutes of all WAG meetings are to be translated into Welsh then surely, in our politically correct society, all minority groups should have it translated into their language too, or is that something that should only be reserved for the 10% Welsh speakers?

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  11. There are nowhere near 870,000 people living in Wales who's first language isn't Welsh or English. You need to go back to BNP boot camp to brush up on your stat-maniupulation skills, your latest attempt is beyond poor.

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  12. According to Vaughan Hughes in "Barn": In 1849 Queen Victoria called for Welsh to be taught in all schools in Wales alongside English. After 163 years of royalist approval why hasn't it been implemented fully?

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  13. I embrace everones' opinions but no-one has touched on the fact that the Welsh langauge in a form nor their people were the original inhabitants of 'this' isle. Don't ask "what's your point" just stating fact!!!

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  14. I am an Englishman living in Wales and make an effort to get to know as many local folk as I can. I confess that only a very few of the Welsh natives I have been fortunate enough to become acquainted with can speak Welsh. So the tenure of the argument that any money wasted is wasted on the English language is poppycock. Abolish English and most Welsh will become instantly illiterate. Next, my council has run out of money and a third of the equipment in its main sports centre has stood broken for months. That's sad, particularly as many disabled and G.P. referred patients use the facility. Money spent on the Welsh language could instead be used for this and equally worthy projects. Finally, it seems to me that so much money is spent on the Wesh language because the Welsh language fanatics smash the property of citizens not providing both languages. They reaked havoc in my village a couple of years ago causing several thousands of pounds of damage. The police need to root out these terrorists. Once the terror threat is liften then hopefully sanity will prevail, and millions of pounds of wasted expendiuture saved.

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  15. I was born in England but moved to Wales when I was 3 with a Welsh Father and English Mother. I class myself as English and find this relentless attack on the English and the English language as bigoted, narrow minded and typically Welsh. All this money spent on the Welsh language is a joke and would be much better spent on public services such as schools and hospitals. The way Welsh is forced upon non welsh speakers is completely wrong. I was on the M4 just yesterday and there were flashing road signs in Welsh which I couldn't understand. I later found there had been a crash and I can only assume the sign was to inform me of this. Great! S4C and radio cymru is another joke with viewing/listening figures some times in the double figures.....I am sorry buy the people who can speak Welsh are in the minority and need to get a grip and just accept we are a cosmopolitan society where everyone should have equal rights!!!!!!!!!!11

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  16. It does seem sad that people are being denied life prolonging drugs and operations in Wales because people who can read English without difficulty demand that forms, road signs etc. are written in Welsh.

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  17. I too was born in England but have lived here in Wales for over 50 years, i love to hear the Welsh language spoken and sung, but it does sadden me that people in Wales are denied drugs and operations which are available in England. Surely a persons life is more important than having road signs,forms etc. written in Welsh, I know from experience that almost all Welsh speakers are able to read and write in English, indeed the majority of them prefer to read and write in English.

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