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The Welsh Language Act of 1967


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Read on - epaper ⋅ Ausgabe 7/2022 vom 28.06.2022

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1 THIS MONTH 55 years ago, the Welsh Language Act was passed. The act allowed speakers of Welsh in Wales to use the Welsh language in courts and to get official documents and forms in Welsh. Before then, only the English language could be used. The act was important in helping to bring the almost dead language of Welsh back to life.

2 Welsh is spoken in Wales, a country located west of England on the island of Great Britain. Welsh is one of the oldest languages in Europe. In fact, Welsh is older than English.

3 While English evolved from dialects brought to Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers who started coming to Britain around the middle of the 5th century, Welsh evolved from Brythonic. Brythonic was a Celtic language already spoken by the ancient Britons in the Iron Age ...

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3 While English evolved from dialects brought to Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers who started coming to Britain around the middle of the 5th century, Welsh evolved from Brythonic. Brythonic was a Celtic language already spoken by the ancient Britons in the Iron Age (around 750 BC). By the early Middle Ages, Welsh had become its own, distinct language, and was the language of culture, law and everyday life in Wales.

5 The Act of Union was the beginning of centuries of decline for the Welsh language. English became the dominant language, except in the most rural areas. But even there, compulsory schooling would make things hard for Welsh speakers. In the 19th century, children who spoke Welsh at school had a sign hung around their necks called the “Welsh Not”, to discourage them from speaking the language.

6 By the 20th century, the number of Welsh speakers had gone down so much that people thought the language would die out within a few generations. However, the feeling that the laws were unfair for Welsh speakers grew.

7 In 1962, the Welsh Language Society was formed, which promotes Welsh in all aspects of life. Together with the Welsh political party Plaid Cymru, they campaigned for reforms. Their campaign eventually led to the Welsh Language Act of 1967.

8 But some people thought the act didn’t go far enough. They thought that Welsh was still not given enough importance in daily life. They wanted a new Welsh Language Act.

9 Years later, the Welsh Language Act of 1993 was passed. It was the first act to put Welsh on an equal footing with English in public life: it states that Welsh and English should be treated as equals “in the conduct of public business and the administration of justice in Wales”.

10 Today, Welsh and English are the official languages of Wales. Around 30 per cent of the population are able to speak Welsh, and that number is slowly going up. There are many newspapers, TV channels and radio stations in Welsh, and Welsh-language music is very popular. In a survey, 86 per cent of the population said the Welsh language is something to be proud of.

11 The Welsh Language Act of 1967 played an important part in that. It gave Welsh speakers rights they hadn’t had for centuries. Without it, Welsh might not be as alive as it is today.

0 WELSH LANGUAGE Act Gesetz zur Förderung der walisischen Sprache — anniversary “ÆœnI"v‰…s´ri‘ Jahrestag — Celtic “"keltIk‘ keltisch — law Gesetz — century “"sentS´ri‘ Jahrhundert — right (das) Recht — (in) court “"kO…t‘ (vor) Gericht

1 to pass (an act) (ein Gesetz) verabschieden — to allow s.o. to do s.th. “´"laU‘ jdm. erlauben, etw. zu tun — official document “´"fIS´lÆdÅkj´m´nt‘ amtliches Schriftstück — form Formular — to bring s.th. back to life (fig) etw. wieder zum Leben erwecken

2 – 3 to be located “l´U"keItId‘ liegen — in fact tatsächlich — to evolve from s.th. “I"vÅlv‘ sich aus etw. heraus entwickeln — Anglo-Saxon “Æœngl´U"sœks´n‘ angelsächsisch — settler Siedler(in) — Brythonic “"brITÅnIk‘ brittanisch — ancient Britons “"eInS´nt‘ britische Urbevölkerung — Iron Age “"aI´n‘ Eisenzeit — BC = Before Christ vor Christus — the Middle Ages das Mittelalter — distinct “dI"stINkt‘ eigenständig

4 – 5 Act of Union “"ju…nj´n‘ Vereinigungsgesetz — even though “D´u‘ obwohl — decline “dI"klaIn‘ Nieder-; h.: Rückgang — rural area “"rU´r´l‘ ländliche Gegend — compulsory schooling “k´m"pøls´ri‘ Schulpflicht — to discourage s.o. from doing s.th. “dIs"kørIdZ‘ jdn. davon abhalten, etw. zu tun

6 – 8 within “wI"DIn‘ innerhalb — feeling Empfinden — society “s´"saI´ti‘ Gesellschaft — to form gründen — to promote “pr´"m´Ut‘ fördern — party Partei — Plaid Cymru “plaId"k´mri‘ — to campaign for s.th. “kœm"peIn‘ sich für etw. stark machen — campaign Kampagne — eventually “I"ventSu´li‘ letztendlich — to lead to s.th. h.: in etw. resultieren — to give s.th. importance “Im"pO… t´ns‘ etw. einen erhöhten Stellenwert einräumen

9 to put s.th. on an equal footing with “"i…kw´l ÆfUtIN‘ etw. mit … gleichstellen — public life öffentl. Leben — to state besagen — to treat as equals als gleichberechtigt behandeln — conduct “"kÅndøkt‘ Ausführung — public business öffentl. Dienstleistungen — administration of justice “´dÆmInI"streIS`´n; "dZøstIs‘ Rechtsprechung

10 – 11 population “ÆpÅpj´"leIS´n‘ Bevölkerung — survey “"s‰…veI‘ Umfrage — s.th. to be proud of “"praUd‘ etw., auf das man stolz sein kann — to play a part (fig) eine Rolle spielen — alive “´"laIv‘ lebendig