Due to the increasing use of the English language the numbers of Welsh speakers had been declining for decades. However, following a number of measures, including the introduction of the Welsh Language Act 1993, Welsh has enjoyed a strong revival in recent years and has an equal status with English in the public sector in Wales.
Wales today is officially bilingual, with over 20% of the population able to speak Welsh. Of these 611,000 Welsh speakers 62% use Welsh on a daily basis over English.
Decline of Welsh in the 16th Century
The passing of the 1536 and 1542 Acts of Union brought a significant change in the official use of Welsh.The purpose of the Acts of Union was to integrate Wales with England and this therefore meant that English became the official language of business in Wales. During this time it was not possible for any monolingual Welsh speaker to hold office in Wales. Although the language was not officially banned it lost all status and brought with it centuries of steady linguistic decline – the language would not be used as an official language again for over four hundred years, until the passing of the 1942 Welsh Courts Act which permitted limited use of the languages in the courts.
Y Ddraig Goch ddyry gychwyn
‘The Red Dragon will shown the way’
Rise of Welsh – The Welsh Language Act 1993
To date, the most significant Act by far to be passed is The Welsh Language Act 1993.
A milestone in the modern history of the Welsh language, this Act was the first to put Welsh and English on an equal footing within the public sector.
The Act did three main things for the Welsh Language:
- Set up the Welsh Language Board, with the duty of promoting the Welsh language and ensuring compliance throughout the public sector.
- Gave all Welsh speakers the absolute right to speak Welsh in courts under all circumstances.
- Obliged all organisations in the public sector providing services to the Public in Wales to treat Welsh and English on an equal basis. Meaning any official literature and publicity such as road signs, minutes, information leaflets etc… must be supplied bilingually, as well as all public events and meetings be interpreted.
Since its conception in 1993 the Welsh Language board has rallied thousands in support of the increased usage of the Welsh language. So much so that the UK Government has ratified the European Charter for Regional or Minority languages in respect of Welsh and they have ruled it to be one of the languages which is sufficient for naturalisation purposes in the UK.
Welsh in the 21st Century
The teaching of Welsh is now compulsory in all schools in Wales up to the age of 16, and this has had a major effect in stabilising and reversing the decline of the language. In popular culture Wales has had some important exports advertising the use of the Welsh language by speaking their native tongue on television. The most recent being Glyn Wise and Imogen Thomas’s conversations in Welsh on Big Brother 6 which sparked a nation wide debate about the Welsh language.
Television channel ‘S4C’ broadcasts exclusively in Welsh during peak hours and the main evening television news provided by the BBC in Welsh is available for download. There is also a Welsh language radio station ‘BBC Radio Cymru’ broadcasting on a daily basis. Many major corporate organisations have followed the Government’s lead and realised the importance of providing their information in both Welsh and English – Microsoft recently launched their operating system XP and their 2003 version of Microsoft Office in Welsh. Linux distributions and various online services to Blogs are translated into the Welsh language.
“The launch of Windows and Office 2003 in Welsh marks a real milestone for the language and fits in well with the Welsh Assembly Government’s vision for a bilingual Wales”.
“I find it very encouraging that at a time of increasing globalisation, a huge multinational company like Microsoft still recognises the importance of supporting diversity in languages and culture.”
-Welsh Language Minister Alun Pugh
(From the BBC News Website)The BBC also recognises how important the Welsh language is in the United Kingdom and they have setup a competition called the The Big Welsh Challenge. Which will help the English population to learn and understand Welsh.
Welsh Translation Services
Since 1986, K International has been assisting various government organisations, such as the Welsh Assembly Government, UK Home Office, Independent Complaints Commission, Electoral Commission and many more, with their Welsh language requirements. Many of our Welsh translators are members of the Society of Welsh Translators; all have been through our rigorous testing procedures to ensure they meet our high quality standards, and will have at least 3 years previous translation experience.
Each project is different and therefore translators are chosen for their unique skills and specialist knowledge that meet the project requirements. As with all our translators, they speak the target language as their mother tongue, using the language in their everyday life on a daily basis. All our Welsh translators are native to Wales.
Our In-House Design and Web Development team have vast experience artworking, typesetting and illustrating Welsh translations into booklets, leaflets, information packs and websites.
Some examples of these include:
- 48 Page booklet for the Home Office Crime strategy Unit
- The Welsh localisation of the ETS Communication Unit’s Employment Tribunal Website
- Welsh glossary pages for the Electoral Commission
At K International we understand the importance and the beauty of the Welsh language, its value in doing business in the UK and how vital it is for Welsh speakers to be able to communicate in their native tongue.
For more information on K International and our Welsh translation and interpreting services please call (01908) 670399, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.