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AFTER all the negativity concerning the Welsh language of late, hearing more positive news relating to the language is like taking a breath of fresh mountain air.
The latest Stats Wales bulletin, just released by the Welsh Government, shows that the number of Welsh speakers in Wales today is now 855,200, out of a total population of 3.2 million.
Which works out at just over 27.3%, just short of a third of the total Welsh population – a good deal higher than the 20% odd figure bandied about so frequently.
Percentage-wise of speakers, Gwynedd still leads the way with 74%, followed by Ynys Mon on 66%, and then Ceredigion on 57%.
Carmarthenshire though tops the charts with the most number of speakers, with 90,900, with Gwynedd second on 88,600 and Cardiff, surprisingly perhaps for some, coming in third on 85,400.
Cardiff’s rise confirms that this growth in language numbers can be properly described as national in scale.
Although of course, there are other areas which, for various reasons, are still not part of this growth in numbers yet.
GWLAD leader, Gwyn Wigley Evans said these figures were very encouraging, but Welsh Labour were still not really grasping the nettle.
‘There’s a revolution going on out there as far as learning Welsh is concerned – 1.3 million people are learning the language worldwide on the Duolingo app for instance’ he said.
‘Welsh Government should be tapping into this audience, and undertaking some in-depth analysis as to why it is taking place, and how these people could somehow be used to promote Welsh in Wales itself’.
Mr. Evans added that more still had to be done to encourage the use of Welsh amongst young people – and politicians had to lead by example in this respect.
‘It was very striking that during the debate on Welsh Independence at Y Senedd recently, not one of the speakers used Welsh – even among the Plaid AM’s who called the debate! Shame on them’ he said.
Welsh Labour’s ‘ambition’ of a million Welsh speakers by 2050 now seems pathetically unambitious in view of these new figures.
That million figure (some 30% of the Welsh population) can now surely arrive much more quickly, by 2030 at the latest, with some innovative thinking and practice.
And why not show some real ambition and set consecutive targets of 40% of the population being able to speak Welsh by 2040, and 50% by 2050?