Feeling The Fear From Here

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ATTACKS on the Welsh language from over the border have always been a part of life here.

But it appears that another open season is now upon us.

This week, media commentator Max Hastings said he feels for Welsh children having to endure what he terms a ‘tortuous’ language in the classroom.

And for some reason, David Hann, a Corporate Director with Iceland also felt the urge to join the debate from his home in Cheshire, describing the Welsh language as ‘gibberish’.

What’s interesting is to compare the attacks made on the Welsh language right now with the attacks made simultaneously on Scotland’s bid for Independence.

The Scottish question is almost always framed in a materialist fashion, i.e they could never afford to be independent as they are dependent on the largesse of their big neighbour etc, etc.

It’s an economic argument predicated on terms which are familiar and comfortable for the English commentariat.

Whereas the attacks on Wales, and the Welsh language in particular are couched in much more primal terms, betraying a deeper sense of fear and loathing of an identity which is essentially unknowable.

It’s as if the possibility of another language existing so close to home is much more unpalatable in one sense than the possibility of Scotland leaving the union.

The comments made this week have predictably stirred up outrage here on Twitter. But perhaps they can also encourage more emphasis on awareness-raising, in both directions.

Welsh academic Simon Brooks has been articulating an interesting argument of late about the wider Welsh language identity that exists in Britain.

Arguing that this is a crucial factor which needs to be highlighted much more in the whole debate.

Even going as far as to suggest that Welsh Independence itself would be a step in the wrong direction if it meant a Wales cut off from its wider linguistic identity within Britain.

A spokesperson for Gwlad said the academic’s views offered an interesting perspective on the whole issue.

‘Simon Brooks makes an important point about maintaining this wider Welsh language identity, which has always existed outside of Wales’ said Aled Gwyn Jôb, the party’s Communications Officer.

‘This shouldn’t be neglected in any rush towards independence here’.

He added that it was high time to consider the need to introduce some awareness about Welsh and its history within Britain on the curriculum in England itself by now.

‘More awareness and education about Welsh in general over the border might lessen the fear, and spare us from the ill-informed and ignorant comments of people like Mr Hastings and Mr Hann in future’ he said.

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