A day of mixed emotions

Today was a great day in my ‘Welsh Learning Adventure’…

Today I finished Course 2, Lesson 25. The last few lessons have been a slog, and if I am honest, since lesson 20 I have probably only managed to answer before Catrin just over 80% of the time… but, I have gone over these lessons lots of times and I really feel as if I have done them to death. So, target achieved, I promised myself that I would finish the Intermediate lessons, if not the Vocab Units before Bootcamp.

Sadly, the day was clouded a bit because I talked to a First Language Speaker; the parent of a student in the school I work in. I mentioned that the student and I had chatted to each other a little in Welsh.

The response I received bewildered me… “Oh, so you are the English ‘bloke’ who is trying to learn Welsh. You shouldn’t bother because non of you have the right too…”

At this point I interrupted and spoke over this person because I didn’t want to hear any more.

I don’t really know what to think about this except that I feel sad about the whole thing. We don’t really live in a nice world any more do we…

That was a horrible thing to say and it is not representative of most first language Welsh speakers. don’t let it get you down, keep at it and be proud of yourself. The last few lessons of course 2 are tough but keep going and make a start on course 3 as soon as you can. Don’t let one person drag you down - shame on them and fair play to you for learning. Chin up!

Luckily that sad individual does not represent the language police. I find stories like this terribly discouraging, but sod it, I am going to learn anyway. I want Welsh to continue not die in obscurity, and will do my bit to help.


The response I received bewildered me… “Oh, so you are the English ‘bloke’ who is trying to learn Welsh. You shouldn’t bother because non of you have the right too…”

My first thought: I hope all their teeth fall out…except for one and that gets toothache.

I’ve had this situation a couple of times and it’s gut wrenching. Once someone even tried embarrassing me in a busy pub by saying: “No one could ever understand you.” My answer was to engage a number of strangers in the bar; asking them if they could understand what I was saying and then making some casual conversation with them. They all did…I then turned to him and said: “Paid â siarad lol!”
He even wanted to get physical…Luckily, his friends advised him not to.

EDIT: I feel sad for that parent’s kids. I pray they don’t end up dumb like their father…

Ouch! That’s so insensitive. There are certainly some complicated issues around the Welsh language but I’ve not come across anyone saying anything like that - only delight and respect from everyone I’ve told Welsh or English, Welsh speaking or not. I’m sure there are a lot more people who appreciate your efforts than don’t but when we work really hard at something one comment like this can be really discouraging. I hope this parent is not so hard on their children.

Mae “Lol” yn gair newydd i mi, felly diolch yn fawr Kim. Mae o’n gair defnyddio mewn sefyllfa fel 'na!


Surprised someone with that attitude felt he had the right to learn and speak English, to be honest and would have said so to his face as well. What annoys me most about this is how people like this are reinforcing prejudiced stereotypes about Welsh speakers and their attitudes to English learners. I’m directly both Welsh and English and I think Welsh should be learnt by as many people as possible from all over the world. That is because I want it to survive. This person wants to kill the language. Don’t get down about it, though. This has nothing to do with English or Welsh people. At the end of the day we’re all one people, actually, and I’m afraid there are good and bad at every level. Keep learning Welsh - you have your own reasons for learning and they have nothing to do with this person.

Thanks all. I am both English and Welsh too. Actually only English because I was born in Chester (Edit: but happy with either!!). My whole family is Welsh, hence my desire to re-learn my family’s lost language.

I will keep the image of the ‘language heddlu’ knocking all their teeth out as a momento of today… :-):slight_smile:

I am taking the comment as more of a reflection of how parents feel they can speak to those who work in the education profession than anything else, but I had to get it off my chest…because it hurt a bit.

Diolch yn Fawr Pawb… :slight_smile:

PS. Just so we are not re-inforcing stereotypes it was Mum who spoke to me.

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Yeah, unfortunately there are people like that in many places. The vast majority would, I’m sure, be supportive of anyone who wants to learn their language, regardless of where they come from. Unfortunately, however, there are, have always been, and will always be people who will hold a personal grudge against every single person from a given group, often for actions committed long before the person holding said grudge was born. I am told there are places in Scotland where people with the Surname Campbell won’t get served at a bar because of similar old grudges.

Unfortunately, I can only assume that they get these grudges from their parents, and pass them on to their kids. Fortunately with the advent of the Internet, and differing ideas and opinions being so much easier to come across than at any other point in human history, a lot of kids seem to be abandoning the stupider aspects of their parents beliefs.

@Andy: You could perhaps have said: “No, I’m not the English bloke who is trying to learn Welsh…I am one of hundreds of English, Welsh, Scottish, Irish, Dutch, German, American, Austrian, Swiss, Finnish…etc” people who are succeeding in learning Welsh, thanks to the open-minded community that is Say Something in Welsh (among other languages). Perhaps you should come online and join us some time…".

There is an a Czech proverb which says… “Learn a new language and get a new soul.”

I’m going to stick with that thought!!! :slight_smile:

Really sorry to hear of your experience Andy, especially after your success with course 2 (which is pretty big news in itself - many congrats). For every person who knocks your commitment I bet you’ll encounter ten who are delighted that you’re making the effort though. It’s worth keeping at it until those ten come along :slight_smile:

@Andy: I can certainly see how this was a shockingly depressing comment. My best advice would to not take it personally.

A couple of years ago I spent some time learning a little Cherokee, and while most people were very nice and supportive, there were some in the native american community who were pretty negative about outsiders trying to learn. They felt that the language belonged to them and that it was inappropriate, even sacriligious, for an outsider to try to learn. It must be particularly painful for you in this situation since you are not actually an outsider at all.

The tragic result of this attitude, in the cases where it becomes the majority opinion, is the extinction of the language. We are very fortunate that many people have worked so hard to prevent that from happening to Welsh.

SaySomethinginCherokee definitely has a certain ring to it… and I also agree that this is not to be taken seriously. I truly believe that this is down to that individual and not in any sense a reflection of the 99.9999% of Welsh Speakers that I have been priveledged to have met or spoken too.

I cant wait for Bootcamp because I know I am going to meet some amazing people who will be only to happy to help me learn.

Thanks all :slight_smile:

“The tragic result of this attitude, in the cases where it becomes the majority opinion, is the extinction of the language”

This is exactly my belief. The people who treat learners like this are killing these language. They are the polar opposite of the SSiW mentality, who are strengthening them. I know they think they are some sort of patriot or something, when they say these things, but they are the opposite.

Good points. I can understand that communities see their language as the one thing that sets them apart from other communities and as the main vehicle that carries their culture, particularly in oppressive/colonial/unequal situations as is the case with most (all?) minority languages, and that their language gives their community the internal cohesion that they feel disappearing. They may not see the extinction of the language as the issue, but the extinction of the community and culture - very real here in Australia, for instance.

However, preserving the language by sharing it with outsiders makes it possible to provide support, to strengthen and/or to revive a language and thus, at least, aspects of the community and culture to which it belongs - before all of it is irretrievably lost. What is slowly happening with Cornish and Dharuk, etc. can perhaps serve as an example to those communities where there is a negative attitude to outsiders. But maybe I am dreaming.

You shouldn’t bother because none of you have the right to…

If you happen to see this nasty piece of work again, do please feel free to tell her that you know some Welsh language campaigners who think her attitude stinks.

Will do!..

You shouldn’t bother because none of you have the right to…
If you happen to see this nasty piece of work again, do please feel free to tell her that you know some Welsh language campaigners who think her attitude stinks.

Not to mention all the Gorsedd luminaries who come and talk in Maes D and can’t say enough about the importance of learners to the future of the language, the number of Learner’s of the Year who’ve been from outside Wales, the fact the likes of Dafydd Iwan play Maes D, go on Hwb, do everything they can to get as many people as poss speaking Welsh and nuts to where they were born.

Some of the most passionate people over the language are utterly supportive of learners.

Bigots in pubs are the worst enemy of what they claim to be proud of.

I felt very angry when I read this Andy but thankfully this person was in the minority with regards to Welsh folk’s attitude to us learners. I suspect he has “issues” and was projecting these onto you. Congratulations on completing course 2 and I hope this doesn’t put you off future conversations.