This is partly a loaded question but also a genuinely open question to others here.
I have lived in East Wales on and off since the 1990s and while things did improve in terms of access to bilingualism in public sector after 1993 and a noticeable pick up after 2010 even in some third party and small number of private sector areas… I am finding that my ability to use Welsh day to day is significantly declining.
The question is … anyone else seeing similar and seeing future trends? Here is some evidence of trend changes.
Local town changes in South Western Denbighshire
Everything is going online such as banks and they only have an English language option.
I remember using a Welsh language cheque book and speaking Welsh to the counter before the 2010s.
(The issue with a lack of Welsh language banking is what ultimately inspired me to write this.)
Since privatisation, the post office no longer offers true bilingualism and no longer has a mandatory Welsh speaker at the till (theres two people and none speak any Welsh).
Increasingly the council and public sector (due to lack of money and ideology) are handing off more and more essential services to third parties and the private sector which are failing to provide Welsh language even with demand (- many elderly from outlying villages want to use Welsh).
This has already come to fallouts in places like Dolgellau but places like Rhuthun, Dinbych and Corwen are much more passive in nature and so we just accept this degradation in bilingualism.
They are increasingly forcing us to do everything online but providing no Welsh language option … and we wonder why children come out of our local schools having learnt Welsh fluently thinking Welsh is just a form of Latin and is reserved for school gates only. Prestige matters for a language.
The benefits system and universal credit … unlike the West of Wales, the provision of the Welsh language here is dire. Not even one designated Welsh speaker per job centre. They have to do outreach for only the most Welsh speaking people.
Local doctor surgeries and dentists have a poor use of bilingualism. Dentists are the worst offenders here. East of Rhuthun and Corwen is completely bereft.
*On a somewhat separate but related note ( as private sector under no Welsh obligations), I remember the older companies on our industrial estate attempted to use bilingual signage in the 1990s … this has almost completely disappeared. Highly mobile workers are shifted across hundreds of miles through these new corporate companies internally (no jobs offered locally) and look utterly bewildered by even the mention of “Wales”…so good luck even getting them to learn more than ‘diolch’
I remember hearing a saying in Ceredigion years ago … “The post office has a bilingual sign but the postmaster no longer speaks Welsh” … pretty much sums up the trend I am seeing on the street.
To end on a positive note - it is that things can change…the question is how? I do not feel like I can live my life through Welsh in terms of essential services in todays North central/North East
Gwynedd is miles ahead as usual (Jealous )
This isn’t quite true… if a private third/party company is supplying services on behalf of an organisation that falls under the Welsh Language Standards (e.g. council, health service, national park) then they have the same obligation under the Standards as would be in power if the council had been providing the service directly. You can still complain to the council and/or the Welsh Language Commissioner.
Not disagreeing with the spirit of what you are saying, of course! Just noting a slight inaccuracy…
I thought the same Sara!
They must be breaking the law basically. I will be writing a separate post on a personal story because I dont know if I should talk to the Welsh language commissioner. (Just a temporary post here for an answer and I will delete)
I realise that this website’s purpose is entirely for the spirit of getting new people to learn Welsh>
I have not written this question for heavy political or partisanal debate, but it is good to share that one can learn Welsh through brilliant places like SaysomethinginWelsh … but also see trends in day to day life that you want to express somewhere with like minded individuals (very few places online to go tbh…ssiw forum is at least somewhere!)
I’m not Welsh and it has been a long time since I lived in Wales (a shame in both cases) but I understand what you’re saying.
I think big international corporations including most banks nowadays are only going to provide Welsh if there is a legal requirement. I’d like to think local pressure (boycotts) could work but realistically they’re more likely to pull out of an area altogether. In fact, I think even a legal requirement runs that risk unless it is a requirement of operating anywhere in the UK.
As for the postmaster, the post office till, the doctors and dentists and job centre staff: I think the way to fix that is by making sure speaking Welsh is an absolutely normal thing. It needs not only excellent education for children but excellent opportunities for adults to learn too. And I’m not saying anyone should be excluded here, but there should be so much Welsh language cultural activity happening in plain sight that anyone who doesn’t speak Welsh should feel the strong urge to learn.
Eventually the new doctor will be a Welsh speaker because it’s more statistically likely than them not being, and the new kid at the post office should be making big steps in learning because of his fear of missing out.
We live in a modern Wales where expecting people to pick up some basic phrases for the sake of the greater community is considered “oppression” by many.
Throughout history, society swings from extreme individualism to extreme communalism/collectivism in circles or waves…we have been on the individualist side of the spectrum for good or bad since the late 1970s. …Then again the last time collectivism was strong in Wales and people expected to sacrifice for their community , it was collectively to make everyone forget their mother tongue and fall in line with the collectivism of the state…so history is a funny one
I had to study such stuff at uni so it sticks in the mind
Sadly there are many factors in the deeply West Walian Aberystwyth which have conspired over the centuries to make its townfolk think it is an English speaking only place. My distant family has farmed the outskirts for centuries and I have lived and worked there for a decade in the past. Many factors which prevent that town being as bilingual as Gwynedd towns.
A change to all Welsh medium schools by 2030 will be a start