Assume everyone in Wales speaks Welsh

My mentor said something so profound in its truth and simplicity!
‘We live in Wales therefore, start every conversation in Welsh.’
The opportunities to speak Welsh that we miss out on because we assume people don’t speak the language are countless!
If we start a conversation in English because we assume the recipient does not speak Welsh, they will assume the same and answer us in English. However, how easy is it to start in Welsh and continue in Welsh if our partner is Welsh speaking or, continue in English if they are not?!
A prime example of the amazingly positive effect this can have on the language is the experience @Nicky quotes as being the instigator of his remarkable and inspiring Welsh journey.
Why hadn’t I thought of this before I ask myself?!
So, for those of you like me, let’s do it and let’s see how many people we can inspire to learn the language along the way!!


Exactly - if that guy at the Wales v Northern Ireland game had just assumed he should speak English because he didn’t know me, I might never have ever had the inclination to start - or at least not been bumped into doing it at that time.

From speaking Welsh by default to people since starting, I’ve had some really suprisingly brilliant results, ranging from uncovering fluent speakers that didn’t use Welsh that much, speaking to people who were learners themselves, to encouraging people to actually start learning.

The worst response you can really get is “I don’t speak Welsh” - in which case, its not you who is to blame, never apologise - by all means carry on in English, but never apologise for speaking the language.

This is Wales after all! We’re a bilingual country and we should be proud of it :smiley:


I’ve been doing this since I started learning a few months ago (85 months ago to be exact:wink:) and have only ever had one negative reaction but lots and lots of brilliant conversations in Welsh even in this predominantly non Welsh speaking area where I live. I’ll second what Nicky said too, never, ever apologise for speaking Welsh. I did once and I thought ‘why the heck did I just do that’. Enjoy the new found confidence it brings you too, it’s amazing.


This is a really good idea and brilliant post @aliC; also thanks for @Nicky and @gruntius for the inputs with experiences. Me and my partner are hoping to go to Wales for a few days break soon and I was wondering what/how one does find out who speaks it and who doesn’t. Especially in Caerdydd where my brother lives - if I try this I’m going to find much more speakers than if I don’t!

What is your reaction when people say that they don’t speak it? I think it would be hard not to instinctively mumble a sorry…


I just go for a quick “oh okay” (and then look very confused for about 5 seconds as I try to switch my brain to English) :smiley:


Hi Martin,

There are a lot more speakers in Cardiff than people give credit for - so I think you’ll be surprised by where you find them. I’ve always had success in Cardiff with the “usual” spots, but then again I’ve also found Welsh speakers in “normal” places like Costa Coffee and Lush the soap shop.

Aside from having a number of Welsh schools in the area, anyone under the age of about 35 working in a shop who grew up in Wales will have had to do GCSE Welsh second language at a minimum, so even if they don’t speak it, they’ll at least have an awareness of it - rather than giving you a sort of look as if you were an alien.

It’s different where I live, because in Ceredigion - there are a higher proportion of Welsh speakers, so I’ll admit that if I get a knockback, I tend to go “Oh…?” whereas I think down South I would tend to go with a bit of a “OK”.

Over the last few months I’ve been carrying my fliers around, so anyone who gives me a “I don’t speak it…” gets a flyer, whether thats in pubs, clubs, banks, shops or wherever :smiley:


This. It is instinctive, as you say, to say sorry but “oh, okay” isn’t impolite at all. If I’m feeling a bit cheeky I’ll also say “it’s lucky I speak english too then, isn’t it? :wink:” (the emoji is inside the speech marks to imply that in my voice :slight_smile:)


I hadn’t thought of it like that actually - and the more people come in and ask them the more it will validate it in their minds I guess? Great idea on promoting your website: I was linking it on the r/learnwelsh subreddit the other day (and WSP/SSiW etc).

To be fair we were thinking of going to Caernarfon or Aberystwyth to have a couple chilled days exploring the pubs/gigs etc (once we can work out how to get there on public transport from london for less than what feels like million pounds haha!)


Exactly - we’re all responsible for the language, and in the end we’ll get the language we deserve.

I was down in Cardiff for 8 days with the Eisteddfod and I was with so many people speaking Welsh all day, and then when we’d pop to Tesco or Sainsbury off the Maes, they’d ask for things behind the counter in English.

I’d ask “Why are you going back to English?” (in Welsh of course!) and they’d generally answer “Oh, I just didn’t think they would be able to speak it!”



That’s the key isn’t it, getting people to not switch and assume they dont? Thanks for this, I’m definitely going to do it when I’m down!


FYI: The index of isolation reflects the likelihood of one Welsh speaker meeting another at random. Between 1991 and 2001 the index (calculated on the basis of electoral wards/districts) decreased from 0.443 to 0.374. (

I think that means that in 2001, you had roughly a 30% chance of randomly meeting a Welsh speaker, probably a bit less now


I like it when stats come out.

Is that an average across the nation?

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Can I ask what it was? I’m always curious to know why people in Wales would be negative about the Welsh language.

It was from a woman working behind the counter in Castell Maenorbŷr.

Me: “Ga i docyn deulu os gwelwch yn dda?”
Her: …
Me: …
Her: …:confused:
Me: … :no_mouth:
Girl farther along the counter to her: “it’s Welsh.”
Her: “Well, I don’t know, do I? This is Penbrokeshire!”
Me: “But it’s in Wales, I was hoping you spoke Welsh.”
Her: “This is ‘little england beyond Wales’.”
Me: “But it’s still Wales, right?”
Her: “Not really. Now you’ve had a geography lesson what can I do for you?”
Me: unpublishable!


I was on holiday in Maenorbŷr last month! We didn’t go to the Castell though, we were Castelled out after seeing Carew and Pembroke!

I wasn’t brave enough to try speaking Welsh, though :frowning: I got the impression (correctly, apparently!) that no one there spoke it.

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Carew was good though, wasn’t it? Very interesting going to the tidal mill too.

Yes! I was just talking to a colleague about it as she’s been there too! Carew was my step daughter’s favourite castle (and we’ve been to plenty in England, Wales and France).

I did enjoy Pembrokeshire, and exposure to Welsh on signs and texts was great (although I go to Cardiff regularly, so that’s not really new to me) but it was a shame not to encounter any Welsh speakers. We asked everyone we got talking to, but they all gave similar responses, “Well I did it at school, but I expect you know more than I do now!”. One guy, at the Lovespoon workshop near Kilgetty, actually said “No, but I’m fluent in Spanish!”.

I did overhear someone at Castell Henllys (one of the staff) speaking Welsh, but by the time the demonstration I was watching had finished, he’d gone :frowning:

I personally think that reaching this figure of a million speakers by 2050 would be made a lot easier if Welsh was the default language for everyone who can speak it, especially people in shops and businesses across Wales.

I was told by a woman behind the counter in a famous Llanrwst cafe situated beyond the bridge (:wink:) that non Welsh speaking tourists sometimes don’t like being greeted in Welsh. I say @#$& 'em! That’s their problem.


Can you imagine the French saying the same thing?! “Sometimes British tourists don’t like being greeted in French, so we always say ‘good morning’ to them!”



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