I went for a day to the Eisteddfod this year with my ffrind iath. On account of him being a member of the God squad our first point of call was the Christian tent. While he was talking to an old friend I got talking to a lovely gentleman sitting by the Gideons Society table, he asked me where I was from how long I’ve been learning Welsh was very complimentary about the standard of my Welsh. Then he asked if I’d like a bible and I politely declined , mentioning that I wasn’t a believer. He went straight into English, telling me I was very honest that most people just take them and run! But no more Welsh came out of his mouth!
Then at lunchtime I rehearsed in my head what I was going to ask the Stall holder for, walked up nervously and delivered my beautiful sentence only to be told I’m really sorry I don’t speak Welsh! The range of emotions that went through my head were as follows:
Absolute joy to be mistaken for a Welsh speaker
Slightly fraudulent for only being a Welsh learner
Grim determination not to feel like a fraud next year!
I have to say my day at the Eisteddfod has really got me excited about spending a week at Boot Camp in September!
I just hope the weather will be as nice!
There’s no such thing as “only a learner”. The only difference between being a speaker and a learner is which you consider yourself to be. Besides which, even if there were a significant difference, I’d still argue that only is perhaps the wrong word - most people in English speaking countries never even get that far.
Edit: In case it wasn’t clear, I’m saying congratulations, and keep at it - I’m willing to bet that after Bootcamp, you won’t be feeling like a fraud ever again.
One of my highlights was being told by the person taking surveys of where people have come from that “I’ve spoken to loads of people this year who’ve said they’re still learners but really aren’t - there must be a really good teaching group somewhere locally!” Naturally I plugged SSIW at this point
There’s scope for educating Welsh speakers on dealing with learners I think. I would love it if one day the automatic reaction to meeting a learners was to slow down rather than switch to English!
I was saying in another thread that loads of first language speakers use Maes D as a shortcut - maybe there needs to be a a big “How you can help learners” stand in there to catch them!
It’s a tough one though because presumably most first language speakers are getting no direct benefit from speaking to learners - it’s not like any of them will need or want any help with their English in exchange (which might be the case for English speaking learners of other languages when speaking to 1st-language speakers of those languages).
Only if they can see or can be persuaded to see that they are hopefully doing something for the long-term good of the language as a whole. Many will, I’m sure, but not everyone automatically thinks in those terms.
I don’t think that the flip to English is because people aren’t interested in helping though, especially in an environment like the 'steddfod where most speakers are already going to tend to the “Welsh is important” end of the spectrum. And most are delighted to find out you’re alearning and are all "da iawn"s and encouragement.
It’s usually because they mistakenly think they ARE helping.
And if you define “helping” as “making communication easier while minimising embarrassment” rather than “making the learner’s Welsh better” I suppose they are.
It’s just that even MORE helpful would be an ask of “do you want to try to carry on in Welsh or shall we change to English?”
Leia: most speakers are already going to tend to the “Welsh is important” end of the spectrum.
Actually, there’s an important point in there, Mike. Not all Welsh speakers are activists, and not all are that concerned about the fate of the language. Ask Kim about his friends up in Dyffryn Nantle, for example. If you’re going to try to persuade people to help learners “for the long-term good of the language as a whole” you may find some unexpected, not exactly resistance, but more like “meh”.
I’m quoted slightly out of context there - I’m talking specifically about eisteddfod goers - They’re not all going to be cardcarrying Plaid voting Cymdeithas poster painting Dafydd Iwan singing banner waving council office trashing zealots, of courses they’re not. But they are likely to have at least a modicum of interest in the Welsh language as it relates to being part of Welsh culture. Otherwise why would they pay twenty quid a head to go to a cultural event based on it?
The last thing I’d want to see is learners being portrayed as some sort of burden on ordinary speakers who need a sort of charitable condescension For The Good Of The Language. But I do think there’s a significant portion of speakers who would like to be more helpful to learners but don’t know the best way to go about it or don’t have the confidence to ask the question directly and so resort to English for the avoidance of embarrassment.
Sorry if you got the impression that I was quoting you out of context. I thought the conversation had moved on from the National Eisteddfod specifically.
I find that the vast, vast majority of Welsh speakers are more than happy to help learners, but to me it’s more because we’re taking an interest in something that’s part of their identity. Just like if I was to show an interest in aviation when talking to you - you’d enjoy it and be more engaged. And you’d be happy to fill me in on the technical details of how your little plane manages to not fall out of the sky, of course you would.
Apologies @Leia, as I think it was me who widened it into a more general argument, whereas you were making a more specific point about Eisteddfod-goers.
And @Rob, you make a good point. For me as an outsider to try to speak Welsh to a Welsh person “in order to preserve your language” could be seen as rather condescending, even if well-intentioned.
If Welsh is to survive, it will be because the Welsh people want it to survive, and not because of well-meaning outsiders.