Number of Speakers

I saw this article yesterday, which suggests a big increase in the number of Welsh speakers, suggesting 870,000 speakers, which is a lot more than the around 500,000, I’d been assuming. I think there is some dispute about these figures and how the number is ascertained and what level of Welsh counts as a speaker, but nonetheless this looks very positive?

[I don’t know where there is an English version of this]


Here’s the English version and yes I agree it does mean Wales is well on its way to its million speaker target even taking into account any experimental error.

I hope no-one pours cold water on this resutl and dampens my optimism.


I saw this yesterday and it is very encouraging. I’m personally looking forward to answering yes to the the Welsh language questions for the first time on the 2021 census. Speaking of which, does anyone know if any progress has been made in adding the Welsh question to the census in other parts of the UK? Am I correct in saying that Welsh speakers living outside of Wales aren’t counted in any official statistics?


Yes, I think that it was just for Wales. However, there seem to be two methods of measuring the numbers. As Huw’s link points out the comparative old number is 726,600 in 2008.

I think the lower set of numbers (5,000) is for those who actually do speak Welsh on a regular basis.

There is more stuff in the Million Speakers section of the Forum.

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Thanks John, I’ll check that out later.

I think so, assuming they used the same methodology in 2008, then it is an increase :grinning:
The more interesting question is how of much of the increase is due to Welsh medium education and how much adult learners, SSiW or alternatives.

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and maybe other factors such as Welsh speaking students and others returning to Wales to live and work?

The jump is almost unbelievable and I guess everyone is being a bit cautious. I think it’s good that it doesn’t question ability, because that is irrelevant at one level - it is relevant to the other Welsh language usage survey but not to identify those who can and maybe don’t for whatever reason.

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Just a very quick look at Govt statistics showed:
“There were 604 more pupils (467,112) in LA maintained schools than at January 2017.”
So a very rough calculation of 497,000 say divided by 12 years? gives around 40,000 new school kids each year in LA schools. Say x the 10 years 2008 to 2018: gives around 400,000 new kids who “can” speak welsh (at some level). That sounds too simplistic.

I think that whilst it may matter how fluent / articulate one is, in a professional context - and we do want as many fully-functional Welsh-speaking professionals as possible in Wales’ economy, it is more useful in the community to have willing and enthusiastic speakers of all levels who actually use their Welsh whenever possible, than to have people who can speak perfect Welsh but maybe don’t use it as much as they could.

In other words, level of Welsh is good, regularity of use is good, both together is doubly good, but using is more important than fluency -though using is an excellent way to achieve fluency, of course!

I am really fortunate now that I can talk about anything in Welsh (with the odd word of borrowed vocabulary when needed, no harm in this) and that I can choose to talk Welsh all the time, except when confronted with someone who cannot understand Welsh at all. This only happens rarely, because I now live in the place that, according to the 2011 census, has the highest percentage of Welsh speakers in Wales (and hence in the World) :smile:

Just under four years since I started on SSiW (and plenty of conversation practice in the meanwhile - it really does make all the difference), I still can almost not believe that I am able to live full-time in a community where 87.8% of people speak Welsh and I am now one of those Welsh speakers :smile: :smile:

And when, occasionally, I meet someone who cannot speak Welsh - I refer them to SSiW of course!


Simply understanding and not speaking is important as well. The old scenario that if there was a room where half speak welsh and half dont, then Welsh speakers out of politeness will speak English only applies if the other half don’t understand Welsh. If the non speakers understand Welsh and that’s known then more Welsh will be spoken, because that politeness angle no longer applies.


Yay! I’m part of a movement!

(although, living in Somerset, I’m not included in those figures :frowning: )


I think any kind of rise in any situation is cause for optimism - at the same time, until we’re regularly asking about frequency of usage, we’re not going to be getting the full picture.


I’m looking forward to answering the US Census for languages spoken in the home other than English. Cymraeg i fi!