Last December I visited Wales for 6 days from Borneo. It was my first chance to verbally speak Welsh to anybody. I am up to Lesson 23 on Level 1 so not by any means great at the language but very determined.
Cardiff - Try and try as I did, I only managed to find a receptionist near Techniques who would converse with me. I did anticipate a lack of Welsh in the capital but not as much as I encountered.
Caerphilly - Nothing at all!
Brecon - A few speakers in shops who encouraged me to speak Welsh but would respond half the time in English.
Llandovery - Once again virtually nothing other than an east European (Pole) trying to speak Welsh with me!
Finally Ammanford - Nothing.
All in all, very disappointing but on a positive note, my resolve has been strengthened to fight the good fight and Siarad Cymraeg the next time I visit.
Managed to pick up a few Welsh children’s books in Llandovery from a charity shop (I was also surprised at how few Welsh books are available in shops). The charity shop worker informed me that people usually keep hold of their Welsh books.
Perhaps I just went to the wrong places at the wrong times.
Cardiff and Brecon are very short on speakers, if memory serves. Half a million people may be a lot of people, but many of them are concentrated in the northwest. Still, it’s always worth a go because you never know who will speak the language - and it helps to remind everyone who thinks that nobody uses it that that’s not actually true…
Your line of ‘‘it helps to remind everyone who thinks that nobody uses it that that’s not actually true…’’ really hit the nail on the head. I will keep this one to the forefront. Cheers
The Bookworm in Aberaeron sell lots of Welsh books for learners and native readers.
They may do mail order
To sort of echo what hectorgrey said, you appear to have visited the south eastern side of Cymru, where speakers really are limited, or at least reluctant to use their Welsh with people who they do not know. Living in Cardiff I can testify to this, as I’ve got to know for myself where the shops I can use my Welsh are and I have now met Welsh speakers who are a little more comfortable speaking Welsh with me now they know I also speak it.
In the west of the country you should have much more luck - particularly the north west, down to Aberystwyth, and even Cardigan (where southern bootcampers often go). The further south of Sir Benfro you go it will start to disappear, but like the east of the country there are places where Welsh is widely used if you know of them, and speakers can be found if they hear you using Welsh yourself.
It’s just a matter of doing a tiny bit of research before you come really. A great start will be to visit the Mentrau Iaith sites for the counties you intend to visit, as they can often tell you of venues where siarad meets happen. And these places could also have staff who are Welsh speakers themselves. Even when you are here, keep an eye out for notices, posters etc written in Cymraeg as they could also reveal places or events where you can use your Welsh.
Although Cardiff has the highest number of Welsh speakers, it’s just diluted by the size of the city.
If you ever come back to Cardiff -
Yr Hen Lyfrgell
Y Mochyn Du
Cant y Mil
Siop y Felin
Are all worth a visit to practice your Welsh.
I haven’t been to Cardiff, I think, since the Senedd was built! I moved up here to Yr Alban (Scotland) in 2003/4.
Since a lot of AMs and Staff siarad Cymraeg, is there a little clutch of Welsh speaking cafes, pubs, shops etc near the Senedd building?
You’d think, wouldn’t you? But not really. I think the staff in the Millennium Centre all speak Welsh (or at least all the ones I’ve come across) but it hasn’t leached out into the cafes etc. BUT a lot of these AMs, staff etc. live up in the west of the city, where I am (and where Anthony soon will be), and that’s where you can find the language spoken in the wild.
This morning we were painting the front bedroom with the window open (for the fumes), eavesdropping on a couple of the neighbours having a chat in the street. “Aren’t you glad you’ve learned Welsh?” said my partner. “Now you can understand what everyone’s saying!”
I’m a little surprised about Ammanford, as I believe it has a relatively high percentage of Welsh speakers. On the other hand, it also attracts a lot of incomers as it is very friendly. I am sure that you would hear Welsh in the surrounding villages. Incidentally, I just popped into the superstore in nearby Godrergraig, where I heard Welsh being spoken. Even the self-service checkout machine spoke Welsh to me.
To the person claiming that the speakers are all in Gwynedd…this is a myth…Gwynedd simply has a higher % percentage…not actual numbers
Most speakers are not in Gwynedd…they are in South Wales (or England) but increasingly scattered
You did well mate…thanks for the town survey…Rhydaman (Ammanford) and Llanymddyfri (Llandovery) not having many Welsh speakers is a sign of concern though.
Many many Welsh speaking youth are moving to the cities or England/rest of the world particularly Canada/USA/NZ/Australia at the moment
Appreciate the places you mention.
Greatly appreciated and hoping to return next year to the Caerphilly area
Forgot to mention in Llandovery that there is a shop called Hufen Ia (Ice-cream). When I asked for ‘one ice-cream please,’ the assistant didn’t understand what I was saying. When I told her that the sign on the front of her shop said Hufen Ia, she was still unsure what it meant. She was Welsh and apologized that she didn’t speak Welsh as she was from Swansea. She then tried to calculate how much I owed her in Welsh and needed my assistance - two pounds and 40p. She did understand my saying thank you very much in Welsh. This whole episode surprised me as inside the shop there were bi lingual translations for simple phrases which I would have thought that the employees would have been up to scratch with.
There is a very helpful chap running a bookshop in Ammanford, which i have mentioned elsewhere. He redeemed the place for me, as previously it was indelibly stamped in my memory as the place where a Parcel Force van ran into the car behind me, driving him into my boot! I was returning from Gwynedd to Gower with a little dog in the car and the boot-catch was damaged so it suddenly flew open as I was about to join the M4.
I certainly always thought of Ammanford as part of Cymru Cymraeg!
It didn’t happen at the main traffic lights by any chance, Henddraig? The one where three roads connect at roughly equal angles (a bit like the Mercedes Benz sign), but two of the roads have a green light at the same time That has caught me out more than once.
It may well have. It was about 20 years ago, so my memory of the road is just that someone further ahead suddenly decided to turn right and braked. We all stopped OK, but the van behind the Merc behind me, didn’t! Ah well!
I saw the War memorial for Brecon for WW1 and WW2…the vast majority of first names were Welsh language…makes you think how much has changed…
Llandovery / Llanymddyfri was hardcore Welsh not that long ago. Youth moving away due to lack of economic investment is a killer though in the long run…and of course mass media in English !
It took until 1977 to get Radio Cymru, 1982 for S4C - and that thanks to Gwynfor’s hunger strike! But long before that, the Welsh Not ensured that all children in school spoke English. Also, on the border, a lot of people moved into Wales for cheaper houses!
My folks lived near Brecon in 1963-1987. When we visited, I don’t remember hearing or seeing any Welsh. A lot of parents didn’t want their children speaking Welsh because it was seen as limiting their chances of Uni or qualifications.
The proud dad I met in a Cardiff bookshop, so happy that his son could understand a simple reader in Welsh - he was unusual. Most di-Gymraeg in those days didn’t give a jot for the language. I do think we, as a nation, have gained confidence with y Senedd!