Aran shared some fascinating research with me earlier that’s been carried out in the The Netherlands with people who are learning their minority language West Frisian. The researchers produced a poster looking at some of the reactions they have experienced from first-language speakers (that they might have found a bit off-putting), and how there might be different ways of understanding those. I thought it was so in keeping with the forum’s ethos of trying to understand different people’s points of view, and these are all reactions I recognise from talking to people learning Welsh.
The English is a little stiff (it’s been translated from the Dutch), but I think it gets its message across nonetheless. I hope it might be helpful to some of you:
(And thanks very much to Aran for pointing it out!)
Yup, that poster is spot on - and very familiar from my experience too.
In my experience - on both sides, as learner and as fluent speaker - this seems pretty much true for every language!
Except with some - like when learning English, there’s often no backup to switch to, so you just have to keep on trying!
That’s a great poster - very helpful. Thanks for sharing.
I’m in Malta on holiday at the moment, and Maltese has similarities with Welsh in terms of its status and use. Like Welsh, it doesn’t have a huge number of speakers, and most Maltese people also speak English so switch to it easily. Like Welsh in Wales, Maltese is taught in schools, but apparently Maltese-speaking kids still frequently switch to English in the playground. A poster in an exhibition about the language in the archaeology museum in Valletta made this excellent point, which I think applies to most minority languages:
A national sore point is that we tend to speak to our children in English and it has become common practice, which in itself is a discredit to our own nation. People need to understand that bilingualism is actually an advantage and in no way does it hinder the education or development of our children or our nation. Dun Karm Psaila’s own words, our national poet, still resonate - "Love foreign languages, if it benefits you, but do not renounce your own”.
I was inspired by the example of Euskadi (Basque) in an episode of S4C’s Stori yr Iaith, which seems to be thriving now, and is proudly spoken by younger people too.
Yep, this is great. Thanks for sharing!