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A Question On Nationality: What Makes A Welsh Person Welsh? Watch

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    Yesterday at the pub - okay, there probably isn't a worse way to begin a thread than that, but what the hell. Yesterday at the pub me and my friends had a discussion on wether a new pub that has opened in Cardiff, Y Cadno, has pretentious values or not. Some argued Y Cadno ('The Fox' in English) was marketing itself as a Welsh pub, when in fact the sole welsh staff there were two of my friends who have summer jobs there - the management is English language. The flipside to the argument was that the mere fact that it was a pub in Wales that sold real ale from the Wye Valley (et cetera, et cetera) made it a Welsh pub, and it was possible to be Welsh without the linguistical element.

    Like this thread opening, it was a rather meandering and ill informed argument, but it boiled down to a question of nationalism which continues to divide opinion amongst basically everyone I know who has an opinion on the matter. That is, is a welsh language speaker more welsh than an english speaking-only welshman?

    The answer "yes" can be found when the argument is simplified, boiled down and looked at one dimensionally. After all, welsh speakers tend to have a greater sense of belonging and heritage than english speakers - bought about by nationalism in schools more than anything else, probably. Furthermore, they have a lot more to fight for, and have had a lot more to fight for through history - a welsh language bill, the s4c, the right to first language schooling. This is not to say that english speakers have not fought for these elements also, rather that they probably matter a lot more to welsh speakers. You could similarly argue that nationalism is embedded in the welsh language as, through history, in literature, music and art the politics of nationalism has cast an enormous shadow on welsh language culture - take Datblygu's "Can I Gymry", Dafydd Iwan's "Yma O Hyd", the poetry of Waldo Williams. It's a simple case of the way of thinking that becomes with being a welsh speaker: it is inherently more welsh than an english speaking one.

    On the other hand, the answer "no" can also be discovered by redifining the somewhat lazy definition of welshness seen above. After all, does being welsh necessarily mean being a Plaid voter, a Pobl Y Cwm fan, a member of a choir, a drinker of Brains Beer, etc.? The assumption is laughable - and one that is seen far too much by self counscious welsh speakers who segregate themselves from others in middle class ghettos (in Cardiff, at least). Does being welsh therefore mean knowing your place in history? To know about the chartists and Llewelyn the Great and Owain Glyndwr - is that what makes a welsh person? This idea, like the others, can be seen as valid or aburd. One the one hand to know your heritage shows a sense of belonging to a nationality, but on the other hand it is a scholarly matter, and is increasingly becoming so. Is being welsh therefore just to have Wales' best interests at heart? Is Leanne Wood, the english speaking AM for Plaid Cymru, therefore as welsh as Adam Price, the welsh speaking MP for Plaid Cymru? Is Neil Kinnock who voted no in the referendum for independence as welsh as my parents who voted yes? After all, all three of them thought they were doing what was best for the country.

    So what do you think makes a welsh person welsh? This theory could be branched out to other countries of course, but as I had a drunken discussion on the above argument just last night, it felt most relevant to speak about that.
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    A Welsh person is one who is either born on Welsh land, or to a Welsh parent.
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    seriously, learn to bullet point!!
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    sheep and gethin jones
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    There is such a big debate on this and I did an essay on it last year for my Welsh history module in my first year. It is hard to say if one person is more 'Welsh' than another but as for what makes somebody Welsh its all about issues of identity. It can be explained as straight forward as just being born or living in the country or it can be explained in more depth surrounding the issues of national identity 'National Identity' or 'Welshness' is all about what Wales is associated with from its history, politics and popular culture and if somebody can relate to/participate in certain aspects under these then they often refer to themseleves as Welsh.
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    (Original post by Adorno)
    x
    ^ He'll be the best person to address this question.

    BTW I don't think it is any of those things, its the way you feel. Its that feeling when Wales scores in the Rugby. Its that feeling when you hear the National Anthem. Its that feeling when you see a welsh flag and so much more. It is the culture and quite frankly has nothing to do with language. Or which political party you support. Or what beer you drink. Although liking rugby and sheep is a must :p:

    On a side note Leanne Woods is excellent, especially on question time.
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    I would say that you don't have to a Welsh speaker to be considered Welsh because English has been such a dominant language in Wales for quite a long time. I do think however that just being born in Wales doesn't make you Welsh. Heritage and culture are important.
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    The only one who can decide someone's nationality is themselves. Therefore a Welsh person is someone who claims themselves to be Welsh.
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    If when walking past a field full of sheep you get a strange stirring in your trousers, then you know you're a Welshman. Either that or an Ozzie or a Kiwi...


    But in all seriousness, national identity is a very tricky issue, especially in the UK where you have a multitiered series of national and regional identities with much of their roots formed around the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the subsequent thousand years or more in fact.


    As an aside, by far the majority of people who would otherwise be considered 'Welsh' are in fact 19th and 20th century immigrants. With the development of the Welsh coal fields huge numbers of largely English immigrants piled into the Principality, and then of course after WWII you had another influx of IIRC largely Italian immigrants, and of course my grandparents who happened to be German and Polish...
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    The horrible accent
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    The question of "Welshness" is a particularly vexed one and not one that is obviously answerable since Wales doesn't have the trappings of nineteenth-century 'nationalism' that mark a number of other countries such as Scotland or Ireland. In many ways this is a good thing because it enables us to define what Welshness is on an on-going basis rather than simply by reference to an invented tradition a la Scotland. But I suppose I'd start by musing the conclusion reached by historian Gwyn Alf Williams (from Dowlais) who stated, in 1985, that for Wales to survive, Britain must die. Now, you look at that and wonder what he means: is he being anarcho-nationalist like Plaid tends to be or is he pointing to something more fundamental about being Welsh. To me, it is the latter for reasons I'll get to in a minute.

    Now, I've spotted in this thread the casual trappings of 'Welshness': rugby, sheep, and the Language. The first two, yeah fine. The last one: uh uh. The Welsh language is but one of the languages of Wales to which you must add English but you can easily add Polish, Italian, and Flemish for these have all played a part in the development of Wales over the centuries. The focus & belief that a speaking ability in Cymraeg is a marker of Welshness is complete twash since it is, for the most part, an invented tradition as well.

    This brings me neatly to Gwyn Alf's point. Wales doesn't have a totally unique identity. Its love of rugby is barely 100 years old. The Edwardian high noon of rugby began in 1905 with the victory over New Zealand. By 1950 there were more soccer pitches in Wales than rugby ones (save in the Valleys). 1905 marked the coming of age of rugby union and two years later in 1907 three teams left the WRU to form rugby league sides. Welshness derived from rugby is, and I say this quite brazenly, only a valleys thing.

    But what does separate us from 'the English'? For me, what separates the Welsh from the English is something that derives from Wales's long-standing economic poverty. We are a nation built on community spirit and whether it was an unemployed community rallying round to build a playing field in the 1930s or the solidarity of communities during the 1984/85 miner's strike that's what it meant to be Welsh. It doesn't matter whether you're a Lib Dem, Plaid, or Labour: people stick together on this side of the Severn in a way that they kind of don't across the border.

    This communal spirit, I think, is borne, yes, out of the economic position Wales has typically found itself in but also simply from the fact that we are a working-class nation. And that, as Nye Bevan used to say, is my truth: now tell me yours!
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    (Original post by trachimbrod)
    Yesterday at the pub - okay, there probably isn't a worse way to begin a thread than that, but what the hell. Yesterday at the pub me and my friends had a discussion on wether a new pub that has opened in Cardiff, Y Cadno, has pretentious values or not. Some argued Y Cadno ('The Fox' in English) was marketing itself as a Welsh pub, when in fact the sole welsh staff there were two of my friends who have summer jobs there - the management is English language. The flipside to the argument was that the mere fact that it was a pub in Wales that sold real ale from the Wye Valley (et cetera, et cetera) made it a Welsh pub, and it was possible to be Welsh without the linguistical element.

    Like this thread opening, it was a rather meandering and ill informed argument, but it boiled down to a question of nationalism which continues to divide opinion amongst basically everyone I know who has an opinion on the matter. That is, is a welsh language speaker more welsh than an english speaking-only welshman?

    The answer "yes" can be found when the argument is simplified, boiled down and looked at one dimensionally. After all, welsh speakers tend to have a greater sense of belonging and heritage than english speakers - bought about by nationalism in schools more than anything else, probably. Furthermore, they have a lot more to fight for, and have had a lot more to fight for through history - a welsh language bill, the s4c, the right to first language schooling. This is not to say that english speakers have not fought for these elements also, rather that they probably matter a lot more to welsh speakers. You could similarly argue that nationalism is embedded in the welsh language as, through history, in literature, music and art the politics of nationalism has cast an enormous shadow on welsh language culture - take Datblygu's "Can I Gymry", Dafydd Iwan's "Yma O Hyd", the poetry of Waldo Williams. It's a simple case of the way of thinking that becomes with being a welsh speaker: it is inherently more welsh than an english speaking one.

    On the other hand, the answer "no" can also be discovered by redifining the somewhat lazy definition of welshness seen above. After all, does being welsh necessarily mean being a Plaid voter, a Pobl Y Cwm fan, a member of a choir, a drinker of Brains Beer, etc.? The assumption is laughable - and one that is seen far too much by self counscious welsh speakers who segregate themselves from others in middle class ghettos (in Cardiff, at least). Does being welsh therefore mean knowing your place in history? To know about the chartists and Llewelyn the Great and Owain Glyndwr - is that what makes a welsh person? This idea, like the others, can be seen as valid or aburd. One the one hand to know your heritage shows a sense of belonging to a nationality, but on the other hand it is a scholarly matter, and is increasingly becoming so. Is being welsh therefore just to have Wales' best interests at heart? Is Leanne Wood, the english speaking AM for Plaid Cymru, therefore as welsh as Adam Price, the welsh speaking MP for Plaid Cymru? Is Neil Kinnock who voted no in the referendum for independence as welsh as my parents who voted yes? After all, all three of them thought they were doing what was best for the country.

    So what do you think makes a welsh person welsh? This theory could be branched out to other countries of course, but as I had a drunken discussion on the above argument just last night, it felt most relevant to speak about that.
    Which pub were you at?
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    (Original post by *MJ*)
    Which pub were you at?
    The Butcher's Arms in Llandaf.

    (Original post by Adorno)
    But what does separate us from 'the English'? For me, what separates the Welsh from the English is something that derives from Wales's long-standing economic poverty. We are a nation built on community spirit and whether it was an unemployed community rallying round to build a playing field in the 1930s or the solidarity of communities during the 1984/85 miner's strike that's what it meant to be Welsh. It doesn't matter whether you're a Lib Dem, Plaid, or Labour: people stick together on this side of the Severn in a way that they kind of don't across the border.

    This communal spirit, I think, is borne, yes, out of the economic position Wales has typically found itself in but also simply from the fact that we are a working-class nation. And that, as Nye Bevan used to say, is my truth: now tell me yours!
    Great post. However I think your eloquent argument on the working class, community spirited, tightly knit Wales and Welshness is becoming all too irrelevant in some areas, and though I'm Cardiff. There, most welsh speakers - forgive my generalisations - are quite affluent and middle class, and unfortunately for them to be welsh is to speak welsh, is to be able to write a 'cynghanedd', is to have been to the Eisteddfod and seen Meic Stevens. Though this is true, I guess the overall answer is that nationalisation is a feeling inside oneself, so to ask for a definiton is a little foolish. Nevertheless, the differences between your and my communities' definitions are quite startling. I just can't tell wether it's ugly or not.

    Also, I disagree slightly with your view that the language plays no part in being welsh. In north Wales it's an especially large part of there culture, especially in poorer areas like Caernarfon, where it is seen as a proud emblem of unity. Or so I'm told!
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    (Original post by trachimbrod)
    The Butcher's Arms in Llandaf.
    Nice but you wanna head off to revvs in town mate!

    Wednesday night = student night

    Cheap drinks and a lot of people our age :woo:

    Head down there tomorrow if you aren't doing anything else...:yep:

    Have fun...
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    (Original post by trachimbrod)
    Great post. However I think your eloquent argument on the working class, community spirited, tightly knit Wales and Welshness is becoming all too irrelevant in some areas, and though I'm Cardiff. There, most welsh speakers - forgive my generalisations - are quite affluent and middle class, and unfortunately for them to be welsh is to speak welsh, is to be able to write a 'cynghanedd', is to have been to the Eisteddfod and seen Meic Stevens. Though this is true, I guess the overall answer is that nationalisation is a feeling inside oneself, so to ask for a definiton is a little foolish. Nevertheless, the differences between your and my communities' definitions are quite startling. I just can't tell wether it's ugly or not.
    Unfortunately, that's because Wales is undergoing a silent class revolution at the moment and people aren't standing up to it. The Middle-Class Cymrophones are taking over from the absentee Anglophones from London and Whitehall and it's really, really dangerous because it is completely anti what it means to be Welsh. At least to a valleys lad like me.

    (Original post by trachimbrod)
    Also, I disagree slightly with your view that the language plays no part in being welsh. In north Wales it's an especially large part of there culture, especially in poorer areas like Caernarfon, where it is seen as a proud emblem of unity. Or so I'm told!
    Yeah, but this is my point: being Welsh isn't speaking Welsh, it's about being Welsh, the two aren't the same thing. Or else large portions of the Welsh are disenfranchised from their own national consciousness. The Welsh language community - the Cymro Fascists as a lot of them are - need to realise that they're the ones who left the door open for the Tories to come back. Plaid in the 1990s propped up the dying embers of the Tory government in Westminster.
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    (Original post by *MJ*)
    Nice but you wanna head off to revvs in town mate!

    Wednesday night = student night

    Cheap drinks and a lot of people our age :woo:

    Head down there tomorrow if you aren't doing anything else...:yep:

    Have fun...
    I'm in London tomorrow, I'm afraid. I've been there the past two weeks though. Wednesday, obviously. The prices are just absurd. Pretty Pretty Bang Bang cocktails are nice though. I prefer Dempsey's or Clwb Ifor Bach really, but wherever my friends go I basically have to go because I lack the charisma. What school are you at?
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    (Original post by Adorno)
    Unfortunately, that's because Wales is undergoing a silent class revolution at the moment and people aren't standing up to it. The Middle-Class Cymrophones are taking over from the absentee Anglophones from London and Whitehall and it's really, really dangerous because it is completely anti what it means to be Welsh. At least to a valleys lad like me.



    Yeah, but this is my point: being Welsh isn't speaking Welsh, it's about being Welsh, the two aren't the same thing. Or else large portions of the Welsh are disenfranchised from their own national consciousness. The Welsh language community - the Cymro Fascists as a lot of them are - need to realise that they're the ones who left the door open for the Tories to come back. Plaid in the 1990s propped up the dying embers of the Tory government in Westminster.
    I guess that's the problem. In Cardiff, the rise of a middle class is seen as a great success, seeing how everbody who is now middle class is basically a success story who's come from out of town and made some money here. I would say it's an inferiority complex to suggest that the two can't live hand in hand. After all, is it that bad that Wales isn't a fully working class country any more? I'm sure we'd like our children to grow up in a less impoverished country. Though I understand the sense of community and togetherness that comes - somewhat - with poverty is evident in the Valleys, I think there's a different attitude altogether here. Like I said though, wether it's ugly or not, I can't tell.
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    (Original post by trachimbrod)
    I'm in London tomorrow, I'm afraid. I've been there the past two weeks though. Wednesday, obviously. The prices are just absurd. Pretty Pretty Bang Bang cocktails are nice though. I prefer Dempsey's or Clwb Ifor Bach really, but wherever my friends go I basically have to go because I lack the charisma. What school are you at?
    Sounds pretty good.

    Fitzalan and you?
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    (Original post by trachimbrod)
    In north Wales it's an especially large part of there culture, especially in poorer areas like Caernarfon, where it is seen as a proud emblem of unity. Or so I'm told!
    Only really deep into North-West wales I'd say (like you said caernarfon turf), north-East wales may aswell be a county of England, apart from road signs of course! :p:

    Edited for common sense.
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    (Original post by trachimbrod)
    I guess that's the problem. In Cardiff, the rise of a middle class is seen as a great success, seeing how everbody who is now middle class is basically a success story who's come from out of town and made some money here. I would say it's an inferiority complex to suggest that the two can't live hand in hand. After all, is it that bad that Wales isn't a fully working class country any more? I'm sure we'd like our children to grow up in a less impoverished country. Though I understand the sense of community and togetherness that comes - somewhat - with poverty is evident in the Valleys, I think there's a different attitude altogether here. Like I said though, wether it's ugly or not, I can't tell.
    Not all parts of Cardiff are like that though. Much of Cardiff is still as it was twenty years ago. Just distinct pockets such as areas of Roath (near the Park), Canton, etc that are middle class - largely because of a Welsh-medium bias in many middle class professions I might add.

    That's what I don't like about what's happening: Welsh and English are meant to be placed on an equal footing. They simply aren't. The W.A.G. sponsors, for example, the Eisteddfod. Find me an exclusively English-language event that they sponsor? I've been in the National Library this week and they've just reopened the north reading room. I got given a map of it. The Welsh language symbols are size 16 font, emboldened. The English language symbols are size 11 and italicised. Where's the equality? Like I said, it's a class project which seeks to delegitimise English-medium Welsh culture and it's entirely wrong.
 
 
 
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