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

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    (Original post by RJ555)
    Only really deep into North-east wales I'd say (like you said caernarfon turf), north-west wales may aswell be a county of England, apart from road signs of course! :p:
    The other way round ... perchance :p:
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    Im a fluent Welsh speaker from the North who went to very Welsh schools and got taught all the history from a young age.

    For me, on a personal level, being Welsh is more about the place itself (or more specifically the mountains in Snowdonia National Park) than it is about the language or the history. The physical, natural part of Wales and the places in which i grew up are more important to me than the Welsh people themselves. I dont think having the language is needed for the sense of pride or identity.

    And I tend to steer clear of most issues involving the question of Nationalism. I dont want to be associated with the kind of people that graffiti Saeson allan! (English out!) on the sides of peoples houses :mad:
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    bumming sheep
    harrrrrrrrd like
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    Welsh is not officially a nationality, not anymore than say Cornish or Hebridean for example.

    What is strange is that Wales has such a strong identity but movements for independence are actually quite undeveloped compared to other similar European regions.
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    (Original post by SamTheMan)
    Welsh is not officially a nationality, not anymore than say Cornish or Hebridean for example.
    Why does a national consciousness *need* an official stamp? And who gives it?

    (Original post by SamTheMan)
    What is strange is that Wales has such a strong identity but movements for independence are actually quite undeveloped compared to other similar European regions.
    Because those movements for independence make an incorrect first assumption which is this: being Welsh means speaking Welsh. 250,000 people ain't going to make Wales independent.
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    (Original post by halfoflessthan50p)
    And I tend to steer clear of most issues involving the question of Nationalism. I dont want to be associated with the kind of people that graffiti Saeson allan! (English out!) on the sides of peoples houses :mad:
    To be fair, I'd say that's an unfair assumption of nationalist ideals. It's a little harsh to judge politics by its basest followers - and there's nothing more base than a teenage welsh speaker who brandishes a Cymdeithas yr Iaith sticker that he got from the Eisteddfod*, reads 'y Golwg' once in a while and thinks he's part of some radical welsh nationalist ideal.

    (Original post by Adorno)
    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.
    I would say this problem goes both ways. The employees being banned from speaking welsh at work in Thomas Cook is only the tip of the iceberg I'm afraid: I've experienced times when self centred folk think I'm talking about them, and have asked me to speak English-only in their presence. Also, if you go on the website for the Welsh Book of the Year award, the focus is mainly on the english language winner, Grace, Tamar and Laszlo the Beautiful, and there's not much mention for the welsh winner (already recognised as a classic in literary circles, I'm told), Petrograd. Staying with literature, my local branches of Borders and Waterstones cram the Welsh language books into the store's most hidden corners, and in HMV, it's nigh on impossible to find a welsh language music CD. Sure, there is less choice, but here too there is no equality.

    The WAG point is valid and unfortunate, but the Eisteddfod is a central event in Welsh language culture that has no opposite in the english language**. And the library signs seem to cheap PR more than anything - Cymdeithas yr Iaith - an abhorrant organisation - argue for a Welsh language act, but they get cheap propoganda moves like signposts. They don't decrease the value of english language culture in the country, they simply patronise the welsh speakers.

    *The fact that Cymdeithas yr Iaith are given a stand at the Eisteddfod is one of the many, many reasons I dislike the event. They are selfish, self interested, affluent men who from their bedrooms and basements try and influence 'political activism' in welsh speaking teens. They'll protest if you sneeze in english.

    **You could argue the Royal Welsh, but that is a bi-lingual affair.
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    (Original post by trachimbrod)
    I would say this problem goes both ways. The employees being banned from speaking welsh at work in Thomas Cook is only the tip of the iceberg I'm afraid: I've experienced times when self centred folk think I'm talking about them, and have asked me to speak English-only in their presence. Also, if you go on the website for the Welsh Book of the Year award, the focus is mainly on the english language winner, Grace, Tamar and Laszlo the Beautiful, and there's not much mention for the welsh winner (already recognised as a classic in literary circles, I'm told), Petrograd. Staying with literature, my local branches of Borders and Waterstones cram the Welsh language books into the store's most hidden corners, and in HMV, it's nigh on impossible to find a welsh language music CD. Sure, there is less choice, but here too there is no equality.
    Borders in Cardiff??? There's a large Welsh section (with a fairly big Welsh language section) on the upper floor, you have to go past it to get to Travel, History, Foreign Languages, Literature in the Original, and Politics. It's right next to the Starbucks too, it's hardly "out of the way". :p: In Waterstones its bang smack in the centre of the ground floor.

    What annoys me is that there are people who do that and assume that because you communicate primarily in English you don't know what they're saying. It's rude, inconsiderate, and fairly surely done to antagonise.

    As for music: yeah but that's the nature of HMV. It's bad enough trying to find some decent music in there let alone trying to get it in a different language. Spillers is a bit better.

    -----

    On the subject of the Eisteddfod. If the Assembly is helping to fund it then the Assembly loses legitimacy and credibility. It's wrong and really should stop. They are the Welsh Assembly Government, which means they represent the whole of Wales: not the Welsh-speaking minority. I should think economic regeneration of the Valleys - RCT is the second most populous county in Wales after all - comes up on a higher priority than some invented tradition. That £470,000 p.a. would do a lot of good to people who need it.

    http://wales.gov.uk/topics/welshlang...ddfod/?lang=en
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    (Original post by Adorno)
    Why does a national consciousness *need* an official stamp? And who gives it?
    Well you need to tell that to Basque separatists. What's so important about having a state that is recognised as being one and having an official nationality and citizenship recognised by all international bodies?

    (Original post by Adorno)
    Because those movements for independence make an incorrect first assumption which is this: being Welsh means speaking Welsh. 250,000 people ain't going to make Wales independent.
    Then again, if you start deciding that speaking Welsh isn't such a big deal, then you should question why so many people speak English. Isn't the English language, the official language of the UK, a sign that Wales is firmly part of the UK and would simply be turning its back on part of its identity by seeking independence?
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    (Original post by Adorno)
    The other way round ... perchance :p:
    Haha, yes, I always get West and East mixed up!
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    (Original post by Adorno)
    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!
    Your post sounds more a description of 'South-Walian' identity rather than Welsh identity.
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    It's an identity - it's simply a matter of self-identification. There is no objective standard of Welsh identity - and Welsh culture is simply that which is practised by Welsh people. Wales is a place named after the Welsh people.

    (Original post by Adorno)
    Why does a national consciousness *need* an official stamp? And who gives it?
    Agreed. It's like saying 'bisexual isn't an official sexual orientation'. Who cares?

    (Original post by SamTheMan)
    Well you need to tell that to Basque separatists. What's so important about having a state that is recognised as being one and having an official nationality and citizenship recognised by all international bodies?
    I don't think they need their own state to tell them they're Basque any more than a racist needs the state to tell him what race he is. They are nationalists - for ideological reasons, they seek to be ruled only by 'their own' people.

    Isn't the English language, the official language of the UK
    The UK does not have an official language. It does, however, regularly use English - as well as Welsh, Gaelic and Irish for official purposes - although of course English predominates.
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    (Original post by MSB)
    Your post sounds more a description of 'South-Walian' identity rather than Welsh identity.
    And? South Wales contains the vast majority of the Welsh population and if "national identity" is grounded in the majority sentiment then that is how it is. I'm South Walian, so that's what being Welsh signifies to me. But pray tell me, what's "North Walian"? What I said could apply equally to mining villages such as Point of Ayr or Rhos in North-East Wales.
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    (Original post by SamTheMan)
    Well you need to tell that to Basque separatists. What's so important about having a state that is recognised as being one and having an official nationality and citizenship recognised by all international bodies?
    Again, who grants it? You didn't answer that first of all...


    (Original post by SamTheMan)
    Then again, if you start deciding that speaking Welsh isn't such a big deal, then you should question why so many people speak English. Isn't the English language, the official language of the UK, a sign that Wales is firmly part of the UK and would simply be turning its back on part of its identity by seeking independence?
    But language isn't the fundamental factor and never has been in Wales. Being an English-speaking Welsh person doesn't preclude you from being Welsh at all. That's my point: Welshness isn't defined by speaking Welsh and nor is it defined by speaking English either.
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    I'm 100% Welsh and cant do anything more than say 'I like coffee' in Welsh. English is the new Welsh baby!
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    (Original post by Adorno)
    And? South Wales contains the vast majority of the Welsh population and if "national identity" is grounded in the majority sentiment then that is how it is. I'm South Walian, so that's what being Welsh signifies to me. But pray tell me, what's "North Walian"? What I said could apply equally to mining villages such as Point of Ayr or Rhos in North-East Wales.
    And a large part of Wales does actually exist beyond the Brecon Beacons. Your dismissal of the Welsh language as part of the Welsh national identity becomes much harder to swallow as soon as you venture out of the valleys in the south to areas which have a substantial proportion of first language Welsh speakers.
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    (Original post by L i b)
    I don't think they need their own state to tell them they're Basque any more than a racist needs the state to tell him what race he is. They are nationalists - for ideological reasons, they seek to be ruled only by 'their own' people.
    I never said that they need a state to tell them who they are. They need and want a state for recognition and, as is often a big drive for nationalists with a chip on their shoulder, to show two fingers to the rest of the country (Spain in this case).


    (Original post by L i b)
    The UK does not have an official language. It does, however, regularly use English - as well as Welsh, Gaelic and Irish for official purposes - although of course English predominates.
    It doesn't have an official language because it doesn't have a written constitution but it's more or less an official language because of language requirements for most uses.

    (Original post by Adorno)
    Again, who grants it? You didn't answer that first of all...
    Who grants statehood and citizenship? Ultimately the international community. If noone wants to recognise your state then de facto, it doesn't exist.
    It's one thing to say you're this or that nationality to your neighbours down the road to show because of a need to show you're different. It's another to have international recognition.
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    (Original post by MSB)
    And a large part of Wales does actually exist beyond the Brecon Beacons. Your dismissal of the Welsh language as part of the Welsh national identity becomes much harder to swallow as soon as you venture out of the valleys in the south to areas which have a substantial proportion of first language Welsh speakers.
    Well I'm glad you ignored me talking about North-East Wales and decided to reel off the usual "oh it ain't alf hard being from North Wales" spiel. Is English a fundamental part of South Walian culture? No, because language is not a fundamental part of national identity in any circumstance. Speaking German, for example, doesn't make Austrians feel German!
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    (Original post by Adorno)
    Borders in Cardiff??? There's a large Welsh section (with a fairly big Welsh language section) on the upper floor, you have to go past it to get to Travel, History, Foreign Languages, Literature in the Original, and Politics. It's right next to the Starbucks too, it's hardly "out of the way". :p: In Waterstones its bang smack in the centre of the ground floor.

    On the subject of the Eisteddfod. If the Assembly is helping to fund it then the Assembly loses legitimacy and credibility. It's wrong and really should stop. They are the Welsh Assembly Government, which means they represent the whole of Wales: not the Welsh-speaking minority. I should think economic regeneration of the Valleys - RCT is the second most populous county in Wales after all - comes up on a higher priority than some invented tradition. That £470,000 p.a. would do a lot of good to people who need it.

    http://wales.gov.uk/topics/welshlang...ddfod/?lang=en
    Hate to make you feel as if you're being attacked from two sides, but a lot of this is, for want of a better word, hogwash. For starters, there are more books on Jewish Theology than there are Welsh language books in Borders. For a major bookshop in the Welsh capital to miss out on something so important for a minority as literature, you would think to be a big mistake, but no one seems to bat an eyelid. The same goes for Waterstones, where they are in the middle of the shop because they don't need a proper shelf to hold the selection - there's so few books there. It's a trivial matter, but it's something of importance. Someone in my family is a fairly well known welsh language novelist, and whilst smaller bookshops like the WJEC shop and Caban stock his work, his publisher has to try and bend over backwards sell his books to these big chains - they should be wanting these titles! If they stock them they will be bought.

    On your point on the Eisteddfod, I understand the Valleys isn't getting the regeneration it deserves, but you seem to be deflecting blame from the Welsh Assembly Government to the welsh language community. I'd hasten to mention that goverment money doesn't work in the way that you take it out of one thing and are able to put it in the other - the money received from funding the eisteddfod wouldn't necessarily go back into creating jobs and regenerating the worst areas of RCT. Furthermore, you seem to disprove an earlier point made that welsh and english speakers think similarly, as you plainly ignore the benefits of the Eisteddfod. In a Britain bereft of youth clubs, it gives the children of wales - and those of RCT - something to build up for and look forward to. And Urdd don't leave it there either, they're genuinely great at developing and, using Assembly money, PAYING FOR activities for children including football clubs, daycare, trips abroad, summer schooling. And it's not just for welsh language kids either - you can speak engish and join. I myself think that the Eisteddfod is a nauseating, self perpetuatingly cringeworthy event, but I wouldn't doubt its social and community credentials for a second.

    (Original post by Adorno)
    Well I'm glad you ignored me talking about North-East Wales and decided to reel off the usual "oh it ain't alf hard being from North Wales" spiel. Is English a fundamental part of South Walian culture? No, because language is not a fundamental part of national identity in any circumstance. Speaking German, for example, doesn't make Austrians feel German!
    To be fair, you weren't really 'talking about' Nort East-Wales. You merely named a few places. I also realise you have a trend in referring to the Welsh through mining - far from ignoring the steel works and aspects of welsh culture that have been explored, it could be perceived as a backward comment made about yesterday's Wales. The Wales of the Kinnock "NO" vote, the Wales of no regeneration whatsoever, the Wales Ned Thomas speaks eloquently and angrily about in his excellent The Welsh Extremist. It's up to you to decide which Wales you preferred - and I would like to know your answer - but purely on the subject in point ie. 'what makes a welsh person welsh', the mention of coal mining is not relevant to everybody. Having family from Cardiff, the Valleys and West Wales, I have a long history of mining in my family, but I don't feel it's relevant to who I am now - only on the matter of who it was that made me, and how I got here; a fascinating theme on which another thread should be dedicated.

    I think it's a little naive of you to suggest that language has nothing to do with culture 'in any circumstance'. It's already been referred, wrongly or rightly, as being a tool to enhance nationalism. Furthermore, the protest over the right to a Welsh language channel would suggest that I am not alone in thinking language has an importance in Wales - why else would we want a channel? Here, it's less about heritage than it is about good sense. A population of people speaks welsh ergo it makes sense to put welsh signs up so that they don't feel marginalised - like you said, so that they feel as if they have an equal stand linguistically.

    On your joke at the end about Germans and Austrians, do you really feel that the Austrians would've been so eager to enact Anschluss if they all spoke French? I think language has a lot to do with it.
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    (Original post by trachimbrod)
    Hate to make you feel as if you're being attacked from two sides, but a lot of this is, for want of a better word, hogwash. For starters, there are more books on Jewish Theology than there are Welsh language books in Borders. For a major bookshop in the Welsh capital to miss out on something so important for a minority as literature, you would think to be a big mistake, but no one seems to bat an eyelid. The same goes for Waterstones, where they are in the middle of the shop because they don't need a proper shelf to hold the selection - there's so few books there. It's a trivial matter, but it's something of importance. Someone in my family is a fairly well known welsh language novelist, and whilst smaller bookshops like the WJEC shop and Caban stock his work, his publisher has to try and bend over backwards sell his books to these big chains - they should be wanting these titles! If they stock them they will be bought.
    What I said is true rather than hogwash if you don't mind. Our difference lies in how much we both consider to be enough. I think you have to remember that Borders, Waterstones, HMV, and all the other big chain stores are (essentially) English companies. Go into Waterstones in Edinburgh and you'll only find a tiny Gaelic section so it's not like it's just Welsh that's afflicted. It's a problem of capitalism and sales rather than linguistic imperialism and it'd be damn sight better of the Welsh-language community to treat it as such.

    (Original post by trachimbrod)
    On your point on the Eisteddfod, I understand the Valleys isn't getting the regeneration it deserves, but you seem to be deflecting blame from the Welsh Assembly Government to the welsh language community. I'd hasten to mention that goverment money doesn't work in the way that you take it out of one thing and are able to put it in the other - the money received from funding the eisteddfod wouldn't necessarily go back into creating jobs and regenerating the worst areas of RCT. Furthermore, you seem to disprove an earlier point made that welsh and english speakers think similarly, as you plainly ignore the benefits of the Eisteddfod. In a Britain bereft of youth clubs, it gives the children of wales - and those of RCT - something to build up for and look forward to. And Urdd don't leave it there either, they're genuinely great at developing and, using Assembly money, PAYING FOR activities for children including football clubs, daycare, trips abroad, summer schooling. And it's not just for welsh language kids either - you can speak engish and join. I myself think that the Eisteddfod is a nauseating, self perpetuatingly cringeworthy event, but I wouldn't doubt its social and community credentials for a second.
    That's all well and good but they're not funding the Urdd. And frankly, if they wanted to fund youth clubs there are better ways of doing it that funding an organisation started by fascists! [I refer here to Saunders Lewis - who was one or (rather) a sympathiser].


    (Original post by trachimbrod)
    On your joke at the end about Germans and Austrians, do you really feel that the Austrians would've been so eager to enact Anschluss if they all spoke French? I think language has a lot to do with it.
    See, it wasn't a joke and I think you are patronising me to suggest it was. It was a serious point. The Anschluß really is not a relevant point at all. And if language were so fundamental, would Germany wish to join with the German-speaking Cantons of Switzerland, to Liechtenstein, to the German-speaking regions of Poland now? Do these areas consider themselves to be German in the sense of national consciousness??? Heck, you might make a case for the French Canadians, except they don't consider themselves French they consider themselves to be Quebecois or Acadian.

    To suggest that the Welsh language is a fundamental aspect of Welsh national consciousness is to disenfranchise anglophone Welsh people and is historical revisionism at its worst.
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    I would agree that you don't need to speak Welsh necessarily to be considered Welsh (considering that English has been a part of Wales for ages) but language is most certainly one of the most important parts of ethnicity. Not the only part but certainly a legitamite and significant part.
 
 
 
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