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Sunday, August 21, 2005

Welsh language boycott

I know that it is the silly season but this just takes the biscuit. Either Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg want Government organisations to use the Welsh language or they do not. They cannot have it both ways. Nor can they pull up the drawbridge and pretend that this will make Wales immune to terrorist attacks, it will not.
Under the Welsh Language Act, every document collected must first be translated from the original language - such as Arabic, Farsi or Dari - into Welsh, causing a headache for Whitehall mandarins.

From my experience as a Welsh speaker, providing forms etc in Welsh seems to be causing a headache for Cardiff mandarins in the Inland Revenue and the bosses of a majority of local Authorities in Wales.

The Western Mail would do well to highlight these cases of the Welsh Language Act being ignored in day-to-day matters, than trying to create a story out of nothing. Their article makes little sense.

Are the WM claiming that M15 opertate through a language other than English and that their documents are translated into English? If there are documents created in Farsi or whatever, surley these would contain sensitive information and wouldn't be for public consumption anyway.
My reading of the article was that the paper's angle centred on a refusal to co-operate by Cwmdeithas. However, you are right that the passages about the Welsh Language Act are confused and incoherent. As I understand it the Act requires public sector bodies operating in Wales to adopt a Welsh Language Scheme, it is not prescriptive as to how that scheme should operate.

The problems being encountered by some public sector bodies are entirely of their own making in my view. The Land Registry, where I used to work, for example, maintains a bi-lingual website from London using in-house Swansea-based translators. They also produce all their marketing material bi-lingually, their UK-applicable practice notes, their new training DVDs for solicitors and their press releases. They respond to Welsh language communications in Welsh and they deal with Welsh-only deeds. If they can do it then so can the Inland Revenue.

You posted a comment recently (in Welsh) on Leighton Andrews's web log suggesting that less time and money should be spent on translation:

"I would much rather see more money be spent to encourage more adults to learn Welsh than to translate every boring document the Assembly produces"

I agree that point-of-view. But you now appear to be contradicting yourself.

Leighton decided to translate my comment (which I can't find), but he did mis-translate it slightly (but I didn't like correcting him). What I originally said was that if there was only a limited amount to be spent on translating and measures to promote the language and a choice had to be made, then I'd rather see money towards subsidising Welsh for adults courses rather than translating all documents.

I commented in Welsh (only) as
Leighton's original post was bi-lingual which I took as in invitation to reply in Welsh. If an original post is in English only I only reply in English.
Still a contradiction.

You can view the post here:

Thanks for the link.

I still don't think I'm contradicting myself. Having said that, there is a difference between producing longwinded documents that are only of interest to civil servants/politicians and everyday forms/websites that the man on the street would use/view.
As Rhys says, the article is a nonsense, pure Nat-baiting. Being in favour of, even campaigning for, a piece of legislation doesn't automatically make you responsible for its enactment. This is like accusing Lib Dems of being hypocrits every time they walk past a dog turd on the streets of Cardiff without picking it up.

Sorry, I'm sure theres a better analogy in there somewhere. ;-)
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