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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The cost of bilingualism

Like most Assembly Members I support the Welsh Language and the rights of people to use it throughout Wales, without any sanction being imposed upon them. That is why the Welsh Liberal Democrats supported an amendment to the recent Welsh Language Measure to give English and Welsh equal status. Alas, Plaid Cymru failed to support this move.

Even the most ardent supporter of the Welsh language however, must acknowledge that there are legitimate questions to be asked about this latest news that the Welsh Government's Translation Unit is being bolstered by regradings and new recruits at a time when the rest of the public sector faces retrenchment.

The Western Mail says that "the head of translation was upgraded to head of translation service described in the ‘person spec’ from a Band F [post] to a Band G [post] in November. The post was advertised one day before the recruitment moratorium. The closing date for applications was September 28, 2010.

“Meetings have been held with current Assembly Government translation staff to discuss branch reorganisation and the creation of a new management band at Band F [Grade 7]. The new posts are to be advertised between now and the end of January 2011.

They add that staff in Band F earn between £44,000 and £54,400, while those in Band G are paid between £54,500 and £66,800. In addition they write in a separate article that as part of the Government's Welsh Language Strategy a new body is to be set up which will set standards for the language.

A National Standardisation Body will be charged with identifying correct terminology so that the Welsh language can be 'used with precision in the workplace.' Is it me or does that sound faintly sinister? It seems that once Plaid Cymru gets into power Big Brother is not far behind.

By all means give people the right to use Welsh and put in place mechanisms and networks to support its development but please, don't create a huge bureaucracy behind it. It is not necessary, it is expensive and it is difficult to justify when cuts to health, education, social services and other important services are dominating the agenda.
So what do you mean by Equal Status? It seems to me that what you are advocating ,is something akin to the "Separate but equal policy" of the Deep South of the USA, which claimed Black people were being teated equally:But in fact were second class citizens. It seems those who choose to use the Welsh Language are in the same sort of position under the Liberal Democrats idea of equality.
What utter tripe. As I said in the post equal status means that either language can be used in any circumstance without fear of sanction. That is completely different to your interpretation. However, you should not be able to force somebody to learn Welsh or use it when they do not wish to just as you should not be able to force somebody to use English when they would rather speak or write Welsh.
It's you whose talking tripe. I am a monoglot English speaker I do not have to ask or seek to use English. But Welsh speakers nearly always have to go out of they way to use the language whenndealing with officials. This is not equality.
Also can you explain how Plaid are betraying the Language with regards their timidity new measures(a point which I concede. And then accuse them of Big Brother tactics if they got into power?
It seems to me that if Plaid was in sole government and had proposed the new measures . The Lib-Dems would have opposed them as going to far.
That is my point. Equality means that Welsh speakers should not have to go out of their way to use their language in talking to officials. My argument is that the Welsh Language Measure did not deliver that. That is why Plaid Cymru have failed. I am not accusing them of Big Brother tactics because they are in power but because of what they are doing, vis-a-vis a National Language Police.
"National Language Police"? Don't you think that is a bit extreme/emotional/ridiculous? A standardisation body is nothing of the sort and using that kind of language to imply that uniformed offers with CS gas will handcuff and drag off to jail those who don't mutate their feminine singular nouns properly is the kind of tactic used by those who oppose the langauge at every turn. I don't always agree with you but I expected better.
Pam nad oes siaradwyr Cymraeg sylw yn y Gymraeg, gan fod y felltith Babel wedi cael ei godi gan Google cyfieithu. Efallai na fydd yn berffaith, ond gall pobl ddefnyddio eu hiaith gyntaf
Equality is not being told not to bother applying for a senior post at work which you have the experience and ability to do solely because you can't communicate in a different language (which has happened to me, more than once, since I don't speak Welsh).

Another matter, I gather that in health and education there are pften delays in effecting change in Wales because of the need to introduce such measures bilingually.

Many of us have long suspected that the welsh-language lobby's ferocious insistence on welsh (how many have, like me, sat through hours of meetings with translators present 'just in case' someone suse Welsh) was a case of jobs for the boyos - with the salaries you quote that is clearly so.
I wrote to the leader of the Welsh Conservatives on this issue: you can find my letter and his response linked below:

If Welsh is necessary for the post and you don't speak Welsh then you don't have the skills or experience needed for the post, anon. It is a skill and experience that you can gain by learning possibly through in-service training. Take the chip of your shoulder and learn the skills needed for promotion.

A Welsh Course is just the same as a First Aid Course, or a Management Skills Course, or a Marketing Course; if the job needs it you do it in order to get promotion, or you don't do it and don't get the promo– simple!

Incidentally it is the English language lobby that insists on bilingualism. Most of us in the Welsh language lobby would be quite happy with monolingualism, but are gracious enough to accept that that would be unkind to our non Welsh speaking friends who need the translation facilities that we can do without.
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