Let's Do Our Best for the Ancient Tongue: The Welsh Language in the Twentieth Century

Let's Do Our Best for the Ancient Tongue: The Welsh Language in the Twentieth Century

Let's Do Our Best for the Ancient Tongue: The Welsh Language in the Twentieth Century

Let's Do Our Best for the Ancient Tongue: The Welsh Language in the Twentieth Century

Synopsis

The sixth volume of an authoritative series presenting a penetrating analysis of the social history of the Welsh language during the 20th century, comprising 21 essays by renowned scholars based on thorough research exploring the negative and affirmative aspects of the Welsh language in literary and religious, political and legal, educational and cultural fields.

Excerpt

As a result of sweeping demographic and socio-economic changes, during the course of the twentieth century the Welsh language lost its position as the predominant spoken tongue within the communities of Wales. Wider exposure to the English tongue and to Anglo-American culture has meant that the linguistic profile of Wales is much more diverse and fractured than it was a hundred years ago, and it remains to be seen whether the enhanced public status now enjoyed by the native language and its marked resurgence in urban communities, especially in south-east Wales, can adequately compensate for the loss of the age-old communal and territorial base in the heartlands. The reaction to these changes has been mixed and, long before Saunders Lewis broadcast his gloomy forebodings in 1962, the fate of the language had been a source of morbid fascination among the Welsh. Indeed, over the past century the Welsh language has revealed a curious capacity to generate, among Welsh speakers and non-Welsh speakers alike, indifference, scepticism, hostility, noble gestures and self-sacrifice. The aim of this volume, written from the convenient vantage point of the late 1990s, is to set the major linguistic changes which occurred in a variety of key domains within a broad social and historical perspective. We seek neither to sentimentalize nor weep over the world we have lost.

This collaborative research project has been one of the most challenging and rewarding enterprises with which I have been associated. On many occasions I have marvelled at the enthusiasm and good humour of the young research fellows who have formed the core of the project and whose findings have enriched both this and other volumes in the series. Their stimulating ideas and constant support have sustained my occasional flagging spirits and made the venture a happy and fulfilling experience. The team effort at the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies has received admirably robust support from a wide range of scholars from within the constituent institutions of the University of Wales and beyond, each of whom has been encouraged to offer complementary or different views according to his or her own particular expertise and perspective. All of them, and especially those who have contributed to this volume, are eager to join with me in thanking my fellow editor, Dr Mari A. Williams, for leading this . . .

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