Power at Last to Legislate on Our 1,500-Year-Old Language; as the National Assembly Gains the Right to Make Laws Relating to the Welsh Language, Alun Ffred Jones Traces the Trials and Tribulations in the History of Our National Tongue

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), February 12, 2010 | Go to article overview

Power at Last to Legislate on Our 1,500-Year-Old Language; as the National Assembly Gains the Right to Make Laws Relating to the Welsh Language, Alun Ffred Jones Traces the Trials and Tribulations in the History of Our National Tongue


Byline: Alun Ffred

THIS week the long-debated Legislative Competence Order for the Welsh language appeared on the agenda of the Privy Council.

Its approval will at last open the way for Wales to frame its own laws for the language. And this in itself marks a significant step forward.

Nearly five centuries ago, Henry VIII's Statute of Wales in 1536 abolished official use of Welsh in the courts and declared that those using the language should not hold public office.

Yet in earlier times Welsh enjoyed a legal pedigree dating back centuries. The Law of Hywel, promulgated in Whitland around the year 930AD, was produced in Welsh with Latin adaptations; and was itself based on much earlier laws.

The language proved itself a flexible vehicle for social life, just as today it is an effective medium for mathematics, science and technology.

Even after conquest and subjection after 1282, Welsh law and the Welsh language continued in use alongside Latin, Norman French and English.

The attempt to stamp out official use of Welsh was all about politics - the desire to create a uniform kingdom with no challenge to central authority in the public life or religion.

English delegates to the 15th century Council of Constance expressed the view that "difference of language... by divine and human law is the greatest and most authentic mark of a nation and the essence of it".

That view permeated the views of the ruling class. The 1536 Act meant that English was installed as the language of the courts; with its preamble talking of the intention of "utterly extirpating" the "sinister usages and customs differing from those in use in England".

The eminent historian John Davies points out that this legislation did not necessarily mean the government was seriously set on abolishing Welsh as a spoken language.

In 1563 the bishops of Wales and Hereford were given four years to ensure Welsh Bibles and prayer books were available in every parish church in Wales.

This too was a politically driven decision, although taken more than a decade after hasty provision was made for the King's French-speaking subjects in Calais and the Channel Isles.

Making Wales a Protestant country at a time of religious strife was more achievable with a Bible in a language that the people could understand.

But the 1536 law, described as the "Act of Union" in the 20th century, set the tone for centuries of hostility or indifference by those in authority.

Of course the Welsh language lived on.

People got on with their lives and had to face the challenges that came with their infrequent dealings with authority. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Power at Last to Legislate on Our 1,500-Year-Old Language; as the National Assembly Gains the Right to Make Laws Relating to the Welsh Language, Alun Ffred Jones Traces the Trials and Tribulations in the History of Our National Tongue
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.