The languages closest to Welsh are believed to be Breton, Cornish and the extinct language known as Cumbric.
By 1911, the Welsh language had become a minority language with just under 50% of Welsh people able to speak Welsh.
Even though the Romans had invaded and owned <?xml:namespace prefix =” st1″ />Britain, when they retreated Wales was then what is now known as England.
If the Welsh language was able to withstand all that history of invasions, what is its future?
The future of the Welsh language seems to be dying out, with less and less people in Wales actually able to speak Welsh.
In recent years, surveys and census’ shows that there is approximately only 19% of the Welsh population that confesses to speaking their country’s language.
The Welsh language is mainly spoken in the North and West of Wales but also in some towns and villages along the English West Coast border and also in Argentina, in a place called Y Wladfa.
Although all these places speak Welsh fluently, there are few places that speak Welsh compared to the amount of people whose main tongue is English.
The Welsh language is currently compulsory in primary and secondary schools; this sometimes is seen as increasing awareness of the Welsh language but once young people finish GCSE year they tend not to use the language and therefore the whole process starts again.
So why is it that young people don’t speak Welsh?
From personal experience as a young child I was always expected to go to a Welsh primary school although my parents didn’t speak Welsh. Later on, my parents started night school to learn Welsh in order to help us through primary school but they found learning Welsh at the age of 40 pretty hard and decided that it was going to be to confusing for me to go to a Welsh school and come home to an English speaking home.
Most young peoples’ parents sometimes face that decision and that stops a young person being taught fluent Welsh and therefore the young person does not profess to be a Welsh speaker purely because of the fact they cannot speak fluently.
So what’s next?
There are now courses being held around Wales for beginners, intermediates and advanced Welsh speakers. This means that parents can go to classes and become an almost fluent speaker allowing them to send their young children to a Welsh school – increasing the number of Welsh speakers.
Where could it end up if this doesn’t happen?
Welsh language could end up like the language of Cumbric.
Cumbric became extinct in the 12th century. The Welsh language is a strong language but even though it will take many many years before the possibility of it becoming extinct, if more people are not willing to learn, use, speak the Welsh language, we could lose one of the oldest parts of our heritage: our language.
Related Article: Clarkson: Welsh Language Should Be Abolished