Friday, 24 August 2007

"There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come." - Victor Hugo

The Campaign for an independent Cymru

Campaign -
to fly the flag of Wales and not the Union flag
Campaign - to celebrate Welsh national holidays
Campaign - to give recognition to Welsh battle sites
Campaign - to rectify the wrongs in the constitution
Campaign - to bring in a new Welsh Language Act
Campaign - to demand a Parliament for Wales
Campaign - to review funding issues for Wales - Barnett
Campaign - to revert to the true place-names of Wales (only one, no 'translations')
Campaign - to reject "Britishness" and all its forms and disguises

Which campaigns do you support in order of priority?
The time is ripe to talk up independence and fuel the debate.

I would like you all to share the comments of one of our most ardent supporters.
With thanks to Jacky for his thoughtful contribution.............
Jacky said...

Very fascinating question, since all of these in some fashion are essential to eventual devolution as is occurring in Scotland-- but how to prioritize? Among these, I'd place high priority of course on a Parliament for Cymru, as this seems to be a critical vehicle in analogous fashion for Scotland-- with independence albeit taking years to unfold.

But you're right to place such emphasis on cultural factors, since a focus on political independence w/o considering the cultural background would represent an empty, watered-down version of actual freedom. This is an argument that I use (to splendid effect) against the Quisling sympathizers with English imperialism within Ireland, who want to downplay the importance of the Irish Gaelic language and drone on with that stupid argument about "better national priorities." (An argument made even lamer by the fact that Celtic language promotion would cost no more than a few tens of millions of Euros more-- when the US and Britain gleefully piss away billions of Euros every week while being defeated in Iraq.) The forefathers of today's Irish, Welsh and Scottish people fought bitter battles against the English to ensure the survival of their Celtic languages and culture, made even more essential by the fact that the British Isles and Ireland are really the only places where Celtic language and culture still flourish. Whatever happens to individuals in a particular generation, it's the culture that persists through the centuries, and the English imperialists cannot kill the Celtic spirit unless they stamp out the Celtic languages and culture. All the more reason for the Welsh, Irish and Scottish peoples to celebrate and promote their cultures even more.

I would certainly give high priority to the Welsh language act, since promoting the retention and advance of the Welsh language has a tendency of strengthening everything else about Welsh culture that makes it so distinctive.

The key is the youth, since it's the younger generation's attachment to the language that enables it push forward. And a Welsh language act would help to incentivize the retention and active use of the language, just as for example the formal recognition of Irish Gaelic by the EU has greatly increased the prestige and economic value of mastering Gaelic.

As I wrote earlier, sponsoring and supporting an indigenous Welsh-language film industry (along with Scottish Gaelic and Irish language industries) is key to making broader adoption of Welsh feel more natural, the same way that Bollywood has helped to propel
Hindi and other Indian languages to superiority over English in India.

Helping also to promote more popular music in Welsh would be a valuable strategy. I've been surprised at the irony here, in that the Celtic peoples around England excel at music and song, as exemplified by the Celtic origins of e.g. Paul McCartney and John Lennon among others-- yet too often, talented Irish, Scottish and Welsh performers hesitate to perform in their own languages. General promotion of e.g. Welsh, Irish and Gaelic music can help to alleviate this, expedited by the natural beauty of these languages for song!

Along similar lines, immigrants to Wales should be strongly encouraged to learn the Welsh language. This is something that Ireland has been getting smarter about, making it clear to immigrants that while they can start out with English skills, over time, they will be expected to learn and embrace the Irish Gaelic language as the cultural heart of Ireland. Once again, this pride in the native language and culture helps to strengthem them not only among the native population, but among outside figures as well.

Thus along similar lines, after the Welsh language act, I'd definitely put high priority on emphasizing the Welsh place names, and the emphasizing of Welsh identity instead of faux "British" identity. Similar with Welsh national holidays and battle sites, as you say-- all of these things point to an elementally distinct Welsh culture and celebrate it, and this cultural independence is the precursor to political independence.

On the matter of surnames many in Wales are reverting to the Welsh form of nomenclature :
e.g. Rhun ap Iorwerth, Pedr ap Ioan etc..

12 comments:

Jacky said...

Very fascinating question, since all of these in some fashion are essential to eventual devolution as is occurring in Scotland-- but how to prioritize? Among these, I'd place high priority of course on a Parliament for Cymru, as this seems to be a critical vehicle in analogous fashion for Scotland-- with independence albeit taking years to unfold.

But you're right to place such emphasis on cultural factors, since a focus on political independence w/o considering the cultural background would represent an empty, watered-down version of actual freedom. This is an argument that I use (to splendid effect) against the Quisling sympathizers with English imperialism within Ireland, who want to downplay the importance of the Irish Gaelic language and drone on with that stupid argument about "better national priorities." (An argument made even lamer by the fact that Celtic language promotion would cost no more than a few tens of millions of Euros more-- when the US and Britain gleefully piss away billions of Euros every week while being defeated in Iraq.) The forefathers of today's Irish, Welsh and Scottish people fought bitter battles against the English to ensure the survival of their Celtic languages and culture, made even more essential by the fact that the British Isles and Ireland are really the only places where Celtic language and culture still flourish. Whatever happens to individuals in a particular generation, it's the culture that persists through the centuries, and the English imperialists cannot kill the Celtic spirit unless they stamp out the Celtic languages and culture. All the more reason for the Welsh, Irish and Scottish peoples to celebrate and promote their cultures even more.

I would certainly give high priority to the Welsh language act, since promoting the retention and advance of the Welsh language has a tendency of strengthening everything else about Welsh culture that makes it so distinctive.

The key is the youth, since it's the younger generation's attachment to the language that enables it push forward. And a Welsh language act would help to incentivize the retention and active use of the language, just as for example the formal recognition of Irish Gaelic by the EU has greatly increased the prestige and economic value of mastering Gaelic.

As I wrote earlier, sponsoring and supporting an indigenous Welsh-language film industry (along with Scottish Gaelic and Irish language industries) is key to making broader adoption of Welsh feel more natural, the same way that Bollywood has helped to propel
Hindi and other Indian languages to superiority over English in India.

Helping also to promote more popular music in Welsh would be a valuable strategy. I've been surprised at the irony here, in that the Celtic peoples around England excel at music and song, as exemplified by the Celtic origins of e.g. Paul McCartney and John Lennon among others-- yet too often, talented Irish, Scottish and Welsh performers hesitate to perform in their own languages. General promotion of e.g. Welsh, Irish and Gaelic music can help to alleviate this, expedited by the natural beauty of these languages for song!

Along similar lines, immigrants to Wales should be strongly encouraged to learn the Welsh language. This is something that Ireland has been getting smarter about, making it clear to immigrants that while they can start out with English skills, over time, they will be expected to learn and embrace the Irish Gaelic language as the cultural heart of Ireland. Once again, this pride in the native language and culture helps to strengthem them not only among the native population, but among outside figures as well.

Thus along similar lines, after the Welsh language act, I'd definitely put high priority on emphasizing the Welsh place names, and the emphasizing of Welsh identity instead of faux "British" identity. Similar with Welsh national holidays and battle sites, as you say-- all of these things point to an elementally distinct Welsh culture and celebrate it, and this cultural independence is the precursor to political independence.

Jacky said...

BTW Alan, I'm curious about your experience in terms of the prevalence of "Celtic surname reclamation." In North America for example, I've noticed an increasing number of ethnic Irish and Scottish people changing their surnames away from "Anglicisms" of Celtic names back toward their originals in the Celtic languages themselves.

For example, some Donovans are taking on the original Ó Donnabháin surname again. The Duffys become Ó Dubhthaigh, the McNamaras become Mac Conmara, the Ryans become Ó Riain, Sullivan becomes Ó Súileabháin, Tierney becomes Ó Tighearnaigh and so forth. Is this also happening back in the British Isles themselves?

It seems like an important development in my opinion, since it represents a breaking free of the cultural prism through which the imperial power, i.e. England (and the Normans) saw the Celts whom they intended to conquer, and instead has the Celtic peoples reasserting their identity.

This, in conjunction with promotion of the Celtic languages, seems an essential step to reclaiming the Celtic culture so long suppressed by the English.

Would be great news to hear if this gathering steam.

Besides, IMHO the Celtic originals always sound much better and sweeter than the rather lazy Anglicizations of the names.

Jacky said...

Just one last deep thought for me here, on the promotion of language issue-- as Welsh, Irish and Scottish Gaelic all gain at the popular level among the Celtic peoples within the British Isles and among the Diaspora, a key to conferring prestige status is to ensure that the Celtic languages are also used in academic papers, technical bulletins and other "high-level publications."

I have encountered some academics who have hesitated doing this at first due to concerns about visibility, but I've seen two clever methods by some Celtic academics and scholars to move away from the English stranglehold in their publications.

(1) Many will write abstracts for their papers in English (or in French or German) but provide the main body of the text in e.g. Welsh or Gaelic. So long as a respected peer review community coalesces in the native countries themselves, the best and most rigorous academic articles pass muster and are translated to other articles as needed.

(2) The second method, which I find to be very clever, is to adopt the "Samuel Beckett technique." Beckett was Irish and he wanted to publish his works in a widespread prestige language. However, rather than using English-- with all its associated colonial baggage-- Beckett did an end-run around it and published in French, which also gained wide attention but without the background associated with English. From there, Continental writers became interested in publications provided in Irish Gaelic itself due to Beckett's prestige, which in turn boosted interest in the use of Irish Gaelic as a vehicle itself.

In emulation of Beckett, as one of my more scholarly friends explained to me, some Irish and even Scottish writers, scientists, engineers and other scholars and professionals-- as a way of declaring linguistic independence from England, while simultaneously gaining attention for their articles in an international prestige language-- have taken to publishing their work in either German or French, often with Celtic-language manuscripts side-by-side.

German and French of course, like English, also have a widespread readership and extensive use in academic and professional journals with peer review, so these authors are able to advance their careers and get their ideas noticed internationally, without simply kowtowing to Anglo expectations.

This is a classic technique used by oppressed peoples in many parts of the world, enabling themselves to gain broad attention while thumbing their noses at their oppressors. Interestingly, many writers in India have also used this technique when writing in a European language-- because of the still bitter and painful history with England, and especially considering the English refusal to remotely apologize for the tens of millions of Indians killed by English imperialism (and the wealth looted out of India), many Indian writers balk at the prospect of writing their major works in English. So many use German or French instead, to an excellent reception by their broad readership.

Jacky said...

Also FWIW, such linguistic diversity among the "prestige languages" can also help in the Celtic language revival. One of my professors called this "the minority language protection effect"-- minority languages tend to better if their speakers have more than one choice for an international language in which to operate.

That is, if an engineer in e.g. Dublin or Glasgow wants to publish a paper-- but is concerned about the erosion of the Irish and Scottish Gaelic languages at the expense of English-- then he or she can help this cause by publishing in German or French and confirming their role as equal prestige languages with English.

Obviously, English isn't going to be top dog much longer, with Chinese (and possibly Spanish and Japanese) joining German and French as global alternatives. But since there is such a long and honored tradition of Celtic writers using German and French, as Beckett himself did so cleverly, this is one way to circumvent the "prestige language problem" that educated, ambitious writers in colonized nations have had to overcome.

The presence and use of multiple international prestige languages, in turn, provides some extra breathing room for Welsh, Irish Gaelic and Scottish Gaelic to revive.

Je peux ecrire cette article en Francais, oder ich kann auch auf Deutsch leicht schreiben-- I can, in short, make use of several international alternatives to maintain a kind of "linguistic balance of power" that avoids too much pressure on Celtic languages from English. And since German and French are both not too difficult to learn and use, it's easy to switch back and forth for different types of articles.

alanindyfed said...

Jacky - Please send me your contact details so we can keep in touch.

Jacky said...

Hello Alan, I've actually got the Y chromosome thing going on but no problem-- the gender of "Jacky" I guess is a tough one to guess on at the outset, blame my old university friends with a quirky sense of nicknaming humor. :)

I'm at tamoshanterNOSPAM999@yahoo.com (just remove the NOSPAM for the address). My schedule's a tad unforgiving nowadays which is why I comment sporadically, but always like to hear of your own ideas on these topics.

PS an interesting footnote here: an old ethnic Scottish friend of mine in Nova Scotia (the only other land outside of Scotland where Scottish Gaelic has been heavily spoken, I suppose) has said that some of the engineering types there, have actually taken to writing some of their articles in the German language (and occasionally in French), as I'd been noting earlier.

For technical journals at least, as far as prestige language status goes, German is in some ways even higher than English, while French is still a very important international language for other purposes.

Again, it's a way of saying that English is hardly the only game in town as far as communicating professional scientific, policy, social and diplomatic work to an international audience. German (especially for technical applications) and French (for diplomatic, political, social tracts) both have this international prestige status, and they're decent alternatives to the millions of Celtic professionals across the globe who want a broad audience, yet want to ensure the kind of international linguistic diversity that provides breathing room to minority languages like Welsh and Gaelic.

And the best part-- alongside publishing their articles in German or French (maybe one day in Chinese the way things are looking these days), the diversity of the linguistic map then helps to open up interest in native-language vernacular journals for Gaelic and Welsh. A nice way to go forward, I'll agree. :)

Anonymous said...

Campaign - to fly the flag of Wales and not the Union flag
- I'm already doing it so the campaign is irrelevant.

Campaign - to celebrate Welsh national holidays
- Again, its already happening- you don't need a public holiday to take a holiday!

Campaign - to give recognition to Welsh battle sites
- Only the ones where Wales won, or all of them? Personally, I would like to see the Battle of Chester 616 recognised as the most important battle to effect Wales. This is the start of Wales as we now know it. Before this, Wales went up to Scotland and we all spoke Brethonic, not Welsh!

Campaign - to rectify the wrongs in the constitution
- What constitution? Are you going back to Rhuddlan for this one?

Campaign - to bring in a new Welsh Language Act
Don't think so, it would be easier to just ban enterprise and all sign on or work for the public sector!

Campaign - to demand a Parliament for Wales
- Yes, I like this idea, but not if it would just an excuse for the socialists to try their daft experiments with a whole country.

Campaign - to review funding issues for Wales - Barnett
- Tax lowering powers and the creation of wealth within the country would remove the need for any funding!

Campaign - to revert to the true place-names of Wales (only one, no 'translations')
- This is the daft one. Most places in Wales have English and Welsh names with dubious pasts. Unfortunately, in most cases, its the Welsh which is the imposter. In other cases, both the Welsh and English names are many hundreds of years old, such as Mold, and Cardiff.

Campaign - to reject "Britishness" and all its forms and disguises
True Britishness is to reject Englishness,
- Hywel Dda, King of Wales in the 10th century, was also known as King of the Britons so to reject Britishness is to reject your past - nuff said, as they say!

Anyway, I'm sure you'll delete this post - free speech is normally only allowed for people who agree with you!

alanindyfed said...

Consider it deleted.
Most of your comments are pretty nonsensical anyway.

Guto ap Caradog-Jones said...

Caerdydd was known and written as Kerdiff in the middle ages (1100 ish) which supports anons point about the falsehood of having just the current Welsh place name to describe an area!

alanindyfed said...

Obviously they couldn't spell, could they?
We all know "Caer" is a fortified city!

Guto ap Caradog-Jones said...

Actually, I checked out Mold as well and Anon's right again!

To quote Wikipedia:
The name Mold originates from the Norman-French "mont-hault" (high hill), and is recorded as "Mohald" in a document of 1254. The Welsh name of Yr Wyddgrug is recorded as "Gythe Gruc" in a document of 1280-1, and comes from the words "Yr" (the), "gwydd" (tomb, sepulchre) and "crug" (mound

Looks like there is more to this Englishisation claim than meets the eye!

alanindyfed said...

Still don't know what you're both trying to prove (possibly that Wales doesn't exist?)
Yr Wyddgrug suits me fine, Mold doesn't have the same ring to it.