Thursday, 7 February 2008

The Future for the Welsh Language

Website for future of Welsh language

Feb 7 2008 by Tomos Livingstone, Western Mail

A UNIQUE online attempt to take the debate on a new Welsh Language Act away from “anoraks” was launched at Westminster yesterday.
A website,, is based on the hugely successful Wikipedia, a cyber encyclopedia that anyone can edit or amend.
Wiki Deddfu is the brainchild of Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams, who hopes the new format will encourage discussion of an issue – language legislation – that has too often been the preserve of academic experts and pressure groups.
rrent legislation only obliges the public sector to provide services within the medium of Welsh, and there are constant complaints that the 15-year-old Act is now out of date. But small businesses in particular are resistant to the idea of extending it to the private sector.

The new website will have Welsh-language and English-language versions running side by side, and Caernarfon MP Mr Williams said he was prepared for the possibility that the two sites may end up having very different content.
He said, “I want to see contributions from English speakers, they don’t seem to be particularly involved in the debate at the moment. It will be interesting to have the debate in English; at the moment it goes from ‘nobody speaks Welsh around here’ to ‘will it cost twice as much?’”
The site is also a recognition that many Welsh speakers are now “young and urban”, he added, and may have fewer opportunities to use and discuss the language than those living in the rural north and west.

Earlier this week a report commissioned by Mr Williams suggested the creation of a Language Commission with the power to take cases to court if language legislation is contravened.
The website will be open for three months, and could be adapted to encompass other policy areas a later date. The web address – “deddfu” is Welsh for “to legislate” – is deliberately wide-ranging for that reason.
Wikipedia, the model on which the site is based, has proved hugely successful since it was launched in 2001. It now has more than 9m articles on an enormous range of topics, and still allows anyone to contribute – although it now has an army of checkers as it tries to secure a reputation for accuracy.
The name comes from the Hawaiian work “wiki wiki”, which means “quick”.
The Wiki Deddfu site is the latest effort by politicians to use the internet to provoke policy debate. Labour MP for Rhondda, Chris Bryant, has set up interactive sites to discuss teenage pregnancy and at least five MPs have their own blogs.

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