[LMB] Aral now war death stats

Carol Cooper carolcooper at shaw.ca
Thu Aug 4 19:20:04 BST 2011

Eric Oppen wrote
> Quoting Gwynne Powell <gwynnepowell at hotmail.com>:
> >
> >> From: "Carol Cooper" <carolcooper at shaw.ca>
> > Snips
> >> Wales was rather luckier in this respect - without the impetus of a
> >> political rebellion, there was no brutal military suppression of the
> >> language and culture.  However, from Victorian times onwards (once a
> >> comprehensive public education system was established) there were
> vigorous
> >> attempts to suppress the Welsh language.  Even as recently as when my
> >> grandmother was in school, kids who spoke Welsh on school premises
> (even on
> >> the playground) were punished.  Tough for kids who spoke Welsh as first
> >> language.  However, the reasoning behind it was a sincere conviction
> that if
> >> kids were to succeed in society they needed to be able to speak fluent
> >> English, and that kids who spoke only Welsh were at a disadvantage - so
> it
> >> was a paternalistic 'we know what's best for you' attitude at work.
> >>
> >> Fortunately the Welsh are a stubborn bunch and although the policy did
> have
> >> an impact on the number of Welsh speakers, the language has now
> rebounded
> >> and is the only vigorous, widely spoken survivor out of the Celtic
> >> languages.
> >
> >> Carol
> >
> > My father can remember listening to his grandmother singing in Welsh
> > as she sang the hymns in church. Everyone else was singing in English.
> FWIW, this sort of thing wasn't pure motiveless malice.  The younger
> you teach someone a new language, the more easily and thoroughly they
> generally pick it up.  Next door to me lives a Chinese lady whose
> daughter, when I met her, was a wee little mite who only spoke
> Mandarin and looked at me with big wondering eyes when I was able to
> speak to her in her own language.  She's now a grown woman who speaks
> perfect, fluent English and has retained her Mandarin b/c some of her
> older relatives never did pick up English.
> And speaking English did/does open many, many doors that would be
> closed to a monoglot Welsh or Gaelic speaker.  I stipulate that it is
> unfair, I acknowledge that Welsh and Gaelic are both great languages,
> I'm sad that they're in such a bad way, but I don't get to go back and
> single-handed rewrite history.

No, I pointed out that it was well-intentioned, but it was severely
misguided.  They weren't aiming to produce bilingual kids, but
English-speaking monoglots, and they tried to achieve it by beating kids for
using Welsh in the schoolyard when playing, not just when in class.  They
weren't attempting to simply achieve fluency in English - the suppression of
Welsh was an expressed goal.  By my mother's generation things had improved
a great deal, and although English was used in class, there were no
punishments for using Welsh at playtime.

Welsh isn't in trouble, actually - alone amongst the Celtic languages.
Scots and Irish Gaelic both have vanishingly small numbers of native
speakers and when I lived in Ireland although there was a lot of political
will to preserve Irish it looked to me like a language on artificial life
support.  In contrast recent studies show that about 50% of the Welsh
population claim to be able to speak Welsh as first (20%) or second (29%)
language. In recent decades there's been an upsurge in Welsh Schools where
the kids function entirely in Welsh (and of course like almost all Welsh
speakers they're fully bilingual).  Interestingly, recent studies have
revealed the Welsh schools to be amongst the most successful academically in
the country, and there's now huge demand to get kids into those programs.  I
think that may partly be down to the recognized benefits of learning a
second language early in life.

The method that most people seem to find effective in raising bilingual kids
is to have one parent consistently speak one language to the children, and
the other parent to speak the other language - at least for the first few


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