Welsh is in the Incubator!
Excellent! A lot of people have been asking for it. It's good to see that minority languages are getting representation on Duolingo.
Incidentally, I opened the link twice in the space of a few seconds. In the first tab, the course has one contributor. In the second, it has two! It looks like you caught it being added before they were done.
While Irish and Welsh are both (Insular) Celtic languages, Irish is from the Goidelic group while Welsh is from the Brittonic group:
Insular Celtic languages are those Celtic languages that originated in the British Isles, in contrast to the Continental Celtic languages of mainland Europe and Anatolia. All surviving Celtic languages are from the Insular Celtic group; the Continental Celtic languages are extinct. The six Insular Celtic languages of modern times can be divided into:
the Goidelic languages: Irish, Manx, and Scottish Gaelic
the Brittonic languages: Breton, Cornish, and Welsh
So it's nice that we now have a representative from each group on duolingo.
I'm considering trying the Welsh course when it comes out and I have two questions to anyone who can answer them:
What is the current status of Welsh – how widely is it spoken, used in writing, taught in schools, does it suffer from traditional/learnt split like Irish, does it have spoken/written diglossia?
What are differences between Irish and Welsh? I'm mostly interested in grammar, but other features are interesting as well. All I know is that Welsh has saner spelling.
Also, good news: the TTS company Ivona has two Welsh voices, so we might not have to wait for recording as with, for example, Ukrainian.
Someone living in Wales may be able to give more detailed answers, but I'll have a shot:
Polls show that about 20% of the population of Wales claims to speak Welsh. That is self-reported, so no doubt some people do know the language, but don't think that they are "fluent" enough to claim to be speakers. The Welsh language has official legal protections, so things like laws, street signs, and official documents are published in both English and Welsh. Sometimes people have to fight for this, though. A couple of years ago there was a language activist who had to demand that he receive a Welsh language menu when he was in jail for some civil disobedience action. Welsh medium schools, where instruction is in Welsh, are very popular because they are perceived as offering better education, even by parents who do not necessarily care if their kids learn the language. There is a distinction between colloquial spoken Welsh and "literary Welsh" Formal documents and articles are in literary Welsh, which is basically the Welsh as written in the Morgan bible, translated in the 1600s. But much modern written Welsh is more like colloquial speech. If you visit online news sites, for example, the language is close to spoken Welsh.
Though they are both Celtic and share many characteristics, the similarities between Welsh and Irish are not obvious. In fact, it was not until the 1800s that linguists agreed that they were related at all.
I'm welsh (although I don't speak the language) and the fluency is more like 11% of the population. The language is very much pushed by the government who wish to improve the overall fluency but not sure they are having much success. I have never heard people say that the welsh schools are any better although in someways the welsh education system does have it's advantages but that goes for the english speaking ones in Wales as well.
Actually the latest Estyn (Welsh Schools Inspectors) report on language abilities of children showed that the skills in English of children in Welsh medium schools is significantly better than of children in English medium schools. This seems a contrary result to the expected but can be explained by the latest research into the important advantages in terms of enhanced brain development of bilingual (and multilingual) individuals compared with monlingual individuals.
Also the amount of money the Welsh government spends on promoting the language is an absolute pittance.
I think the truth is that nobody really knows if the right answer is 11% or 20% or something else, and it is probably impossible to know. It depends on how you ask the question, and what definition of fluency is used by the questioner (and by the ones being asked).
For example, there are plenty of people who speak perfectly workable Welsh who believe that they are not fluent because they don't speak "proper" Welsh and have not taken classes. They feel somehow that they don't deserve to claim that they are fluent. The irony is that many of them speak much better than others who have formally studied the language.
But whatever the real number is, it surely isn't enough, and it would be great to get the language past the tipping point where it could possibly die out.
I think it's not the best use of downvotes, when the post is just similar to an earlier one, especially as not everyone goes very far down the list of new posts - I read them as a way of having a break when changing languages, and often only look at the first half-dozen.
Welsh coming on is very exciting, I'm looking forward to reviving my childhood language, which I've sadly mostly forgotten.
My favorite word in Welsh: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. It is a town in Wales and the meaning of the name is “Saint Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near the rapid whirlpool and the Church of Saint Tysilio of the red cave”