https://www.duolingo.com/Beau861

Are there Welsh speaking monoglots?

Just curious and it doesn't really matter, but I've always heard that quite literally everyone speaks English in Wales, which always seemed believable and made sense to me, but I've have read conflicting accounts and comments on other message forums here and there that in certain areas there are indeed people who speak only Welsh. Don't know if anyone here happens to know the truth of the matter. Again, I know it just a trivial question, but I would find it fascinating if there were Welsh monoglots in the 21st century.

September 7, 2017

15 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/garpike

I have heard these stories too. Any remaining monoglots are likely to be very old, however. It would require a very specific set of circumstances to live the most part of one's lifespan to now in the U.K. without knowing any English. I can't imagine that very many at all have.

September 7, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/flootzavut

^^^ this. I think in a majority Welsh speaking town/village and if one only worked with other Welsh speakers (farmers? stay at home parents?) then it might be possible to be a Welsh-speaking monoglot, but I'm pretty sure it's a rare exception, because there's just so much exposure to/necessity for English even in the remoter parts of Wales.

Bear in mind also that spoken Welsh was actively discouraged/even punished (especially in schools) for a long time. Holding on to one's native tongue despite persecution might be a reason to not stop speaking Welsh, but I should think it would have made it very difficult to genuinely not speak any English...? I would imagine one might need to be old enough to have missed out on compulsory schooling...

I would be fascinated to hear of any real-life examples, though.

September 7, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/ElizabethBell02

As someone who is half Welsh, has Welsh speaking grandparents, and regularly visits Wales, I have a pretty good idea what the answer to this question is. There are no Welsh speaking monoglots! There are many people who prefer to speak Welsh, however. Certain places, particularly places in South Wales, are extremely Welsh, and nearly everyone in these places speaks Welsh, but despite this, these Welsh speakers (from my experience) always have perfect English. There may be a very small minority of people who are not fluent in English, but this is a VERY small minority. Roadsigns in Wales are in Welsh and English, and in some schools, the whole education is in Welsh, making Welsh very important in Wales, but still, since English is 'the language of the world,' everyone in Wales speaks it as well as Welsh.

September 7, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Yottskry

It's interesting you say "particularly places in South Wales", as I'd always thought it was more likely to be North Wales where Welsh is more popular. Or perhaps it's because when I think of South Wales, I think of Newport and Cardiff (because I visit there from Somerset quite often) rather than further West?

November 8, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/ibisc

Genrally speaking, Welsh is spoken by a higher proportion of the population in the western parts of Wales than in the eastern parts. This shows the position according to the 2011 census.

It is also worth noting that the numbers of Welsh speakers in England has gone up, particularly due to increasing numbers of younger people moving around for education and work reasons. I saw an estimate of about 150,000 recently, although I am not sure of the source.

November 8, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Happylingo4

That is a good question. I remember being told back in the 90s that many elderly people in Welsh speaking communities (mainly north west) could only speak Welsh but I would be surprised it that was still the case. I imagine that most people under say 60 would be bilingual but may be wrong. Perhaps some members here who live in Wales could tell us. I would be interested to know that as well.

September 7, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/ibisc

Some young children in Welsh-speaking families and areas have little need for English and may not meet it very much until they take an interest in English-language TV and books, etc, or go to school at age 4-ish and start to learn it as a second language. So yes, there are some monoglots among the very young. They pretty quickly become bi-lingual, though.

However, people who do not use English regularly, even if they may be thought of as being bi-lingual, may not always be as comfortable using English as they are when using Welsh. It varies quite a lot by area and by age as well as by a particular family's linguistic background and by personal experience and interests.

September 7, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Beau861

Thanks for the replies, everyone! It's quite an interesting dynamic that the language has with the people. I'm not Welsh, but it's in my ancestry (and my last name) so it's cool to know that there are still places in Wales where children "learn" English later on as a second language rather than Welsh being their second language. I thought it was unlikely that pure monoglots exist (except for small children as it's been said.) I've sometimes heard English comedians in stand up routines riff about the Welsh language and how it's silly that people are clinging on to it, but I hope the revival the language is said to have had this past century continues. I know a lot of people these days don't care about history and heritage, but I'll be rooting for it.

September 7, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/rmcode
Mod
  • 1560

There are cases of people who have suffered some sort of head trauma, especially strokes, losing their English completely and effectively becoming Welsh monoglots.

This can be a big problem in areas of Wales where there are few Welsh speaking health and care workers.

And also bizarrely this :- http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-20801334

September 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Mel211619

I'm half Welsh, half Scottish! The situation seems similar, in parts of Scotland there are Gaelic speaking communities where older and very young residents are monoglots, but this is gradually changing to mainly "bilingue" speakers.

September 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/SFFCorgi

You'll notice the further away from the borders you get, the more Celtic it remains - in Scotland, it's more on a diagonal, NW < SE but Wales and Ireland it's more W < E. Poor Cornwall, though.

April 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/PietroScor3

According to this guy (http://turbolangs.com/es/gales-historia-curiosidades-razones-aprender-lengua-celtica-gales/), there are no more Welsh monoglots. It's in Spanish unfortunately, but in the section called "Curiosidades sobre el gal├ęs" you can see an interesting chart about it. There were monoglots in 1981, not anymore as of the 1991's Census. He has drawn his data, though, from "A statistical overview of the Welsh language, Feb 2012", in case you'd like to have a look at the full report.

March 25, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/MouPeMantissa

I'm half Welsh. I've had some teachers and friends who speak Welsh as their first language, but I don't believe there are any monolingual speakers. There's currently a large, ongoing project to revive the language and I've even heard of people being allowed a year's paid leave so they can go and learn it. I hope it doesn't get to a point where there are monoglots, though; I feel like it'll create a barrier that doesn't need to be there.

September 8, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Yottskry

"I've even heard of people being allowed a year's paid leave so they can go and learn it." I wonder if I can get my employer to do this... in Somerset :D

November 8, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/SFFCorgi

There is always a good argument for being multilingual rather than monolingual, but I can point you at plenty of people on both sides of the Atlantic who do not seem to understand this concept and wave flags instead.

April 18, 2018
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