How do Welsh speakers find each other?
As a Welsh learner who doesn't live in Wales, or have Welsh-speaking friends, but visits fairly regularly, I find it quite hard to practice when there. Last week's exchange in a cafe near Llanrwst was typical:
Me: Bore da!
Waitress: Bore da (laughing slightly nervously)
Me: Baned o de, os gwelwch chi'n dda
Waitress: Sorry luv, I don't speak Welsh
It strikes me that this must be even more soul-destroying for native speakers, if you're constantly failing to do basic business in your own language in your own country. How do you cope? Do you just press on regardless and have conversations like the above quite a lot, or are there subtle signs you pick up as to whether it's worth trying to speak Welsh to someone?
(I've noticed that some places have "Cymraeg" signs, but I've also noticed that these signs aren't always as prominent as they could be, the presence of them doesn't imply everyone employed there speaks Welsh, and absence of them doesn't imply nobody does...)
Just keep going with the excellent habit of starting (and ending!) every conversation in Welsh. Even in mainly English-speaking areas in the east if Wales you might expect a minimum hit rate of 10% in continuing in Welsh, more with younger people. In some western and central areas you might expect 90%.
Just keep going!
Mae 'na tudalen ar parallel.cymru lle dach chi'n medru ffeindio map o lefydd!
Diolch yn fawr, mae hwnna'n bwysig iawn! Bydda i'n yfed fy mhaned o de am "Blas ar fwyd" pan bydda i yn Llanrwst y tro nesa!
If you can travel to Wales regularly, it might be worth a shot trying to connect with speakers and other learners in Wales or nearby through social media and see if you can set up a time to met up at a cafe and someplace for an hour while you're there. I'm not on Facebook but I know there are Welsh learner groups on there, and you can just ask on Twitter using #Cymreag. There are actually quite a lot of Welsh speakers on Twitter.
Yes, it's a problem with Welsh being a minority language in most of the country. There is also this strange 'fear of Welsh', as your waitress perhaps suffered with. Basic business with strangers is usually conducted in English, though there is encouragement to start every conversation in Welsh. Most people classify people as Welsh or non-Welsh speakers, so always speak Welsh to those they know speak Welsh too. When you have been known as an English speaker and you meet again and start speaking Welsh you can see the confusion in people's faces. Stick at it, and people you meet will classify you as a Welsh speaker, even as a learner, just don't slip into English when you hit problems. If you stay in Welsh and gesture like mad, people will understand and you are often surprised by how much Welsh people who claim to have no Welsh have.
If you know when you are going and have a chance to plan ahead, there is a website called Say Something In Welsh which has a forum...with an events and meet ups category. It is full of ‘get together s’ just for a chat in Welsh. It’s worth checking it out!
Thanks for this suggestion, will check these out when next there! Good to see there are learner communities in both Machynlleth and Conwy where I've visited recently. Even an eye opener that there are meetups in both Shrewsbury, near my family, and Oxford, near my wife's! Would never have occurred to me to look for Welsh learners there. (Live in Sweden so regular practice at home probably isn't happening...)
...and I go to one in Leeds / just turn up and chat! Who’d have thought it !
I don’t know if you noticed but there is also an online get together capability - lots of people from around the world and the UK use it.
It’s free. The site tells you how to hook up.
A teacher of Welsh was also bothered by that exact situation. Her students would try to speak Welsh when out or when visiting the country and would get fairly much the response you did. So, she created a T-shirt to advertise yourself as a Welsh speaker/learner.
By clearly pointing that out, it's a conversation starter for other Welsh speakers and keeps the English speakers away. :-)