Ingi Birchell Hughes lives in a Welsh village and is learning Welsh, and she didn’t like a piece in the Grauniad:
Last week the Guardian published an odd mean little article about how 5 boxes of Scrabble yn Gymraeg had been lingering unsold on a dusty shelf in Waterstones in Carmarthen.
It was a master class in invalidation — implying, without ever stating, that the reason they hadn’t sold must have been either a lack of Welsh speakers who like to play board games — fitting into the ‘Welsh people are thick’ trope, or worse, a general lack of Welsh speakers, fitting into the ‘Welsh is a dying language’ trope.
I don’t know about you, but most people into board games buy them online. And just so you know most Welsh speakers and learners in Carmarthenshire, who are perfectly able to shop online by the way, are more likely to buy books and other items in the Welsh language from Siop Y Pentan — which happens to also be in Carmarthen. Welsh speaking people have got so used to not having their needs catered for, that they are probably quite surprised that boxes of Welsh Scrabble are to be found in the Carmarthen branch of Waterstones. These are quite possibly, apart from Welsh language course books, the only items Yn Gymraeg in the entire shop.
She describes some of the problems she’s encountered learning the language, e.g.:
Wales is a bilingual country but English is the default language in supermarkets, shops and public spaces. If I go to Germany, and shop in a German supermarket, all the products will be labled German, all the the conversations I have with the checkout person or shopkeepers will be in German. Here in West Wales everything bar occasionally eggs and some milk, is labelled in English. You rarely get immersed in the language in public spaces. If I want to practise my Welsh I can try it out in the chemist — and I have found several chemists more than willing to help me practise. However discussing health matters in your second language is uncomfortable and an irony not lost on me.
Nothing spectacular, but an interesting read.