Friday, 2 July 2010

David Mitchell's Soapbox on Gaelic

I’m a big fan of the comedian Dave Mitchell whose tendency to go in to long rants on panel shows, somehow matches my own sense of humour. And I have been following him regually in the Guardian. However I was disappointed with his feature “David Mitchell Soap Box” on the Guardian Website.* However I’ll allow him the benefit of the doubt in that has a comedian being controversial is part of the job. Though he was just wrong on every front.

*If you can’t see the Video try You Tube here” but read the comments.

However itis the comments that really interested me. One would expect the readers of the Guardian webpage to have liberal-progressive viewpoint. However the comments are nearly all negative about minority languages and if you exclude right wing infiltrators you can get some of the idea of the British-Left-Liberal position on this.

I’m sure many readers of this Blog who support devolution and the Welsh Language will not be surprised and have been frustrated by this position over the years. I’ve met people on the left over the years, who have supported IRA and ETA violence in support of a United Ireland and Basque Independence whilst condemning Plaid and The SNP for being “separatists”.

Similarly there are some so called progressives who will talk endlessly about the plight of indigenous people in the Americas. Who have at the best indifference to the Welsh Language and at the worst downright hostile.

Not all on the British Left share these views however. I remember in my student days at Coleg Harlech finding some English students having more sympathy for Wales and the Language than the Welsh Labour members Neil Kinnock was very much in charge then..

What David Mitchell and many detractors of minority languages fail to realise is that even for those of us who do not speak these languages they provides us with a sense of identity and a understanding of our culture.many Non-Welsh speakers derive pleasure from Welsh Language music and have pride in the increasing bilingualism in our public and private sector. and whilst we may fail to learn it fluently, we can help to ensure that future generations do not lose out by ensuring they have the opportunity to be educated in our native languages.

That is why I am pleased that Helydd Fychan has been posting in Welsh lately even if it means that I have to use google translate (Which improves all the time) to get the gist of her post. and hopefully mean that more people will post in Welsh without translation and we non-speakers have a simple means of reading it.

But google translate doesn’t work perfectly yet Helydd Fychan translates as "Hebrides Vaughan”


  1. "Hebrides Vaughan" - I like that - Ynysoedd Heledd of course in the Hebridies in Welsh and Vaughan is an archaic spelling of Fychan wh's pronounciation has changed too from the time that 'gh' was actually pronounced as 'ch' by English speakers.

    You're right of course about many on the British Left. Especially dissappointing from someone like Mitchell who I'm very fond of. Your points on the language, even for non-speakers, being an important part of their identity is also an important one. And yes, googletranslate means that more people can post more stuff in Welsh - I googletranslate articles from Dutch, French, Catalan etc and it's quite good.

  2. Do you speak Mitchell?