Thursday, 27 August 2020

Never mind place of birth , all in Wales are part of the future .

This appeared on Twitter  this week
I have a genuine question. 1) I feel more at home in Wales than I have anywhere else. 2) My grandmother was born in Wales. 3) I've lived here six years. 4) I'm about to embark on a year out to learn the language. 5) But...I was born in England. Can I call myself a Welshman?
8:01 PM · Aug 25, 2020Twitter for Android
To which I replied

Replying to
You only needed to refer to the first reference

OK it wasn't the best English " refer to the first reference", but the point was made.

There can be no better

I knew that grew up in Eltham, London, before moving to Aberystwyth, aged 18, to study, but always thought she had some ancestral connection with Wales, but her story is much more interesting

Writing in the Sunday Times and reproduced here. she tells us..

When you are the Westminster leader of Plaid Cymru’s MPs, some people make a couple of assumptions about you.
It is taken as granted that you will possess a Welsh ancestry of biblical extent, and that you will have been a monolingual Welsh speaker at least until the age of eight. It is assumed – depending on the degree of clichĂ© – that your family home will be in the shadow of either coal tips or sheep.
I must apologise for confounding these expectations. My pedigree is doggedly English. I was born, raised and educated in south east London with parents brought up in southern England. The Saville family has done a fair job of being rootless English middle class, while my mother’s family, the Noyes, were reliably settled in Salisbury and the villages of south Wiltshire.
Learning Welsh has been the single greatest cause of disruption in my life, diverting me from conventional career pathways, and unlocking doors to unexpected opportunities. It has motivated and rewarded me: not just the act of acquiring a second language, but the fact that being bilingual in Welsh and English brings with it a kaleidoscope of perspectives, experiences and revelations.
The reason why I learnt Welsh is a story about books. Bookishness is a family trait: my great-uncle wrote a series of stories for young adults, and my father’s parents kept bookshops. He would read Tolkein aloud to me. And then I discovered Alan Garner, whose The Weirdstone of Brisingamen led to Elidor, and then to The Owl Service.
I owe a debt of gratitude to Alan Garner, although I cannot read The Owl Service without cringing at the recollection of my teenage self, who found it both inspirational and terrifying. Garner centred the action of his 1967 novel in Bryn Hall, Llanymawddwy, Meirionnydd. It involves the interplay of three young people – two English incomers spending the summer in a grand holiday home and the Welsh-speaking son of the local housekeeper – caught up as unwilling actors recreating the tragic love triangle of the last book of the Mabinogi. At his best, Garner gathers up the threads of Celtic mythology, and remakes them into stories that haunt their modern landscapes. This was the story that drew me in. Then my father bought me the Everyman’s Library edition of The Mabinogion, translated by Gwyn Jones and Thomas Jones, for my fifteenth birthday. And that is what caught me fast: I went to University of Wales, Aberystwyth to follow Celtic Studies, which entailed learning Welsh and Irish, and, by the second year, writing faltering, error-ridden essays in Welsh.
Learning Welsh is little different to learning French. The language is awash with Latin loanwords, even though the underlying Celtic syntax survived the Roman invasion of Britain intact, with its verbs asserting their presence at the beginning of the sentence. Yes – you have to face up to the concept of linguistic characteristics which are fundamentally different to English: verbs conjugate across persons singular and plural, there are two forms of ‘you’, there are masculine and feminine nouns, there is an infinite number of ways to say ‘yes’ and ‘no’, plurals are multifarious and – horror of horrors – most consonants mutate according to rigorous grammatical conventions. But Welsh is a living language, and many Welsh speakers wouldn’t recognise the overly-academic linguistic explanations above – they’d just speak the language as it comes naturally.
Put the teenage literary escapism to one side, and what have been the experiences of a Welsh and English bilingual from south east London? It is a sense of belonging to a series of language communities opening outwards in ever-widening Anglo-centric circles and closing inwards to encircle and watch over the individual Welsh speaker.
English speakers have direct access to 20% of the world’s population, some 360 million of them using it as their first language. It is the most resourced language in existence. Speaking English is useful: in social, economic and political terms.
I may participate in the English-speaking universe, but in little sense does my tiny presence in that immensity equate to belonging. In a world where a sense of self and contribution falters in the face of constant mass communication, to be a Welsh speaker has personal consequences. It means belonging to a community where every speaker matters, where your choice to use or not use the language comes freighted with implications. As an individual, my belonging to a Welsh-speaking community carries a weight of responsibility, but, when compared to the insignificance of the individual English speaker in the wider English-speaking world, this responsibility is also the gift – or burden - of significance. Welsh bolsters the well-being of its speakers’ identity because all its speakers matter and are interconnected. In any conversation with a Welsh-speaker, we are at most three friends, acquaintances or family connections away from each other. And, critically, this is not a benefit solely accessed by birth right, this is simply a matter of choosing to participate in a language.
After years of learning Welsh at university, the choice had to be made between settling back in London and leaving the personal investment of linguistic competency behind and opting for conventional career comforts, or taking my chances in the Welsh-speaking communities of Gwynedd and Ynys MĂ´n. I scratched through an interview as a news reporter for the Holyhead and Anglesey Mail in 1990, and went from being a rootless observer of Welsh communities and dilettante student of the language to shouldering the dawning consequences of being Welsh.

Liz Saville Roberts MPThe Times

Liz has come to Wales and planted new roots where none where before and the result has been a spectacular contribution to our nation and its future.

I don't even argue for a form of   The cricket test, also known as the Tebbit test, w a controversial phrase coined in April 1990 by the British Conservative politician Norman Tebbit in reference to the perceived lack of loyalty to the England cricket team among South Asian and Caribbean immigrants and their children. Tebbit suggested that those immigrants who support their native countries rather than England at the sport of cricket are not significantly integrated into the United Kingdom.[1]

If you come to Wales and feel Welsh but still have a residue of affection to your former home that you (horror of Horrors) still support England in Rugby then that's OK .

If you are incensed with this perhaps consider a Samoan (or Irish) friend  who lives in Wales feels Welsh , but supports his native country.?

Or ask yourself if Welsh emigrants who gain citizenship in New Zealand  or any other country  should switch support to their new home, even as  My Hen Wlad Nhadau rings out from the stadium?

It's  what you do in Wales as a Citizen that is important not birth, Colour , religion, or language.

You are all part of the future and if you choose that you are most welcome.

1 comment:

dafis said...

Da iawn, ardderchog. Spot on, and LSR is a good example of integration,plenty more out there but we could do with even more.