Amazon's message to Wales

On the same weekend that I received the good news that Amazon is bringing 1,200 jobs to Wales (is there any sense in giving £9 million 'grant' to a company that made between $370 and $510 million profit?), I was sent back a cheque from the company with the following (very polite) message:
Dear Customer,

Please find enclosed your cheque for £22.93 as the words are written in Welsh. Sorry to ask but could you please amend and return to us so we may proceed with your order, as the bank may not be able to read it.

Kind regards
Billing Dept.
A very odd and old fashioned attitude I must say. I've been posting cheques in Welsh to BT for years without any problems. I've e-mailed my local AM (Rhodri Morgan), Alun Pugh and Andrew Davies ac well as the company itself, which has responded, just to confirm that yes, cheques have to be in English only. Not a very good way to endear themselves to the Welsh public!

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Song for the 14th Korrika in 2005

It began on the 22nd of March in Karrantza (Bizkaia) and it finishes in Iruña (Nafarroa) on the 1st of April. The Korrika ("race") is an exhibition race held every two years in the Basque Country to celebrate and support the Basque language.

The race is organised by the AEK, the association for education in Basque, and usually it is scheduled to last two weeks. The first Korrika was held in 1980, and each one follows a different course, though they always try to cover a large part of Euskal Herria, the historical territories of the Basque Country: Bizkaia, Araba, Gipuzkoa (the "official" version of the Basque Country), Nafarroa (Navarra) and also Lapurdi, Zuberoa and Benafarroa (the French Basque Country).

Euskal Herria
Euskal Herria

The race proceeds continuously without even stopping at night, and about 60,000 people take part in it. In order to raise money to promote the Basque language, each kilometer of the race is "sold" to a particular individual or company who will lead the race as it passes over the purchased kilometer, and as race leader will carry the original wooden baton from the first Korrika, adorned with the banner of the Basque Country, the Ikurriña.

Baner Gwlad Basg (Ikurriña)
The Ikurriña

Directly behind the leader other participants will carry a banner with the slogan Euskal Herria euskalduntzen. Ni ere bai! (Spreading the Basque language in the Basque Country. Me too!). The race is conducted in an extremely jovial, uncompetitive spirit, accompanied by music and general fanfare, with roads thronged with spectators. During the period, a great many cultural activities are organised to promote the use of Basque, with the support of the Euskaltzaindia (Royal Academy of the Basque Language).

The special theme of the race's 15th edition, in 2007, will be a tribute to Basque women, and the unique role they have played in guaranteeing the language's preservation

The song for this year's Korrika, the 15th edition


Something small but significant happened in the history of the Welsh Language yesterday, something that didn't get a lot of attention beyond the borders of the rhithfro: The first installment of was broadcasted, a show that is exclusive to the web. Forget about Friday Night with Jonathon Ross, here's Friday Morning with Aneirin Karadog. The show is only 16 minutes long, but I'm pretty sure it will prove to be the first of many such web-based programmes to come.

Aneirin Karadog
Aneirin Karadog

As on Mr Ross's show, guests sit on a sofa and are interviewed in a relaxed atmosphere -although they aren't introduced by four gay men and a piano- and the programme closes with a live musical performance (at least it does on the first show).

On the sofa this time was Nia Medi (formerly of the Johnny Panics), a very attractive girl and a talented musician (Im going to describe all the girls on the show this way because Im in my thirties and single), and also Catrin Dafydd, the author of the book Pili Pala which is one of this year's candidates for the Welsh Book of the Year, a very attractive girl and a talented novelist (I told you so).

Well done!


Comparing the Political Websites

It's interesting to compare the differences between the various Welsh party-political websites, differences which may indicate just how important or not Wales, Welsh politics and the Welsh language are to our political representatives.

Welsh Labour-Llafur Cymru

Rhodri Morgan AM

1. Despite the bilingual title, the website is monoglot English, with no preparation whatsoever for Welsh speaking visitors.
2. The homepage contents concentrate not on the achievments or aims of the party, but on portraying a rather personal and crude attack on Ieuan Wyn Jones
3. There's a link to "What Labour's done for you", but following the link -and depending on what constituency you pick- you arrive at either the contact details of a Labour MP (yes, MP, not AM) or you're presented with "Six things you can do to help Labour".
4. Apart from an "Elections 2007" logo the Welsh Assembly is almost completely ignored on the website itself. The logo has a link which leads on to some vague assertions about the party's success in the Assembly government, though from there you can download a PDF document with the title "250 Assembly Achievments", with details as to what Labour claims it has done since 1999. It is also from here that you can download a similar PDF file on the future intentions of Labour should they be re-elected. On the whole this is a poorly designed site and the dependence on PDF files makes things even more awkward.

Verdict: 1/4

Plaid Cymru

Ieuan Wyn Jones AM

1. The website is 100% bilingual. What is more, it has a very professional look in terms of its design.
2. The homepage concentrates on Welsh political news, and it has easy-to-follow links to the aims, policies and campaigns of the party.
3. The aims and policies are easy to find, clear and legible. The policies are listed under the titles: A Bilingual Wales; A Free Wales; A Fair Wales; A Healthy Wales; A Learning Wales; A Sporting Wales; A Sustainable Wales; A Working Wales; An Equal Wales; Rural Wales; Wales and the World; Wales at Home; Wales on the Move; Wales in Europe.
4. The aims of the party are stated as:

To promote the constitutional advancement of Wales with a view to attaining Full National Status for Wales within the European Union.
To ensure economic prosperity, social justice and the health of the natural environment, based on decentralist socialism.
To build a national community based on equal citizenship, respect for different traditions and cultures and the equal worth of all individuals, whatever their race, nationality, gender, colour, creed, sexuality, age, ability or social background.
To create a bilingual society by promoting the revival of the Welsh language.
To promote Wales's contribution to the global community and to attain membership of the United Nations.

Without a doubt (and as you can see for yourselves), of all the party websites Plaid Cymru's is the best in both design and bilingualism.

Verdict: 4/4

Ceidwadwyr Cymreig/Welsh Conservatives

Nick Bourne AM

1. Apart from its five stated aims (see below), and the PDF policy files (also below), the webpage is monoglot English.
2.The "homepage" concentrates on news from Westminster, not Cardiff Bay.
3. This isn't an individual website, rather a couple of pages from the UK Conservative Party website. As in the case of Labour and the Lib-Dems, the Welsh Assembly is not visible. The link to policy, however, leads to a list of PDF files on Welsh Conservative policies regarding the Welsh Assembly Government, which, unlike the Labour PDF files, ARE bilingual.
4. The party aims (the only bilingual information available on the main webpage):

1. Making our economy more competitive
2. Improving our quality of life
3. Public service improvement
4. Protecting our security
5. Social justice

Verdict: 2/4

Welsh Liberal Democrats/ Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol Cymru

Michael German AM

1. The website is mostly bilingual, but with gaps. As a result it has a very amateurish appearance.
2. The homepage contents concentrate on the party's last conference and on the fact that the Lib-Dems have one more seat than Plaid Cymru or the Conservatives in Westminster. As in the case of Labour and the Conservatives the Welsh Assembly has no role on the website.
3. There is no information on the party aims, and the link to party policy leads to a long list of conference speaches, not to any clear statements on policy.

Verdict: 1/4

Original Welsh version


We Are A Musical Nation


Despite the growing visibility of Welsh within Wales, how many of you monoglot English speaking Welsh men and women know about what's going on in the Welsh speaking world? I'm not being critical here, by the way, just pointing out the obvious. We live in the same country, share the same roots, maybe even live on the same street, but to a certain extent both culturally and politically we live in two different dimensions. David Lynch would probably love us. But why harp on about it when instead we can share our realities?

Those of you who -not knowing the lingo- never watch S4/C digidol nor listen to Radio Cymru may be quite oblivious to just how much the Welsh Language music scene has flourished since entering the 21st century. 10 years ago there were some good bands but there was also a lot of, well, shall we say not-so-good bands (to be polite). Now what we have is a more musically diverse and plentiful supply of young musicians with the same musical standards as their English counterparts. So without any further ado here's a small selection for your delight and pleasure:

Sibrydion: Chiwawas

Drymbago: Anian

Genod Droog: Dal Ni Lawr

Radio Luxembourg: Os Chi'n Lladd Cindy

Sibrydion: Rhedeg i Ffwrdd

Gwilym Morus: Ar Ddisberod

Dan Amor: Lluniau Du a Gwyn

Swci Boscawen: Adar y Nefoedd

Rhian Mostyn: Hawl y Mynydd

Y Llongau: Rheoli Amser

Dan Amor: Cofiadau




Speaking Welsh
This blog has already mentioned on at least two occasions the phenomena of the Englishman who, on entering a Welsh pub, complains that the local pub-goers start speaking Welsh as soon as he enters, as if speaking Welsh were some kind of pastime we do on a whim to annoy outsiders. But this perception goes far beyond the "Englishman enters pub" example, and is one shared across the British Isles. I remember meeting an Irish couple who had once shared a holiday on a yacht with a Welsh speaking couple; They remarked that they themselves had learned Irish at school and could -if they were so inclined- be fully conversant in that language. Yet they complained that the Welsh couple spoke Welsh with one another all the time, as if to do so was to be over the top! They did not for an instance consider this to be a natural act of people speaking their mother tongue, because for them to do so was indeed something you did to show off your identity to the English (rather like a Scotsman wearing a kilt and brandishing a claymore in Basingstoke).

Try explaining to "outsiders" the threat posed by colonisation to Welsh speaking communities and 9 times out of 10 the response will be a shrug combined with such words as "Well, that's the way of the world." An easy sentiment for one who's language and quality of life is in ascendence, but hardly one that will secure the survival of our species, nor one that would have inspired social change in the past!

Silly Words
Ah, those quaint little Welsh folk, who take sound English words like ambulance and chocolate and change them to ambiwlans and siocled, how amusing. Well, if you find that amusing you'll find the Spanish ambulancia and the German Schokolade absolutely hilarious.


Welsh Language Act Rally, Aberystwyth: 10/6/06

Simultaneous translation available during main speeches. If you'd like to place a banner similar to the one at the top of this blog on yours, you can get the code by scrolling to the bottom of this thread on maes-e.

To book a place on a bus to the event, contact Angharad for buses from the south and Dewi for buses from the north.


Disgusted of Llanfairpwll

Aida Edemariam from the Guardian reckons the Welsh are the touchiest people on earth. How dare she insult us so!

This isn't really a matter of the Welsh wanting to be treated differently from anyone else, but of racists being treated the same whomever they choose to offend. Under laws that were not decided by the Welsh, the police in Britain have a duty to look into these matters.

A brief switcheroo of Welsh to Pakistani gives us the following:
Are Pakistanis the touchiest people on earth?

They certainly seem to be working quite hard at it. Over the weekend it emerged that columnist Cristina Odone has become the latest to fall foul of Pakistani sensitivities, for referring (in inverted commas, one might add) to "little Pakistanis" on Question Time. She has received a talking-to from the Pakistani constabulary - thus joining Anne Robinson ("what are the Pakistanis for?") and Tony Blair (overheard referring to the "fucking Pakistanis") in being investigated by the boys in blue for supposedly insulting Pakistani honour. AA Gill ("Pakistanis are stunted, bigoted, dark, ugly, pugnacious little trolls") and Jeremy Clarkson (who put a map of Pakistan in a microwave) were referred to the Press Complaints Commission.
Would that be referred to the Press Complaints Commission? It would probably end with Clarkson hurtling down the motorway tied to the fender of one of his beloved cars. Not because Pakistanis are 'touchy' but because they've got balls, something which the Welsh seem to have been lacking for a long time.

But, I hear you cry, it's OK to be racist against white people! Our fair skin is a shield that deflects the barbiest taunts. Well, that is true to some extent, because ethnic minorities in Britain are not on home turf and are therefore more vurneable.

So the truth is we just hate Anne Robinson, Tony Blair, AA Gill and Jeremy Clarkson, and like to see them get into trouble. And who left Janet Street-Porter off the list? Surely it's only a matter of time before she opens her trap and we can start on her too.
Perhaps it's another symptom of Wales's ongoing crisis of confidence.
Now we're into deeper territory, and unfortunately Aida doesn't substantiate this comment so it's hard to know where to start. Just, please, don't expect Wales to act like the bullied little brother who puts up with the abuse so that he can hang with the 'cool kids'. We don't have a crisis of confidence, we have one projected onto us by a country which sees 'not wanting to be like us' as a crisis of confidence.

Touchy? No, just tired of ignorance.


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