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Tue Dec 4, 2012, 10:27 AM

Kathryn Gray: Iím with the #Welshtaliban

Roger Lewisís latest attack (in the Daily Mail) on the Welsh language has him asserting that the Welsh Language Society (Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg) is Ďa mob that could teach the Taliban a thing or twoí. Welsh-medium schools come in for a particular gob in the face. Itís an offensive piece, all right, with barely disguised self-hatred, for all the proclaimed pride in being Welsh Ė and itís a downright inaccurate portrait of a contemporary Wales in which two languages sit together harmoniously and increasingly enrich our literature, our sense of identity (common and, yes, different) and have helped us to assert and honour our nation. If itís had one good result, however, itís to have prompted a rather hilarious incarnation on Twitter (@welshtaliban) Ė highlighting, with each status update, the downright silliness of his contention.

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Reply Kathryn Gray: Iím with the #Welshtaliban (Original post)
geardaddy Dec 2012 OP
Lydia Leftcoast Dec 2012 #1
geardaddy Dec 2012 #2
Lydia Leftcoast Dec 2012 #3
geardaddy Dec 2012 #4
redic003 Jan 2013 #5
petronius Jan 2013 #6

Response to geardaddy (Original post)

Tue Dec 4, 2012, 11:01 AM

1. Probably the hatred that many monolinguals have for ANYONE who prefers to use a different language

Back in the 1980s, I was on a Metro Transit bus, and some Hmong people were chatting away in their native language. An elderly woman got all bent out of shape about "those Vietnamese" who "refused to speak English."

I let her have it. I said that first of all, they were Hmong, not Vietnamese, and they probably hadn't been in the U.S. for very long, and after all, it was Hmong people speaking among themselves, so why shouldn't they speak Hmong? If she went to a foreign country with her family, wouldn't she speak English to them?

Then she started grumbling about how the Hmong were eligible for welfare. This was the height of the Reagan recession, so I pointed out that jobs were scarce for everyone. She just sniffed and said that her grandfather had gotten a job the second day after arriving in Minneapolis from Sweden.

I asked her what job he had gotten.

"Cleaning stalls in a livery stable*."

Of course, there were just tons of livery stable jobs available in the 1980s, weren't they?

*A livery stable is the horse-and-buggy equivalent of a rent-a-car agency.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Reply #1)

Tue Dec 4, 2012, 11:12 AM

2. Bingo.

I've experienced similar incidents in Minneapolis.

You're right, it's the same thing. It's the non-Welsh-speaking Welsh that are pissed that the Welsh-speaking Welsh are allowed to continue speaking their language.

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Response to geardaddy (Reply #2)

Tue Dec 4, 2012, 12:40 PM

3. And you see the same kind of hostility toward programs to revitalize Native American languages

Of course, the critics couch it in terms of the languages being "useless" and "less important than learning skills that will help them succeed in the larger society," but in the end, it's really the idea that everyone should speak English exclusively.

Even in foreign countries.

I've lost track of the times that I've heard foreign residents--even long term residents-- in Japan complain about the quality of English spoken there. I have a hint for such people: study Japanese. Yes, it takes years to become proficient, but it takes only about one year to learn basic survival skills, so that you don't have to get all frustrated when nobody can give you directions to the nearest train station in English.

But I was really surprised, when I was considering moving overseas and teaching English if Romney won (shudder), to see a discussion on an ESL teachers' board in which person after person declared that it was unnecessary to learn the language of one's host country, because after all, they weren't going to live there more than two to five years. And these were people who were teaching English in South America and didn't feel the need to learn Spanish!

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Reply #3)

Tue Dec 4, 2012, 12:46 PM

4. It's maddening, isn't it?!

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