The BBC has a piece on its website on the impact of the Welsh language in Wales and the tensions between native and ‘cultural’ Welsh speakers, following its bizarre but entertaining resurgence. Now, just as I approve of the study of Anglo-Saxon and Etruscan, I approve of the study of Welsh.
However, contrary to many of the opinions expressed in the article, Welsh is not in a meaningful historic sense the national language of Wales (any more than ancient Briton is the national language of England): aside from a few inbred hillbillies in the furthest-flung corners, the modern-day Welsh are descended from people who’ve been speaking English and its precursors since well before they even reached western Britain.
South Wales, culturally, is English-speaking, industrialised, working-class and Methodist (not coincidentally, a bit like Birmingham); north-east Wales is a holiday resort for Scousers, West Wales is the terrifying backwoods with almost no inhabitants; and the borders are England (has anyone ever encountered a less Welsh town than Wrexham anywhere ever?). The Welsh language is only of any historical import to the West Welsh; for people in Newport or Cardiff to learn it conversationally is just as wanky as 1920s public schoolboys conversing in Latin…
[disclaimer: PDF is half-Welsh, and his fathers are welcome to it]