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Monday, 13 August, 2001, 09:29 GMT 10:29 UK
Are the English in Wales 'outsiders'?
The Welsh First Minister Rhodri Morgan has warned nationalists not to pander to extremists who are against English people moving to Wales.

His address to the National Eisteddfod in Denbigh, follows comments by the former chairman of the Welsh Language Board, John Elfed Jones.

Mr Jones described "outsiders" moving to Wales as carriers of "human foot-and-mouth disease" and a threat to Welsh language communities.

The comments have been criticised as inflammatory and there are worries that the issues could divide Wales into English- versus Welsh-speaking communities

Should people moving into Welsh-speaking communities learn the language? Whatever nationality you are, do John Elfed Jones' comments offend you?

This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The Welsh language underlies the very fabric of many Welsh communities

G. John, Wales
Some people may find the comments made by S. Glyn and John E. Jones 'inflammatory' but this sort of rhetoric is necessary to gain public and media attention to a crucial issue. The Welsh language underlies the very fabric of many Welsh communities and therefore must be safeguarded.
G. John, Wales

So Wales is full of outsiders? Funny, I though it was England that is full of the Welsh. After Ann Robinson's comments on Room 101 earlier this year, there was an outcry with demands for her prosecution for being racist. John Elfed Jones's remark is exactly the same. Will the police in Wales investigate him? I doubt it.
Darren, UK

This is the problem with nationalism. Nationalists start picking who is an acceptable 'national' and who isn't. The problem for the Welsh language is that 50 years ago 15% of the population spoke Welsh and now 8% do. Welsh is going the way of Cornish unlike Gaelic which has always had a vibrant culture (it has never required a Gaelic Language Society) to keep it alive.
Brian, UK

Regardless of English being the most powerful and widespread language in the world, every nation which has its own language has a right to protect and preserve it. There are parts of Wales even today where 80% of the population is Welsh speaking. Employing a non Welsh speaker in the public sector in these areas would be crazy, and certainly wouldn't be a case of racism.
Bedwyr Williams, Wales

I lived in mid-Wales for 11 years and by far most of the Welsh people I knew spoke English themselves! The first thing the chairman of the Welsh Language Board should do is try and motivate Welsh youngsters to actually want to use their own language before casting assertions about the English.
Malcolm, UK

I feel quite offended by this man's comments

Dan, UK
Speaking as someone who has lived in Wales and learnt the language, I feel quite offended by this man's comments. I made an effort to learn Welsh and was still treated poorly by Nationalists. I feel his words will do nothing to help the language and will in fact produce a greater divide between the English and the Welsh. If you want the real reason why the Welsh language is dying, you need look no further than America. Because America is the most powerful nation, and is English speaking, English is naturally being forced upon other countries. Even France is having trouble preserving certain aspects of the language due to the American influence. I think Mr Jones should face up to the fact that the language is dying and try to think of constructive ways of promoting it, rather than using the problem as an excuse for racism.
Dan, UK

John Elfed Jones' comments certainly offend me. Being Welsh has NOTHING to do with what language one speaks - whether Welsh, English, Urdu, French or anything else. The devolving of power in Wales was for reasons of subsidiarity - not some platform for crazed nationalistic idealists who are still holding prejudices from events that occurred centuries ago.
Simon Watkins, Wales, UK

Speaking as a Welshman I think Mr Jones is an idiot!
Stuart Dawson, Hong Kong

English settlers in rural areas of Wales are mainly wealthier than the locals

Martin Morgan, UK
English settlers in rural areas of Wales are mainly wealthier than the locals and by dint of this come to exert economic power over them. When they integrate themselves into local society, such as by learning/respecting the language, hiring local people etc, they are made welcome. But so many of them develop enclaves that threaten to undermine a fragile way of life - such as the widely-reported case of the man in Blaenau Ffestiniog who sought workers from Essex for his building business because he didn't want to hire the Welsh. The answer to the problem is economic development, to ensure that local people have a chance to develop the communities and reduce the economic imbalance. I often get the impression from the media that multi-cultural diversity is a good thing and to be nurtured - except when it applies to the Welsh.
Martin Morgan, UK

John Elfed Jones is speaking the language of hate and as a leader in his community, should be held personally responsible for any unfortunate results of his declarations.
Tony Gannaway, USA

As a Welshman living in a non-English speaking country, I feel particularly qualified to comment on this. I can easily get by speaking only English here, as almost everyone speaks, or at least understands it. However, I have considered it only proper that I endeavour to learn Finnish (Welsh, by comparison, is a piece of cake!), and after some years, I am capable of holding my own. The greatest reward for my efforts is that it has opened up the whole Finnish culture and way of living to me, which would otherwise pass me by. I feel more a part of the people, and enjoy myself much more. I would encourage non-Welsh inhabitants of Wales, no matter what their nationality, to study and master Welsh, as they can only expect a richer, more fulfilling future if they do so.
Stephen ap Hugh, Finland

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