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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 May 2007, 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK
'Too much' Welsh language support
Innes Bowen
Innes Bowen
Producer, Radio 4's Hecklers

Translation of the word Welsh

An impassioned e-mail from a listener who claims the promotion of the Welsh language has gone too far prompted radio producer Innes Bowen to try to find others willing to debate this view on air.

"Promotion of the Welsh language has gone completely over the top. Please could you make it the subject of one of your debates."

When I read this plea from a Radio 4 listener in Wales, I instinctively felt this could be the subject of a fascinating programme.

This listener wasn't just concerned - he was angry: "This corner of the British isles has fallen under the influence of a relatively few sub-racists who are more than willing to sell Wales down the river in exchange for increasing their own power base," he claimed.

The problem wasn't finding people who wanted to complain about Welsh language promotion. It was finding someone who was prepared to say so in public

Where better, I thought, to give voice to this intense irritation than the Radio 4 series Hecklers.

Each programme takes the form of a rather asymmetrical debate: a single speaker with a controversial proposition takes on a lion's den of opposition in the form of a studio audience and a panel of expert opponents.

Although the listener who wrote to us requesting a debate on Welsh language promotion wasn't prepared to argue the case in public himself, I didn't think that it would be difficult to find someone else who was prepared to do the job.

How wrong I was.

The problem wasn't finding people who wanted to complain about Welsh language promotion. It was finding someone who was prepared to say so in public.

'Ruling class'

The complaints were partly about money: many argued that they would prefer to see the government spend more on the health service and less on the bureaucracy of operating in two languages.

"Even the asylum seekers' welcome pack is now available in Welsh," complained one politician.

Others grumbled about what they perceive as poorer career prospects for those who don't speak Welsh.

Most of the complainants I have spoken to are Welsh - and proud to be so.

Part of their discomfort with Welsh language promotion is a feeling that a new "ruling class" of Welsh speakers looks down on them as not being fully Welsh.

I feel I am, tantalisingly, on the verge of helping to shatter what has apparently become something of a taboo in Wales and organising a public debate that a silent minority has been desperate to have.

But taboo subjects are by definition the ones that people feel uncomfortable talking about, and so I am also on the verge of giving up on my quest to find someone who is prepared to propose the motion in this debate.

Unless, that is, you or someone you know is brave enough to take up the challenge.

See responses to this article by clicking the link at the top of the page.

Council's 100k translation extra
28 Dec 06 |  Mid Wales

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