Реферат: Survival of the Welsh Language

It is in Wales, perhaps, that today's cultural separation of the British Isles remains strongest, certainly linguistically, and for that, we must look to the mid 8th Century, when a long ditch was constructed, flanking a high earthen rampart that divided the Celts of the West from the Saxons to the East and which, even today, marks the boundary between those who consider themselves Welsh from those who consider themselves English. The boundary, known as «Offa's Dyke,» in memory of its builder Offa, the king of Mercia (the middle kingdom) runs from the northeast of Wales to the southeast coast, a distance of 149 miles.

English-speaking peoples began to cross Offa's Dyke in substantial numbers when settlements were created by Edward 1st in his ambition to unite the whole of the island of Britain under his kingship. After a period of military conquest, the English king forced Welsh prince Llywelyn ap Gruffudd to give up most of his lands, keeping only Gwynedd west of the River Conwy.

Edward then followed up his successes by building English strongholds around the perimeter of what remained of Llewelyn's possessions, and strong, easily defended castles were erected at Flint, Rhuddlan, Aberystwyth, and Builth., garrisoned by large detachments of English immigrants and soldiers. Some of these towns have remained stubbornly English ever since. Urban settlement, in any case, was entirely foreign to the Celtic way of life.

In 1294, the Statute of Rhuddlan confirmed Edward's plans regarding the governing of Wales. The statute created the counties of Anglesey, Caernarfon, and Merioneth, to be governed by the Justice of North Wales; Flint, to be placed under the Justice of Chester; and the counties of Carmarthen and Cardigan were left under the Justice of South Wales.

In the year 1300, the situation seemed permanently established, when «King Edward of England made Lord Edward his son [born at Caernarfon Castle], Prince of Wales and Count of Chester,» and ever since that date these titles have been automatically conferred upon the first-born son of the English monarch. The Welsh people were not consulted in the matter, although an obviously biased entry in Historia Anglicana for the year 1300 reads:

In this year King Edward of England made Lord Edward, his son and heir, Prince of Wales and Count of Chester. When the Welsh heard this, they were overjoyed, thinking him their lawful master, for he was born in their lands.

Following his successes in Wales, signified by the Statute of Rhuddlan, sometimes referred to as The Statute of Wales, Edward embarked on yet another massive castle-building program, creating such world-heritage sites of today as Caernarfon, Conwy, Harlech, and Beaumaris in addition to the earlier not so-well known (or well-visited) structures at Flint and Rhuddlan. Below their huge, forbidding castle walls, additional English boroughs were created, and English traders were invited to settle, often to the exclusion of the native Welsh, who must have looked on in awe and despair from their lonely hills at the site of so much building activity. Their ancestors must have felt the same sense of dismay as they watched the Roman invaders build their heavily defended forts in strategic points on their lands.

The Welsh were forbidden to inhabit such «boroughs» or to carry arms within their boundaries (even today, there are laws remaining on the statute books of Chester, a border town, that proscribe the activities of the Welsh within the city walls). With the help of the architect Master James of St. George, and with what must have seemed like limitless resources in manpower and materials, Edward showed his determination to place a stranglehold on the Welsh. Occasional rebellions were easily crushed; it was not until the death of Edward III and the arrival of Owain Glyndwr (Shakespeare's Owen Glendower), that the people of Wales felt confident enough to challenge their English overlords.

Owain Glyndwr was Lord of Glyndyfrdwy (the Valley of the Dee). He seized his opportunity in 1400 after being crowned Prince of Wales by a small group of supporters and defying Henry IV's many attempts to dislodge him. The ancient words of Geraldus Cambrensis could have served to inspire his followers:

The English fight for power; the Welsh for liberty; the one to procure gain, the other to avoid loss. The English hirelings for money; the Welsh patriots for their country

The comet that appeared in 1402 was seen by the Welsh as a sign of their forthcoming deliverance from bondage as well as one that proclaimed the appearance of Owain. His magnetic personality electrified and galvanized the people of Wales, strengthening their armies and inspiring their confidence. Even the weather was favorable.

The Welsh leader's early successes released the long-suppressed feelings of thousands of Welshmen who eagerly flocked to his support from all parts of England and the Continent. Before long, it seemed as if the long-awaited dream of independence was fast becoming a reality: three royal expeditions against Glyndwr failed: he held Harlech and Aberystwyth, had extended his influence as far as Glamorgan and Gwent, was receiving support from Ireland and Scotland; and had formed an alliance with France. Following his recognition by the leading Welsh bishops, he summoned a parliament at Machynlleth, in mid-Wales, where he was crowned as Prince of Wales.

It didn't seem too ambitious for Owain to believe that with suitable allies, he could help bring about the dethronement of the English king; thus he entered into a tripartite alliance with the Earl of Northumberland and Henry Mortimer (who married Owain's daughter Caitrin) to divide up England and Wales between them. After all, Henry IV's crown was seen by many Englishmen as having been falsely obtained, and they welcomed armed rebellion against their ruler. Hoping that The Welsh Church be made completely independent from Canterbury, and that appointments to benefices in Wales be given only to those who could speak Welsh, Glyndwr was ready to implement his wish to set up two universities in Wales to train native civil servants and clergymen.

Then the dream died.
Owain's parliament was the very last to meet on Welsh soil; the last occasion that the Welsh people had the power of acting independently of English rule. From such a promising beginning to a national revolt came a disappointing conclusion, even more upsetting because of the speed at which Welsh hopes crumbled with the failure of the Tripartite Indenture. Henry Percy (Hotspur) was killed at the Battle of Shrewsbury, and the increasing boldness and military skills of Henry's son, the English prince of Wales and later Henry V, began to turn the tide against Glyndwr. Like so many of his predecessors, Glyndwr was betrayed at home. It is not too comforting for Welsh people of today to read that one of the staunchest allies of the English king and enemy of Glyndwr was a man of Brecon, Dafydd Gam (later killed at Agincourt, fighting for the English).

A sixth expedition into Wales undertaken by Prince Henry retook much of the land captured by Owain, including many strategic castles. The boroughs with their large populations of «settlers,» had remained thoroughly English in any case, and by the end of 1409, the Welsh rebellion had dwindled down to a series of guerilla raids led by the mysterious figure of Owain, whose wife and two daughters had been captured at Harlech and taken to London as prisoners. Owain himself went into the mountains, becoming an outlaw. He may have suffered an early death. for nothing is known of him either by the Welsh or the English. He simply vanished from sight. According to an anonymous writer in 1415," Very many say that he [Owain Glyndwr] died; the seers say that he did not" (Annals of Owain Glyndwr). There has been much speculation as to his fate and much guessing as to where he ended his final days and was laid to rest.
There is an expression coined in the nineteenth century that describes a Welshman who pretends to have forgotten his Welsh or who affects the loss of his national identity in order to succeed in English society or who wishes to be thought well of among his friends. Such a man is known as Dic Sion Dafydd, (a term used in a satirical 19th century poem). The term was unknown In fifteenth century Wales, but, owing to the harsh penal legislation imposed upon them, following the abortive rebellion, it became necessary for many Welshmen to petition Parliament to be «made English» so that they could enjoy privileges restricted to Englishmen. These included the right to buy and hold land according to English law.

Such petitions may have been distasteful to the patriotic Welsh, but for the ambitious and socially mobile gentry rapidly emerging in Wales and on the Marches, they were a necessary step for any chance of advancement. In the military. At the same time, Welsh mercenaries, no longer fighting under Glyndwr for an independent Wales, were highly sought after by the new king Henry V for his campaigns in France. The skills of the Welsh archers in such battles as Crecy and Agincourt is legendary.

Such examples of allegiance to their commander, the English sovereign, went a long way in dispelling any latent thoughts of independence and helped paved the way for the overwhelming Welsh allegiance to the Tudors (themselves of Welsh descent) and to general acquiescence to the Acts of Union. The year 1536 produced no great trauma for the Welsh; all the ingredients for its acceptance had been put in place long before.

The so-called Act of Union of that year, and its corrected version of 1543 seemed inevitable. More than one historian has pointed out that union with England had really been achieved by the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284. Those historians who praise the Acts state that the Welsh people had now achieved full equality before the law with their English counterparts. It opened opportunities for individual advancement in all walks of life, and Welshmen flocked to London to take full advantage of their chances.
The real purpose was to incorporate, finally and for all time, the principality of Wales into the kingdom of England. A major part of this decision was to abolish any legal distinction between the people on either side of the new border. From henceforth, English law would be the only law recognized by the courts of Wales. In addition, for the placing of the administration of Wales in the hands of the Welsh gentry, it was necessary to create a Welsh ruling class not only fluent in English, but who would use it in all legal and civil matters.

Thus inevitably, the Welsh ruling class would be divorced from the language of their country; as pointed out earlier, their eyes were focused on what London or other large cities of England had to offer, not upon what remained as crumbs to be scavenged in Wales itself, without a government of its own, without a capital city, and without even a town large enough to attract an opportunistic urban middle class, and saddled with a language described by Parliament as «nothing like nor consonant to the natural mother tongue used within this realm.»
From 1536 on, English was to be the only language of the courts of Wales, and those using the Welsh language were not to receive public office in the territories of the king.

Part IV
It was the arrival of the Welsh Bible, however, that brought the language back to a respected position.

In 1588, the translation of the whole Bible itself, the climax of the whole movement, made Welsh the language of public worship and thus much more than a generally despised peasant tongue. Perhaps it is to this that much of the present-day strength of the Welsh language is owed, compared to Irish (which did not get its own Bible until 1690) and Scots Gaelic (which had to wait until 1801).

The Welsh Bible, a magnificent achievement, was completed after eight years by William Morgan and a group of fellow scholars. In 1620 Dr John Davies of Mallwyd and Richard Parry, Bishop of St. Asaph, produced a revision of William Morgan's Bible. Most of the nearly one thousand copies of.the earlier book had been lost or worn out, and this revised and corrected edition is the version that countless generations of Welsh people have been thoroughly immersed ever since, it has been as much a part of their lives as the Authorized Version has been to the English-speaking peoples or Luther's Bible to the Germans.

In 1630, the Welsh Bible, in a smaller version (Y Beibl Bach), was introduced into homes in Wales and as the only book affordable to many families, became the one book from which the majority of the people could learn to read and write. Other, poorer families, unable to afford the Bible, were able to share its contents in meetings held at the homes of neighbors or in their churches or chapels. Later on, countless generations of children were taught its contents in Sunday School. It is in this way, therefore, that we can say the Welsh Bible «saved» the language from possible extinction.

It has been touch and go all the way since, however, with determined efforts coming from both sides of Offa's Dyke to stamp out the language for ever. Yet every time the funeral bells have tolled, the language has miraculously revived itself.

For the continued survival of the language, however, there had to be a groundwork laid in the field of general education among the masses. There were still too many people in Wales who could not read or write. As so often in Welsh history, help came from outside the country itself.

In 1674, a charitable organization, the Welsh Trust, was set up in London by Thomas Gouge to establish English schools in Wales and to publish books «in Welsh.» Over 500 books were printed in 1718 and 1721 at Trefhedyn and Carmarthen respectively. Many of these were translations of popular English works, Protestant tracts that encouraged private worship and prayers, but along with the six major editions of the Bible that appeared during the same period, they had the unpredicted effect of ensuring the survival of the language in an age where many scholars were predicting its rapid demise. Of equal importance were the cheap catechisms and prayer books.highly prized by rural families who read them (along with the Beibl Cymraegd) in family groups during the long, dark winter nights.

So successful were educators, benefactors and itinerant teachers that perhaps as many as one third or more of the population of Wales could read their scriptures by the time of Griffith Jones' death in 1761. Jones had realized that preaching alone was insufficient to ensure his people's salvation: they needed to read the scriptures for themselves. Though not intended by such as Jones (the rector of Llanddowror and therefore not a Nonconformist minister), his writings created a substantial Welsh reading public primed and ready to receive the appeal of the ever-growing Methodists, whose ability in such preachers as Hywel Harris was matched by their eloquence in the pulpit, and who obviously filled a great need among the masses.
One influential convert was Thomas Charles who joined in 1784, and who set up the successful Sunday School movement in North Wales that had such a profound and lasting influence on the language and culture of that region. Another preacher of great influence was Daniel Rowland, who had converted in 1737 after hearing a sermon by Griffith Jones. With Hywel Harris, he assumed the leadership of the Methodist Revival. Rowland's enthusiasm along with that of his colleagues, attracted thousands of converts, and though their initial intention was to work within the framework of the established church, opposition from their Bishops, all of whom had little real interest in Wales and knew nothing of its language and culture, led finally to the schism of 1811 when an independent union was founded.

This was the Calvinistic Methodist Church (today known as the Presbyterian Church of Wales). Providing the excitement and fervor that the established church had been lacking for so long, it did much to pave the way for the rapid growth of the other non-conformist sects such as the Baptists and Independents. The movement also was responsible for producing two names that are outstanding in the cultural history of Wales: William Williams and Ann Griffiths (dealt with at length in my History of Wales).
The result of the coming of heavy industry to south Wales in the 19th century could not have been foreseen, especially its twofold effect on the language and social life of the area. First, with so many Welsh speakers moving into the area in search of jobs, bringing their language (and their chapels) with them, a Welsh culture survived in many fields of valley activity.

Such a heavy toll came to so many areas of the southern valleys. In the counties of Glamorgan and Monmouth, the long, verdant valleys quickly filled up with factories, mills, coal mines, iron smelting works (and later, steel works), roads, railways, canals, and above all, people. Houses began to spread along the narrow hillsides, filling every available space upon which a house could be set, small houses, crammed together in row after row, street after street, town after town all strung together on the valley floor. Houses separated only spasmodically by the grocery store, the somber, grey chapel, or the public house. Above them all loomed the blackened hillsides and the slag heaps of waste coal or industrial refuse. And all this brought about by the discovery of coal.
In the southern valleys, an Anglo-Welsh character came into being; one that came to dominate the political, social and literary life of Wales, and it was here also that a new and particular kind of Welshness was forged, symbolized by the cloth-capped, heavy drinking, strike-prone, English-speaking, rugby fanatic of the Valleys..To such a character, and to a certain extent, to the majority of the three large urban areas of Cardiff, Swansea and Newport, the people of the West and North, the Bible-toting, chapel-going, teetotal, parsimonious, and above all Welsh-speaking were totally alien beings who might have come from another planet. The repercussions are felt strongly today as only one in five of the inhabitants of Wales use Welsh as a language of everyday affairs.

In other areas, the Welsh language had been in decline for over 100 years. In Flintshire, so near to the large urban areas of Merseyside and Cheshire there had long been deliberate attempts to stamp out the Welsh language.

Other areas did not suffer the loss of the language.

Some of the letters published in The Cambrian in the mid 19th Century show an attitude of many Englishmen towards the Welsh language that has persisted until today. In one of them, the writer was amused by the proposal to have the infant Prince of Wales (eldest son of Queen Victoria), instructed in the Welsh language. He wrote that the prince, by trying to pronounce the Welsh «ll» or «ch» would be perceived as having spasmodic affections of the bronchial tubes «that would lead to quinsy or some terrible disease of the lungs and jugulum and would alarm everyone.»
Part VI
By the middle of the 19th century, Victoria's views notwithstanding, the tide was running heavily against Welsh. In 1842, a Royal Commission, looking into the state of education in Wales, noted that some Welsh boys employed at mines in Breconshire were learning to read English at Sunday School, but that they could speak only Welsh. This was intolerable to the commissioners.

It was demanded in Parliament that an inquiry be conducted into the means afforded to the laboring classes of Wales to acquire a knowledge of the English tongue. The report of the Commissioners of Inquiry for South Wales in 1844 lamented the fact that «The people's ignorance of the English language practically prevents the working of the laws and institutions and impedes the administration of justice.» It didn't seem to occur to the commissioners that it was their own ignorance of the language that was obstructing justice!
The report led to another Royal Commission, conducted in 1847, which was to have a lasting effect on the cultural and political life of Wales. The report, in three volumes bound in blue covers, has become known as Brad y Llyfrau Gleision (The Treachery of the Blue Books, for the three young and inexperienced lawyers who conducted the report had no understanding of the Welsh language, nor, it seems, did they understand non-conformity in religious matters.

Bright, intelligent and well-read Welsh-speaking children were unable to understand the questions put to them in English, and the surveyors pig-headedly assumed that this was due to their ignorance. Their report lamented what they considered to be the sad state of education in Wales, the too-few schools, their deplorable condition, the unqualified teachers, the lack of supplies and suitable English texts, and the irregular attendance of the children. All these were attributed, along with dirtiness, laziness, ignorance, superstition, promiscuity and immorality: to Nonconformity, but in particular to the Welsh language.

One result, of course, of the publication of such «facts» led to so many of its speakers being made to feel ashamed and embarrassed. The effects of the controversy thus stirred up has lasted up until today; it certainly did much ot bolster the position of those who agreed with much of the report and who saw the language as the biggest drawback to the people of Wales. One drastic remedy, the imposition of English-only Board Schools did much to further has ten the decline of Welsh over a great part of the country. In these schools, as in Flintshire a half century earlier, the «Welsh Not» rule was imposed with severe penalties for speaking Welsh, including the wearing of a wooden board, the old «Welsh lump» around one's neck.

In Caernarfon, Gwynedd, an area still predominantly Welsh-speaking in the 1990's, there is a high school named after Sir Hugh Owen, a pioneer in education in Wales. Owen's untiring efforts to secure a university for Wales led to a commission to promote the idea in 1854, the university itself to be established through voluntary contributions. Owen's pleas to the government for financial help were unheeded, and it was public subscription that brought to fruition the old dream of Owain Glyndwr. In 1872 Aberystwyth University opened its doors to twenty-six students in a very impressive building on the seafront designed as a hotel, but which was fortunately vacant at the time. For the first few years of its existence, the college depended greatly on voluntary contributions from the nonconformist chapels, but it attracted many who would come to have profound influence on the culture of their nation. In so many areas it provided the foundations that led to the national revival of Wales in the late 1890's.

The work of Owen M. Edwards, in a period of language decline, was crucial in this renaissance. A native of Llanuwchllyn on the shores of Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake), Oxford University lecturer and later Chief inspector of Schools of the newly-created Welsh Board of Education, Edwards did much to popularize the use of Welsh as an everyday language. Alarmed by the decline in the language, he published a great number of Welsh books and magazines, with particular interest in works for children. In 1898 he founded Urdd y Delyn, a forerunner of Urdd Gobaith Cymru, the largest youth organization in Wales and one that still conducts its activities through the medium of Welsh.

Despite the success of organizations such as Urdd, one problem has remained for the survival of Welsh ever since the Acts of Union in the middle 1500's. The Welsh language has considered to be a great hindrance to one's feeling of Britishness. Even before the First World War, when British soldiers from all parts of the kingdom marched off under the Union Jack to fight the Boers in South Africa, the feeling took hold that "...side by side with the honourable contribution which the Welsh could make to the British Empire, the Welsh language could be considered an irrelevance..."

This idea was implanted even more firmly in the Welsh mind by the intention of the leaders of the Welsh-speaking community to show that the peculiarities of Welsh culture were not a threat to the unity and tranquility of the kingdom of Britain. When ideas of a separate government for the Welsh people began to take hold in the late 19th century, once again, the idea of a British national identity found itself overwhelming the purely local, isolated, and all too often ridiculed, aspirations of those who wished for a Welsh nationhood.

In mainly English-speaking South Wales in particular, feelings on the matter were sharply expressed. At a crucial meeting in Newport, Monmouthshire, in January 1898 it was firmly stated (by Robert Byrd) that there were thousands of true Liberals who would never submit «to the domination of Welsh ideas.» With few exceptions, this seems to sum up the attitude of most Welsh politicians of the next one hundred years. There were too many in Wales whose close ties with English interests made the idea of home rule repugnant and one to be fought against at all costs.

Welsh-speaking Lloyd George, future Prime Minister, who was howled down at the meeting, questioned if the mass of the Welsh nation was willing to be dominated by a coalition of English capitalists who had made their fortunes in Wales. Yet even his motives were held with suspicion as being entirely self-serving. And, as a fluent Welsh speaker, he was mistrusted by many in the audience who looked with suspicion upon those who could speak a language that they could not.

In 1881, the Aberdare Commission's report showed that provisions for intermediate and higher education in Wales lagged behind those in the other parts of Britain; it suggested that there should be two new Welsh universities, Cardiff and Bangor. It was found, however, that there was a lack of adequately trained students for these new colleges and thus, in 1899 the Welsh Intermediate Act came into being that gave the new county councils the power to raise a levy (to be matched by the Government) for the provision of secondary schools.In 1896 came the Central Welsh Board to oversee these schools.

The result was that thousands of Welsh children from all levels of society were able to continue their education at a secondary level. Another result, however, was the continued decline of the status accorded the Welsh language, for the new secondary schools were thoroughly English, only very few even bothering to offer Welsh lessons. An educated class of Welsh people was thus created that fostered the cultural traditions of their country in the language of England.
In the meantime, in an age where radio and movies began to play important roles in the regular everyday life of the people of Wales, the language continued its precipitous decline. North Wales got its news from and followed the events in Liverpool; South Wales was more tied to happenings in Bristol or even London. Links between the two areas of Wales were practically non-existent; roads and rails went West to East, not North to South, and the flow of ideas and language went in the same directions. Any sense of a national Welsh identity was disappearing rapidly along with the language.

In an attempt to stop the rot, a new party came into being in 1925, Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru (The National Party of Wales) that was fiercely devoted to purely Welsh causes such as preservation of the language and culture. In 1926, Saunders Lewis took over the presidency, but the party received very little general support and, in some areas of Wales, was the object of ridicule. It was to take forty years before Plaid Cymru was taken seriously and gained its first seat in Parliament. Much had been happening until then to further erode Welsh as a common language and the idea of the Welsh as a common, united people worthy of their own government as part of a greater Britain.

The views of Henderson and Lewis, as imaginative and forward-looking as they were, did not appeal to the majority of the Welsh people' at the time, those who thought the politician and the poet were those of a very small minority indeed. In the meantime, the process of anglicization continued unabated; more people living in Wales considered themselves Anglo-Welsh than Welsh. Much of the blame (or for some,the praise), can be placed on the educational system that, even before the outset of the Second World War was geared to producing loyal Britons.

When World War ll finally arrived, there was much more unanimity of support throughout Britain than there had been for the First World War. And there was less trauma inflicted upon the people of Wales, for this was a crusade against Fascism and Nazism and Hitler that almost everyone could subscribe to. It was also a fight to preserve the Empire. The heavy bombing meant a large exodus of children from the targeted larger English cities into the more rural areas. In Wales, thousands of refugees learned Welsh, but in many areas their English language overwhelmed the local speech.or tipped the scales against its survival.

To counter the linguistic threat to the Welsh culture at Aberystwyth, a private Welsh-medium school was established.by Ifan ab Owen Edwards, the son of the famous educator. Apart from this little school, however, it wasn't until Llanelli Welsh School began in 1947 that the idea of teaching children through the medium of Welsh began to take hold in earnest. Other schools followed, so that by 1970, even Cardiff had its Ysgol Dewi Sant (St. David's School) one of the largest primary schools in Wales, teaching through the medium of Welsh. The increase in the Welsh primary schools was accompanied by a demand for a Welsh secondary education, and the first such schools opened in Flintshire, Ysgol Gyfun Glan Clwyd and Ysgol Maes Garmon in areas in which the great majority of the parents were monolingual English. The success of these schools were followed by Ysgol Rhydfelen in Glamorganshire in 1962 and by many others by the 1980's.

It may have taken a long while, and for many, it might have been too late, but the change in the attitude of the Welsh people toward their language has been dramatic since 1962. Not only that, but great strides have been made in convincing immigrants to Wales that their children would not suffer the loss of their English language if they were to be taught through the medium of Welsh, and that a bilingual education may well be superior to one that confines them to a single language. Many a non-Welsh speaking parent is now anxious to point with pride at the achievement of their children in the Welsh language. It is no longer fashionable in Wales to refer to the language as «dying,» and the activities of the Eisteddfod as «the kicks of a dying nation,» sentiments the author heard at Swansea in 1964. What caused the sea-change?

One place we can start to look for the answer is the media, especially public radio. Beginning in 1922, the BBC broadcasts in Wales were eagerly awaited. Its voice, however, was one that gave prestige and authority to its views, the voice of a public-school-educated upper-class Englishman. In addition, the majority of broadcasts led a majority of British people to believe that a BBC accent was not only desirable, but was the correct one, and that their own accent, dialect, or in the case of much of Wales, their language, was inferior. It was Radio Eireann, the voice of the Irish Republic, that broadcast the only regular Welsh language material, beginning in 1927.

At time, and for a long period afterward, incredible as it now seems, the head of the BBC station in Cardiff ignored protests from devotees of the Welsh language who wished to hear Welsh language programs. There were then almost one million speakers of Welsh. But aided by such attitudes of those in authority, a rapid decline was about to begin. This was not inevitable. Perhaps the language would have even advanced, given sufficient air time in the late 1920's and early 30's. The problem was that most Welsh listeners enjoyed their English language programs; it was only the few who realized that their enjoyment was coming at the expense of their cherished, native tongue.
Part VIII One who did take notice, and one who provided the second place to look for the answer was Ifan ab Owen Edwards, whose father Owen M. Edwards had founded Urdd y Delyn in 1898. The son, in his turn, established the most influential of all youth movements in Wales, Urdd Gobaith Cymru in 1922; the movement has involved countless thousands of Welsh boys and girls ever since, conducting their camps, sports activities, singing festivals, eisteddfodau, etc. all through the medium of Welsh and proving that the language was not one that should be confined to an older, chapel-going, puritanical generation. Continued protests against the policies of the BBC, unable and in most cases unwilling to cater to the new, younger generation eventually led to the BBC studio at Bangor broadcasting Welsh language programs. In 1935, and in July of 1937 the Welsh Region of the BBC finally began to broadcast on a separate wavelength. Radio Cymru, however, had to wait until 1977.
Another pivotal figure in the fight for survival of the Welsh language, and one who made good use of the power of the radio broadcast was the poet and dramatist Saunders Lewis. Like Ifan ab Owen Edwards, Lewis was greatly concerned that, unless something was done, and done quickly, the Welsh language as a living entity would disappear before the end of the century. Lewis, a major Welsh poet and dramatist, generally considered as the greatest literary figure in the Welsh language of this century, was born in Cheshire into a Welsh family; he later became a lecturer at the newly established University College, Swansea. Heavily influenced by events in Ireland and the struggle for national identity in that country that took place in the political sphere, he was one of the founders of Plaid Cymru in 1925 at the Pwllheli National Eisteddfod, becoming its president in 1926.

Lewis envisioned a new role for the people of Wales that would transform their position as a member of the British Empire into one in which they could see themselves as one of the nations that helped found European civilization. As he viewed it:

What then is our nationalism?...To fight not for Welsh independence but for the civilization of Wales. To claim for Wales not independence but freedom. (Egwyddorion Cenedlaetholdeb, 1926)

Ten years later, with two companions, D.J. Williams and Lewis Valentine, Lewis deliberately set a fire at Penyberth in the Llyn Peninsular, North Wales, a site that the military wished to use for construction of a bombing school. The three then turned themselves in to the authorities and were duly indicted and summoned to appear in court. The failure of the court to agree on a verdict at Caernarfon, a town sympathetic to their cause, meant the removal of their trial to London, where they were each sentenced to nine months imprisonment. Lewis was dismissed from his teaching post at Swansea even before the arrival of the guilty verdict at the Old Bailey.

Leading Welsh historians agree that The fire at Penyberth should be regarded as a cause celebre in the struggle for Welsh identity; it certainly had its impact on Welsh thinking, an impact that was not wholly dampened by the onset of Word War ll which again focused the people of Britain on their shared identity in the face of an enemy that threatened their survival as a nation. The pacificism of Lewis was an affront to many, even within Plaid Cymru who saw the need to defeat as overriding any other concern.
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