I don’t often see people talk openly about this – maybe because it hurts too much – but if this is you, you’ll REALLY know what I mean.
Are you quietly FURIOUS that you don’t speak Welsh?
I used to think I was a bit weird – a bit of an edge case (or even just a headcase!) – to feel so angry about not having grown up speaking Welsh. I put it down to not really belonging anywhere – to having moved too much, lived in too many different countries.
And then, after I became a Welsh speaker, and then published the SaySomethinginWelsh method and started to help other people become Welsh speakers…
I finally met other people who felt the same way.
It was a bit of a shock at first – it’s not something people open up about very quickly – because the anger is mixed up with (completely inappropriate) shame – and frustration. Difficult emotions.
But the more conversations I had, the more people I found with this sense of anger – until I realised it’s actually quite common – we just don’t talk much about it.
It’s the injustice of it.
The bloody ‘post-code lottery’ of it.
You grow up in Caernarfon, you (probably) speak Welsh.
You grow up in Merthyr, you (probably) don’t.
It’s not YOUR fault. It’s not something YOU did. It’s the bloody system – the history of it all, the way Welsh was stamped on as deliberately as possible, the way our grandparents and great-grandparents were brain-washed and bullied into thinking their language would hold their children back.
The way their LOVE was weaponised against their own children.
The way we had to grow up without the language that ought to have been our birthright.
You know, I’m still angry about it. Just sitting here, writing this, I’ve got that old, tight feeling in the pit of my stomach, and my hands feel tense.
It’s MY bloody language. But even though I speak it now, I will never – I CAN never – have it be as natural to me as breathing – as natural as it is for Welsh people who grew up with it.
The people who grew up with the language of the kings of Wales on their lips, as Geraint Lovgreen sings:
I’ve made my peace with that – and I’ve given that gift to my children, instead – they’ll never have to know what it feels like to grow up without their own language.
I was reminded of this recently – talking to Leanne Wood (hope you don’t mind me name-checking you here, Leanne!).
She mentioned the sense of loss at growing up without the language – and I recognised the pain immediately.
I remember thinking: ‘No way? You too?’
I’ve promised Leanne that I’ll do our most brutal intensive training days with her until it genuinely feels easy and normal for her (she’s a long way down that road already, and closer to victory than she knows).
I can’t offer that to everyone, sadly.
But our courses were built to WORK – to give this language back to people who should NEVER have had it stolen from them in the first place.
If you can put in 3 or 4 hours a week, we can have you speaking Welsh in 6 months:
Or go for our more leisurely ‘6 Minutes a Day’ approach (it still gets you there much faster than traditional courses):
Or, if you can speak a fair bit but are struggling to push on to understanding more easily and having a wider vocabulary (this is what I’ll recommend to Leanne if she can’t find time for intensive days):
And one last thing…
If you’ve been robbed of your language, and you’re angry about that – but you’ve also been hit by austerity, and you can’t afford our courses – then email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and tell us why it matters to you.
We’ll take a few people on scholarship entry every week (as many as we can while still being able to pay our tutors) – we’re not going to let Tory austerity block you from reclaiming the birthright that Westminster stole before you were even born.
Because we really know how much it hurts.