‘Secretly terrified of Welsh’…?

After one of my earlier posts about English people learning Welsh, I got a message that said I should write about English people who are ‘secretly terrified of Welsh.’

I found this fascinating.

On the one hand, there’s precious little I can write about it – because I can barely imagine it. I have a deep understanding (which will be with me for life) of how it feels to be Welsh without the language (when you’re not happy about that) – but the idea of English people who are secretly terrified of Welsh?

It sounds a bit like elephants being secretly terrified of mice – or lions being secretly terrified of kittens.

We spend so much time seeing English as the ever-present ultra-powerful language – the one you can’t avoid, the one your kids become fluent in without ever having had a lesson, just through media and osmosis – the great threat, in many ways.

[English as threat has always been a little complicated for me, because I’ve always loved English – I used to be an English teacher! – but at the same time I see how over-whelming it can be, how quickly it can become the norm and remove the space that smaller languages need.]

So maybe it’s hard for us to understand that anything about Welsh can be intimidating.

But… I suppose…

Anything strange can be intimidating.

Anything we don’t understand can make us feel wary and uncertain.

Maybe that’s why there are so many urban myths about Welsh people ‘starting to speak Welsh when an English person walks in’ (presumably wearing their big ‘I’m an English person’ hat).


What about you?

Do you understand what the person who sent me that message meant about being ‘secretly terrified of Welsh’?

Is it something you’ve experienced, or know of other people experiencing?

I would really love to hear from you – to find out more about this idea that’s pretty new to me.

So please comment here to tell me more about it – I’ll do my best to answer every comment, and I absolutely promise I’ll read every single one with huge interest.


If this is how you feel…

Then please come along and learn a single sentence of Welsh using the SaySomethingin Method – you’ll probably find it pretty different to anything you’ve done before – and that one sentence might be all you need to feel differently:


Or, if you know you’ve always sort of wanted to, come and jump right in with our ‘6 Minutes a Day’ Welsh speaker course – it won’t take up much of your time, but it will get you to being able to speak Welsh:



3 responses to “‘Secretly terrified of Welsh’…?

  1. I can’t offer any insights into why Welsh might terrify anyone else, but for me being an incomer AND not speaking the language fluently, multiplies the likelihood that I’ll unintentionally say something wrong. Sometimes that’s funny, but sometimes it can be damaging. I have an example from German – introducing my daughter in law as my schwierig Tochter (difficult daughter) rather than my schwiegertochter (Daughter in law). Language is a minefield we negotiate at our peril!

      • I’m English but have lived in Switzerland for 5 years.. when I visit England it seems strange with one all pervading language, it doesn’t quite explain terror but it does explain how England and most of the uk differs from elsewhere in Europe, exposure to them reinforces the feeling other languages are normal.. therefore a lack of exposure to them reinforces the feeling that they are abnormal. And terror would just be an extreme manifestation of that feeling I guess

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