Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cymru Am Byth: Wales Forever!

Metro Nashville Councilman Eric Crafton, Mr. English-Only himself, would most likely not be happy with this bit of news from the European Union. Today, Welsh became the twenty-second tongue to be recognized by the EU as one of its co-official, or minority, languages. 

Such recognition confers mostly symbolic status on the ancient language while enabling some business and governmental transactions to be legally conducted in Welsh. The Welsh language is part of the larger family of Celtic tongues which includes Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic and Breton. It has a rich literary and historic tradition, including a strong association with the legendary tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

Welsh is currently the mother tongue of more than 600,000 people, most of them living in the British principality of Wales. I guess the 'English-only' advocates in Wales have failed completely as the entire area has been under English rule since the Middle Ages. Mr. Crafton's peculiarly monolithic notion of cultural and linguistic exclusion just never took hold in Merry Olde England. A good thing, that.

Several million Americans, many of them in the South, can trace at least some Welsh ancestry in their backgrounds. Interestingly, the most common surname in the US, Jones, is of Welsh origin. Six hundred thousand people, by the way, is slightly more than the current population of Davidson County. 

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