The Welsh language is being threatened by social media, as a study found “the erosion of a language online would threaten the cultural identity of a nation”.
Last month, it emerged that the number of Welsh speakers had fallen to a record low of 17.8 percent, as fewer children are speaking the language.
Academics at Swansea University found nearly 70% of Welsh speakers used English “often” or “always” on social media, with the vast majority using it more than Welsh.
All of them, always, are subject to two contrasting forces.
1) They become increasingly fissiparous. Latin into Catalan, Andalucian, Galician, Portuguese, Provencal, D’Oc, Florentine, Sabian and on and on. A household comes up with a new word or two – happens in every household all the time. Some of those spread and become the accepted version in the village – or town, county and so on. Continual changes bubbling up from the bottom and the accumulated changes create those new languages over the years. Latin took 1600 years or so to become many really entirely different languages. Old Germanic took about the same to become The varied Germans, Norses, Cloggie and so on. Some languages are a bmic across boundaries – English.
Shrug, well that happens. Happened to Welsh too – Cumbrian, Cornish, Scots, Irish, Manx and so on. Wouldn’t surprise me at all to find that northern Welsh is different from southern.
2) Certain events consolidate languages. New methods of communication being one of them. Radio, newspapers, they both consolidate the previous fissiparity. Because there becomes a standardised version which exists across the distribution area. One of the most common was in fact the Bible. When it first started appearing in the vernacular (c. 15th c) which version of the local language was used became the nailed down and formal version. The King James had a lot to o with the creation of English as a unitary language. The other one I know of was the selection of which variant of Slovakian to use – the selection then led to the language of one subset of the greater becoming the formal version of that language.
This is all just normal about languages. OK, so now we’ve got a new comms method, Twitter. To some extent – and only some, nothing is 100% here – this will mean the standardisation of language across the platform. Just because that’s what happens. And, also, there will be the neologisms there some of which spread. As with texts – KTB, LOL and so on.
This doesn’t greatly help the Welsh with their cultural identity of a nation shtick of course. Because the Welsh language is their unifying factor in that official and give me more culturalmoneyforthebureaucracy sense. The population of the south is – genetically, culturally a century back – near entirely unrelated to that of the North. The mines and steelworks were populated not by the local farmers of yore but by vast waves of immigration from the Midlands, SW and Ireland. Pretending they’re all Welsh by shouting Yakki Da at each other is the only cultural identity they’ve got in common.
That last paragraph might not be as entirely and wholly true as those preceding it.