Tuesday, 20 May 2014

A confession

In the light of Farage’s comments last week about feeling uncomfortable in a train hearing other languages being spoken around him, I have a confession to make.  I’m afraid that it’s not entirely unknown for me to speak Welsh on a train, even when travelling outside Wales.  I suppose it’s possible that if he’d thought about the matter for more than 30 seconds, Farage might be prepared in principle to make exceptions for the non-English native languages of these islands.  But somehow I doubt it – anything non-English seems to be ‘foreign’ to him – and anyway, I doubt that he’d know the difference between Welsh and a dozen other languages.  But as far as I know, I’ve never been on the same train as him, so I guess that I’ve not offended him directly.  Not yet, anyway.
It is, though, an incredible thing to get offended by.  Apart from anything else, how does he know whether those speaking in foreign languages are immigrants or tourists?  As he says, it’s far from uncommon on trains in London, in particular, to hear many different languages being spoken – but whether that’s a result of what he would perceive to be a failure of immigration policy or what others would see as a success of tourism policy is not a question which can be easily answered just on the basis of sight and sound.
I can understand why it is considered reasonable that people settling in a country should be expected to learn its language, but not why the use of that learned language should be made obligatory in all aspects of their lives including private conversations on trains.  (Although why it’s considered racist to suggest the same thing in relation to Welsh in the Welsh-speaking parts of Wales is something which has long eluded me.  And what Farage’s reaction would be to any demand that English migrants to the Dordogne or the Costas should be compelled to learn French or Spanish is an interesting question.)
A negative reaction to people who choose to use a language other than English to speak to each other – wherever they may be – has more to do with paranoia or xenophobia than rational thought.  But then, appealing to xenophobia is what he’s about.


You mean there's more??? said...

Some years ago I was in an Intermarche in Brittany and the guy in front of me was giving it large to the check out person in English.

I knew for a fact he had lived in the town for over 2 years and it was equally clear he didn't have a word of French (never mind Breton).

My mental fuse let go and I announced to no one in particular, in French, "Who the hell does he think he is moving into your town and expecting you to learn his language so you can speak to him".

It was bizarre, in that small moment I made a lot of friends locally and my neighbours all seem to really like having me as a neighbour when I am out there....

Anonymous said...

Unsurprisingly Nigel Farage's ignorance extends to believing that Welsh is a form of Gaelic

According to a policy document on “restoring Britishness” published in 2010, the party (UKIP) swore to “enthusiastically support teaching of the various Gaelic languages and histories within the UK, in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Cornwall”.

The rest of the post is on the Wee Ginger Dug's blog (link below), he's a Scottish independence supporter from his take on Farage's train language comments

Anonymous said...

I doubt many have an issue with Welsh being spoken. On trains or elsewhere. It's 'just another language'.

No, the reason so many get annoyed with the Welsh language is that the majority of speakers of it are in receipt of so much welfare, welfare funded almost exclusively from non-Welsh speakers.

And worse, these non-Welsh speakers are then expected to contribute more and more to help 'promote' this language through the development of WM schools and so on. Schools that drive down standards and, ultimately, end up educating a new generation of welfare recipients.

Daft isn't it. But now you see why we get so annoyed.

John Dixon said...


Where to start? This wasn't a post about the Welsh language at all, really, so I won't respond in detail here. But your assertions that the majority of Welsh speakers are in receipt of welfare payments, and that Welsh-medium schools drive down standards are not supported by any evidence that I'm aware of. If you want to get annoyed about something, I'd suggest checking that what you're getting annoyed about is fact rather than fiction. Otherwise, it's just a waste of good annoyance energy.