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is a country of lakes and mountains. Its about the half the size of
Switzerland, and it has a population of two and three quarter million. On the
north of Wales is some of the most beautiful scenery in the British islands,
the Snowdon mountain. Snowdon is Britain’s second highest mountain.
is an not independent nation. In 1292, the English king, Edward, invaded Wales
and built fourteen huge castles to control the Welsh people. His son, Edward,
became the first prince of Wales, since then all the kings and queens of
England have given their eldest sons the title, Prince of Wales. Prince Charles
became the twenty-first Prince of Wales. Although the English have ruled Wales
for many centuries, Wales still has its own flag, culture, and, above all, its
own language. In the towns and villages of North Wales, many people speak
English only as a second language. Their first language is Welsh. In Llanberis,
a small town at the foot of Snowdon, eighty-six per cent people speak Welsh as
their first language. At the local primary school children have nearly all
their lessons in Welsh. The children should be bilingual by the time that they
are eleven years old. It is not a problem for children to learn two languages
at the same time. Children have insight into two cultures, so have all the folk
tales of two languages. Children like Welsh because in Welsh you spell things
just how you say them, in English there are more silent letters.
is one of the oldest languages in Europe. Its a Celtic language, like Breton in
France, Gaelic in Ireland, or Gaelic in Scotland. Two and a half thousand years
before these languages were spoken in many parts of Europe. They died out when
the Romans invaded these areas, but some of them survived in the northwest
corner of Europe. But over the last hundred years the number of Welsh-speaker
has fallen very quickly. Now only twenty per cent of Welsh people speak Welsh.
Here are some of the reasons for the decline.
the nineteenth century people thought that Welsh an uncivilized language. If
you wanted to be successful in life you had to learn English, the language of
the British Empire. So in many schools children were forbidden to speak Welsh.
the beginning of the twentieth century many English and Irish people moved to
South Wales to work in the coalmines and steel works. They did not learn Welsh.
especially young people, moved away from the Welsh-speaking villages and farms of
north and west Wales to look for work in the big towns and cities, so the
Welsh-speaking communities became much smaller. In the 1960s and 1970s many
English people bought holiday cottages in villages in Wales. Most of them did
not learn Welsh. This also pushed up the price of houses so that local
Welsh-speaking people cold not afford them.
comes into every Welsh home trough the television, the radio, newspapers,
books, etc. There are Welsh-language TV and radio stations, but far fever than
English ones. And now there is cable and satellite TV, too-in English, of
decline has now stopped, because a lot has been done. Road signs, bilingual
documentation, and there is a Welsh language act. The future of Welsh is
uncertain. The problem is that Welsh has to survive next door to English, and,
as we all know, English is a very successful language.
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