We have heard plenty of stories about Brits abroad annoying the locals because they can’t speak the local dialect and only communicate in English. You might also get annoyed when people here don’t try to speak English when they are in this country.
Well we found a rather amusing story recently about a Welsh woman who was fed up with the lack of Welsh language used by the police. The Guardian recently reported that the women in question staged a five hour car protest in response to two parking tickets she had received. After she had received the tickets, the police force in question had sent her several correspondences in English and not Welsh,so she refused to pay them.
Due to lack of payment her car had been clamped and she refused to move from the car so it would not be towed. She eventually agreed to pay the fine once the police force offered to review their language policy.
This just goes to show that persistence can pay off – of course we don’t know if the police force will do anything about this issue and we wouldn’t condone breaking the law, but it is certainly nice to see someone willing to go to extreme lengths, (and pay a hefty bill) in order to preserve the language they are proud of!
If someone phoned you or your organisation asking for information in a foreign language what would you do? Would you be able to communicate with them? The Times recently featured an article titled ‘Parlez vous any other language at all?’. The article followed up a study they carried out whereby they phoned several public service bodies and asked varying questions in several different languages. The aim we suppose was to see how well front line staff could cope when faced with unpredictable situations.
Whilst the article was funny it was shocking to see how many organisations do not have staff equipped with basic language skills. The first example was with NHS Direct – the Times phoned them up asking for information on free bottom transplants on the NHS in Brazilian Portuguese! An odd topic some might say but it was clearly designed to show that it doesn’t matter what you might be asking for – the reality is you probably won’t get very far! As so it was true – NHS Direct couldn’t understand and rather than try and find someone that did or try and say I don’t understand the person on the other end of the phone just repeated what he/she was saying louder and louder (in English of course!) before slamming the phone down! You would think that the NHS might have some staff with foreign language skills – not the case here! Continue reading
If ever there was a reason to speak more than one language, this has got to be a good one. Researchers at Bangor University in Wales are looking for people who speak both Welsh and English as well as monolinguals to see what benefits being bilingual brings. Professor Virginia Gathercole says “The very act of being able to speak, listen, and think in two languages and of using two languages on a daily basis appears to sharpen people’s abilities to pay close attention to aspects of tasks relevant to good performance…Some researchers have also found that bilingualism could also play a role in guarding against the decline in our brain’s abilities with ageing.”
The researchers will be looking at over 700 people between the ages of 2 and 80, but still need some over 60s to take part – and you’ll get £10 for taking part. If you’re interested then contact Ms. Leah Jones, email@example.com, 01248 388892, or Ms. Emma Hughes, firstname.lastname@example.org , 01248 383820, for further information.
Mobile phones have been an indispensable technology for us for so long now that I can’t even remember how long it’s been – but I know it’s at least ten years. Phones have evolved so much that they are no longer phones, but devices that you can use for listening to music, taking photos, browsing the internet and maybe the odd phone call or text message. So all this considered, it’s quite shocking to hear that until now, there hasn’t been a mobile phone for Welsh speakers!
Both a phone with Welsh menus and predictive text and also an iPhone application for those wanting to learn Welsh have been unveiled at the National Eisteddfod festival to celebrate Welsh culture.
The Samsung S5600 will have over 44,000 Welsh words and be available on the Orange network. The iPhone application was developed with the help of the head of Computer Science at Aberystwyth University Professor Chris Price, who is also a Welsh learner. He said “There are many apps for learning other languages available to iPhone users, amongst them 27 for French, 23 for Italian and even ones for Irish, and Tagalog, which is spoken in the Philippines. I felt it was high time that help of this kind was made available for those learning Welsh.”