The Welsh language is indeed my mother tongue.
Travelling the world three years ago, it surprised me how many people weren’t aware of Wales as a country- thinking it was just part of England. Even fewer people knew that Wales has its unique language that is completely different from English. They were surprised when I said that it was my first language- the language I speak every day to my family and friends, the language I text, whatsapp, snapchat, and send facebook messages in most of the time. It is the language of my heart and soul.
Until I was about three years old, I could only speak Welsh- which is what was spoken in my family home and in my whole village in general. I attended a Welsh playgroup, then at 4 years old I started at my Welsh village school. Following this I went to a Welsh language secondary school, studying all of my subjects except for Science and Mathematics (and English of course) in my first language. I studied Welsh, Music, Drama and Literature for A Level then went on to Cardiff University to study a joint honours degree in Law and Welsh (studying Law through the medium of English) before graduating with a 2:1 LLB degree.
Speaking Welsh is gives you the ability to communicate back and forth in two languages with ease and provides you naturally with all the benefits of bilingualism that are known by now throughout the world. However, historically we have experienced negative attitudes towards the Welsh language from some people and still do sometimes- saying that it is pointless as everyone can speak English anyway, that it is not the language of development, that it is a waste of money and that it would hold you back.
These comments are always frustrating to hear but more than this, they are hurtful.
Welsh is more than just a language, it’s a way of life. It is in your roots and grows more and more as you do. It is the way you greet a neighbour or indeed a stranger with a friendly ‘shwmae’ on any day of the year. It is the excitement on a Friday night knowing that Wales are playing rugby the next day. It is the feeling of happiness after Wales have won singing Calon Lân and Hymns and Arias into the early hours of the next morning, or the pride even when they have lost and continuing to sing anyway. It is the late Saturday nights in the village halls of little villages waiting for singing and reciting results. It is the Sunday mornings going to Sunday school or chapel knowing everyone there, sitting on the same seats and singing the same hymns as your grandmother and even her grandmother did all those years ago. It is eating Sunday lunch with family talking about the week. It is baking welshcakes and making cawl using the recipe you ask your mother for every year. It is feeling a new lease of life whilst watching little lambs prancing in the fields and feeling happy when all the roads are lined with daffodils knowing that Spring is coming. It is all the choir practices and concerts and Eisteddfods in village halls or chapels week after week month after month. It is hearing the harp being played and knowing that one day you will fulfil your lifelong dream of being able to play too. It is the instant connection you feel with someone when they say a few words in the language of your heart. It is knowing what hiraeth means after travelling to the other side of the world to experience so many amazing cities and countries. And it is knowing that there will never be another place that could capture your heart and give you a feeling of belonging like this little country and everything that comes with it.
As you can see, I am truly proud to be Welsh. Indeed, I am not ashamed to say that the Welsh language, as well as everything that comes along with it, is one of my life’s greatest loves.
O bydded i’r heniaith barhau – Cymru am byth.