Welsh Language in the News

For a language that was once in decline, Welsh has been in the news quite a bit lately. Here’s a quick summary of what’s been keeping it in the headlines:

Welsh Language Bill Passed and Signed

The Official Languages Bill, designed to ensure that English and Welsh are treated equally by the Welsh Assembly, was passed by the Assembly in October and became law in an official ceremony in Cardiff on Monday, November 12th.

Schoolchildren (Maybe) Punished for Speaking English

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Welsh schoolchildren were often punished with the “Welsh Not” system for speaking Welsh in school. But is the shoe on the other foot now?  According to anonymous statements made on the website BiLingo, children at Welsh schools in Ceredigion have been published for speaking English.

However, the BBC was unable to find out anything more about the accusations. Keith Towler, children’s commissioner for Wales, has said he will investigate them. In the meantime, representatives of the school district advised parents to bring any concerns to the school.

Welsh Road Sign Translation Fail

In the Vale of Glamorgan, a set of road signs put up by contractors for  Network Rail contain some amusing errors. For example, according to the BBC, one sign uses the word “adloniant” to mean a diversion or detour. Unfortunately, that word only means “diversion” in the sense of entertainment.

Meanwhile, another sign uses the word “acses” for access. Alas, that word doesn’t exist. Sorry, folks- you can’t just make up “Welsh” words by rearranging letters.

A Network Rail spokesperson told the BBC:

“I’ve told everyone who’s inquired that we’re looking into it, and if there’s been a genuine mistake then we’ll fix it.”

Meanwhile, Chris Franks, Plaid Cymru councillor for the Vale of Glamorgan, said the signs are just one more indication that the Welsh language gets no respect:

“You’d just hope that the companies and authorities involved would take more pride in their professionalism, as ultimately they’re the ones who end up looking silly. It’s disappointing that these contractors failed to take adequate care; it does indicate a lack of respect for the language.”‘

Welsh Translation Service

Welsh Translation Service

Leaders in Welsh Translation

K International, a leading UK based translation company, has over 25 years of success working with the Welsh language. We assist many UK Government departments and corporate entities with their Welsh translation requirements.

Why Translate into Welsh?

Due to an increase in the use of the English language, the numbers of Welsh speakers had been declining for decades. However, following a number of measures, including the introduction of the Welsh Language Act 1993, Welsh has experienced a strong revival in recent years and currently has an equal status with English in the public sector in Wales.

Translating documents into Welsh

Today Wales is officially bilingual, with over 20% of the population able to speak Welsh. Of these 611,000 Welsh speakers 62% use Welsh on a daily basis over English.

The Welsh Language Act obliges all organisations in the public sector providing services to the public in Wales to treat Welsh and English on an equal basis. It is incredibly important to provide Welsh and English so that customers can choose their preferred language.

A recent national survey (State of the Welsh Language 2000) found that nearly half of all Welsh speakers would be more likely to use a service or purchase a product if the effort had been made to use both Welsh and English.

To sell your product or service in Wales it must be translated into the Welsh Language.

K International’s experienced and dedicated team is always happy to discuss your Welsh translation requirements, offering advice on the implications of the Welsh Language Act 1993 and Welsh language schemes, ensuring your organisation is meeting all Welsh language regulations.

Experts in Welsh Translation

We have a network of highly skilled and practised Welsh translators ready to assist with your requirements.

Many of our Welsh translators are members of the Society of Welsh Translators and currently residing in Wales; all have been through our rigorous testing procedures to ensure they meet our high quality standards, and have at least 3 years translation experience in Welsh.

We understand that each project is different and as such requires different skill sets and knowledge. We take the time to understand your exact translation requirements, ensuring the right skills and resources are always assigned to you.

Dedicated Staff That Go That Extra Mile Every Time

All projects are managed by our professional Project Managers under our ISO 2001:2008 approved quality management procedures, ensuring you are consulted and kept up to date throughout, and your project is delivered on time, to specification and on budget. Our goal is to make it easy for you to connect with your Welsh-speaking customers and to comply with all Welsh language requirements.

Customer Feedback on Our Welsh Translations

“ Many, many thanks to your team and your translators, you delivered all that you had promised (and much more in terms of getting them all proofread) to a very tight schedule. An excellent job which is very much appreciated. Again, many thanks (or in Welsh, ‘Diolch yn fawr’). ”

Charity Commission

“ We found your service outstanding. Turnaround of work was well above expectation, communication was excellent. ”

The Welsh Assembly

“ Excellent service, very helpful. Communication was maintained throughout the project. Excellent work. We are looking forward to working with you again. ”

The Environment Agency

“ Great translation, completed within our tight schedule and we always use them for our translation requirements. ”

Sherry Design

Contact K International for a free quote and consultation on your next Welsh project. Please call 01908 557900, e-mail or use the contact us page on this website.

Welsh Language & Culture Festival

This past weekend, on July 30th, Wales kicked off its annual National Eisteddfod in a field in Wrexham. If you’re not from Wales, you may be asking yourself: What, exactly, is an Eisteddfod?

Basically, it’s a yearly festival celebrating Welsh language, literature and culture. Originally, it was a gathering of bards, where poets and musicians came to test their skills against one another. The first such event that we know of was held by Lord Rhys of Cardigan in 1176.

Today, the National Eisteddfod not only includes poetry, literature, dance and musical performances, but also features exhibits devoted to science and technology and booths where Welsh artisans can peddle their wares. The location changes every year, but it is always held in the countryside. The main fairground is known as the maes. Read more

The Welsh Act

The Welsh Language Act

Every public body to which a notice is given under section 7 of the Welsh Language Act 1993 is required to provide services to the public in Welsh, or exercises statutory functions in relation to the provision by other public bodies of services to the public in Wales. They shall prepare their own scheme specifying the measures which it proposes to take, for the purpose mentioned in the scheme as to the use of the Welsh language in connection with the provision of those services.

We fully comply with the requirements of the Welsh Language Act and would be able to provide all of your material in Welsh or advise you on the best possible methodology to produce it.

Proven Experience of Welsh Translation

K International has demonstrated through the Crown Commercial frameworks RM1092, RM987 and through Home Office sponsored agreements 05/GEN/25 and 11/GEN/25 that  we can provide Welsh language services for translation and transcription to the MoJ.

Over the past 5 years we have translated over 30 million words from English into/out of Welsh. This has been mostly for Government agencies but also includes independent bodies and private/listed companies. A large percentage of this work has been driven (primarily) by the need to comply with the Welsh Language Act 1993. Read more

BBC Cymru Wales Plans to Double Welsh Language Users

Technology is a double-edged sword for many minority languages. On the one hand, it can be instrumental in preserving these languages, teaching them to others and connecting fellow speakers. On the other hand, English is one of the dominant languages on the web, and people who speak both English and a minority language are often content to visit websites and social networking in sites in English.

This is one of the challenges that the Welsh language will face in the years to come. In a speech at the National Eisteddfod, Rhodri Talfan Davies, the director of BBC Cymru Wales, discussed how the news organization was preparing to meet that challenge.  Despite the obstacles involved, BBC Cymru Wales plans to more than double the number of people who view the Welsh-language content on the website in just three short years.

That’s an ambitious goal. Here’s how Davies says the BBC plans to make it happen:

“We have to recognise that most, younger, Welsh speakers live their lives largely through the medium of English – and few will turn to Welsh-language interactive services out of any sense of duty. They’ll only come if the quality is there and we’re offering something they can’t get anywhere else. That’s the challenge for all of us…We don’t have all the answers – we never did – and we know that there are many people outside the doors of the BBC who have exciting ideas with the potential to transform our services. We need to open our doors to these people – and their ideas.”

That’s the challenge with any website, really, no matter what language it’s in: offering enough added value to entice users to choose your site over the competition.

What do you think BBC Cymru Wales can do to add value for Welsh speakers?

Welsh Language Opera Company Launched

A new Welsh language opera company was launched this week. Opera is performed throughout the world in various languages for example Italian, Spanish and English. Wales is known for being the ‘land of song’ but there are not many operas performed in the Welsh language.

The company has been set up by Patrick and Sioned Young, the Welsh opera company was launched on Sunday 21st June with a concert which featured eight soloists and an orchestra.

Mr Young, an opera director who has worked with the Royal Opera House told Walesonline:

“We wanted to set up the company because there’s so much talent here in Wales and people don’t get to perform in their own language.”

It has taken the couple a year to set up the company ‘Opra’. They approached the Arts Council of Wales who has supported their idea. Their plan is to stage an event every summer and also start a small scale autumn tour, during which some of the best known operas will be performed in Welsh.

The couple are now trying to secure further funding to support their company.

Welsh Theatre Gets Its Own Translation App

Want to watch a play in Welsh but can’t speak the language? There’s now an app for that.  Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru has announced that they will be releasing a smartphone app called Sibrwd, which means Whisper in Welsh.

Traditionally, the theatre industry has relied on subtitles for translation. However, subtitles can be distracting for audience members, forcing them to split their attention between reading and watching the play.

 Sibwrd aims to improve on that experience by feeding audience members just the information they need to know to follow the action.

Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru executive producer Carys Ifan explained to the Telegraph:

“It’s not a full translation. There are quite short sentences every now and again at key moments. The idea is that people will take their own smartphone, download the app and then they’ll hear things that we think they need to know to guide them through the play.”

In developing the app, the theatre company had two goals. First, of course, they wanted to make it easier for people who don’t speak Welsh to enjoy their plays.  As Ms. Ifan put it:

“We want as many people as possible to access our work. People will go and see an opera in French or Italian but wouldn’t think about going to see a Welsh language piece. So it’s trying to entice people to make that leap.”

If the app goes over well, the concept can be used to help make plays in other minority languages more accessible. Hasan Bakhshi, the director of creative economy at Nesta, which helped fund Sibwrd’s development, told the BBC that his organization provided funding in part to “capture and disseminate the insights from that project in such a way that other theatre companies can use[.]”

According to Bakshi,

“One of the things that was attractive about this project was the potential international applicability. It’s not necessarily tied to the Welsh language.”

Of course, it seems like enticing theatergoers to bring out their smartphones runs the risk of causing even more distractions. Will people really be able to resist reading the latest text message to come in or seeing what’s up on Facebook?

What do you think? Are smartphone translation apps for plays a good idea or not?

Photo Credit: Attribution Some rights reserved by Jaako

Stroke Victim Wakes Up Speaking Welsh

It’s common for strokes to affect the regions of the brain that govern language processing. Stroke victims often struggle with difficulty speaking. Sometimes, these difficulties manifest themselves in surprising ways. For example, 81-year-old Alun Morgan of Bath spent most of his life speaking only English. Imagine, then, his surprise when he came to after a stroke unable to remember a word of his native language, but speaking Welsh instead!

In the midst of the Second World War, a young Mr. Morgan was evacuated to the Welsh countryside for four years to live with his grandmother and aunt. During that time, he became fairly fluent in the language, according to the IndependentRead more

Welsh Language History

History of the Welsh Language

Modern Welsh dates back to the sixth century. It is very closely related to Cornish and Breton. However, its history goes even further back to 600 years BC, when the early languages of Europe and Central Asia influenced the Celtic languages spoken across the European continent.

Most European languages, including Welsh, evolved from a language that we now call Indo-European, which in turn developed into nine language groups, one of which was Celtic. The Celtic language also had its own family of languages, some of which died out over the centuries. Those that survived migrated from mainland Europe to the western islands of Britain and Ireland. Welsh may not be spoken as much as English, but it is actually the oldest language in Britain.

The passing of the 1536 and 1542 Acts of Union brought a significant change to the official use of Welsh. The purpose of the Acts of Union was to integrate Wales with England. Therefore, English became the official language of business in Wales. During this time it was not possible for any Welsh speaker to hold office in Wales without becoming fluent in English. Although the language was not officially banned, it lost all status because of these restrictions. Over the next four centuries, the use of the Welsh language in Wales steadily declined. The language would not be used as an official language again until the passing of the 1942 Welsh Courts Act, which permitted limited use of the language in the courts.

One of the most famous Welsh literary works is the Mabinogi, a string of tales first transcribed at some point between 1050 and 1170. However, it is believed that the tales are much older. In fact, the Mabinogi may have inspired some of the Arthurian legends. Over a period of centuries, these stories were passed down through the generations by the Cyfarwydd, or storyteller.

Although the Welsh language is native to Wales, people speak it all over the world. It is spoken by a minority in England and the Welsh immigrant colony in Chubut Valley in Argentine Patagonia.


A greeting in Welsh was one of the 55 languages included on the Voyager Golden Record. The Voyager Golden Record is a phonograph record which contains sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of human life and culture on Earth. It was launched into space in 1977. In 2008 the Voyager space crafts became the 3rd and 4th artefacts to go beyond our solar system.

Each greeting on the phonograph is a unique message. The Welsh greeting is “Iechyd da i chwi nawr ac yn oes oesoedd” which translates into English as “Good health to you now and forever”.

The 1993 Welsh Language Act is to-date the most significant Act passed in regard to the Welsh Language. This Act was the first to state that public sector organisations must treat the Welsh and English languages equally, and it was the result of decades of pressure from Welsh language activists.

The teaching of Welsh is now compulsory in all schools in Wales up to the age of 16. This has helped to stabilize and even reverse the decline of the language.


In popular culture, Wales has recently witnessed some of its important expats promote the use of the Welsh language by speaking it on television. The most recent example is that of Glyn Wise and Imogen Thomas. Their conversations in Welsh on Big Brother 6 sparked a nationwide debate about the Welsh language.

welsh_challengeTelevision channel S4C broadcasts exclusively in Welsh during peak hours and the main evening television news provided by the BBC in Welsh is available for download. In addition, the BBC broadcasts a Welsh language radio station, BBC Radio Cymru on a daily basis.

The BBC also recognises how important the Welsh language is in the United Kingdom and they have set up a project called The Big Welsh Challenge, which takes five celebrities and challenges them to learn Welsh in 12 months with the help of five famous faces. The aim of The Big Welsh Challenge is to encourage others to learn and understand Welsh and its importance in our society.

Many major corporate organisations have followed the Government’s lead and realised the importance of providing their product or service information in both Welsh and English.

Microsoft Translator, Now in Welsh

Good news for the Welsh language this week: Microsoft Translator is now available in Welsh. Microsoft Translator provides a variety of translation tools for individuals and businesses, as well as a machine translation API for developers.

The Welsh version of Microsoft Translator is a joint project between Microsoft and the National Assembly for Wales. It was unveiled to the public during a celebration for International Mother Language Day held last Friday in the Senedd. Read more