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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.

VoyagerGoldenRecord

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.

WelshLongestWord

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

St. David’s Day

This Sunday (1st March) is St. David’s Day.

The Welsh are very proud of their heritage. St. David’s Day is a major event across the region. In Cardiff a large parade is held every year.

For the first time this year Swansea Council will be hosting St. David’s Week Festival with a range of musical, sporting and cultural events.

A little history on St. David…

Born in the 15th century he was later educated at Henfynyw (Old Menevia) in Ceredigion.

He founded a Celtic monastic community at Glyn Rhosin (The Vale of Roses) where St. David’s cathedral now stands. The site is possibly an early religious community and has associations with St. Patrick who is thought to have spent time there before heading back to Ireland from Porth Mawr to convert the Irish to Christianity.

The exact year of his death is not known but the date of 1st March was chosen to commemorate his death and celebrate the patron saint.

St David is possibly the only patron saint of the four chief nations of the British Isles to have been born in the land which adopted him.

Traditions….

For years children were given a half day off from school on St. David’s Day. This custom no longer officially continues but it depends on the school.

Young girls often wear traditional Welsh costumes on St. David’s Day. The costume consists of a long woollen skirt, white blouse, woollen shawl and a Welsh hat. A Welsh hat is a tall stovepipe-style hat, similar to a top hat.
The national emblems of Wales are the Daffodil and the Leek.  The association between leeks and daffodils is strengthened by the fact that they have similar names in Welsh, Cenin (leek) and Cenin Bedr (daffodil, literally “Peter’s leek”).
The flag of Saint David often plays a central role in the celebrations, and can be seen flying throughout Wales.

Proto-Indo-European

Anyone who has studied languages knows that different languages can be surprisingly similar.

For example, Spanish and Italian look very much alike on paper-if you know one of the languages, you can almost intuit the meaning of a sentence written in the other language.

It’s not surprising to be able to see relationships between the languages of two countries that are close together geographically, but did you know that Spanish and Italian are also related to some of the languages spoken in India?

Strange but true-although we tend to think of European culture as being totally unrelated to Indian culture, there actually is strong connection.

Proto-Indo-European

Sanskrit, a language spoken in ancient India, is part of the Indo-European language family. As the name suggests, this family includes Sanskrit and its descendants along with most languages spoken in Europe, Southwest Asia and central Asia.

All in all, the Indo-European language family includes approximately 3 billion people speaking several hundred different languages. Each of these languages stems from a common, long-vanished ancestor called Proto-Indo-European.

How can we show that such a diverse group of languages and cultures are related? The first written evidence connecting them is from 1585, when Italian Filippo Sassetti wrote a letter home describing some of the similarities between Sanskrit and Italian.

The first public, scholarly mention of a common source for both European languages and Sanskrit was made during a speech by Sir William Jones in 1796, who advised the Asiatick Society:

“ Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and in the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong, indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists. ”

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. 2000. Read more

A Welsh Translation for Sherlock Holmes?

82 years after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s death, there’s no doubt that his famously logical detective has left a mark on the world. The Sherlock Holmes stories have inspired countless adaptations and have been translated into 76 different languages. However, they’ve never been translated into Welsh…until now.

The Deerstalkers of Welshpool, Sherlock Holmes society based in Powys, plan to translate “The Legend of the Speckled Band,” a locked-room mystery that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle considered to be his finest story featuring Holmes.

Roy Upton-Holder, the society’s founder, had long dreamed of translating Holmes into Welsh. As he explained to the BBC, encouragement and an offer of support from across the pond finally prompted him to act:

” I had an email from a Sherlock Holmes fan in Texas who is a member of the Baker Street Irregulars, the largest Holmes society in the USA. He asked if we were thinking about translating a book into Welsh and why didn’t we do something about it. He said he’d give us $100 towards it.”

However, according to Levy Gruffudd, a Welsh publisher interviewed by the BBC, the high cost of translation and presumed low demand have kept the popular detective stories from being translated into Welsh thus far:

“Most people would be interested in reading the original in English. It would be feasible to translate a book, but the costs would be very high. It might even be in the thousands of pounds, depending on the number of pages.”

So, how does Mr. Upton-Holder plan to get around these obstacles? By crowdsourcing the translation to local university students. He told the BBC:

“Since then I’ve contacted Aberystwyth University to see if someone there could help with the translating and we’ve thought about asking Welsh A-level students if they’d like to take on the translating as a school project. One of our members has recently retired from the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth and he speaks Welsh, so he could help check the pupils’ work.”

That should help keep costs down, and I’m sure it would be a great experience for the students. Potential problems stem from the fact that literary translation is a highly specialized form of translation. It’s not enough to correctly choose words that mean the same thing in both languages. To be successful, you also have to capture as much as possible the tone, feel and rhythm of the original work.

Still, it’s an interesting experiment and definitely one worth watching.