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Outside Wales, Where in the World Speaks Welsh?

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Here in Wales we remain proud of our native Welsh language, with the 2011 census confirming that 19% of Wales’ population are Welsh speakers. With conscious efforts being made to further enhance that number, we at Business News Wales thought we would delve deeper into our relationship with Welsh globally.

During the second half of the 20th century, support for the Welsh language grew, with political parties, Plaid Cymru and Welsh Language Society, created. In addition, we saw the introduction of both the Welsh Language Act 1993 and the Government of Wales Act 1998, flying the flag for Welsh language throughout the nation.

Wales’ native language was given a further boost in 2008 when Heritage Minister, Alun Ffred Jones, addressed an audience at the EU’s Council of Ministers, which was then translated into the European Union’s 23 official languages. Three years later, the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 was introduced, giving the Welsh language official status in Wales – currently the only one of its kind in the UK.

Did you know?

Welsh was one of 55 languages chosen by NASA and used on their 1977 Voyager Program. The Voyager Golden Record included the Welsh greeting “Iechyd da i chwi yn awr ac yn oesoedd” (“Good health to you now and forever”).

Proud of their ancestry, the Welsh language is still used and celebrated by hundreds of thousands of settlers across the globe, as far away as remote parts of Argentina. Here were take a look at where in the world the Welsh language is spoken and why!

England – With over 600,000 English residents born in Wales, it is hardly surprising the highest volume of Welsh speakers outside of Wales are just over the border. A recent study found that over 110,000 people living in England spoke Welsh, with the largest proportion found in Hereford, Oswestry and Liverpool.

Argentina – The Chubut province of Patagonia in southern Argentina has been home to Welsh settlers since the 19th century, with an estimated 5,000 Welsh speakers in the Gaiman, Trelew and Trevelin regions of Chubut today. It is thought that up to 50,000 Patagonians can claim to be of Welsh descent.

Still today, the Latino children of these South American towns and villages recite Welsh poetry at Eisteddfodau and serve Welsh dishes such as bara brith as a part of their traditional diet.

Canada – Although the first Welshmen arrived in Canada at the turn of the 17th century, most Welsh speakers currently occupying North American can be traced back to the late 19th and early 20th century.

The Cariboo Gold Rush of the mid-1800’s saw Welsh settlers arrive in the Colony of British Colombia, with many more miners arriving in Alberta to work in its coal mines in the early 20th century.

In 1902 many Patagonian settlers emigrated north after a series of floods had ruined their crops in the harsh Argentine region. The Welsh-sounding Llewelyn near Bangor in Saskatchewan was founded by the Canadian government to re-home those families who had made the long trip north from Patagonia.

With many Welsh speakers remaining in parts of Canada, the country still celebrates St David’s Day and host several traditional Welsh festivals including Gymanfa Ganu and Eisteddfodau.

Here at Business News Wales, we are seeing more and more business adopting Welsh language policies, excited to contribute to the growing figures of Welsh speakers across Wales and overseas. If you are interested in Welsh language, be sure to stay up to date with our dedicated ‘Welsh Language’ section.