Welsh language

Welsh language
Welsh (Cymraeg or y Gymraeg ) is a Celtic language of the Brittonic subgroup that is native to the Welsh people. Welsh is spoken natively in Wales, by some in England, and in Y Wladfa (the Welsh colony in Chubut Province, Argentina). Historically, it has also been known in English as "British", "Cambrian", "Cambric" and "Cymric".

The Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 gave the Welsh language official status in Wales. Both the Welsh and English languages are de jure official languages of the Welsh Parliament, the Senedd.

According to the 2021 census, the Welsh-speaking population of Wales aged three or older was 538,300 (17.8%) and nearly three quarters of the population in Wales said they had no Welsh language skills. Other estimates suggest that 899,500 people (29.7%) aged three or older in Wales could speak Welsh in June 2022. Almost half of all Welsh speakers consider themselves to be fluent, while 21 per cent are able to speak a fair amount of Welsh. The Welsh government plans to increase the number of Welsh language speakers to one million by 2050. Since 1980, the number of children attending Welsh-medium schools has increased, while the number going to Welsh bilingual and dual-medium schools has decreased. Welsh is a vibrant Celtic language in terms of active speakers, and is the only one not considered endangered by UNESCO.

The language of the Welsh developed from the language of Britons. The emergence of Welsh was not instantaneous and clearly identifiable. Instead, the shift occurred over a long period of time, with some historians claiming that it had happened by as late as the 9th century, with a watershed moment being that proposed by linguist Kenneth H. Jackson, the Battle of Dyrham, a military battle between the West Saxons and the Britons in 577 AD, which split the South Western British from direct overland contact with the Welsh.

Four periods are identified in the history of Welsh, with rather indistinct boundaries: Primitive Welsh, Old Welsh, Middle Welsh, and Modern Welsh. The period immediately following the language's emergence is sometimes referred to as Primitive Welsh, followed by the Old Welsh period – which is generally considered to stretch from the beginning of the 9th century to sometime during the 12th century. The Middle Welsh period is considered to have lasted from then until the 14th century, when the Modern Welsh period began, which in turn is divided into Early and Late Modern Welsh.

The word Welsh is a descendant, via Old English wealh, wielisc, of the Proto-Germanic word *Walhaz, which was derived from the name of the Celtic people known to the Romans as Volcae and which came to refer to speakers of Celtic languages, and then indiscriminately to the people of the Western Roman Empire. In Old English the term went through semantic narrowing, coming to refer to either Britons in particular or, in some contexts, slaves. The plural form Wēalas evolved into the name for their territory, Wales. The modern names for various Romance-speaking people in Continental Europe (e.g. Walloons, Valaisans, Vlachs/Wallachians, and Włosi, the Polish name for Italians) have a similar etymology. The Welsh term for the language, Cymraeg, descends from the Brythonic word combrogi, meaning "compatriots" or "fellow countrymen".

  • United Kingdom
    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western coast of the continental mainland. It comprises England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands within the British Isles. Northern Ireland shares a land border with the Republic of Ireland; otherwise, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the English Channel, the Celtic Sea and the Irish Sea. The total area of the United Kingdom is 242,495 km2, with an estimated 2020 population of more than 67 million people.

    The United Kingdom has evolved from a series of annexations, unions and separations of constituent countries over several hundred years. The Treaty of Union between the Kingdom of England (which included Wales, annexed in 1542) and the Kingdom of Scotland in 1707 formed the Kingdom of Great Britain. Its union in 1801 with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Most of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which formally adopted that name in 1927. The nearby Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown Dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation. There are also 14 British Overseas Territories, the last remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the 1920s, encompassed almost a quarter of the world's landmass and a third of the world's population, and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language, culture and the legal and political systems of many of its former colonies.